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"Outdoor education and play support emotional, behavioral and intellectual development. Studies have shown that students who learn outdoors develop: a sense of self, independence, confidence, creativity, decision-making and problem-solving skills, empathy towards others, motor skills, self-discipline and initiative."



Join us on our journey to experiential learning through backcountry trips!! Coulee Connections firmly believes that the outdoors is an extremely impactful tool that can be used to help kids strengthen their confidence, practice social skills, connect with the outdoors, and boost their independence. Coulee Connections provides the skills, tools, and routine structure to give kids the chance for a journey of a lifetime. Don’t be fooled- these trips aren't a walk in the park. Nature is well known to challenge adventurers of all levels and backgrounds. We use this natural challenge to help kiddos understand their role on a team. 


Coulee Connections experiential trips are facilitated in a 3 part process. This process is clinically aligned with the students' skill development to increase motivation and offer an engaging partner to their therapeutic journey. 


Initially, kiddos are welcomed to their “trip group” at the beginning of the quarter. The group dives into progressional activities designed to mimic challenges they will encounter in the wilderness. Some of these challenges include outdoor hard skills that are necessary for survival in the wilderness. Examples of these skills include: fire building, canoeing, water collection, camp dishes, and many more. An equally important part of these trips is an intense social emotional progression to build up tolerance and capacity to difficult social emotional barriers. Through specifically designed team building experiences and outdoor hard skill training, kids are physically and emotionally prepared for the difficult yet rewarding experience ahead of them. Students who show willingness and effort to join us on this journey by working through these challenges will be welcomed onto the trip with open arms. 


The second leg of the process occurs in the backcountry. Here, the students have an opportunity to put their progressional skills into practice. For a number of days, kiddos will “explore” in the backcountry, participating in a number of scheduled activities. Depending on the location, our team may be canoeing in the Boundary Waters from campsite to campsite, hiking through the Bighorn mountains, snowshoeing in the Porkies, etc. These activities are specifically designed to challenge the kids according to the ability of the group. While in the backcountry, our behavioral and social expectations do not change. Even through difficult situations, kids are challenged to make it through using the social skills that were taught during the progression. These expectations help staff maintain a safe physical and social environment for all of our wilderness explorers and staff.   Since Coulee Connections was established, our team has facilitated over 75 trips to locations such as Bighorn National Forest, Boundary Water Canoe Area, Porcupine Mountains State Park, the Appalachian Trail, Lake of the Ozarks, Itasca State Park, and many more. 


The third and most important leg of the “expedition” occurs after the group returns. The value of the positive shared experience for the group needs to be nurtured and transferred into localized skill building. This is done by, helping the kids identify their own strengths and weaknesses, increase awareness of their assimilation to a group, and highlight the significant challenges they overcame to find success on the trip. Special emphasis is placed on how a particular student was able to use their specific strengths to benefit the team. Moving forward, we use these identified skills in order to help kiddos understand how they can be a productive and helpful member of a team. These skills are then transferred to school, home, and the community. 


Are you interested in the Coulee Connections Trip Program?

About Expeditions

Boundary Waters
Bighorn Mountains
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