We often hear this question from parents in one form or another — How is fishing going to get my son sober? What does hiking have to do with recovery? Why does it matter that your patients go kayaking?
The answer is simple: For the pure joy of it.
There is no denying that the journey of recovery involves a lot of hard work—because it does. At Voyage the work of recovery involves countless hours spent sharing in group, or talking with a counsellor one on one, participating in a family session, and even challenging or being challenged by the other men in the house. The men are taught to face their past, to accept responsibility for their actions, and to be accountable for the ways in which they have harmed themselves and their relationships with others. They prepare themselves to meet the expectations of life in the context of their parents and family, their teachers, teammates, coaches and schools, their friends and partners, and so many more. Most importantly, the men at Voyage learn how to face these pressures and expectations without relying on an escape by using drugs or alcohol.
The time we spend outdoors, whether it’s trekking through Jonathan Dickinson Park, paddling up the Indian River, or wading flats with a spinning rod, is time the men spend reconnecting with themselves. They find beauty in the world again, savor moments of triumph over discomfort and adversity, feel a genuine sense of wonder and curiosity in their heart again.
The time we spend with our men in the beautiful wilds of Florida allows them to forget for a moment their obligations to their family or their school, to set aside worry about graduation or career, to see themselves not as a son or a brother or a student or a teammate, but as a man, an individual who has a place in a much bigger picture. In coming to know themselves in this way, the men find purpose and passion in living again. They come to understand the things that make life and sobriety worth fighting for.
Every outing presents our clinical staff with a new opportunity to observe and engage with patients in a setting that goes beyond traditional therapeutic environments. These activities give the men and our counselors a context in which to understand their feelings and perceptions. Each moment the men spend reconnecting with themselves and finding joy in activities that do not involve drugs or alcohol brings them another step closer to lifelong sobriety.