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Exploring the impact of a wilderness program

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Title:
Exploring the impact of a wilderness program Big City Mountaineers
Creator:
Roche, Robin Lee ( author )
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Denver, CO
Publisher:
University of Colorado Denver
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English
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1 electronic file (65 pages). : ;

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Wilderness areas -- Recreational use ( lcsh )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Review:
Wilderness therapy and wilderness experience programs offer therapeutic interventions outdoors that are often targeted towards youth at-risk (Becker, 2010; Hill, 2007; Rosol, 2000). The purpose of this study is to explore how participation in a wilderness experience program impacts the developmental assets of adolescents (Scales, 2005). This study examines data from the Developmental Assets Profile (Search Institute) to explore the impact of wilderness experience programs on youth at-risk. Specifically, this project examines how the developmental assets of adolescents change after a week-long wilderness backpacking or canoeing trip with Big City Mountaineers. This study analyzes data collected by Big City Mountaineers before, after, and six months after the trips in order to compare participant responses and look for differences based on participants of different genders, ethnicities, and ages. Information gleaned from this study may be useful in informing counselors and others working with adolescents about the impact of wilderness experience programs on the developmental assets of youth who are under-resourced.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver. Counseling psychology and counselor education
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographic references.
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System requirements: Adobe Reader.
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Robin Lee Roche.

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University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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903218839 ( OCLC )
ocn903218839

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Full Text
EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF A WILDERNESS PROGRAM:
BIG CITY MOUNTAINEERS
By
ROBIN LEE ROCHE
B.A., Oberlin College, 2005
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Masters of Arts
Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education Program
2014


2014
ROBIN ROCHE
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


This thesis for the Master of Art degree by
Robin Lee Roche
has been approved for the
Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education Program
by
Shruti Poulsen, Chair
Edward Cannon
Scott Schaefle
7/25/14


Roche, Robin Lee, MA, Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education
Exploring the Impact of a Wilderness Experience Program: Big City Mountaineers
Thesis directed by Professor Shruti Poulsen
ABSTRACT
Wilderness therapy and wilderness experience programs offer therapeutic
interventions outdoors that are often targeted towards youth at-risk (Becker, 2010; Hill,
2007; Rosol, 2000). The purpose of this study is to explore how participation in a
wilderness experience program impacts the developmental assets of adolescents (Scales,
2005). This study examines data from the Developmental Assets Profile (Search Institute)
to explore the impact of wilderness experience programs on youth at-risk. Specifically,
this project examines how the developmental assets of adolescents change after a week-
long wilderness backpacking or canoeing trip with Big City Mountaineers. This study
analyzes data collected by Big City Mountaineers before, after, and six months after the
trips in order to compare participant responses and look for differences based on
participants of different genders, ethnicities, and ages. Information gleaned from this
study may be useful in informing counselors and others working with adolescents about
the impact of wilderness experience programs on the developmental assets of youth who
are under-resourced.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
m
Approved: Shruti Poulsen


DEDICATION
This thesis is dedicated to my family, who inspires me towards greatness.
It is also dedicated to the youth participants of Big City Mountaineers.
IV


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thank you to the School of Education and Human Development at the University
of Colorado for fostering my educational pursuits. Thank you to my thesis committee, Dr.
Poulsen, Dr. Cannon, and Dr. Schaefle for supporting me in my goal of writing a thesis.
Thank you to Elizabeth Williams and Big City Mountaineers for giving me the
opportunity to access the data that made this research possible. Thank you to my parents,
Margaret and David Weeks for instilling in me a love of the outdoors and a passion for
exploration. Thank you to my brother, Noel, for reminding me to take my time. Thank
you to Brian Roche, for believing in me. And thank you to my sister, Heidi Weeks; I
could not have done this without her brilliant support and encouragement.
v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I. INTRODUCTION................................................1
II. REVIEW 01 THE LITERATURE....................................3
Developmental Assets Profile..........................3
Definitions of Wilderness Experience Program Models...4
History...............................................5
Theoretical Underpinnings.............................7
Techniques............................................8
Youth At-Risk........................................12
Cultural Considerations..............................14
Ethical Considerations...............................17
Effectiveness........................................20
III. RESEARCH STUDY.............................................23
Purpose of Research..................................23
Research Questions...................................23
Hypotheses...........................................24
Methods..............................................25
Results..............................................31
Discussion...........................................33
Conclusion...........................................40
IV. TABLES.....................................................41
REFERENCES.......................................................48
vi


APPENDIX
A. 40 Developmental Assets....................................53
B. Developmental Assets Profile...............................54
C. DAP Category Scales........................................56
vii


LIST OF TABLES
TABLE
1. Friedman Two- Way Analysis of Variance by Rank- Averages for 8
Category Scales Comparing Pretest and Posttest.......................41
2. Friedman Two- Way Analysis of Variance by Rank- Averages for 8
Categories for Posttest and Posttest 2...............................42
3. Friedman Analysis of Variance by Ranks- Averages of Participants
Scores for all Questions in Each Category............................43
4. Pairwise Comparisons of Pre, Post, and Post 2 Administrations of the
Developmental Assets Profile.........................................44
5. Independent Samples Mann-Whitney U Test for Response Differences
Based on Age across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile.45
6. Independent Samples Mann-Whitney U Test for Response Differences Based
on Sex* Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile......46
7. Independent Samples Kruskal-Wallis Test for Differences in Response Based
on Ethnicity Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile.47
viii


CHAPTERI
INTRODUCTION
Wilderness experiences programs are outdoor experiential opportunities that
foster growth while using the natural world and group dynamics as catalysts for change.
There are many different types of wilderness experiences, ranging from backpacking trips
to ropes courses to residential camping programs. The duration of these trips ranges from
several hours to six months or more. While all wilderness experience programs share
common goals of cultivating growth and change and creating connection between group
members and the natural world, each individual program applies a different lens towards
learning (Becker, 2010).
Big City Mountaineers is a wilderness experience program for adolescents who
live in urban areas. Big City Mountaineers partners with youth agencies in major cities
including Chicago, Boston, Denver, and San Francisco to provide programs to youth who
may be considered under-resourced. The mission of Big City Mountaineers is to instill
critical life skills in youth through transformative wilderness mentoring expeditions. The
organization accomplishes their mission by taking adolescents on week long backpacking
and canoeing trips each summer. The goals of Big City Mountaineers trips include
helping youth develop social skills, communication skills, and leadership skills. Big City
Mountaineers trips are designed to be intentional in their delivery in order to make a
difference in the lives of the participants (Big City Mountaineers, 2012).
Big City Mountaineers uses the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP), published
by the Search Institute (2013), to evaluate the success of their outdoor programming. The
Developmental Assets Profile is a 58 question survey that explores the strengths and
1


supports of youth (Search Institute, 2013). This measure can be used to monitor and
evaluate programs and other impact initiatives (Search Institute, 2013).
This study examines data from the Developmental Assets Profile administered by
Big City Mountaineers to explore the impact of wilderness experience programs on
youth. Specifically, this project examines how the developmental assets of adolescents
change after a week-long wilderness backpacking or canoeing trip with Big City
Mountaineers. This study analyzes data collected by Big City Mountaineers before, after,
and six months after the trips in order to compare participant responses and look for
differences based on participants genders, ethnicities, and ages. Information gleaned
from this study may be useful in informing counselors and others working with
adolescents about the impact of wilderness experience programs on the developmental
assets of youth who are under-resourced.
2


CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Developmental Assets Profile
The Search Institute (2014) identified 40 developmental assets (see Appendix A)
that fall into eight categories. Four of the categories are composed of 20 internal strengths
or assets and four of the categories consist of the remaining 20 external supports or
assets. The Search Institute created the Developmental Assets Profile (see Appendix B),
which asks 58 assessment questions that relate to internal and external assets. The Search
Institute (2013) links the answer to each question to a specific category scale (see
Appendix C).
Twenty of the assets are considered external supports and they fall into four
categories (Search Institute, 2013). The category of Support includes family support,
positive family communication, other adult relationships, caring neighborhood, caring
school climate, and parent involvement. Empowerment includes a community that values
the youth, youth as a resource, service to others, and safety. Boundaries and Expectations
includes family boundaries, school boundaries, neighborhood boundaries, adult role
models, positive peer influence, and high expectations. Constructive Use of Time
includes creative activities, youth programs, religious community and time at home
(Search Institute, 2014).
The remaining twenty assets are considered internal strengths (Search Institute,
2014). The internal asset categories include Commitment to Learning, Positive Values,
Social Competencies, and Positive Identity. The Commitment to Learning category
includes achievement motivation, school engagement, homework, bonding to school, and
3


reading for pleasure. The Positive Values category includes caring, equality and social
justice, integrity, honesty, responsibility, and restraint. The Social Competencies category
includes planning and decision making, interpersonal competence, cultural competence,
resistance skills, and peaceful conflict resolution. The Positive Identity category
encompasses personal power, self-esteem, sense of purpose, and a positive view of
personal future (Search Institute, 2014).
The programmatic structure of Big City Mountaineers trips strives to incorporate
learning opportunities specific to each category of developmental assets. Instructors are
encouraged to lead activities and evening programs that foster growth and development.
Themes related to leadership and change are integrated throughout the week long
wilderness trips so the participants become familiar with the goals of the expedition and
are able to strive for personal growth in the developmental asset categories (Big City
Mountaineers, 2012).
Definitions of Wilderness Experience Program Models
Wilderness experience programs fall into numerous categories and are defined by
varied terminology throughout the literature. Outdoor behavioral healthcare is an
umbrella term that refers to wilderness experience programs that deliver therapy as part
of the outdoor intervention (Becker, 2010). Outdoor behavioral healthcare programs aim
to help participants achieve specific outcomes related to their behavioral needs.
Wilderness therapy is a prominent example of an outdoor behavioral healthcare service
(Becker, 2010).
Wilderness therapy is a mental health modality that takes place outdoors and
incorporates adventure (Norton, 2010). Wilderness therapy is a facet of wilderness
4


experience programs that is often geared towards adolescents. Wilderness therapy most
commonly refers to programs which harness the power of the wilderness as a prominent
aspect of treatment (Becker, 2010). However, rather than relying solely on the wilderness
to affect change, the outdoor experience often includes other common counseling factors
such as leadership support, positive relationships between teens and adults, and social
skills training (Becker, 2010).
Wilderness therapy is an emerging field that infuses the therapeutic value of
wilderness into experiential group counseling in order to affect change in individuals
(Rosol, 2000). Wilderness therapy programs conduct outdoor interventions with the
intention of personal growth, therapy, rehabilitation, education, and leadership
development (Friese, Hendee, & Kinziger, 1998). Wilderness therapy can be a beneficial
treatment modality that helps youth at-risk build self-efficacy, develop social skills, and
combat depression (Hill, 2007; Norton, 2009; Tucker, 2009).
Adventure based therapy is another prominent type of wilderness experience
program. Adventure therapy incorporates activities, such as ropes courses that require
problem solving skills, physical trust, unfamiliar environments, and consequences for
behavior (Tucker, 2009). Adventure therapy is interdisciplinary and often integrates
counseling and mental health interventions into adventure based experiential education.
Collaboration between counseling and adventure allows for successful multifaceted
interventions that foster interpersonal learning through group challenges (Tucker, 2009).
History
Wilderness therapy has roots in tent therapy, which began in the early 1900s
when tuberculosis patients were quarantined in tents to recover (Allen-Craig & Gillespie,
5


2009). The patients remarkable improvements in health raised an awareness of the
benefits of the outdoor environment. After World War II, the demand for wilderness
therapy grew, as adolescents needed programs to provide them with guidance during
tumultuous transitions. In the 1950s Outward Bound began in the United States in
response to this need and the program provided transitioning adolescents with the
opportunity to participate in an experiential outdoor program (Rosol, 2000). Many
wilderness programs are modeled after Outward Bound, which still exists (Rosol, 2000).
During the 1980s and 1990s some wilderness therapy programs employed
secretive and seemingly cruel tactics and families often did not know what the process of
change entailed (Krakauer, 1995). As the success of the secretive model waned, a new
age of wilderness therapy emerged, which required a more formal evaluation process.
Current wilderness therapy programs enlist licensed therapists and provide medically
trained staff in order to be listed as an approved agency with the Outdoor Behavioral
Healthcare Industry Council. While program participants may still be engaged in
challenging outdoor activities that involve risk, wilderness therapy programs are much
more regulated by overseers than before (Becker, 2010).
Since its inception, wilderness programming for adolescents blossomed into a
lucrative business (Russell, 2003). However, wilderness therapy is not limited to for-
profit models. Non-profit organizations, such as Big City Mountaineers, also offer
wilderness experience programs targeted towards youth at-risk who can glean benefits
from the outdoors (Big City Mountaineers, 2014).
Big City Mountaineers offers urban adolescents an opportunity to experience the
wilderness first hand through week long backpacking and canoeing trips. These
6


wilderness experiences are framed as youth development adventures, which strive to
increase the developmental assets of youth through participation (Big City Mountaineers,
2014). The goals of Big City Mountaineers program include enhancing teens
confidence, increasing self-awareness, and providing mentoring relationships so the
youth feel supported in their growth and change (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). The
strengths based approach of Big City Mountaineers highlights possibilities and
emphasizes resilience for the youth that participate. Strength-based counseling focuses on
assets, cultural diversity, and youth (Smith, 2006). A strength based approach values
positive ethnic identity and community bonds as key components that protect youth from
risk factors (Smith, 2006).
The core values of Big City Mountaineers include the ideas that resilience and
self-esteem are key components of teens happiness and future success. Big City
Mountaineers also believes that the challenge of a wilderness adventure in the company
of supportive adult role models can impact teens to build community and develop
responsibility. Participating in a program with Big City Mountaineers provides youth
with an opportunity to connect to the natural world and ultimately affect change in their
own home and school lives based on their empowering outdoor experiences (Big City
Mountaineers, 2012).
Theoretical Underpinnings
According to Becker (2010), it is essential to have theory that informs the practice
of wilderness therapy. Wilderness therapy interventions draw on an understanding of the
importance of humans connection with nature (Wilson, 1984). Collins (2005) believes
that ones internal landscape reflects the external landscape. This belief in the connection
7


between human health and the natural world demonstrates the dependence of humans on
the outdoors to sustain personal well-being.
Nisbet, Zelenski, and Murphy (2011) explore connections between well-being and
nature relatedness. They define nature relatedness as an appreciation for our
interconnectedness with the earth (Nisbet et al., 2011). Their research demonstrates that
people who score high on the nature relatedness scale have a high subjective sense of
well-being, which is demonstrated on multiple dimensions. The dimensions of well-
being the authors identify include positive affect, autonomy, personal growth, purpose in
life, environmental mastery, positive relations with others, life satisfaction, vitality, and
self-acceptance (Nisbet et al., 2011). The facets of well-being identified by Nisbet et al.
(2011) align with the developmental assets the Search Institute has identified, which
include positive relationships, self-esteem, and positive view of personal future (Scales,
2005).
The conditions in the wilderness environment support personal growth and
change. The wilderness context reduces distractions and allows participants to remove
themselves from their home environment and immerse in a more primitive setting. The
conditions of the wilderness provide natural challenges and consequences, which can
help adolescents learn about boundaries and limits. The wilderness context also promotes
healthy living since the wilderness is viewed as a cleansing place (Russell, 2009).
Techniques
Therapeutic Alliance
The therapeutic alliance, or relationship between a counselor and client is an
important factor leading to growth and change in counseling (Assay & Lambert, 1999).
8


