Basic outline of the daily schedual of activities

A Typical Day in the Villiage Leadership Program

While at Camp Base


Participants are woken up at their campsites in the early morning with the only reminder given 5 minutes later. The youth have 40 minutes to come to breakfast, prepared and ready to start their day.


Breakfast takes place around a fire ring and includes oatmeal with any “spices” the participant still has in their “personal food bag” such as granola, peanut butter, raisins, or nuts. After breakfast, instructors dispense morning medications; participants clean their cups and eating/cooking utensils, fill their water bottles, fill in the bathroom and engage in their morning hygiene tasks.

Morning Meditation

Following breakfast, clients are expected to remain silent to meditate (hopefully daven), with the exception of verbal prayer.  They will have with them their personal journals and may write during this time, as well.

Fire Circle

After this, members gather round the meeting place (fire circle) to engage in the daily Community Meeting.  This clinician-lead therapeutic meeting continues for one hour.  The Community Meeting consists of a psycho-educational component (stages of change, abuse vs. addiction, relationship skills, managing emotions, etc.).  The community is then given a topic to address or question to answer and discussion follows.  Finally, daily goals, personal and group, are set for the day.

Work Projects

When at base camp, participants are expected to spend one hour on a “work project”.  The tasks will vary but may include: building a sweat lodge, clearing brush, painting a building, building a fence, etc.

Therapy and Visits

Participants will also meet with their assigned therapists on a bi-weekly basis and, after an initial two week period, engage in therapeutic activities with visiting family members.

Daily Activities

After sweeping the camp to make sure that they practice “Leave No Trace” camping, the group begins their planned activity, be it hiking, swimming, boating, caving, rock climbing, etc. On non-hiking, or layover, days, participants have more time to practice wilderness skills, write in their journals, write letters home to their parents, play games, and visit with their Field Counselors.  Layover days provide rest and catch-up time for completing individualized tasks, and they also provide time for the Clinical Supervisor and staff to meet, discuss the participant’s progress, and to plan next week’s outcomes and strategies for each participant.

The routine is similar with the exception of the work project and family sessions.

While out of Camp Base


Hikes are led by an instructor, but there will be an assigned participant Group Leader whose job it is to motivate the team and assist the group with their navigation task.  This role rotates daily.  Participants must drink an adequate supply of water and they are required to show the empty bottle to staff, indicating how many bottles they drank that day.  Hikes range from half a mile to eight miles, depending on the how timely the group was in completing chores, the ability of the group, or the itinerary for the week.  Hiking is structured around arrival at a point for re-supply every three days.  Most of the time, the participants are not told how long or how strenuous the hikes will be because we want to keep them focused on themselves, their support of others, and to encourage trust in us to keep them safe.

Pitch Tent

When the group arrives at the campsite, they unpack their gear, unroll their sleeping mats, and set up their shelters.  The type of shelter (tarp vs. tent) will entirely depend on both their attitudes and behavior.  Instructors assign shelter spots for each participant and delegate group jobs.

Check Off

While dinner is cooking, participants work on their “check-off,” which is a daily list of standard tasks and activities that combines “hard” and “soft” skills.  There is generally a time-frame for check-off within which all chores are expected to be completed. Consistent achievement of check-off is vital to moving forward in the program.


After check-off, it is time for dinner. Community Members gather around the fire for dinner, but the individual phase members are asked to remain at their shelters to eat and to set about the work of understanding why they are here and reflecting on their choices that have led them to this point in their life.  After dinner, participants complete hygiene practices and hang the group’s food so that the animals do not eat it.

Truth Circle

Finally, all group members gather around the fire for the daily Debrief/Truth Circle. The Debrief/Truth Circle is the daily processing group led by a clinician.  It is the group’s forum for discussing a particularly relevant topic, for recapping the issues of the day, for working out differences between group members, for practicing how to listen to and share feedback, or for facilitating petition councils for participants moving from one level to the next.  This is also typically the place where new participants have their Impact Letter circle, in which they are asked to read their parents’ account of why they were sent to the program to begin with, and to receive feedback and support from their peers.  After Truth Circle, participants take nighttime medications and go to bed.

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