At Cherry Gulch, we believe strongly in experiential education and engaging our students in learning opportunities that are focused on direct experience and focused reflection. We strive to provide opportunities that foster the development of new and useful skills, values clarification, enhanced knowledge, and an outward mindset that will allow students to be active leaders and contributors in their communities. Through the use of travel, including both stateside and international, we provide opportunities for our students to become vulnerable, open-minded, and courageous, and illuminate a path to self-discovery and change.
Cherry Gulch’s day-to-day curriculum is closely tied to the service, environmental, outdoor, cooperative and active learning that takes place while abroad. Each of our trips has a theme and-- by studying the texts that tie to that theme and diving into the deeper complexities that lie within, exploring and making comparisons to our own world and the crises we face--we work to help create civically engaged teens. By working to incorporate cross-curricular studies in preparation for our travels, we allow for challenging activities that inspire and extend even our most gifted students and meet the learning standards for math, biology, chemistry, Character Development, English, astronomy and history.
The power of our students’ imagination is truly magical. It is a privilege to nurture their curiosity in ways that facilitate imaginative growth to creative ends by experiencing some of the world’s most exciting cultural sites and wilderness adventures! We believe the most powerful learning experiences come from endeavors that our students feel are of great importance. The service that we strive to provide communities around the world is central to the learning that takes place through our international travel program.. In providing opportunities for our students to immerse themselves in the hearts of these communities, we believe that both our students and those they serve can change and gain new perspectives on life, returning home a more informed and outward-minded global citizen.
The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell plays an essential role in the dialogue, therapy and travel experiences that the boys at Cherry Gulch are a part of. The Hero’s Journey provides a framework for the process of change that occurs in our students and families during their time at here. The journey follows several steps, beginning with a call to adventure, followed by overcoming our personal weaknesses, while learning to overcome a variety of challenges along the way. The journey then culminates in the transformation of the hero and a return home as a more complete version of oneself.
We believe so strongly in the Hero’s Journey process, we have infused it into every aspect of our program, ranging from the lessons work, character development curriculum, and international travel opportunities. This process embraces experiential learning, providing opportunities for profound self-discovery and change through overcoming challenges that are designed to help us discover our true capabilities. Some of these experiences have included backpacking through the White Clouds in Stanley, Idaho, bungee jumping in the lush rainforests of Costa Rica, and whitewater rafting down the famous Manso River in Patagonia. These experiences are deeply enriching for our boys, as they require vulnerability, open-mindedness and courage and provide our students with an intentional framework for initiation into manhood.
The beauty, magnificence, and tranquility of nature has a way of wiping away fear, doubt, stress and pain. We have found that using nature and adventure to create a metaphor for life and our student’s individual life journeys, we create a platform for growth that allows our boys to experience more self-awareness, courage, and confidence to continue on their Hero’s Journey toward becoming their best-selves.
By learning from the hero’s journey of so many that have come before, both in fiction and reality, we begin to recognize the journey in our lives and the necessity to become the hero of our own stories, taking ownership for our challenges, our weaknesses and also our victories and triumphs. Finding the hero within is the greatest journey that we can embark on in our process of change and something that will open up windows and doors of opportunity to find our bliss where before there were none. Seeking after bliss and recognizing how that differs from instant gratification, sets the framework for creating a life of joy, fulfillment and purpose and in many ways outlines the work that Cherry Gulch provides each day to help our boys find and become the truest version of themselves.
“The cave we fear to enter, holds the treasure we seek.”