The therapeutic alliance between staff members and participants is one of the key
components in a wilderness therapy context (Russell, Hendee, & Phillips-Miller, 2000).
Participants in wilderness therapy programs may carry negative views of therapists and
other authority figures into the woods with them. The wilderness context allows staff and
participants to break down traditional barriers and create a therapeutic alliance that the
adolescents may not have experienced in other settings. This happens collaboratively as a
trusting relationship between adults and adolescents on wilderness experience programs
develops over time and provides an important foundation for further therapeutic work
(Russell et. al, 2000).
Big City Mountaineers incorporates mentoring relationships into all of their
outdoor programming in order to facilitate a meaningful experience for the youth
participants. On Big City Mountaineers expeditions, the one-to-one adult to participant
ratio offers extra support and allows participants to feel safe and comfortable in the
knowledge that they are accompanied by an adult team that has their best interests in
mind. The relationships that develop between youth and the adult team members serve to
enhance the adolescents development of assets by providing the youth with close contact
to role-models who are by their side (Big City Mountaineers, 2012).
Environment as a Teaching Tool
Immersion in the natural world can facilitate ones physical well-being, and can
enhance the psychological benefits experienced during exercise. Studies have shown that
people who exercise outdoors experience a greater sense of well-being than those who
restrict their exercise routines to inside (Coon et al., 2011; Plante et al., 2007). Exposure
to the outdoors nurtures ones mind, body, and spirit and many people experience a
9


spiritual connection when immersed in the natural world (Tripoli, 2009). Tapping into
these innate healing properties of the natural world while on a wilderness backpacking
trip could enhance the well-being of participants.
One technique common to wilderness experience programs includes using an
unfamiliar outdoor setting as a mechanism to help participants separate themselves from
their home culture and foster a unique experience (Becker, 2010). Big City Mountaineers
relies on an outdoor setting to provide a challenging experience with natural
consequences. Immersing the participants in an environment other than home provides
adolescents with an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to be who they want to be.
Wilderness experience program participants are often encouraged to take responsibility
for themselves and others in a way that they may not have done at home before (Big City
Mountaineers, 2012).
The unfamiliarity of the surrounding environment serves as a teaching tool, since
many participants in wilderness experience programs, such as Big City Mountaineers,
have limited outdoor experience and may have grown up in a strictly urban setting (Big
City Mountaineers, 2012). The outdoor elements may be unfamiliar to some participants
given their cultural context and comfort zone (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Ivey,
Pedersen, and Ivey (2008) assert that reframing uncomfortable experiences as group
challenges can help groups overcome adversity collectively. Creating a learning
environment where participants can embrace discomfort in a safe space plays an essential
role in what a group is able to accomplish. (Ivey et al., 2008).
Big City Mountaineers incorporates a challenge day when groups climb a peak or
high mountain pass. This challenge is often unfamiliar for youth, yet the ability to
10


overcome an obstacle collectively serves as a metaphor for what the teenagers can
accomplish when they work together as a team (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Creating
an emotionally and physically safe space for the teens as they attempt to accomplish an
extraordinarily difficult task, such as climbing a peak, helps them experience support as
they strive to accomplish this goal (Big City Mountaineers, 2014).
Skills based Learning
Wilderness experience programs often use adventure based learning as a way to
challenge participants to learn new skills and broaden their horizons. Self-reflective
components such as journaling are also incorporated into the adventure to allow
participants time to consider how the challenges they are facing are fueling their personal
growth. The combination of acquiring camping skills and relational skills sets wilderness
therapy experiences apart from other outdoor programming (Hendee & Pitstick, 1993).
Participants are challenged to learn new outdoor skills. They are then given an
opportunity to reflect on how this growth and learning may inform their future. This
combination of experience and reflection fosters growth and development (Big City
Mountaineers, 2012).
Group Dynamics
The group setting is an essential component of fostering growth (Corey, Corey, &
Corey, 2010). Providing participants with activities that allow them to share experiences
and then reflect on these experiences collectively encourages positive peer support and
helps create community. Group work allows wilderness experience participants to bring
then and there concerns into the here and now (Corey et al., 2010). Collectively
participants can develop strategies for working through challenges they face on the trip
11


and at home. Big City Mountaineers (2012) believes that positive group dynamics can
lead to cohesion throughout a wilderness experience and beyond.
Challenge by Choice
One key concept of adventure based group therapy is challenge by choice
(Tucker, 2009). This idea is central to growth in the wilderness because it allows
individuals to take control of their personal choices and determine their level of
involvement in group activities. Tucker (2009) indicates that the idea of challenge by
choice sets adventure based initiatives apart from other wilderness therapy programs
where participation is often mandatory. Big City Mountaineers offers adventure based
programming yet participation is not mandated (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Allowing
adolescents to set their own goals and boundaries is a key piece of empowerment through
adventure based group initiatives (Tucker, 2009). Teaching participants to carry this
learning with them after the program is an important part of ensuring the effectiveness of
adventure based group therapy in a broader social context for the group members (Big
City Mountaineers, 2012).
Youth At-risk
Adolescents grapple with many challenges and western society lacks significant
roles for teenagers, which may further challenge them as they struggle to create a self-
concept (Rosol, 2000). Providing teenagers with a space where they can develop
leadership, social, and group skills can boost self-efficacy and help students succeed in
their lives at home. The wilderness environment serves as a powerful teacher and vehicle
for change (Hill, 2007).
12


Youth at-risk are defined as adolescents with risk factors that predict negative
outcomes (Allen-Craig & Gillespie, 2009). Examples of youth at-risk include adolescents
with behavior problems, school and family problems, self-esteem problems, depression
and suicidal ideation, or conduct disorders (Russell & Hendee, 1999). Youth at-risk are
particularly susceptible to high-risk behaviors such as substance use, sexual activity, and
delinquency (Hill, 2007). Big City Mountaineers defines their participants as under-
resourced or under-served and they claim that 83 percent of the youth that participate in
their programs come from families that live below the poverty line (Big City
Mountaineers, 2014).
Protective factors, such as positive temperament, positive self-concept, and strong
social networks, are conditions or processes that can moderate the effects of risk factors
(Allen-Craig & Gillespie, 2009). The Positive Identity category on the Developmental
Assets Profile correlates with the protective factor of positive self-concept and it
encompasses the developmental assets of personal power, self-esteem, sense of purpose,
and positive view of personal future (Scales, 2005). Big City Mountaineers strives to help
youth develop positive identities and strong social supports, so they will be more
resilient. Resilient youth demonstrate an ability to maintain desirable outcomes when
exposed to lifes challenges and stressors (Allen-Craig & Gillespie, 2009).
Wilderness therapy programs are targeted at adolescents who need help
overcoming emotional, adjustment, addiction, and psychological problems (Russell &
Hendee, 1999). The wilderness can provide a therapeutic space in which to work through
issues that may feel overwhelming in a more traditional setting. Wilderness therapy can
help youth at-risk strengthen protective factors and increase resilience (Allen-Craig &
13


Gillespie, 2009). Youth at-risk may not have opportunities for growth within their normal
community settings. Research has shown that adolescents who demonstrate risk factors
can benefit from wilderness experience programs (Hill, 2007; Rosol, 2000).
The participants involved with Big City Mountaineers trips include adolescents
from urban, under-resourced backgrounds. Some of the youth participants may be
considered at-risk, based on the definitions above. However, Big City Mountaineers
(2014) uses strengths based language to describe their participant pool as youth from
under-served backgrounds who may benefit from the opportunity to participate in a week
long wilderness experience. Big City Mountaineers programs emphasize focusing on
resilience while honoring adversity in the lives of the youth they serve (Big City
Mountaineers, 2013).
Cultural Considerations
In order to provide the most effective wilderness interventions, programs must
take into account participants families, friends, class, culture, and ethnicity (Rosol,
2000). Understanding each individuals background helps facilitate a group experience
that is meaningful for all participants. As a group leader or facilitator it is important to
link members through common experiences (Ivey et al., 2008). The shared experience of
a challenging expedition could further serve as a source of strength when group members
return to their respective homes (Ivey et al., 2008). Being respectful of each individuals
cultural background, while providing participants with information on best practices
within the field of outdoor education can be an important way to acknowledge and broach
cultural differences (Big City Mountaineers, 2012).
14


Age
Developmentally, middle and high school aged students are quite malleable,
particularly with respect to their personal identities (Rosenthal, 2008). According to
Eriksons Psychosocial Theory of Development, youth ages 12 to 18 are in the identity
versus role confusion stage. During this developmental stage, youth are determining
values and learning to think for themselves, as they struggle to create personal identities
that are meaningful to them. Youth in this developmental stage are exploring self-
concepts and learning about how they relate to others (Rosenthal, 2008). The
Developmental Assets Profile (Search Institute, 2012) is an assessment for youth ages 13
to 18. The questions help people in this age group identify their strengths and supports
within different life contexts (Search Institute, 2013).
A previous study of adolescents in wilderness treatment found differences in
responses between middle school and high school participants (Bettmann & Tucker,
2011). Bettmann and Tucker (2011) divided participants into two groups: ages 13-15 and
ages 16-17. The researchers found significant differences in responses on the anger
dysregulation subscale of the Adolescent Unresolved Attachment Questionnaire between
younger and older adolescents (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011). Bettmann and Tucker (2011)
also noted significant response difference based on age in the goal partnership subscale of
the Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire. Based on the study by Bettmann and Tucker
(2011), I decided to explore differences in responses to the Developmental Assets Profile
based on age. The assertion that middle and high school aged students may provide
varying responses seemed worthy of further exploration (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011). My
hypothesis was that high school respondents would experience more growth in their
15


developmental assets, as they may have a better ability to integrate the themes that the
Developmental Asset Profile addresses into their lives. Research has shown a decline in
developmental assets occurs during middle school, due to peer pressure and other social
factors (Scales, 2005).
Gender
Many wilderness experience programs and subsequent studies serve single gender
groups (Scheinfeld, Rochlen, & Buser, 2011). Big City Mountaineers asks the youth
agencies that it partners with to divide participants by gender. This separation is intended
to empower teenagers to be free to express themselves, without worrying about
impressing people of another gender (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). My research study
analyzes differences in responses to the Developmental Assets Profile based on gender. I
predicted that young woman would experience higher levels of growth than men on the
Developmental Assets Profile between the pre and posttest because I thought women may
be more attuned to the wilderness experience and its impact on their personal growth.
A previous study on attachment in the wilderness found no statistically significant
differences in scores between participants of different genders (Bettmann & Tucker,
2011). While Bettmann and Tucker (2011) did not find gender differences, the population
they were examining was in a different developmental stage. Based on my knowledge of
youth in Eriksons Identity versus Role Confusion stage, I thought that the women would
be able to articulate their growth more clearly than the young men who filled out the
Developmental Assets Profile before and after their participation with Big City
Mountaineers.
16


Ethnicity
Bettmann and Tucker (2011) explained that their study had limited
generalizability to a more diverse population due to the lack of diversity of respondents
of different ethnicities. Since Big City Mountaineers serves a more ethnically diverse
population that the population used in the study by Bettmann and Tucker (2011), the
results of this research may be more generalizable to a diverse population than previous
studies. Bettmann and Tucker (2011) acknowledged that they did not make race
comparisons since ninety percent of the population included in their study identified as
Caucasian.
I decided to explore differences in response based on ethnicity to determine if
between group differences were present in each category on the Developmental Assets
Profile. I hypothesized that there would not be differences between respondents from
different racial and ethnic backgrounds because Big City Mountaineers does not vary
programmatic elements based on the race or ethnicity of participants. I did expect to see
growth on the Developmental Assets Profile for participants of all racial and ethnic
backgrounds because Big City Mountaineers uses Joseph Campbells Heros Journey as a
foundational teaching tool and it is cross cultural (Big City Mountaineers, 2012).
Ethical Considerations
Perceived Risk
While perceived risk is an important component of wilderness experience
programs, participants can push their limits and challenge themselves without engaging
in risky behavior. Encouraging participants to grow by challenging them in safe ways
will help them learn to set boundaries for themselves in the future (Big City
17


Mountaineers, 2012). Within the context of wilderness experience programs, challenge
by choice is an essential component that helps participants learn about and create their
own boundaries (Tucker, 2009). The notion of challenge by choice allows students to
decide on their own level of participation and engagement in the program based upon
their comfort level with the challenges posed by a wilderness experience program. This
allows students to foster a sense of commitment to the goals of program so they feel
encouraged to challenge themselves and each other to engage in the process of change.
Therapeutic Value
Becker (2010) asserts wilderness therapy and the therapeutic value of wilderness
are inherently different. He supports the idea that the wilderness induces psychological
benefits yet, he cautions against assuming that every wilderness experience program
incorporates therapy. While people may be able to tap into their innate sense of well-
being during time spent outdoors, Becker (2010) claims that some people may be taking
advantage of the therapeutic value of the outdoors, which he says is not the same as
participating in therapy. Depending on the directives that participants are receiving, their
wilderness experience may be better labeled as an adventure therapy program with guides
or a wilderness experience program (Becker, 2010).
For a wilderness therapy intervention to occur Becker (2010) outlines that there
must be licensed therapists present with specific goals and agendas related to therapy. It
is important for organizations to understand the goals of their programs and to select staff
accordingly. There is a value to understanding how combinations of staff members might
work together to facilitate programs that meet the goals of the organization while also
utilizing the assets of the natural world (Hill, 2007).
18


