In June, the ACASI program in partnership with Grand Canyon Youth launched the first Healing Lands river trip for nine youth who have survived fatal family violence. In addition to four river guides, also along on the trip were ACASI Clinical Director Melissa Rhodes and three ACASI staff and volunteers. "All of our trip goals were met," says Rhodes. "We wanted these kiddos to laugh and learn and connect and play — because this is how humans heal."
Everyone had a blast!
Most memorable moments included swimming, looking up at the stars, swimming, listening to Uncle Walt’s flute play at bedtime at “Scorpion Camp,” swimming, identifying animal tracks, rock climbing, counting bats, swimming…
Outcomes: On the trip, participants were provided opportunities to identify and express what they were learning about themselves, and ways their time on the river felt healing.
• All participants identified moments when the natural environment helped soothe them.
• None of the participants had been on a river trip before. Two boys learned how to kayak their own boat and improved their skills during the trip.
• Two “city girls” volunteered for grooverduty TWICE.
• Children realized they were able to give and receive emotional support related to their traumatic loss.
• All of the participants expressed a desire to spend time as a group again. The River Trip Kids have stayed in touch and will gather again as a group for a camping weekend in October.
• Three months after the trip, children and their caregivers continue to talk about the trip’s impact (the guides, their peers, the adventure).
“Regular outpatient therapy doesn't provide the same opportunities for healing because it doesn't involve the day-long, natural social interactions that occur when a group spends time together.”
—ACASI Clinical Director Melissa Rhodes