By Travis Slagle, PQ Land Supervisor
Last week, parents came to the island for a two-day workshop where they worked side by side with their sons and daughters, rotating between discussion groups and land projects, experiencing first-hand what it’s like to be at Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program. The question I asked the families was simple, “what does growth look like?” It was an interesting question to ponder while standing among the rows of garden beds that the students recently planted with the little sprouts of lettuce, beets, kale, and tomatoes popping from the soil. Occasionally throughout the day a ripe avocado would fall from a tree, and the question that I asked remained something to be discovered on a personal level just through the experience of being in the garden, and contemplating new perspectives, which seem to always relate back to the patterns of growth happening naturally here in this unique garden in Hawaii.
Rather than hiking from place to place in the traditional model of wilderness therapy, PQ students learn about themselves by living in a garden, experiencing the tangible results of planting, harvesting, weeding, and composting. One parent commented, “I never knew how much a garden can teach you about things that have nothing to do with gardening.” Indeed, behind all the growth that you see in the fruits and vegetables growing on the land is a story of the person who planted them. During the parents program, each family has the opportunity to plant something and share in this interactive experience of leaving a legacy at PQ. Days later, parents are not only calling to check on their kids, but surprisingly to also hear about how their plants are doing! This is a small example of what makes Pacific Quest wilderness program a unique and special place for youth and their families to gain a deeper understanding of what growth looks like.