Frequently Asked Questions

Is adventure therapy suitable for my child's specific challenges and needs?

Adventure therapy can be highly effective for addressing a wide range of challenges and needs that many people experience. Our program is designed to provide a unique and transformative experience tailored to each participant's individual needs, whether your young man is struggling with behavioral issues, substance abuse, mental health concerns, or a lack of self-confidence. Canoeing allows for students with a variety of physical ailments.

Do students need to be able to canoe?

Most students that come do not know how to canoe. They develop the safety practices and necessary skills as they go. Staff members teach needed skills and ensure compliance with safety practices and students take on a mentor role for newer students. As such we are also able to accommodate students with varying range of physical abilities

How do I visit or communicate with my family member?

Cell service with AT&T works well in Klawock and Craig as well as portions of our operating area. Passages Alaska uses the Marco Polo App which combines the best of texting, social media, and video chats and is a great way for families to actually see and personally hear about the progress of the participant weekly. The subject of the families recorded video is discussed in their family session with the therapist weekly. Families get an updated location of their students daily via Garmin InReach satellite Communicators. They may also send mail back and forth as needed. Once a student completes the program, the parents or legal guardians have the opportunity to come to a graduation and may choose to stay a night out in the field with their loved one or stay in the comfort of an Airbnb in town.

Where are you located?

Passages Alaska is based out of Klawock, a small town on the southern island of Alaska, Prince of Whales Island, and is actually closer to Seattle than Anchorage. Our field area is within the Tongass National Forest.

What's the weather like?

The weather on Prince of Wales Island is very moderate and fairly similar to Seattle. It doesn’t get too hot, and it doesn’t get too cold. Most of the time, winter temperatures are above freezing, and summer temperatures seldom reach the 80’s, so while permafrost is something that happens in the northern parts of the state, we don't get it here. Because the Japanese current warms the waters on the west side of the island, it keeps the low elevations from accumulating much snow. Sometimes in the winter we do get snow on the beaches where we camp, but it doesn't stay for long. Our daylight hours are similar to Seattle. The shortest daylight we get is 7 hours of daylight in the winter and in the summer, the shortest night is about 7 hours.

How long are students typically at Passages Alaska?

Students usually spend 8-12 weeks in the program unless there are specific needs that necessitate further adaptation.

Are there any Grizzly Bears?

There are actually NO grizzly bears on Prince of Wales Island.

How do you ensure the safety of the students?

While we do operate in a remote area where our participants probably won't have any opportunity for unintended contact with outside influences. We maintain communication in the field with Garmin InReach satellite Communicators. The areas where we operate are generally within a 30–60-minute boat ride away from launch. Our island has two full service medical clinics and infrastructure to support over 5,500 year-round residents. Our guides are trained as Wilderness First Responders and can address most usual field emergencies.

What is the program's philosophy on discipline and behavior management?

Guides work to establish a culture of cooperation and teamwork and we avoid power struggles. We encourage pro social behavior in the group setting, that models healthy interactions to support improved functioning after students leave Passages Alaska. Guides are trained in Positive Communication Systems and work to de-escalate things if emotions become tense. Additionally, we screen for behaviors that would result in unhealthy patterns of behavior in the group. A pervasive history of legal involvement and violence toward others are conditions that indicate a person may be better served in a different program.

What is the typical diet for those in the program?

Our diet is as varied as the individuals who participate in our groups. We have healthy food that are easily prepared in the field. Passages Alaska students also have the ocean to provide for meals and on occasion we eat fresh salmon, halibut and Dungeness crab. Traveling by canoe allows us to carry the amenities that would be unrealistic on a backpack trip. We keep a Dutch Oven in camp and participants help and learn to prepare recipes that can be standard fare and wonderful treats back in the “real” world, including fresh fruit and vegetables. All group members take turns at various roles. Everyone has the opportunity to be chef, sous chef, and dishwasher. It's a real-life skill our participants all take away and enjoy. We can make reasonable accommodations for dietary restrictions.

How do you get here?

We are a 2-hour flight from Seattle to Ketchikan and then either a short 30-minute flight or a scenic 3-hour ferry ride to our island. There are three airlines and a large car carrying ferry that provide service to Prince of Wales (POW) Island from Ketchikan.

What's special about Passages?

The setting alone makes Passages special. Everywhere we look, the very best Nature has to offer is looking back. We are an intentionally small program designed to use the power of healthy relationships to foster growth in students and staff alike. Our staff tend to know each other and enjoy each other’s company. This translates to a naturally supportive and nurturing environment. Parents and students report that the relationships they develop here feel like family. The coming season has one of our first students returning as a junior guide. We count that as the highest of compliments!

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