While wilderness therapy is not currently considered an empirically based
treatment, support exists for its effectiveness with a wide variety of adolescent
populations (Becker, 2007). A number of studies have offered glimpses into wilderness
therapy as a treatment modality and as programs of this nature evolve, they are informed
by evidence (Becker, 2007). The research conducted on wilderness therapy programs
often draws from participants in programs that belong to the Outdoor Behavioral
Healthcare Industry Council (OBHIC). This group of organizations carries their own set
of ethical standards and commits to best practices within the wilderness therapy field
(Becker, 2007).
Wilderness experience programs do not necessitate having therapists on staff
(Becker, 2010). The goals of wilderness experience programs are often based on
curriculum chosen by the organizations, rather than on therapeutic interventions. Big City
Mountaineers is a wilderness experience program that delivers an engaging curriculum
based on Joseph Campbells Heros Journey (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). This model
allows staff to guide participants in a meaningful way that is connected to growth and
development, which are both goals of Big City Mountaineers wilderness experience
programs.
There are numerous programs that do not adhere to a particular set of guidelines,
yet still operate under the umbrella term, wilderness therapy. Becker (2007) cautions
against trusting these programs that may or may not be ethical or effective. The need to
refine the understanding that wilderness therapy refers to a very specific type of
therapeutic outdoor program may be important in order to crystallize the publics
19


understanding of the differences between types of wilderness experience programs
(Becker, 2007).
The Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council (OBHIC) formed in 1997 in
an attempt to cultivate best practices within the field. Since then, it has spearheaded
numerous research studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of wilderness therapy
programs (Russell & Hendee, 1999). The OBHIC has also tried to distinguish between
different types of wilderness experience programs, in order that the public may be well
informed about the nuances between programs (Russell, 1999). As therapeutic outdoor
programs grow and change over time, flexibility and inclusivity will remain the key
components that help demonstrate effectiveness in the field (Russell, 1999).
Effectiveness
Emerging from an understanding of the therapeutic nature of immersion in the
outdoors, wilderness therapy and adventure therapy have sprung up as models for
integrating counseling into an outdoor context. Scheinfeld, Rochlen, and Buser (2011)
applied adventure therapy to a mens group that initially began therapy in a traditional
office setting. The results of this study demonstrated that the men experienced deeper
therapeutic change in the wilderness context than during therapy in the office. The
wilderness setting, including an adventure course in which the men participated,
increased their willingness to engage in therapeutic relationships. This subsequent
engagement was beneficial for their group therapy process (Scheinfeld, Rochlen, &
Buser, 2011).
In a similar fashion, Norton (2010) explored wilderness therapy as a holistic
intervention for adolescents suffering from depression. Norton (2010) states wilderness
20


therapy seeks to harness the power of the outdoors in combination with structured
clinical interventions in a way that promotes healing and personal growth (p. 227).
Nortons research indicates the benefits may be short lived without follow up therapeutic
interventions of a similar nature. Based on the understanding that teenagers may view
their wilderness experience as an isolated intervention, it is important that leaders are able
to help connect lessons learned outdoors back to participants lives at home. Norton
(2010) proposed follow up support through counseling efforts as well as continued
interaction with peers who have shared experiences in order to support adolescents
continued growth over time.
Bettmann and Tucker (2011) studied shifts in adolescent attachment during
wilderness therapy. The researchers administered quantitative measurements on
attachment before and after participation in a wilderness experience. The sample in their
study included 96 teenagers between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. The study
results did not yield statistically significant results based on gender. However, the study
did demonstrate that the treatment program was more successful for older adolescents
(Bettmann & Tucker, 2011).
Further, Bettmann and Tucker (2011) assert that racial homogeneity is one
limitation of their study that limits the generalizability of the results. The authors state,
Future study using larger sample sizes should consider carefully the impact and delivery
of treatment to minority clients, as important outcome studies of wilderness treatment
neglected race of client or treatment staff as a factor of outcome (Bettmann and Tucker,
pp.515). Based on the limitations articulated by Bettmann and Tucker (2011), I decided
to study Big City Mountaineers, which serves ethnic minority populations of teenagers of
21


mixed genders and ages. My study uses a 333 person sample size, which is considerably
larger than the 96 participants Bettmann and Tucker (2011) studied. My research study
offers perspective on how teenagers from ethnic minority backgrounds are influenced by
a wilderness experience.
22


CHAPTER HI
RESEARCH STUDY
Purpose of Research
The purpose of this research is to provide a study that will inform counseling
professionals about how wilderness experience programs can impact the developmental
assets of youth who are under-served in urban communities. Previous research shows that
wilderness interventions have positive impacts on participants sense of well-being and
self-efficacy, thus demonstrating therapeutic growth and change (Norton, 2010; Tucker,
2009). An understanding of wilderness therapy and wilderness experience programs can
inform counselors who wish to support their clients through holistic healing modalities.
Learning the nuances of a wilderness experience program, such as Big City Mountaineers
may help counseling professionals guide clients towards beneficial growth experiences.
Research Questions
This study addressed the following research questions:
Which category of assets on the Developmental Assets Profile has the
greatest overall change between pre and post survey responses for the
entire group of participants?
Among the categories of the Developmental Asset Profile found to have
the greatest overall change from pre to post for all participants, are there
differences in the degree of change between different age groups, gender
groups, or ethnicity groups?
Among the participants who completed the six month follow up survey,
were changes in score on the Developmental Assets Profile maintained?
23


Hypotheses
I hypothesized that the challenge of a wilderness experience program would lead
the participants to experience growth on the Developmental Assets Profile, which was
administered to all of the teens before and after the trip. My hypotheses revolve around
my belief that a wilderness experience with Big City Mountaineers will serve as a
catalyst for growth and change in the lives of teenagers who participate.
Based on previous studies (Nisbet et al., 2011; Scales, 2005) the following
specific hypotheses were explored in this study: I predicted that the positive identity
category would be the category with the largest change in response between pre and post
data. I also posited that the curriculum of Big City Mountaineers most aligns with the
specific developmental assets associated with empowerment, positive values and identity
(Scales, 2005). I posited that young women who participated in wilderness trips with Big
City Mountaineers would experience more growth on the Developmental Asset Profile
between the pre and post- test than the young men who participated because I thought
women would be more open to the experience of growth and change. I also predicted that
high school students would experience more growth between the pre and posttest than
middle school students because I thought high school students would be more ready to
accept a challenge. I did not anticipate significant differences in growth amongst
respondents of different ethnic groups because Big City Mountaineers offers a cross-
cultural curriculum. Finally, I did not anticipate that gains would be maintained between
posttest and posttest 2 because I anticipated that the isolated nature of the wilderness
experience may make it difficult for adolescents to integrate growth and change from this
experience into their lives.
24


Methods
Design
This research takes the form of a quantitative study that explores how a
wilderness experience impacts the developmental assets of adolescents. This study is a
secondary data-analysis that involved analyzing data collected by Big City Mountaineers
on the Developmental Assets Profile, which is published by the Search Institute (2013).
Big City Mountaineers collected this data by administering the Developmental Assets
Profile to participants before and after their involvement in a week-long wilderness
expedition in the summer of 2012. Big City Mountaineers obtained consent from
participants prior to program participation. Their consent form includes all aspects of the
program, including completion of surveys.
Prior to completing this research project, the researcher submitted a proposal to
the University of Colorado Denvers Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval.
Given that the research was a secondary data analysis, the IRB reviewed Big City
Mountaineers process of data collection and consent. The IRB also confirmed with Big
City Mountaineers that all data would be provided to the researcher in a de-identified
format. After undergoing protocol review, this research was approved by the Institutional
Review Board at the University of Colorado Denver. At that point in time, Big City
Mountaineers released the de-identified data to the researcher for analysis.
Big City Mountaineers collected data for program evaluation from 333
respondents during the summer of 2012. Of the 333 respondents, data from 315 people
was used in this research study. This sample size is larger than other studies on
adolescents participating in wilderness programs and several previous studies
25


recommended larger sample sizes for future studies (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011; Allen-
Craig & Gillespie, 2009).
Norton (2010) asserts that follow up interventions may be necessary to the
maintenance of well-being acquired in the wilderness. Similarly, Allen-Craig and
Gillespie (2009) recommend that future research in the realm of resilience and wilderness
therapy includes post-program follow-up data. With this in mind, this study included an
analysis of the six month follow up administration of the Developmental Assets Profile to
help assess the need for further intervention six months after their wilderness experience.
Big City Mountaineers administered follow-up surveys in winter and spring of 2013.
Program Participants
The Big City Mountaineers program participants were adolescents ranging in age
from eleven to twenty one. The participants were from urban areas including Chicago,
Boston, San Francisco, and Denver. Participants were from under-resourced backgrounds
and they were connected with local youth agencies. Each agency that Big City
Mountaineers partners with selects groups of students to participate on expeditions based
on their own criteria. Big City Mountaineers covers the cost of the expeditions by
partnering with outdoor companies to make the programs accessible to urban adolescents.
Therefore, there was no financial cost associated with participation in this research study.
Logistics
Each person that completed the Developmental Asset Profile participated in a
week-long backpacking or canoeing trip with Big City Mountaineers in a wilderness
setting. The wilderness experience program emphasized outdoor skills, team-building,
and personal development. Opportunities for growth were integrated into the wilderness
26


experience through group games, journaling, and other reflection activities. The
participants played an active role in all aspects of their expedition. They set up tents,
cooked meals, and hiked. The wilderness setting combined with the aforementioned
activities serves to be therapeutic by design (Scheinfeld et al., 2011). Big City
Mountaineers emphasizes the importance of augmenting the developmental assets of the
adolescents they serve (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Each component of the trip is
connected to a development asset, including planning, decision making, and self-esteem
(Scales, 2005).
Procedure
Big City Mountaineers administers the Developmental Assets Profile before and
after each expedition they run. Instructors on the trips are responsible for administering
this instrument and explaining it to participants. Six months after their participation in the
program, participants receive a follow up assessment in the mail or from their youth
agency. Agencies or participants are responsible for returning the six month post
assessment to the Big City Mountaineers office. The pre, post, and six month post data is
compiled by Big City Mountaineers for the purposes of program evaluation. Big City
Mountaineers agreed to provide existing data from 2012 for use in this research study.
Instrument
The Developmental Assets Profile (See Appendix B) assesses how youth rate
themselves personally, socially, and within the family, school, and community contexts.
Participant responses to the fifty eight question survey are categorized into internal and
external assets. The external asset categories include Support, Empowerment, Boundaries
and Expectations, and Constructive Use of Time. The internal asset categories include
27


Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity
(Search Institute, 2013). The answers to the questions are grouped according to category
scales and scores are reported on a Likert scale (Search Institute, 2013).
Reliability
Haggerty, Elgin, and Woolley (2011) evaluated 73 different social-emotional
learning assessments and identified ten which they considered valid and reliable. The
Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) is one of the assessment tools which met their
criteria and was included on their recommended list of assessment measures. Haggerty et
al. (2011) gave the Developmental Assets Profile a score of good for internal reliability
and test-retest reliability.
The Search Institute (2013) sampled 225 students and found that the two week
test- retest reliability score for 6th through 12th graders was moderately high and their data
showed that the average for the eight asset categories was r = .79. The Search Institute
(2013) indicates that test-retest reliability for the DAP Internal Assets Score was r=.86
and for the External Assets Score r= .84. This data shows that student scores seemed to
be reliable over a period of several weeks.
Validity
Haggerty, Elgin, and Woolley (2011) compared student responses from an asset
rich school with responses from a less asset rich school and they found significant
differences (p < .001) in responses on every asset category scale, which demonstrated
criterion validity.
The Search Institute (2013) compared scores on the Attitudes and Behaviors
survey with the Developmental Assets Profile and found a strong relationship between
28


the two measures, which demonstrated concurrent validity. Numerous field tests indicate
relatively high internal consistency reliability, which was shown by an average
Cronbachs coefficient alpha of .81 for the eight category scales (Search Institute, 2013).
Based on their research, The Search Institute (2013) determined that there was not
significant variation between groups on the different category scales of the DAP.
Sample
In the summer of 2012, 333 participants completed a portion of the
Developmental Assets Profile. The researcher used data from 315 participants who
completed both pre and posttests. Of these 315 participants, 166 identified as male and
149 identified as female. Of the total participants, 109 were considered middle school
students for the purposes of this study. This group was made up of participants ages 11-
14. 206 of the participants were high school students, ages 15-21. Some category scales
have a sample size smaller than 315. If participants did not answer any questions in a
particular category, we eliminated their data from that subscale. The Developmental
Assets Profile asks participants to identify their race/ethnicity by selecting a box. Please
see the following table for demographic information on race/ethnicity that was collected
by Big City Mountaineers in 2012 as part of the Developmental Assets Profile.
29


Race/Ethnicity of Big City Mountaineers Participants in Summer 2012
Race/Ethnicity Number of Participants
Hispanic/Latino 141
African American 68
White/Caucasian 53
Native American 4
Middle Eastern/North African 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 16
Other 48
No Response 2
Note: N = 333
Data Analysis
To answer the first research question, the change between pre and post response
scores was analyzed for all participants in each category. Since each category included
different numbers of questions on the survey administered to participants, the first step
was to calculate the average score for each participant within each category on the pre
and post assessments. Then I conducted a Friedman ANOVA using SPSS 21 (IBM) to
analyze the difference between pre and post administrations of the DAP. As long as
participants answered one question in the category, their results were included in the
study and the category average was adjusted according to the number of questions they
answered. I eliminated cases from the category scale data analysis if participants did not
answer any questions in a category.
30


