For families considering getting their teen help through an Intercept expedition, the decision-making process is rarely an easy one. Designed for families with teens struggling at home or in school, Intercept is a special program from Outward Bound that helps struggling teens develop positive decision-making skills, strengthen interpersonal relationships, and cultivate a positive self-image. On every Intercept course, compassionate Instructors help students and parents find a healthy sense of boundaries so families interact more effectively with one another and the world around them. But before all of that positive growth and development occurs, parents and teens must come to an agreement; they must conclude, together, that an Intercept expedition with Outward Bound is their most viable solution. They must invest in a new way of thinking, communicating, and cooperating with one another.
Intercept expeditions are offered in several locations across the United States, throughout the year. While Outward Bound offers a variety of locations and course start dates, each Intercept expedition strictly follows the same foundational values, ideals and design principles.
Perhaps most important of all, every Outward Bound Intercept expedition incorporates the family. Each course offers opportunities for families to process what their child has learned on course and to create a plan for the future. Most Intercept expeditions feature an in-person family conference at the end of the journey. The family conference gives students an opportunity to share what happened on course and how the experience changed them, to teach parents tools and techniques that the entire family can use at home, and to create a plan for the relationship between teens and parents in the future. The conference includes a combination of listening and participating in both small and large group settings. It can be emotionally challenging, enlightening, and a great opportunity to renew hope in the family’s future.
There are a few things that parents and students can always expect from an Outward Bound Intercept family conference. We’ve detailed them here.
Get ready to do your homework.
- Both parents and students can expect to do a lot of work before, during and after the expedition. While students are on course, parents/guardians are expected to complete workbook assignments each week that help prepare them for the family conference. These homework assignments culminate in the parents writing a letter to their teen, just as the teen writes a letter to his/her parents. This letter is meant to reestablish an emotional connection and build hope for the future.
- During their expedition, teens are also doing plenty of “homework.” In addition to getting hands-on experience learning to communicate, dealing with conflict, and facing natural consequences, teens are tasked with completing a worksheet during their “solo.” This worksheet helps students begin to think about what expectations they have for themselves and their parents once they return from their expeditions. Students compose a letter to their parents, all of which helps prepare them for the family conferences at the end.
Get a full report.
- Before parents are reunited with their teens, they have an opportunity to sit down with the Course Director or field Instructors that led their teen on their expedition. During this session, Instructors discuss performance on course, strengths and weaknesses, greatest gains, methods that seemed to help their teen effectively deal with their issues, and make recommendations for the future.
- More than just a full report of their teen’s growth and performance, however, parents can also expect to get a clear idea of what their student actually did on course. Much of the family conference is dedicated to sharing with parents the Outward Bound learning approach. Parents learn about Outward Bound’s ideals and values, participate in activities that demonstrate lessons in teamwork and communication, and get personal insight into what happened on their teen’s course. Additionally, parents learn key communication and goal-setting skills (fair vs. unfair fighting, conflict resolution, SMART goals, etc.) – the same skills that their teens worked on throughout their time in the wilderness.
Set expectations and identify tools for change.
- The goal of the family conference is to help the family have a meaningful conversation and to potentially set up a structured agreement they can take home and use in the future. Our approach to serving struggling teens and their families strongly values their ability to make the changes they need themselves. We are offering perspective on their process, empowerment through their experience, and teaching communication that will help them help themselves.
[THE conference] WAS WONDERFUL AND GAVE US A JUMPING OFF POINT TO START CREATING OUR OWN PLAN TO WORK WITH.-Intercept Parent, 2015
- During this future-focused conference, parents and teens share. They talk about their relationships with one another. They discuss highs and lows, lessons learned that they can apply at home, and reflect on what they’ve learned about themselves. This is an important time for teens to share new expectations (of themselves and their parents) and for parents to establish expectations (of themselves and their teens). Ideally, this conversation helps to identify key tools for change. Throughout the conference, Instructors help set the tone, mediate, take notes and facilitate the conversation.
- After family conferences have concluded, students and their families have the opportunity to participate in a graduation ceremony. This ceremony celebrates the hard work, the growth, the ups, the downs, the change and the perseverance. Only students who have participated fully in their expedition earn the privilege to graduate. During this positive final ceremony, students acknowledge what they have learned and what they will take home with them, all while looking forward to the next chapter in their lives.
Simply put, it was like a reset button for our family.
-Intercept Parent, 2015
Once families commit to embarking on a life-changing Intercept expedition with Outward Bound, parents and students can take comfort in their decision to build a stronger family and future. The family conference is a key factor in that future success.
For more information on the Intercept expeditions, go to http://www.outwardbound.org/intercept/intercept/. Or, call 866.467.7651 to speak with an Admissions Advisor, who can answer questions, provide more information, and suggest upcoming Intercept expeditions. For additional insight into the Intercept experience, read more here.
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