Wilderness Adventure Therapy
in Costa Rica
The Pure Life Program
“Through research based techniques we integrate therapeutic models with an emphasis on adventure therapy, cultural immersion, wellness and community service.”
Surfing, rappelling, whitewater rafting, and other activities are tools inherent to Wilderness Adventure Therapy. As tools they help break down walls and challenge students, but they also give the clinical field staff a unique look into the individual struggles of each student. From this, individual treatment plans are created, adjusted, and proven successful both here at Pure Life Adventure, and in the student’s personal lives at home.
Our students engage in individual therapy and group therapy on a weekly basis. Pure Life Adventure uses a hands-on, strengths-based, student-integrated clinical model through which participants quickly learn new, healthy coping strategies, behavioral and emotional regulation skills, leadership skills, and life skills that lead to future success.
Our foundational goal is to facilitate the development of a higher level of self-efficacy (the strength of one’s belief in their ability to complete tasks). We help students learn to use their strengths to build a stronger foundation for their future. At Pure Life Adventure, we’ve taken Adventure Therapy and applied the “Aspiro Model of Change”. We use the latest research and data to continue to refine our treatment program and our approach with young adults.
Click below to download our Research Paper on the benefits of Adventure Wilderness Therapy:
"By learning to accept the physical discomfort of being in the wilderness, I learned how to cope with my emotional discomfort so it would no longer hinder me from living."
One step at a time
While “failure to launch” is not an accurate diagnostic category, the phenomena of young adults feeling stranded in life or overwhelmed by adulthood is not uncommon. Young adults who struggle with anxiety, lack of motivation, depression, and social skills may find their problems getting worse under the pressure of adulthood. Pure Life’s Adventure Therapy students are typically facing challenges associated with:
- Substance abuse
- Screening/gaming abuse
- Executive function deficits
- Low motivation
- Low self-esteem
- Body image
Individuals attending our program have a willingness to change. Our program is open to young men and women, ages 18 to 30. Adventure Therapy helps young adults by providing individual and group therapy. Our students also work on their social skills, leadership skills, life planning skills, and vocational development. Through cultural immersion, community service, and adventure based activities, our students develop the skills and experiences necessary to get them through this difficult transition so they can thrive and flourish on their own.
Our students explore parts of Costa Rica that many locals haven’t even heard of in order to get a unique and authentic, life changing experience. In a number of recent studies, Costa Rica is found to be one of the happiest countries in the world. If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Costa Ricans or “Ticos,” as they affectionately call themselves, embrace the principle of living simply and enjoying the good things that life has to offer. In our high-tech, fast-paced, “I want it now” society, we tend to get lost in the many distractions that are so freely available to us. Although this pace has its benefits, it is easy to lose track of what’s most important in life. You can’t spend time with the Costa Rican people without being forever changed.
Here at Pure Life, we engage in many community outreach activities. Through this process, participants gain new perspective on life. Through helping others, our students develop increased empathy and compassion that fosters gratitude, overall life satisfaction and a greater sense of meaning.
Cultural homestays are an opportunity for students to stay in the home of a local Costa Rican family. This usually means sleeping on the floor with the guides and the rest of the group in a safe and clean environment. Cultural Homestays benefit all parties involved. Host families benefit as they are paid for room and board, and students are asked to roll up their sleeves and pitch in with daily chores in and out of the house.
Students gain a rich understanding of a very different culture by engaging in all aspects of family life. From harvesting and preparing food, to performing daily chores, they have an opportunity to observe basic human characteristics we all share regardless of our place in the world. Cultural Homestays also encourage students to assess their own needs versus wants. Students take time to reflect on the expression of values in relationships and daily life, explore and strengthen their core values, and gain a deeper appreciation for simplicity.
Health & Wellness
Activities such as yoga, fitness classes, and meditation encourage participants to adopt a lifestyle of health and wellness. The importance of good nutrition and proper hydration are stressed as part of the daily routine. Self-improvement starts with a healthy routine. Evidence increasingly suggests that healthy eating and regular exercise are vital, not only to our physical health, but to our mental health as well. By learning healthy habits, each student is on a path to sustainable self-improvement, health and well being.
To further ensure that each student is healthy, they receive weekly medical check-ups by our onsite nurse during their time at basecamp.
In the cultural homestays, participants will enjoy fresh and organic home-cooked meals that almost always include home grown rice and beans. For the typical Costa Rican, a meal is not a meal without rice and beans. When the two are mixed together, they make up a complete protein that is very healthy for the average diet.
Swift Water Rescue Certification Week To ensure our student’s safety in the water, each student completes a Swift Water Rescue certification. Students work as a team to learn a variety of skills that will ensure aquatic safety, including:
- How to swim defensively and offensively
- Proper use of a throw bag (bag of rope as a safety line)
- Proper use of whitewater raft
- How to swim in rapids
- Rescue techniques
- How to flip a boat
Wilderness First Aid Certification Each student attends five days of Wilderness First Aid Classes, where they have the opportunity to learn how to save lives in the wilderness, or anywhere in which they encounter situations where these skills are needed. Our trainers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the group and are always well received by our participants. The work is challenging, and the tests are rigorous. While the days are long and tiring, our students learn skills that can help save another person’s life, including, but not limited to:
- Patient Assessment
- Negligence and standards of care
- Wilderness First Aid Expectations
- Self-protective measures (i.e. gloves, masks)
- Checking vitals signs
- Creating splints
- Scene safety assessment
Technical Rope Rescue Certification Pure Life also teaches the Technical Ropes Rescue certification material to the Pure Life students. During this certification class, our students are challenged by learning:
- Knot tying
- Varieties of rope
Family involvement is an integral component to the Pure Life process. Often parents feel powerless and discouraged with respect to their child and they simply don’t know the best way to be supportive. Our therapists meet with our young adults during base days on Monday and Tuesday. During the week, the therapists work closely with the parents focusing on important family dynamics and parent coaching. Therapists coordinate care with the student and parent on a weekly basis. Parents are expected to work hard during their son or daughter’s stay at Pure Life. They interact with their young adult through the Family Portal through weekly letter writing and photos. We facilitate family or sibling visits to Costa Rica when therapeutically appropriate.