Next I focused on demographic variables for further analysis. Since changes in all
categories were significant, differences in responses based on age, gender, and ethnicity
within all categories were assessed in order to determine if there were correlations in the
degree of change. Analysis of the age and gender categories was done using the Mann-
Whitney U test, which is a non-parametric version of a t-test used to compare two
different groups of respondents. A Kruskal-Wallis One Way Analysis of Variance
(ANOVA) was used to compare different ethnic groups.
In order to determine if gains were maintained between the post and post 2
administration of the Developmental Assets Profile, a Friedman Analysis of Variance,
which is a repeated measures ANOVA, was run for all respondents who completed the
Developmental Assets Profile at all three time points, pre, post, and post 2 (N = 70).
Additional pairwise comparisons were done on all significant categories to determine
which pairs differed between administrations of the Developmental Assets Profile.
Results
Statistical analysis using a Friedman ANOVA demonstrated that scores in all
categories experienced significant change (all p <001) between pretest and posttest
administrations of the Developmental Assets Profile. The category subscale with the
greatest change from the pretest to the posttest, according to the test statistics on the
Friedman ANOVA, was Positive Identity, which had the highest test statistic of 60.275
(Table 1).
The level of significance was adjusted with the Bonferroni correction in order to
maintain an experiment wide alpha level of significance of .05 (Siegel & Castellan,
1988). To accomplish this, the researcher divided .05 by the number of categories
31


sampled (8). This yielded an individual critical alpha level of .00625 for each Friedman
test. All 8 Friedman ANOVAs were significant using this level (all p < .001). This
demonstrates significant change in responses in all categories of the DAP when
comparing participant responses from before and after participation in a week long
wilderness trip with Big City Mountaineers (Table 1).
Analysis with a Friedman ANOVA also compared posttest, which was
administered on the last day of the wilderness trip and posttest 2, which was administered
approximately six months after participation in Big City Mountaineers program. The
sample size for this ANOVA was smaller (N= 70) because everyone who participated in
a trip with Big City Mountaineers did not complete the posttest 2. The posttest to posttest
2 comparison did not yield any significant differences in response between the two
administrations (all p > .055). This demonstrates that significant change did not happen
between the conclusion of the program and the six month follow up assessment (Table 2).
Another Friedman ANOVA was conducted to compare all three administrations
of the Developmental Assets Profile. This ANOVA was done separately due to the small
subset of the total sample who completed all three tests (N = 70). Category 1, Support,
had a p value of .068, which means there was not a significant change in results between
the three different administrations of the Developmental Assets Profile for this category.
All other category subscales showed significant differences (all p < .001) in responses
between the three different administration times, as seen in Table 3.
As further analysis with pairwise comparisons demonstrates (Table 4), there was a
significant difference between the pretest and posttest administrations in six of the eight
categories (p < .001). However, there was not a significant difference in any of the
32


categories between the posttest and the posttest 2 results (all p > 0.106), which indicates
that overall, gains occurred while on the wilderness program and were maintained six
months after participation in the program. Category 3, Boundaries and Expectations, had
a p value of .012 between pretest and posttest, which does not demonstrate a significant
change, yet that category did have a significant change between pretest and posttest 2 (p
< .001).
This data did not indicate significant differences in any category based on age (all
p > .023) or sex (all p > .078), based on the results of the Mann Whitney U tests (Table 5
and Table 6). Additionally, the Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA did not indicate any significant
differences in responses based on race/ethnicity, with all p > .043 (Table 7). All of the
above tests used a significance level adjusted with the Bonferroni correction to .00625, to
maintain an experiment wide alpha level of significance of .05.
Discussion
The results demonstrate that there was a significant change in participants
responses on the Developmental Assets Profile after participating in a week long
wilderness trip. The Friedman ANOVA (Table 1) shows that scores in all eight categories
on the Developmental Assets Profile (Support, Empowerment, Boundaries and
Expectations, Constructive Use of Time, Commitment to Learning, Positive Values,
Social Competencies, and Positive Identity) were higher after spending a week in the
woods with Big City Mountaineers. As predicted, the category of Positive Identity did
have the highest test statistic. This makes sense, since Big City Mountaineers strives to
bolster participants sense of self (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). While I hypothesized
that participants would experience more growth in several specific categories, all of the
33


categories showed significant changes. Gains in category scores occurred and were
maintained after 6 months. These gains did not differ with age, gender, or ethnicity.
I hypothesized that there would be variation in results based on demographic
categories, although the results did not indicate any significant differences based on age,
sex, or race/ethnicity. These results support the idea that the Developmental Assets
Profile is applicable to people of various ages, genders, and ethnicities. The results of the
study indicate that overall, the population included in this study reported growth in their
developmental assets after participating in a week long wilderness trip. This data may
support the idea that the wilderness has therapeutic value for people regardless of their
backgrounds and these results also support the idea that Big City Mountaineers programs
help adolescents from a variety of backgrounds.
The pairwise comparisons (Table 4) demonstrate that there were comparable
results between the varying levels of external assets for the entire group of participants
and the 70 people who completed all three administrations of the Developmental Assets
Profile. Since only 70 out of 315 participants completed the posttest 2, this smaller subset
of participants may have had more external support than the group as a whole. Since
support was the only category that did not demonstrate any significant changes between
administrations, it is possible that this category was impacted by the ceiling effect, which
means this smaller subset of participants may have started the program with higher levels
of support, which may be why they did not experience significant growth in that category
during the program. It is also possible that people who completed the posttest 2 had more
external support and thus were able to maintain the developmental assets they gained on
the wilderness trip.
34


Similarly, for the smaller sample, the Boundaries and Expectations category scale
did not show significant change from pretest to posttest (p = .012), although it did have a
significant change between the pretest and the posttest 2 administration. It is possible that
the smaller subset of people had a higher level of support and stronger boundaries to
begin with so they did not demonstrate much change over the course of the program.
Interestingly, the small group (N=70) did show significant change between pre and post 2
for the boundaries and expectations category, which demonstrates that perhaps they were
able to implement stronger boundaries upon returning to their community or family
context.
External support is a key asset identified by the Search Institute (2013) and in this
study it was a factor in response differences. It is possible that youth with strong external
support had higher levels of support prior to participating in a Big City Mountaineers
program. This may explain why the smaller subset of participants did not exhibit as much
change in this particular area. It is also possible that youth who have strong external
support systems may be more likely to integrate their learning back into their
communities after the experience of a wilderness program. Adolescents without strong
support networks may not have the ability to integrate the developmental assets they
gained on an isolated experiential program back into their life, if their community does
not support or understand their personal growth process. This is an area for further
research.
For the group of people that completed all three administrations of the DAP, the
categories of Constructive Use of Time and Commitment to Learning did not have
significant change between pre-post 2. The p value for Constructive Use of Time was
35


.016 and for Commitment to Learning the p value was .035. Since the growth was not
maintained in these two categories for the smaller subset of people, these would be areas
for counselors, agency leaders, and school personnel to focus on as they strive to support
the youth in transferring learning from Big City Mountaineers back into their
communities.
Strengths and Limitations of the Study
The Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) is a strong assessment instrument, as
evidenced by previous studies (Haggerty et al., 2011; Scales, 2005). However, the DAP
does have limitations. Within the context of a wilderness experience program, it may be
more beneficial to assess for change using a measure that allows youth to express their
experiences in more creative or meaningful ways. The Developmental Assets Profile is
limited in its scope because it is based on self-report and it uses a Likert scale to quantify
a wilderness experience.
Another potential implication of using the Developmental Assets Profile is that it
may not distinguish differences between the experiences of adolescents from diverse
backgrounds. In this study, the difference between students with more or less external
support is noticeable in the results. However, there were no noticeable differences
between participants of different ages and cultural contexts. This may mean that
differences do not exist or it may mean that the Developmental Assets Profile is not
sensitive enough to cultural diversity to capture the differences.
One limitation of this research study is that it did not include a comparison group,
as it is a case study of one particular wilderness experience program, rather than a
comparison study. Without a comparison group, it may be difficult to definitively say
36


whether any changes that occur on the Developmental Assets Profile are linked to the
wilderness experience program or to other factors. It is possible that future studies could
explore the impacts of different wilderness experience programs on the developmental
assets of adolescents.
Another limitation of this study is that each Big City Mountaineers expedition
includes many variables and factors such as different leaders, volunteers, and youth. It is
difficult to isolate the factors which have the strongest influence on growth and
developmental assets. Determining which factors affect the most change may be an
important direction for future studies.
The sample size of 333 participants is both a strength and limitation of this study.
While the size of the sample is larger than that of previous studies in this area of research
(Bettmann & Tucker, 2011; Allen-Craig & Gillespie, 2009), it is not possible to
generalize to the population at large based on a 333 person sample. Another limitation of
this study is that only 70 students completed the posttest 2. Future studies may include
larger sample sizes, which are more generalizable to a diverse urban adolescent
population.
Since the data was not collected by the researcher, there may be associated
limitations. There may have been differences in collection technique based on which Big
City Mountaineers instructor administered the surveys to each group of participants.
Since the researcher was not directly involved in collecting the posttest 2 results, there
was not an incentive for participants to return the surveys. It is possible that if the
researcher had been directly involved in the data collection, the sample size for the
posttest 2 administrations may have been greater than 70.
37


A strength of this study is that it used data from a diverse pool of participants
from different geographical regions and with a variety of ages and ethnicities. The
strength of this dataset makes this research more generalizable to diverse populations
than previous research studies. The opportunity to compare multiple different groups on
the Developmental Assets Profile was a major strength of this study. Since this study did
not pick up differences between demographic variables, it demonstrates that they may not
be as important as we hypothesized. The impacts of wilderness experience programs on
developmental assets may be more generalizable than we initially hypothesized in this
research study.
Implications
The results of this study provide promising information for professionals working
in the fields of counseling, outdoor education, wilderness therapy, and experiential
education. These results demonstrate that intentional outdoor programming, as provided
by Big City Mountaineers in this case study, can positively impact the developmental
assets of adolescents. Additionally, since gains were observed within a week and
maintained for six months after the program, this research supports the idea that short
term interventions can have long term impacts.
This research supports my belief in an experiential counseling model that
incorporates the outdoors and harnesses the healing power of nature. I believe that this
research demonstrates that outdoor experiences help foster developmental assets in
adolescents. Having empirical support for a therapeutic model of experiential education
may inspire counselors and educators to integrate outdoor experiences into the work they
do with youth.
38


A willingness on the part of counselors and educators to be creative and
integrative can positively impact youth. This research demonstrates the importance of
advocating for outdoor experiences that provide adolescents with impactful growth
opportunities that support their mental health and provide them with therapeutic
experiences in outdoor settings.
Directions for Further Research
One area for further research would be to begin to isolate variables and find out
what the most important factors of the wilderness experience are, so that programs can
emphasize the key elements. The inherent variation between instructors, participants,
delivery of programmatic elements, and locations may mean that isolating these variables
could prove to be beneficial. I think that further qualitative research could explore
participants perspectives on what elements of wilderness experience programs they find
to be the most influential. Hearing perspectives from the youth who participate could
inform the structure of outdoor programming so it meets participant needs.
Another area for further growth could include developing research that would
include the entire sample in the follow up survey. Having a smaller sample gave us
information on the possible varying levels of support for the group that completed the
posttest 2. It would be interesting to know if the results would have varied if the entire
sample was included.
It would also be beneficial to expand this study to other groups leading wilderness
trips with adolescents to find out if the results of this study are consistent across
experiential outdoor programs, or if there is something specific about the Big City
39


Mountaineers Program model that is working well. This information could inform other
outdoor programs and professionals.
Conclusion
I believe this research holds promise in bringing value to the field of counseling
by examining the intersection of outdoor pursuits and developmental assets. Big City
Mountaineers offers a case study which includes a diverse sample of youth ranging in
age, geographic location, and ethnic background. The results of this study will inform
counselors and outdoor professionals alike who hope to serve youth at-risk by
implementing outdoor experience programs and related interventions. This research
reinforces the value of the wilderness on the growth and development of adolescents.
40


CHAPTER IV
TABLES
Table 1
Friedman Two- Way Analysis of Variance by Rank- Averages for 8 Category Scales
Comparing Pretest and Posttest
Category Scale Mean Rank Pretest Posttest Test Statistic P value
1. Support 1.39 1.61 22.154 <001
2. Empowerment 1.35 1.65 37.787 <001
3. Boundaries and Expectations 1.39 1.61 19.758 <001
4. Constructive Use of Time 1.36 1.64 36.480 <001
5. Commitment to Learning 1.35 1.65 39.385 <001
6. Positive Values 1.34 1.66 32.779 <001
7. Social Competencies 1.30 1.70 55.827 <001
8. Positive Identity 1.30 1.70 60.275 <001
Note. N=315, except for category 2, where n = 314; Degrees of Freedom = 1
41


Table 2
Friedman Two- Way Analysis of Variance by Rank- Averages for 8 Categories for
Posttest and Posttest 2
Category Mean Rank Pretest Posttest Test Statistic P value
1. Support 1.49 1.51 .067 .796
2. Empowerment 1.51 1.49 .016 .898
3. Boundaries and Expectations 1.40 1.60 3.689 .055
4. Constructive Use of Time 1.57 1.43 1.667 .197
5. Commitment to Learning 1.55 1.44 1.473 .225
6. Positive Values 1.54 1.46 .581 .446
7. Social Competencies 1.55 1.45 .860 .354
8. Positive Identity 1.55 1.45 .860 .354
Note. N=73, Degrees of Freedom = 1
42


Table 3
Friedman Analysis of Variance by Ranks- Averages of Participants Scores for all
Questions in Each Category
Category Pretest Mean Rank Posttest Posttest 2 Test Statistic P value
1. Support 1.79 2.10 2.11 5.370 .068
2. Empowerment 1.64 2.18 2.19 16.058 <001
3. Boundaries and Expectations 1.62 2.05 2.33 19.826 <001
4. Constructive Use of Time 1.66 2.28 2.06 16.481 <001
5. Commitment to Learning 1.70 2.24 2.06 13.204 <001
6. Positive Values 1.64 2.23 2.14 15.098 <001
7. Social Competencies 1.55 2.21 2.24 23.832 <001
8. Positive Identity 1.55 2.25 2.20 25.547 <001
Note. N=70, except for Category 3, where n = 69, Degrees of Freedom = 2
43


Table 4
Pairwise Comparisons ofPre, Post, and Post 2 Administrations of the Developmental
Assets Profile
Category P value
Pre-post Pre-Post 2 Post-Post 2
1. Support n/a n/a n/a
2. Empowerment <001 <001 .966
3. Boundaries and Expectations .012 <001 .106
4. Constructive Use of Time <001 .016 .205
5. Commitment to Learning <001 .035 .272
6. Positive Values <001 <.003 .583
7. Social Competencies <001 <001 .899
8. Positive Identity <001 <001 .767
Note. N = 70, except in Category 3, where n = 69
44


