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April 16, 2012

By Kelly Egan, Young Adult Program Director

Aloha! Or in Thai it would be Sawadhee Ka!

It’s so true that Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program is about adventure and journey – both the interior and exterior kind. Every day I’m part of someone’s journey here: our staff, a young adult student, and certainly my own. One of my most recent adventures found me fulfilling a bucket-list dream of visiting Thailand. After being part of an international conference on wellness, I expanded out into all that is amazing about Thailand. Of the many experiences that touched me, this one with the elephant was paramount. The mahout, or elephant caretaker, in the picture was a delight.  Although we did not speak each others language, after an hour together we were laughing and signing together! How does this magic language that surpasses words happen? I experience this same kind of “magic” language with the young adults here at PQ and with our staff as well. It’s born of a sense of trust and vulnerability, desire to understand and connect, and also of hope and friendship. I truly believe our young adult outdoor therapeutic program is exquisite in the way we communicate and support the best of each student to surface and blossom. Each student is on their own adventure here at PQ, whether that student signed up for this adventure or maybe came not so willingly at first, our job is to connect with them and then most importantly connect that individual to his or her self. These intentional connections are backed by hours of clinical and therapeutic work, individualized land experiences and assignments for each student.   The results almost always surpasses words and signifies a successful adventure and journey for that individual.

One thing remarkable about the mahout – he is 25 yrs. old and “received” his elephant when he was 15. He has spent 10 years living and caring for this incredible animal and he will continue this dedicated relationship as his primary assignment and esteemed role in his community. I, too, feel like I have a primary assignment and role in the community I work with and have dedicated decades to. At PQ, I am surrounded by colleagues who also continue to create successful adventures and journeys daily. Just magic!

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