Transitioning out of True North can be one of the most difficult tasks that our students take on during their stay here. Leaving behind friends and mentors, removing themselves from the quiet and serene wilderness, and departing from the structured environment that allows immense growth to occur, creates a stressful and exciting time for our students. We realize how difficult this time can be and have implemented a system of support designed to help our students leave the wilderness feeling as prepared as possible for whatever challenges they will face next.
When a student enters Summit, the final phase of their time at True North, the focus starts to shift to their upcoming transition. Summit is a time for our students to reflect on their journey through the wilderness and to prepare for the transition to life after True North. Students in the Summit phase are typically the most experienced members of their group and are expected to lead their peers through the daily challenges that occur in their final weeks.
They are able to apply the skills they have acquired during their stay to support their group through role modeling, giving feedback, and clear emotional communication. Although they are frequently in a leadership position, Summit students continue to seek balance by advocating for their needs and asking for support when needed. By the time they have reached Summit, our students are comfortable using the support system of their group, guides, and Course Leader to manage any anxiety or frustration that might arise.
For adolescents, Summit is always the final two weeks of a student’s time at True North. In addition to their usual support system, Summit students also work with a dynamic Transition Coordinator. The Transition Coordinator helps students to set goals for the future and document their most valuable experiences in the form of a reflective essay called the transition portfolio. The portfolio serves as a reminder of the specific challenges, accomplishments, and emotional growth that accompany every True North journey.
Adolescent Summit students also go on two separate day trips during their Summit experience. They participate in a service project as an opportunity to give back to the community that has supported them and an adventure expedition to celebrate the monumental achievement of completing this challenging program. These trips give our students time away from the group to reflect on their experience and adjust to life outside of the wilderness.
In our Young Adult program, Summit is typically a shorter phase than adolescent Summit, but is filled with just as much reflection and preparation for the future. Young Adult students spend a lot of time in their last few weeks with our experienced Young Adult Field Support. They work together to set up and execute interviews with various programs, plan their graduation, and communicate with their families about plans for life after True North.
On the final day of their stay at True North, adolescent and young adult students serve as the Master of Ceremony for their own graduation. In the final step of their journey at True North, students demonstrate the hard skills they have learned here and discuss the therapeutic work they have accomplished in front of their group, guides, course leader, families, and friends. The graduation is certainly a bittersweet experience, but is surrounded by hope and excitement for the positive future ahead.