Table 5
Independent Samples Mann-Whitney U Test for Response Differences
Based on Age across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile
Category Test Statistic P value
1. Support 10,069.000 .185
2. Empowerment 9,499.500 .023
3. Boundaries and Expectations 9,907.500 .108
4. Constructive Use of Time 10,950.000 .714
5. Commitment to Learning 11,427.000 .792
6. Positive Values 10,502.000 .344
7. Social Competencies 10,533.500 .365
8. Positive Identity 12,155.500 .223
Note. N = 315, except for Category 1 where n = 312 and Category 3,
where n = 314
45


Table 6
Independent Samples Mann-Whitney U Test for Response Differences Based
on Sex* Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile
Category Test Statistic P value
1. Support 11,106.000 .197
2. Empowerment 11,563.500 .315
3. Boundaries and Expectations 13,015.000 .359
4. Constructive Use of Time 10,968.000 .078
5. Commitment to Learning 12,118.000 .755
6. Positive Values 12,089.000 .730
7. Social Competencies 12,449.500 .918
8. Positive Identity 11,134.500 .123
Note. N= 315, except for Category 1, where n = 312 and Category 3, where
n = 314 *Sex is the term used by the Developmental Assets Profile
46


Table 7
Independent Samples Kruskal-Wallis Test for Differences in Response Based
on Ethnicity Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile
Category Test Statistic P value
1. Support 3.990 .678
2. Empowerment 5.218 .516
3. Boundaries and Expectations 7.466 .280
4. Constructive Use of Time 1.145 .980
5. Commitment to Learning 4.728 .579
6. Positive Values 7.975 .240
7. Social Competencies 7.865 .248
8. Positive Identity 12.995 .043
Note. N = 313, except for Category 3, where n = 312
47


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10.1080/01609510902874594
Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
52


Internal Asets \ f External Asets
APPENDIX A
Search \ *0 Developmental A ssets for Adolescents (ages 12- IS)
| i| J "T | T U T E w Soldi InnniB* hai donihal the Ulomf J'L A^Aw4#ympwikramn u
Dmlc^iaduJ Anni, haiikv, oiinj, and mporaiblc.
Support 1 Fa mly supportFamily life pio-vidcs high levds of Iqve and nippon.
2. Itaarivtfifltfy conmuBiaticnYoung perron and her or his parentis) cu mm imitate positively, and young
perron is willing u> seek advice and counsel from panmts.
L Dtberadift rebtionsiiqisYoung perron rcceiws suppers from three or more nonparait adults.
4. Caring neighborhoodYoung poron expalexxss caring neighbors.
5. Curing sdtoolcSeateSchool provides a caring,, cncoujagiog environment.
fi. Parent nvakefnent in schoolingPareoris) are actfrdj involved is helping roang perron succeed \m school.
Enpcwerment jm Canrmiuty values youthYoung persoo peroctrcs chat aduhs in the cnmmunfty vathie youth,
ft. Toult is resourceYoung people are given urful rales in the community.
9. Some bo a thenYoung persn senes in the cd mm unity one hour or moce per week.
14. SafetyYoung perron feds safe at home, sdiiwl, and in the neighborhood.
Bau*d&fies&
Expectation
CenrtniictvK
Use of Tims
11. Family tramlinesFamily has dear mbs and cnnsequencs and monitors the young perrons whereabouts.
12. SdtMl BoundariesSdiccl provide dear rules aod xasqucnczL
12. Neighborhood bmdanesNe£hb:rs rale*- responsibility fee monitoring young peoples behavior.
Id. JMultnle m&debParents) and other adults model positive, responsible bduvfioc.
15. Paathre peer inAuenceYoung; paron's best friaads model rapcmtibic bduviot
14. High exptrtitiafisCom parents! and teadiers encourage the young perron to da wcD.
17. CreatweactiritjesVoting person spends three or more hours per week in larons orpnaice in music,,
thauer, or other an*
19. feutk programsYoung perron ^ends three or more hours per week in sports, dubs, or urganizaBioos
at school aodi'or in the mczirrainiiy.
19. Religious communityYoung person spends one or more hours per week in aniv&ka in a religious iasitmica.
24. Time at ha meYoung perron is out with friends "with nothing special id do two or fewer nights per mcL
Pesrthe
Values
CoramrtxK-it 21. ftehievementHirtiiatiMYoung perron is motivated to do weS in school
ta leKmng 22. School EngagemeitYoung person is aoivdy engaged in learning.
21. Hon twirlYoung person rqwns doing at lean ooe hour of homework every school day.
24 Boading to schwlYoung perron arcs about ho* or his sdiool.
2S. Reading far Ties sunYoung perron reads for pleasure three or more hours pa week.
24 CaringYoung perron plans high nine on helping other people.
27. Equality rod soda! yjrticeYoung perron plans high value on promoting equality and educing hunger and poverty.
2ft. IntegrityYoung perron aax on am via ions and stands up for her or his bdkzfs.
29. HoKstyYoung perron "tds the truth even when it is not asy
Hi RespansfeiityYoung perron accepts and takes personal nspoosibiliiy.
21. RestraintYoung perron believe it is important not to be sexually active ur u> use alcohol or other drugs.
Social ?7 Hiniwg Mi Tfriihn mikingYeung perron knows how to plan ahead and make dioias.
Conperteiaes 52. Interpmorial CimpetwweYoung person has onpaihy, seasfrivhy, and friendship skiUs.
54 Cultural CempetenceYeung person has knowledge of and o>aifnn with people of different
atlniraL'raciab'edinic backgrounds.
55. ResbtasasUkYoung perroa an resin; negative pea pressure and dangerous situations.
54 Peatcfid conflict resekjtHfiYouiag person seeks to restive conflia mmvioJaidy.
Pesrtnre 27. Ferroui powerYoung perron feels be or dw has control over things that happen to me
Identity 24 Seff-estK*Young perron rqjocn having a high sdf-eneem.
59. Seise of purposeYcmng perron reports thai my life has a purpose."
4& Peritiveiiew of personal fotureYoung person d optimistic about her or his personal forme.
Ik I ppc be icpo^xd foi niuxEmi aowoaocirtad m nh Ciyiiljtii OI9ET. bf itatfeux. 61 ! Rza Aac NX.
juicr IS, Mjoafnix. .WN >M13 SM>IB ^XZl: vnuad^flXA Ike Uknugxt aftend tndarsifci cT'Scsch faxfetac Vrh Ittuux*. Dkidopmaal Axmxf sad Hakhr Cmnuaia Hcahkr Ymh*.
Search Institute (2014)
53


APPENDIX B
PRE-BCM PROGRAM SURVEY
DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS PROFILE
Self-Report for Ages 11-18
Teen Participant Demographics: Please fill out information about yourself below to the best of your knowledge.
YOUR NAME
YOUTH AGENCY
AGE
ETHNICITY
(Check all that apply)
GENDER
LAST COMPLETED YEAR IN
SCHOOL
HIGHEST EDUCATION LEVEL
COMPLETED BY EITHER OF
___________YOUR PARENTS
TODAYS DATE
n m2 D13 16 17 18 Hispanic/Latino(a) Asian-American/Pacific Islander Middle Eastem/North African Mixed or other (please specify) 14 15 Black /African-American White/ Caucasian/Norlhcm European Native American
Female Male
D6* 7* 0 8* 0 9*
D 10'h ii"1 12*
Pre High School High School O 2-Yr College
4-Yr College Post-College Unknown
INSTRUCTIONS: Below is a list of positive things that you might have in yourself, your family, friends, neighborhood, school and community. For each item that
describes you now or within the past 3 months, check if the item is true:
Not At All or Rarely Somewhat or Sometimes Very or Often Extremely or Almost Always
Not At Somewhat Very Extremely
All or or or or Almost
Rarely Sometimes Often Always
n
u
a
u
n
u
n
u n
u
n a
u
n
u n
u


n
u
n
u

L..
1. Stand up for what 1 believe in.
2. Feel in control of my life and
future.
3. Feci good about myself.
4. Avoid things that are dangerous
or unhealthy.
5. Enjoy reading or being read to.
6. Build friendships with other
people.
7. Care about school.
8. Do my homework.
9. Stay away from tobacco, alcohol,
and other drugs.
10. Enjoy learning.
11. Express my feelings in proper
ways.
12. Feel good about my future.
13. Seek advice from my parents.
14. Deal with frustration in positive
ways.
15. Overcome challenges in positive
ways.
16. Think it is important to help
other people.
17. Feel safe and secure at home.
18. Plan ahead and make good
choices.
19. Resist bad influences.
20. Resolve conflicts without
anyone gening hurt.
21. Feci valued and appreciated by
others.
i as best you can.
Not At Somewhat Very Extremely
All or or or or Almost
Rarely Sometimes Often Always










D n
n
U




Note: The term 'Parent(s)' means l
or more adults who are responsible
for raising you.
I...
22. Take responsibility for what 1
do.
23. Tell the truth even when it is not
easy.
24. Accept people who are different
from me.
23. Feel safe at school
I AM...
26. Actively engaged in learning
new things.
27. Developing a sense of purpose
in my life.
28. Encouraged to try things that
might be good for me.
29. Included in family tasks and
decisions.
30. Helping to make my community
a better place.
31. Involved in a religious group or
activity.
32. Developing good health habits
33. Encouraged to help others.
34. Involved in a sport, club or other
group.
35. Trying to help solve social
problems.
36. Given useful roles and
responsibilities
37. Developing respect for other
people.
38. Eager to do well in school and
other activities.
PLEASE TURN OVER AND COMPLETE THE BACK.
Copyright 02004, Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN; 800-888-7828. www.search-institute.orft. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce.
54


SURVEY CONTINUED BELOW.
Not At All or Rarely Somewhat or Sometimes Very or Often Extremely or Almost Always










I AM...
39. Sensitive to the needs and
feelings of others.
40. Involved in creative things such
as music, theater, or art.
41. Serving others in my
community
42. Spending quality time at home
with my parent(s).
1 HAVE...
43. Friends who set good examples
for me.
44. A school that gives students
clear rules.
45. Adults who are good role
models for me.
46. A safe neighborhood.
47. Parents(s) who try to help me
succeed.
48. Good neighbors who care about
me.
Not Al Somewhat Very Extremely
All or or or or Almost
Rarely Sometimes Oden Always










! HAVE...
49. A school that cares about kids
and encourages them.
50. Teachers who urge me to
develop and achieve.
51. Support from adults other than
my parents.
52. A family that provides me with
clear rules.
53. Parent(s) who urge me to do
well in school.
54. A family that gives me love and
support.
55. Neighbors who help watch out
for me.
56. Parenls(s) who are good at
talking with me about things.
57. A school that enforces rules
fairly.
58. A family that knows where I am
and what I am doing.
THANK YOU. PLEASE GIVE YOUR SURVEY TO YOUR BCM INSTRUCTOR
Search Institute (2012)
55


APPENDIX C
DAP Category Scales
External Asset Categories
I. Support
13.1 ask my parents for advice.
47.1 have parent(s) who try to help me succeed.
48.1 have good neighbors who care about me.
49.1 have a school that cares about kids and
encourages them.
51.1 have support from adults other than my
parent(s).
54. t have a family that gives me love and support.
56.1 have parent(s) who are good at talking with me
about things.
II. Empowerment
17.1 feel safe at home,
21.1 feel valued and appreciated by others.
25.1 feel safe at school.
29.1 am included in family tasks and decisions.
36.1 am given useful roles and responsibilities.
46.1 have a safe neighborhood.
III. Boundaries and Expectations
43.1 have friends who set good examples for me.
44.1 have a school that gives students clear rules.
45.1 have adults who are good role models for me.
50.1 have teachers who urge me to develop and
achieve.
52.1 have a family that provides me with clear rules.
53.1 have parent(s) who urge me to do well in
school.
55.1 have neighbors who help watch out for me.
57.1 have a school that enforces rules fairly.
58. I have a family that knows where I am and what I
am doing.
IV. Constructive Use of Time
31.1 am involved in a church, synagogue, mosque, or
other religious group.
34. I am involved in a sport, club, or other group.
40, I am involved in creative things such as music,
theater, or art.
42. I am spending quality time at home with my
parent(s) when we do things together.
The Developmental Assets Profile is a copyrighted
instrument of Search Institute and may not be
used without permission. For more information,
visit www.search-institute.org.
Internal Asset Categories
V. Commitment to Learning
5.1 enjoy reading or being read to.
7.1 care about school.
8.1 do my homework.
10.1 enjoy learning.
26.1 am trying to learn new things.
28.1 am encouraged to try things that might be good
for me.
38.1 am eager to do well in school and other
activities.
VI. Positive Values
1.1 tell other people what I believe in.
9.1 say no to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
16.1 think it is important to help other people.
22.1 take responsibility for what I do.
23.1 tell the truth even when it is not easy.
30.1 am helping to make my school, neighborhood
or city a better place.
32.1 am developing good health habits.
33.1 am encouraged to help others.
35.1 am trying to help solve world problems like
hunger or disease.
37.1 am developing respect for other people.
41.1 am serving others in my community.
VII. Social Competencies
4.1 say no to things that are dangerous or unhealthy.
6.1 build friendships with other people.
11.1 express my feelings in proper ways.
18.1 plan ahead and make good choices.
19.1 stay away from bad influences.
20.1 resolve conflicts without anyone getting hurt.
24.1 accept people who are different from me.
39.1 am sensitive to the needs and feelings of
others.
VIII. Positive Identity
2. I feel in control of my life and future.
3.1 feel good about myself.
12.1 feel good about my future.
14.1 deal with disappointment without getting too
upset.
15.1 find good ways to deal with things that are hard
in my life.
27.1 am thinking about what my purpose is in life.
Overview of the Developmental Assets Profile
Page 3
Search Institute (2013)
56


Full Text

PAGE 1

EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF A WILDERNESS PROGRAM: BIG CITY MOUNTAINEERS By ROBIN LEE ROCHE B.A., Oberlin College, 2005 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education Program 2014

PAGE 2

2014 ROBIN ROCHE ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

PAGE 3

ii This thesis for the Master of Art degree by Robin Lee Roche has been approved for the Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education Program by Shruti Poulsen, Chair Edward Cannon Scott Schaefle 7 /25 /14

PAGE 4

iii Roche, Robin Lee MA, Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education Exploring the Impact of a Wilderness Experience Program: Big City M ountaineers Thesis directed by Professor Shruti Poulsen ABSTRACT Wilderness therapy and wilderness experience programs offer therapeutic interventions outdoors that are often targeted towards youth at risk (Becker, 2010 ; Hill, 2007; Rosol, 2000). The purp ose of this study is to explore how participation in a wilderness experience program impacts the developmental assets of adolescents (Scales, 2005) This study examines data from the Developmental Assets Profile (Search Institute) to explore the impact of wilderness experience programs on youth at risk Spe cifically, this project examines how the developmental asse ts of adolescents change after a week long wilderness backpacking or canoeing trip with Big City M ountaineers This study analyzes data collected by Big City Mountaineers before, after, and six months after the trips in order to compare participant responses and look for differences based on participants of different genders, ethnicities, and ages. Information gleaned from this study may be useful in informing counselors and others working with adolescents about the impact of wilderness experience programs on the developmental assets of youth who are under resourced. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication Approved: Shruti Poulsen

PAGE 5

iv DEDICATION This thesis is dedicated to my family, who inspires me towards greatness. It is also dedicated to the youth participants of Big City Mountaineers.

