logo small border

Coming this summer:

Potomac Pathways Wilderness Journey

Two 14-day wilderness therapy treks

June 21 through July 5, 2017  / July 19 through August 2, 2017


This summer, Potomac Pathways will be running two 14-day wilderness therapy treks in the wilds of West Virginia and Western Maryland! Potomac Pathways Wilderness Journey treks combine the evidence-based Seven Challenges substance abuse intensive outpatient program curriculum with outdoor adventure therapy and backcountry wilderness skills. 

Licensed Therapists on the trail at all times

ChrisThe Wilderness Journey program is developed and led by Chris Peckham, LCPC, a seasoned wilderness therapist, who has worked for years with therapeutic programs including Four Circles in Asheville, NC, and Cherokee Creek Boys' School. Chris is our Outpatient Programs Director and runs the First Step Intensive Outpatient Program for teens and young adults in our Cabin John, MD facility. 

Joining Chris on the trail will be Brooke Brody, LCSW-C, LCADC, Gabriel Martinez, LGPC, and Nathan Luongo, LCSW-C. A licensed therapist will be present with the group at all times, along with our young adult peer mentors and seasoned wilderness guides. 

Young People on the Journey

The Wilderness Journey program is intended for young people who may be struggling with a mild-to-moderate level of substance use, and who may be struggling, in addition, with any of the following: low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, ADHD, school difficulties, or conflict with parents & family. It's a great, engaging way to get started on a path of recovery. Participants can enter either our Aftercare or First Step program after the two-week trek, for continuing support.

Journey group

The Wilderness Journey program is able to provide a more intensive level of therapeutic support than can typically be provided in an outpatient program. The therapeutic goal: to bring out and identify the challenges that the young person is struggling with, to help empower the young person and their family to find a pathway forward, and to prepare them for the return home with greater motivation and a plan to continue with "recovery," in the broadest sense of the term.

A Path of Accomplishment

Young people on the Wilderness Journey will have the opportunity to learn advanced wilderness primitive skills, wilderness ethics, the use of technical outdoor gear, and will gain a sense of self-efficacy as they practice leadership roles within the group. The Wilderness Journey members will practice taking responsibility for themselves as they learn the wilderness skills of making fire, backcountry cooking, building primitive shelters, maintaining personal hygiene, and Leave No Trace wilderness ethics. The JouJourney canoerney members will experience the satisfaction of adventure challenges like backpacking on portions of the Appalachian Trail, and canoeing lengthy stretches of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. And throughout it all, the group members will have the opportunity to think about and process the metaphors that all of these experiences hold for a more positive way of living back at home. In a sense, the Wilderness Journey is like a pilgrimage to a sacred place: you depart with a sense of hopeful expectation; you connect with something powerful that transforms your spirit; you return home with a new vision and motivation to remember your connection to your higher self.

The Wilderness Journey

We begin by meeting with each of the young people and their family individually at our Cabin John, MD facility. We get to know you, what your clinical needs and goals for the Wilderness Journey may be. We fill out a bunch of paperwork, including insurance and any relevant medical information. We gear up-- presenting you with the top-quality gear that you'll be able to keep after the Wilderness Journey and use again and again in the future.

Our Wilderness Journey begins witJourney hikeh several days of orientation to backcountry skills at the North American Bushcraft School in Hedgesville, WV, with Jason Drevenak. Jason is a paramedic in West Virginia, a former Army Ranger Medic, and most recently, one of the stars of the new Mygrations African wilderness series on the Nat Geo Channel. The journey continues with backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, camping in West Virginia wilderness, and multi-day river trips on the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. And interwoven throughout each day are recovery groups, journaling with the Seven Challenges recovery program journals, individual counseling, and adventure therapy. Wilderness therapy is effective because-- when kids are unplugged from substance use, technology, and the avalanche of negative influences that surround them in the culture... it's not hard to begin-- to consider a more meaningful path forward, to connect with one's own inner wisdom and the wisdom of others, to conceive of positive and meaningful goals, and to experience the joy of accomplishment.

Journeys sods soloThe transition back home is a process of planning for a successful return. We work with the family and the young person to establish, and then to follow, realistic and achievable goals: for better, more effective communication; for making steady progress with school and life goals; to continue to make progress in recovery through continuing care resources while living at home.

Highlights of the Journey

  • Licensed clinical therapists on the trail at all times.
  • Wilderness Journey group members have a higher level of motivation to change (because it is a requirement of the program that group members are voluntarily joining the program).
  • Wilderness Journey uses a "strengths-affirming," non-confrontational, compassionate approach; not a behavior modification or bootcamp program.
  • Substance abuse treatment curriculum: Every day of the journey includes treatment groups (around the fire!) and journaling from the evidence-based Seven Challenges adolescent intensive outpatient treatment program curriculum-- same as our First Step intensive outpatient program!
  • Insurance: we are able to bill your insurance for the majority of the cost of the program (for most policies), cutting your out-of-pocket cost (in most cases) to less than half the cost of the 14-day program.

Journeys trail sign

For more information or to register, Call Chris Peckham, LCPC at (202) 246-3260.