By Travis Slagle, Horticulture Therapy Director
The values that sustain the Hawaiian culture and the story of the “aina” provide an important anchor for the PQ experience. Unlike any other outdoor therapeuticprogram, Pacific Quest students have an opportunity to create a reciprocal relationship with nature by cultivating the food they eat, and learning first-hand the importance of “Malama Pono” (to care deeply). This kind of care goes beyond self-gratification, and contradicts the rugged individualism that permeates western society. Essentially, anyone who seeks to practice “Aloha Aina” learns the simplest and most critical aspect of sustainability, which is to give before taking.
Rather than hiking and surviving in a traditional wilderness program, students at PQ interact in a community that internalizes the concepts of sustainability by applying them to the process of emotional and psychosocial development. This is the cornerstone of the Sustainable Growth™ treatment model, offering young people the skills and unconditional support to express a profound sense of care in a way that not only builds confidence, but also sustains a healthier more purposeful way of life.