PAGE 6

v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thank you to th e School of Education an d Human Development at the University of Colorado for fostering my educational pursuits. Thank you to my thesis committee Dr. Poulsen, Dr. Cannon, and Dr. S chaefle for supporting me in my goal of writing a thesis. Thank you to Elizabeth William s and Big C ity Mountaineers for giving me the opportunity to access the data that made this research possible. Thank you to my parents, Margaret and David Weeks for instilling in me a love of the outdoors and a passion for exploration. Thank you to my brother, Noel, for reminding me to take my time. T hank you to Brian Roche, for believing in me And thank you to my sister, Heidi Weeks; I could not have done this without her brilliant support and encouragement.

PAGE 7

v i TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. .. . 1 II. 3 .. ... 3 Definitions of Wilderness Experience Program Models 4 History 5 Theoretical Underpinnings Techniques ..8 Youth At .... 17 III. RESEARCH STUDY 23 Purpose of Research Research Questions Hypotheses 25 Res Discus Conclusion IV. TABLES R EFERENCES ..

PAGE 8

vii APPENDIX A. 40 B. Developmental A ..54 C. DAP Category Scales . 56

PAGE 9

viii LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1. Friedman Two Way Analysis of V ariance by Rank Averages for 8 Catego ry Scales Comparing Pretest and P .. 41 2. Friedman Two Way Analysis of Variance by Rank Averages for 8 3. Friedman Analysis of Variance by R anks Scores for all Questions i 4. Pairwise Comparisons of Pre, Post, and Post 2 Administrations of the Developmental Assets P rofile 44 5. Independent Samples Mann Whitney U Test f or Response Differences Based on Age across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile 6. Independent Samples Mann Whitney U Test for Response Differences Based on Sex* Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets P ... 4 6 7. Independ ent Samples Kruskal Wallis Test for Differences in Response Based on Ethnicity Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Ass 47

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1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Wilderness experiences programs are outdoor experiential opportunities that foster g rowth while using the natural world and group dynamics as catalysts for change. There are many different types of wilderness experiences, ranging from backpacking trips to ropes courses to residential camping programs. The duration of these trips ranges from several hours to six months or more. While all wilderness experience programs share common goals of cultivating growth and change and creating connection between group members and the natural world, each individual program applies a different lens tow ards learning (Becker, 2010). Big City Mountaineers is a wilderness experienc e program for adolescents who live in urban areas. Big City Mountaineers partners with youth agencies in major cities including Chicago, Boston, Denver, and San Francisco to prov ide programs to youth who may be considered under resourced. The mission of Big City Mountaineers is to instill critical life skills in youth through transformative wilderness mentoring expeditions. The organization accomplishes their mission by taking ado lescents on week long backpacking helping youth develop social skills, communication skills, and leadership skills. Big City l in their delivery in order to make a difference in the lives of the participants (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Big City Mountaineers uses the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) published by the Search Institute (2013), to evaluate the success of their outdoor programming. The Developmental Assets Profile is a 58 question survey that explores the strengths and

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2 supports of youth (Search Institute, 2013). This measure can be used to monitor and evaluate programs and other impact initiatives (Search Instit ute, 2013). This study examines data from the Developmental Assets Profile administered by Big City Mountaineers to explore the impact of wilderness experience programs on youth. Spe cifically, this project examines how the developmental asse ts of adolesce nts change after a week long wilderness backpacking or canoeing trip with Big City M ountaineers. This study analyzes data collected by Big City Mountaineers before, after, and six months after the trips in order to compare participant responses and look fo r differences ba genders, ethnicities, and ages. Information gleaned from this study may be useful in informing counselors and others working with adolescents about the impact of wilderness experience programs on the developmental asset s of youth who are under resourced.

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3 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Developmental Assets Profile The Search Institute (2014 ) ident ified 40 developmental assets (s ee Appendix A) that fall into eight categories Four of the categories are composed of 20 internal strengths or assets and four of the categories consist of the remaining 20 external supports or assets The Search Institute created the Developmental Assets Profile (s ee Appendix B), which asks 58 assessment questions that relate to internal a nd external assets The Search Institute (2013) links the answer to each question to a specific category scale ( s ee Appendix C). Twenty of the assets are considered external support s and they fall into four categories (Search Institute, 2013). The categor y of S upport include s family support, positive family communication, other adult relationships, caring neighborhood, caring school climate, and parent involvement. Empowerment includes a community that values the youth, youth as a resource, service to othe rs, and safety. Boundaries and E xpectations includes family boundaries, school boundaries, neighborhood boundaries, adult role models, positive peer influence, and h igh expectations. Constructive Use of T ime includes creative activities, youth programs, re ligious community and time at home ( Search Institute, 2014 ). The remaining twenty assets are considered internal s trengths (Search Institute, 2014 ) The internal asset categories include Commitment to Learning, P osi tive Values, Social C ompetenci es, and Po sitive I dentity. The Commitment to L earning category includes achievement motivation, school engagement, homework, bonding to school, and

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4 reading for pleasure. The Positive V alues category includes caring, equality and social justice, integrity, honesty, r esp onsibility, and restraint. The Social C ompetencies category includes planning and decision making, interpersonal competence, cultural competence, resistance skills, a nd peaceful conflict resolution The Positive I den tity category encompasses personal po wer, self esteem, sense of purpose, and a positive view of personal future (S earch Institute, 2014 ). The programmatic structure of Big City Mountaineers trips strives to incorporate learning opportunities specific to each category of developmental assets. Instructors are encouraged to lead activities and evening program s that foster growth and development Th emes related to leadership and change are integrated throughout the week long wilderness trips so the participants become familiar with the goals of t he expedition and are able to strive for personal growth in the developmental asset categories (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Definitions of Wilderness Experience Program Models Wilderness experience programs fall into numerous categories and are defined by varied terminology throughout the literature. Outdoor behavioral healthcare is an umbrella term that refers to wilderness experience programs that deliver therapy as part of the outdoor intervention (Becker, 2010). Outdoor behavioral healthcare program s aim to help participants achieve specific outcomes related to their behavioral needs. Wilderness therapy is a prominent example of an outdoor behavioral healthcare service (Becker, 2010). Wilderness therapy is a mental health modality that takes place o utdoors and incorporates adventure (Norton, 2010). Wilderness therapy is a facet of wilderness

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5 experience programs that is often geared towards adolescents. Wilderness therapy most commonly refers to programs which harness the power of the wilderness as a prominent aspect of treatment (Becker, 2010). However, rather than relying solely on the wilderness to affect change, the outdoor experience often includes other common counseling factors such as leadership support, positive relationships between teens and adults, and social skills training (Becker, 2010). Wilderness therapy is an emerging field that infuses the therapeutic value of wilderness into experiential group counseling in order to affect change in individuals (Rosol, 2000). Wilderness therapy prog rams conduct outdoor interventions with the intention of personal growth, therapy, rehabilitation, education, and leadership development (Friese, Hendee, & Kinziger, 1998). Wilderness therapy can be a beneficial treatment modality that helps youth at risk build self efficacy, develop social skills, and combat depression (Hill, 2007; Norton, 2009; Tucker, 2009). Adventure based therapy is another prominent type of wilderness experience program. Adventure therapy incorporates activities, such as ropes courses that require problem solving skills, physical trust, unfamiliar environments, and consequences for behavior (Tucker, 2009). Adventure therapy is interdisciplinary and often integrates counseling and mental health interventions into adventure based experi ential education Collaboration between counseling and adventure allows for successful multifaceted interventions that foster interpersonal learning through group challenges (Tucker, 2009). History began in the early 1900s when tuberculosis patients were quarantined in tents to recover (Allen Craig & Gillespie,

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6 benefits of the outdoor environment. After World War II, th e demand for wilderness therapy grew, as adolescents needed programs to provide them with guidance during tumultuous transitions. In the 1950s Outward Bound began in the United States in response to this need and the program provided transitioning adolesce nts with the opportunity to participate in an experiential outdoor program (Rosol, 2000). Many wilderness programs are modeled after Outward Bound, which still exists (Rosol, 2000). During the 1980s and 1990s some wilderness therapy programs employed se cretive and seemingly cruel tactics and families often did not know what the process of change entailed (Krakauer, 1995). As the success of the secretive model waned, a new age of wilderness therapy emerged, which required a more formal evaluation process. Current wilderness therapy programs enlist licensed therapists and provide medically trained staff in order to be listed as an approved agency with the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council. While program participants may still be engaged in chal lenging outdoor activities that involve risk, wilderness therapy programs are much more regulated by overseers than before (Becker, 2010). Since its inception, wilderness programming for adolescents blossomed into a lucrative business (Russell, 2003). H owever, wilderness therapy is not limit ed to for profit models. N on profit organizations such as Big City Mountaineers, also offer wilderness experience programs targete d towards youth at risk who can glean benefits from the outdoors (Big City Mountainee rs, 2014 ) Big City Mountaineers offer s urban adolescents an opportunity to experience the wilderness first h and through week long backpacking and canoeing trips. These

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7 wilderness experiences are framed as youth development adventures, which strive to inc rease the developmental assets of youth through participation (Big City Mountaineers, 201 4 confidence, increasing self awareness, and providing mentorin g relationships so the youth feel supported in their growth and change (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). The strengths based approach of Big City Mountaineers highlights possibilities and emphasizes resilience for the youth that participate. Strength based counseling focuses on assets, cultu ral diversity, and youth (Smith, 2006). A strength based approach values positive ethnic identity and community bonds as key components that protect youth from risk factors (Smith, 2006). The core values of Big City Mountaineers include the ideas that res ilience and self Mountaineers also believes that the challenge of a wilderness adventure in the company of supportive adult role models can impact teens to build community and devel op responsibility. Participating in a program with Big City Mountaineers provides youth with an opportunity to connect to the natural world and ultimately affect change in their own home and school lives based on their empowering outdoor experien ces (Big C ity Mountaineers, 2012 ). Theoretical Underpinnings According to Becker (2010), it is essential to have theory that informs the practice of wilderness therapy. Wilderness therapy interventions draw on an understanding of the n with nature (Wilson, 1984). Collins (2005) believes

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8 between human health and the natural world demonstrates the dependence of humans on the outdoors to sustain personal well being. Nisbet, Zelenski, and Murphy (2011) explore connections between well being and nature relatedness. They define nature relatedness as an appreciation for our interconnectedness with the earth (Nisbet et al., 2011). Their research de mo nstrates that people who score high on the nature relatedness scale have a high subjective sense of well being, which is demonstrated on multiple dimensions. T he dimensions of well being the authors identify include positive affect, autonomy, personal gro wth, purpose in life, environmental mastery, positive relations with others, life satisfaction, vitality, and self acceptance (Nisbet et al., 2011). The facets of well being identified by Nisbet et al. (2011) align with the developmental assets the Search Institute has identified which include positive relationships, self esteem, and positive view of personal future (Scales, 2005). The conditions in the wilderness environment support personal growth and change. The wilderness context reduces distractions and allows participants to remove themselves from their home environment and immerse in a more primitive setting. The conditions of the wilderness provide natural challenges and consequences, which can help adolescents learn about boundaries and limits. Th e wilderness context also promotes healthy living since the wilderness is viewed as a cleansing place (Russell, 2009). Techniques Therapeutic Alliance The therapeutic alliance, or relationship between a counselor and client is an important factor leading to growth and change in counseling (Assay & Lambert, 1999).

