Developing challenging young people: Honouring their authentic story
Worldwide, a multitude of adventure-based outdoor programmes exist that are designed to develop 'challenging' young people. Recently, Aotearoa/ New Zealand has seen a resurgence of interest from central government in implementing programmes for such young people that draw on military models of practise. The philosophy and format of adventure therapy programmes implemented by St John of God Waipuna in Otautahi/Christchurch Aotearoa/ New Zealand present a strong contrast to these military-style programmes. Evaluation of these programmes suggests that if adventure-based programmes are to be effective in developing young people and sustaining change, they must focus on developing all aspects of the young person. This approach is grounded in building respectful and meaningful relationships among everyone involved with the programme, and that approach, in turn, is predicated on power sharing and taking responsibility for oneself. The over-arching aim is to give young people a sense of ownership. This is achieved by an intentional shift throughout the programme from dependence, through independence and on to interdependence. The paper interweaves consideration of these aspects, especially in terms of how they have informed the design and delivery of the Waipuna programmes, with various models of personal development and leadership, along with the self-reported narrative of a young person involved in one of these programmes.