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9 The therapeutic alliance between staff members and participants is one of the key components in a wilderness therapy context (Russell, Hendee, & Phillips Miller, 2000). Participants in wilderness therapy programs may carry negative views of therapists and other authority figures into the woods with them. The wilderness context allows staff and participants to break down traditional barriers and create a therapeutic alliance that the adolescent s m ay not have experienced in other settings. This happens collaboratively as a trusting relationship between adults and adolescents on wilderness experience programs develops over time and provides an important foundation for further therapeutic work (Russel l et. al, 2000). Big City Mountaineers incorporates mentoring relationships into all of their outdoor programming in order to facilitate a meaningful experience for the youth participan ts On Big City Moun taineers expeditions, the one to one adult to par ticipant ratio offers extra support and allows participants to feel safe and comfortable in the knowledge that they are accompanied by an adult team that has their best interests in m ind The relationships that develop between youth and the adult team memb ers serve to to role models who are by their s ide (Big City Mountaineers, 2012 ). Environment as a Teaching Tool ysical well being, and can enhance the psychological benefits experienced during exercise. Studies have shown that people who exercise outdoors experience a greater sense of well being than those who restrict their exercise routines to inside (Coon et al. 2011; Plante et al., 2007). Exposure

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10 spiritual connection when immersed in the natural world (Tripoli, 2009). Tapping into these innate healing properties of the natural world while on a wilderness backpacking trip could enhance the well being of participants. One technique common to wilderness experience programs includes using an unfamiliar outdoor setting as a mechanism to help participants separate themselves from th eir home culture and foster a unique experience (Becker, 2010). Big City Mountaineers relies on an outdoor setting to provide a challenging experience with natural consequences. Immersing the participants in an environment other than home provides adoles cents with an opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to be who they want to be. Wilderness experience program participants are often encouraged to take responsibility for themselves and others in a way that they may not have done at home before (Big Ci ty Mountaineers, 2012). The unfamiliarity of the surrounding environment serves as a teaching tool, since many participants in wilderness experience programs, such as Big City Mountaineers, have limited outdoor experience and may have grown up in a strict ly urban setting (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). The outdoor elements may be unfamiliar to some participants given their cultural context and comfort zone (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Ivey Pedersen, and Ivey (2008) assert that r eframing uncomfortable exp eriences as group challenges can help groups overcome adversity collectively Creating a learning environment where participants can embrace discomfort in a safe space plays an essential role in what a group is able to accomplish. (Ivey et al., 2008). Big City Mountaineers in corporates a challenge day when groups climb a peak or high mountain pass. This challenge is often unfamiliar for youth, yet the ability to

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11 overcome an obstacle collectively serves as a metaphor for what the teenagers can accomplish wh en they work together as a team (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Creating an emotionally and physically safe space for the teens as they attempt to accomplish an extraordinarily difficult task, such as climbing a peak, helps them experience support as they s trive to accomplish this goal (Big City Mountaineers, 2014 ) Skills based Learning Wilderness experience programs often use adventure based learning as a way to challenge participants to learn new skills and broaden their horizons. Self reflective compon ents such as journaling are also incorporated into the adventure to allow participants time to consider how th e challenges they are facing are fueling their personal growth. The combination of acquiring camping skills and relational skills sets wilderness therapy experiences apart from other outdoor programming (Hendee & Pitstick, 1993). Participants are challenged to learn new outdoor skills. They are then given an opportunity to reflect on how this growth and learning may inform their future. This comb ination of experience and reflection fosters growth and development (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Group Dynamics The group setting is an essential component of fostering growth (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2010). Providing participants with activities that a llow them to share expe riences and then reflect on these experiences collectively encourages positive peer support and helps create community. Group work allows wilderness experience participants to bring Corey et al., 2010). Collectively participants can develop strategies for working through challenges they face on the trip

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12 and at home Big City Mountaineers (2012) believes that positive group dynamic s can lead to cohesion throughout a wilderness experien ce and beyond. Challenge by Choice (Tucker, 2009). This idea is central to growth in the wilderness because it allows individuals to take control of their personal choices and dete rmine their level of involvement in group activities. Tucker (2009) indicates that the idea of challenge by choice sets adventure based initiatives apart from other wilderness therapy programs where participation is often mandatory. Big City Mountaineers offers adventure based programming yet participation is not mandated (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Allowing adolescents to set their own goals and boundaries is a key piece of empowerment through adventure based group initiatives (Tucker, 2009). Teaching participants to carry this learning with them after the program is an important part of ensuring the effectiveness of adventure based group therapy in a broader social context for the group members (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Youth At risk Adolescents grapple with many challenges and western society lacks significant roles for teenage rs, which may further challenge them as they struggle to create a self concept (Rosol, 2000). Providing teenagers with a space where they can develop leadership, social, an d group skills can boost self efficacy and help students succeed in their lives at home. The wilderness environment serves as a powerful teacher and vehicle for change (Hill, 2007).

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13 Youth at risk are defined as adolescents with risk factors that predict negative outcomes (Allen Craig & Gillespie, 2009). Examples of youth at risk include adolescents with behavior problems, school and family problems, self esteem problems, depression and suicidal ideation, or conduct disorders (Russell & Hendee, 1999). You th at risk are particularly susceptible to high risk behaviors such as substance use, sexual activity, and delinquency (Hill, 2007). Big City Mountaineers defines their participants as under resourced or under served and they claim that 83 percent of the y outh that participate in their programs come from families that live below the poverty l ine (Big City Mountaineers, 2014 ). Protective factors, such as positive temperament, positive self conc ept, and strong social networks, are conditions or processes that can moderate the effects of risk factors (Allen Craig & Gillespie, 2009). The P ositive I dentity category on the Developmental Assets Profile correlates with the protective factor of positive self concept and it encompasses the developmental assets of pers onal power, self esteem, sense of purpose, and positive view of personal future (Scales, 2005). Big City Mount aineers strives to help youth develop positive identit ies and strong social support s so they will be more resilient. Resilient youth demonstrate an ability to maintain desirable outcomes when Craig & Gillespie, 2009). Wilderness therapy programs are targeted at adolescents who need help overcoming emotional, adjustment, addiction, and psychological problems (Russell & Hendee, 1999). The wilderness can provide a therapeutic space in which to work through issues that may feel overwhelming in a more traditional setting. Wild erness therapy can help youth at risk strengthen protective factors and increa se resilience (A llen Craig &

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14 Gillespie, 2009). Y outh at risk may not have opportunities for growth within their normal community settings. Research has shown that adolescents who demonstrate risk factors can benefit from wilderness e xperience programs (Hil l, 2007; Rosol, 2000). The participants involved with Big City Mountaineers trips include adolescents from urban, under resourced backgrounds. Some of the youth pa rticipants may be considered at risk, based on the definitions above. However, Big City Mou ntaineers (2014 ) uses strength s based language to describe their participant pool as youth from under served backgrounds who may benefit from the opportunity to participate in a week long wilderness experience Big City Mountaineers programs emphasize foc using on resilience while honoring adversity in the lives of the youth they serve (Big City Mountaineers, 2013). Cultural Considerations In order to provide the most effective wilderness interventions, programs must s, friends, class, culture, and ethnicity (Rosol, that is meaningful for all participants. As a group leader or facilitator it is important to link members through common exp eriences (Ivey et al. 2008). The shared experience of a challenging expedition could further serve as a source of strength when group members cultural backgro und, while providing participants with information on best practices within the field of outdoor education can be an important way to acknowledge and broach cultural differences (Big City Mountaineers, 2012).

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15 Age Developmentally, middle and high school aged students are quite malleable, particularly with respect to their personal identities (Rosenthal, 2008) According to ty During this devel opmental stage, youth are determining values and learning to think for themselves, as they struggle to create personal identities that are meaningful to them. Youth in this developmental stage are exploring self concepts and learning about how they relate to others (Rosenthal, 2008) The Developmental Assets Profile (Search Institute 2012 ) is an assessment for youth ages 13 to 18. The questions help people in this age group identify their strengths and supports within different life contexts (Search Insti tute, 2013 ). A previous study of adolescents in wilde rness treatment found differ ences in responses between middle school and high school participants (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011). Bettmann and Tucker (2011) divided participants into two groups: ages 13 15 a nd ages 16 17. The researchers found significant differences in responses on the anger dysregulation subscale of the Adolescent Unresolved Attachment Questionnaire between younger and older adolescents (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011). Bettmann and Tucker (2011) also noted significant response difference based on age in the goal partnership subscale of the Adolescent Attachment Questionnaire. Based on the study by Bettmann and Tucker (2011), I decided to explore differences in responses to the Developmental Assets Profile based on age. The assertion that middle and high school aged students may provide varying responses seemed worthy of further exploration (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011). My hypothesis was that high school respondents would experience more growth in thei r

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16 developmental assets, as they may have a better ability to integrate the themes that the Developmental Asset Profile addresses into their lives. Research has shown a decline in developmental assets occurs during middle school, due to peer pressure and ot her social factors (Scales, 2005). Gender Many wilderness experience programs and subsequent studies serve single gender groups (Scheinfeld, Rochlen, & Buser, 2011). Big City Mountaineers asks the youth agencies that it partners with to divide participant s by gender. This separation is intended to empower teenagers to be free to express themselves, without worrying about impressing people of another gender (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). My research study a nalyzes differences in responses to the Development al Assets Profile based on gender. I predicted that young woman would experience higher levels of growth than men on the Developmental Assets Profile between the pre and posttest because I thought women may be more attuned to the wilderness experience and A previous study on attachment in the wilderness found no statistically significant differences in scores between participants of different genders (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011). While Bettmann and Tucker (2011) did not f ind gender differences, the population they were examining was in a different developmental stage. Based on my kn owledge of dentity versus Role Confusion stage, I thought that the women would be able to articulate their growth more clea rly than the young men who filled out the Developmental Assets Profile before and after their participation with Big Cit y Mountaineers

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17 Ethnicity Bettmann and Tucker (2011) explained that their study had limited generalizability to a more diverse popul ation due to the lack of diversity of respondents of different ethnicities. Since Big City Mountaineers serves a more ethnically diverse population that the population used in the study by Bettmann and Tucker (2011), th e results of this research may be mor e generalizable to a diverse population than previous studies. Bettmann and Tucker (2011) acknowledged that they did not make race comparisons since ninety percent of the population included in their study identified as Caucasian. I decided to explore dif ferences in resp onse based on ethnicity to determine if betwee n group differences were present in each category on the Developmental Assets Profile I hypothesized t hat there would not be differences between respondents from different racial and ethnic bac kgrounds because Big City Mountaineers does not vary programmatic elements based on the race or ethnicity of participants. I did expect to see growth on the Developmental Assets Profile for participants of all racial and ethnic backgrounds because Big City Mountaineers uses Jos foundational teaching tool and it is cross cultural (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Ethical Considerations Perceived Risk While perceived risk is an important component of wilderness experience progr ams, participants can push their limits and challenge themselves without engaging in risky behavior. Encouraging participants to grow by challenging them in safe ways will help them learn to set boundaries for themselves in the fut ure (Big City

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18 Mountaineer s, 2012 ). Within the context of wilderness experience programs, challenge by choice is an essential component that helps participants learn about and create their own boundaries (Tucker, 2009). The notion of challenge by choice allows students to decide o n their own level of participation and engagement in the program based upon their comfort level with the challenges posed by a wilderness experience program. This allows students to foster a sense of commitment to the goals of program so they feel encourag ed to challenge themselves and each other to engage in the process of change Therapeutic Value Becker (2010) asserts wilderness therapy and the therapeutic value of wilderness are inherently different. He supports the idea that the wilderness induces psychological benefits yet, he cautions against assuming that every wilderness experience program incorporates therapy. While people may be able to tap into their innate sense of well being during time spent outdoors Becker (2010) claims that some people may be taking advantage of the therapeutic value of the outdoors, which he says is not the same as participating in therapy. Depending on the directives that participants are receiving, their wilderness experience may be better labeled as an adventure ther apy program with guides or a wilderness experience program (Becker, 2010). For a wilderness therapy intervention to occur Becker (2010) outlines that there must be licensed therapists present with specific goals and agendas related to therapy. It is impor tant for organizations to understand the goals of their programs and to select staff accordingly. There is a va lue to understanding how combinations of staff members might work together to facilitate programs that meet the goals of the organization while a lso utilizing the assets of the natural world (Hill, 2007).

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19 While wilderness therapy is not currently considered an empirically based treatment, support exists for its effectiveness with a wide variety of adolescent populations (Becker, 2007). A number of studies have offered glimpses into wilderness therapy as a treatment modality and as programs of this nature evolve, they are informed by evidence (Becker, 2007). The research conducted on wilderness therapy programs often draws from participants in progr ams that belong to the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council (OBHIC). This group of organizations carries their own set of ethical standards and commits to best practices within the wilderness therapy field (Becker, 2007). Wilderness experience programs do not necessitate having therapists on staff (Becker, 2010). The goals of wilderness experience programs are often based on curriculum chosen by the organizations rather than on therapeutic interventions Big City Mountaineers is a wilderness e xperience program that delivers an engaging curriculum based on Jo allows staff to guide participants in a meaningful way that is connected to growth and development, which are both go programs. There are numerous programs that do not adhere to a particular set of guidelines, against trusting thes e programs that may or may not be ethical or effective. The need to refine the understanding that wilderness therapy refers to a very specific type of

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20 understanding of the d ifferences between types of wilderness experience programs (Becker, 2007). The Outdoor Behavio ral Healthcare Industry Council (OBHIC) formed in 1997 in an attempt to cultivate best practices within the field. Since then, it has spearheaded numerous rese arch studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of wilderness therapy programs (Russell & Hendee, 1999). The OBHIC has also tried to distinguish between different types of wilderness experience programs, in order that the public may be well informed about the nuances between programs (Russell, 1999). As therapeutic outdoor programs grow and change over time, flexibility and inclusivity will remain the key components that help demonstrate effectiveness in the field (Russell, 1999) Effectiveness Emerging fr om an understanding of the therapeutic nature of immersion in the outdoors, wilderness therapy and adventure therapy have sprung up as models for integrating counseling into an outdoor context. Scheinfeld, Rochlen, and Buser (2011) applied adventure therap office setting. The results of this study demonstrated that the men experienced deeper therapeutic change in the wilderness context than during therapy in the office. The wilderness setting, including an adventure course in which the men participated, increas ed their willingness to engage in therapeutic relationships. This subsequent engagement was beneficial for their group therapy process (Scheinfeld, Rochlen, & Buser, 2011). In a similar f ashion, Norton (2010) explored wilderness therapy as a holistic intervention for adolescents suffering from depression. Norton (2010) states wilderness

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21 clinical intervention interventions of a similar nature. Based on the understanding that teenagers may view their wilderness experience as an isolated intervention, it is important that leaders are able (2010) proposed follow up support through counseling efforts as well as continued interactio continued growth over time. Bettmann and Tucker (2011) studied shifts in adolescent attachment during wilderness therapy. The researchers administered quantitative measurements on at tachment before and after participation in a wilderness experience. The sample in their study included 96 teenagers between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. The study results did not yield statistically significant results based on gender. However, the study did demonstrate that the treatment program was more successful for older adolescents (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011). Further, Bettmann and Tucker (2011) assert that racial homogeneity is one limitation of their study that limits the generalizability of the results. The authors state, of treatment to minority clients, as important outcome studies of wilderness treatment neglected race of client or treatment staff as pp.515). Based on the limitations articulated by Bettmann and Tucker (2011), I decided to study Big City Mountaineers, which serves ethnic minority populations of teenagers of

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22 mixed genders and ages. My study uses a 333 person sample size, which is considerably larger than the 96 participants Bettmann and Tucker (2011) studied. My research study offers perspective on how teenagers from ethnic minority backgrounds are influenced by a wilderness experience.

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23 CHAPTE R III RESEARCH STUDY Purpose of Research The purpose of this research is to pro vide a study that will inform counseling professionals about how wilderness experience programs can impact the devel opmental assets of youth who are under served in urban commun ities. Previous research shows that being and self efficacy, thus demonstrating therapeutic growth and cha nge (Norton, 2010; Tucker, 2009). An understanding of wilderness therap y and wilderness experience programs can inform counselors who wish to support their clients through holistic healing modalities. Learning the nuances of a wilderness experience program, such as Big City Mountaineers may help counseling professionals guide clients towards beneficial growth experiences. Research Questions This study addressed the following research questions: Which category of assets on the Developmental Assets Profile has the greatest overall change between pre and post survey responses fo r the entire group of participants? Among the categories of the Developmental Asset Profile found to have the greatest overall change from pre to post for all participants, are there differences in the degree of change between different age groups, gender groups, or ethnicity groups? Among the participants who completed the six month follow up survey, were changes in score on the Developm ental Assets Profile maintained ?

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24 Hypotheses I hypothesized that the challenge of a wilderness experience program would l ead the participants to experience growth on the Developmental Assets Profile, which was administered to all of the teens before and after the trip. My hypotheses revolve around my belief that a wilderness experience with Big City Mountaineers will serve a s a catalyst for growth and change in the lives of teenagers who participate. Based on previous studies (Nisbet et al. 2011; Scales, 2005) the following specific hypotheses were explored in this study: I predicted that the positive identity category woul d be the category with the largest change in response between pre and post data. I also posited that the curriculum of Big City Mountaineers most aligns with the specific developmental assets associated with empowerment, positive values and identity (Scale s, 2005). I posited that young women who participated in wilderness trips with Big City Mountaineers would experience more growth on the Developmental Asset Profile between the pre and post test than the young men who participated because I thought women would be more open to the experience of growth and change I also predicted that high school students would experience more g rowth between the pre and postt est than middle school students because I thought high school students would be more ready to accept a challenge I did not anticipate significant differences in growth amongst respondents of different ethnic groups because Big City Mountaineers offers a cross cultural curriculum Finally, I did not anticipate that gains w ould be maintained between postt est and posttest 2 becau se I anticipated that the isolated nature of the w ilderness experience may make it difficult for adolescents to integrate growth and change from this experience into their lives

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25 Method s Design This research takes the form of a qua ntitative study that explores how a wilderness experience impacts the developmental assets of adolescents. This study is a secondary data analysis that involved analyzing data collected by Big City Mountaineers on the Developmental Assets Profile, which is published by the Search Institute (2013). Big City Mountaineers collected this data by administering the Developmental Assets Profile to participants before and after their involvement in a week long wilderness expedition in the summer of 201 2. Big City M ountaineers obtained consent from participants prior to program participation. Their consent form includes all aspects of the program, including completion of surveys. Prior to completing this research project, the researcher submitted a proposal to the U Given that the research was a secondary data analysis, the IRB reviewed Big City City Mounta ineers that all data would be provided to the researcher in a de identified format. After undergoing protocol review, this research was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Colorado Denver. At that point in time, Big City Mountai neers released the de identified data to the researcher for analysis. Big City Mountaineers collected data for program evaluation from 333 respondents during the summer of 2012. Of the 333 respondents, data from 315 people was used in this research study. This sample size is larger than other studies on adolescents participati ng in wilderness programs and s everal previous studies

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26 recommended larger sample sizes for future st udies (Bettmann & Tucker, 2011; Allen Craig & Gillespie, 2009). Norton (2010) asse rts that follow up interventions may be necessary to the maintenance of well being acquired in the wilderness. Similarly, Allen Craig and Gillespie (2009) recommend that future research in the realm of resilience and wilderness therapy includes post progra m follow up data. With this in mind, this study included an analysis of the six month follow up administration of the Developmental Assets Profile to help assess the need for further intervention six months after their wilderness experience. Big City Mount aineers administered follow up surveys in winter and spring of 2013. Program Participants The Big City Mountaineers program participants were adolescents ranging in age from eleven to twenty one. The participants were from urban areas including Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Denver. Participants were from under resourced backgrounds and they were connected with local youth agencies. Each agency that Big City Mountaineers partners with selects groups of students to participate on expeditions based on their own criteria. Big City Mountaineers covers the cost of the expeditions by partnering with outdoor companies to make the programs accessible to urban adolescents. Therefore, there was no financial cost associated with participation in this research s tudy. Logistics Each person that completed the Developmental Asset Profile participated in a week long backpacking or canoeing trip with Big City Mountaineers in a w ilderness setting. The wilderness experience program emphasized outdoor skills, team build ing, and personal development Opportunities for growth were integrated into the wilderness

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27 experience through group games, journaling, and other reflection activities. The participants played an active role in all aspects of their expedition. They set up t ents, cooked meals, and hiked. The wilderness setting combined with the aforementioned activities serves to be therapeutic by design (Scheinfeld et al., 2011). Big City Mountaineers emphasizes the importance of augmenting the developmental assets of the a dolescents they serve (Big City Mountaineers, 2012). Each component of the trip is con nected to a development asset, including planning, decision making, and self esteem (Scales, 2005). Procedure Big City Mountaineers administers the Developmental Assets P rofile before and after each expedition they run. Instructors on the trips are responsible for administering this instrument and explaining it to participants. Six months after their participation in the program, participants receive a follow up assessment in the mail or from their youth agency. Agencies or participants are responsible for returning the six month post assessment to the Big City Mountaineers office. The pre, post, and six month post data is compiled by Big City Mountaineers for the purposes of program evaluation. Big City Mountaineers agreed to provide existing data from 2012 for use in this research study. Instrument The Developmental Assets Profile (See Appendix B) assesses how youth rate themselves personally, socially, and within the fam ily, school, and community contexts. Participant responses to the fifty eight question survey are categorized into internal and exte rnal assets. The external asset categories include Support, Empowerment, Boundaries and Expectations, and Constructive Use o f Time. The internal asset categories include

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28 Commitment to Learning, Positive V alues Social Competencies, and Positive I dentity (Search Institute, 2013). The answers to the questions are grouped according to category scales and scores are reported on a L ikert scale (Search Institute, 2013). Reliability Haggerty, Elgin, and Woolley (2011) evaluated 73 different social emotional learning assessments and identified ten which they considered valid and reliable. The Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) is one o f the assessment tools which met their criteria and was included on their recommended list of assessment measures. Haggerty et al. and test retest reliability. The S ea rch Institute (2013) sampled 225 students and found that the two week test retest reliability score for 6 th through 12 th graders was moderately high and their data showed that the average for the eight asset categories was r = .79. The Search Institute (2 013) indicates that test retest reliability for the DAP Internal Assets Score was r=.86 and for the External Assets Score r= .84. This data shows that student scores seemed to be reliable over a period of several weeks. Validity Haggerty, Elgin, and Wooll ey (2011) compared student responses from an asset rich school with responses from a less asset rich school and they found significant differences (p < .001) in responses on every asset category scale, which demonstrated criterion validity. The Search Ins titute (2013) compared scores on the Attitudes and Behaviors survey with the D evelopmental A ssets P rofile and found a strong relationship between

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29 the two measures, which demonstrated concurrent validity. Numerous field tests indicate relatively high intern al consistency reliability, which was shown by an average of .81 for the eight category scales (Search Institute, 2013) Based on their research, The Search Institute (2013) determined that there was not significant variation b etween groups on the different category scales of the DAP Sample In the summer of 2012, 333 participants completed a portion of the Developmental Assets Profile. The researcher used data from 315 participants who completed both pre and posttests. Of the se 315 participants, 166 identified as male and 149 identified as female. Of the total participants, 109 were considered middle school students for the purposes of this study. This group was made up of participants ages 11 14. 206 of the participants were high school students, ages 15 21. Some category scales have a sample size smaller than 315. If participants did not answer any questions in a particular category, we eliminated their data from that subscale. The Developmental Assets Profile asks participa nts to identify their race/ethnicity by selecting a box. Please see the following table for demographic information on race/ethnicity that was collected by Big City Mountaineers in 2012 as part of the D evelopmental Assets Profile

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30 Race/Ethnicity of Big C ity Mountaineers Participants in Summer 2012 Race/Ethnicity Number of Participants Hispanic/Latino 141 African American 68 White/Caucasian 53 Native American 4 Middle Eastern/North African 1 Asian American/Pacific Islander 16 Other 48 No Response 2 Note: N = 333 Data Analysis To answer the first research question, the change between pre and post response scores was analyzed for all participants in each category. Since each category included different numbers of questions on the survey administered to participants, the first step was to calculate the average score for each participant within each category on the pre and post assessments. Then I conducted a Friedman ANOVA using SPSS 21 (IBM) to analyze the difference between pre and post administratio ns of the DAP. As long as participants answered one question in the category, their results were included in the study and the category average was adjusted according to the number of questions they answered. I eliminated cases from the category scale data analysis if participants did not answer any questions in a category.

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31 Next I focused on demographic variables for further analysis. Since changes in all categories were significant, differences in responses based on age, gender, and ethnicity within all c ategories were assessed in order to determine if there were correlations in the degree of change Analysis of the age and gender categories was done using the Mann Whitney U test, which is a non parametric version of a t test used to compare two different groups of respondents. A Kruskal Wallis One Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was used to compare different ethnic groups. In order to determine if ga ins were maintained between the post and post 2 administration of the Developmental Assets Profile, a Fried man Analysis of Variance which is a repeated measures ANOVA, was run for all respondents who completed the Developmental Assets Profile at al l three time points, pre, post and post 2 (N = 70). Additional pairwise comparisons were done on all significant categories to determine which pairs differed between administrations of the Developmental Assets Profile. Results Statistical analysis using a Friedman ANOVA demonstrated that scores in all categories experienced significant change ( all p <.001 ) between pretest and posttest administrations of the Developmental Assets Profile. The category subscale with the greatest change from the pretest to the posttest, according to the test statistics on the Friedman ANOVA, was Positive Identity, which had the highest test statistic of 60.275 (Table 1). The level of significance was adjusted with the Bonferroni correction in order to maintain an experiment wide alpha level of signific ance of .05 (Siegel & Castellan, 1988). To accomplish this, the researcher divided .05 by the number of categories

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32 sampled (8). This yielded an individual critical alpha level of .00625 for each Friedman test. All 8 Friedman ANOVAs were s ignificant using this level ( all p < .001 ). This demonstrates significant change in responses in all cat egories of the DAP when comparing participant responses from before and after participation in a week long wilderness trip with Big City Mountaineers (Table 1). Analysis with a Friedman ANOVA also compared posttest, which was administered on the last day of the wilderness trip and posttest 2, which was administered sample size for this ANOVA was smaller (N= 70) because everyone who participated in a trip with Big City Mount aineers did not complete the posttest 2. The posttest to posttest 2 comparison did not yield any significant differences in response between the two administrations ( ). This demonstrates that significant change did not happen between the conclusion of the program and the six month follow up assessment (Table 2). Another Friedman ANOVA was conducted to compare all three administrations of the Developmental A s sets Profile. This ANOVA was done separately due to the small subset of the total sample who completed all three tests (N = 70). Category 1, Support, had a p value of .068, which means there was not a significant change in results between the three differ ent administrations of the Developmental Assets Profile for this category All other category subscales showed significant differences ( ) in responses between the three different administration times, as seen in Table 3. As further analysis with pairwise comparisons demonstrates (Table 4), there was a significant difference between the pretest and posttest administrations in s ix of the eight ). However, there was not a significant difference in any of the

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33 categories between the posttest and the posttest 2 results ( all p 0.10 6 ) which indicates that overall, gains occurred while on the wilderness p rogram an d were maintained six months after participation in the program Category 3 Boundaries and Expec tations, had a p value of .012 between pretest and posttest, which does not demonstrate a significant change, yet that category did have a significant change b etween pretest and posttest 2 (p ). This data did not indicate significant differences in any category based on age (all p .02 ), based on the results of the Mann Whitney U test s (Table 5 and Table 6). Additionally, the Kruskal Wall i s ANOVA did not indicate any significant differences in responses based on r (Table 7). All of the above tests used a significance level adjusted with the Bonferroni correction to .00625, to maintain an experiment wide alph a level of significance of .05. Discussion responses on the Developmental Assets Profile after participating in a week long wilderness trip. The Friedman ANOVA (Table 1) shows t hat scores in all eight categories on the Developmental Assets Profile ( Support, Empowerment, Boundaries and Expectations, Constructive Use of Time, Commitment to Learning, Positive Values, Social Competencies, and Positive Identity ) were higher after spen ding a week in the woods with Big City Mountaineers As predicted, the category of Positive Identity did have the highest test statistic. This makes sense, since Big City Mountaineers strives to (Big City Mountaineers, 2 012) While I hypothesized that participants would experience more growth in several specific categories all of the

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34 categories showed significant changes. Gains in category scores occurred and were maintained after 6 months. These gains did not differ wit h age, gender, or ethnicity. I hypothesized that there would be variation in results based on demographic categories, although the results did not indicate any significant differences based on age, sex, or race/ethnicity. These results support the idea th at the Developmental Assets Profile is applicable to people of various ages, genders, and ethnicities. The results of the study indicate that overall, the population included in this study reported growth in their developmental assets after participating i n a week long wilderness trip. This data may support the idea that the wilderness has therapeutic value for people regardless of their backgrounds and these results also support the idea that Big City Mountaineers programs help adolescents from a variety o f backgrounds. The pairwise comparisons (Table 4) demonstrate that there were comparable results between the varying levels of external assets for the entire group of participants and the 70 people who completed all three administrations of the Developme ntal Assets Profile. Since only 70 out of 315 participants completed the posttest 2, this smaller subset of participants may have had more external support than the group as a whole S ince support was the only category that did not demonstrate any signific ant changes between administrations it is possible that this category was impacted by the ceiling effect, which means this smaller subset of participants may have started the program with higher levels of support, which may be why they did not experience significant growth in that category during the program It is also possible that people who completed the posttest 2 had more external support and thus were able to maintain the developmental assets they gained on the wilderness trip.

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35 Similarly, for the sm aller sample, the Boundaries and Expectations category scale did not show significant change from pretest to posttest (p = .012) although it did have a significant change between the pretest and the posttest 2 administration. It is possible that the small er subset of people had a higher level of support and stronger boundaries to begin with so they did not demonstrate much change over the course of the program. Interestingly, the small group (N=70) did show significant change between pre and post 2 for the boundaries and expectations category, which demonstrates that perhaps they were able to implement stronger boundaries upon returning to their community or family context. External support is a key asset identified by the Search Institute (2013) and in t his study it was a factor in response differences. It is possible that youth with strong external support had higher levels of support prior to participating in a Big City Mountaineers program. This may explain why the smaller subset of participants did no t exhibit as much change in this particular area It is also possible that youth who have strong external support systems may be more likely to integrate their learning back into their communities after the experience of a wilderness program. Adolescents w ithout strong support networks may not have the ability to integrate the developmental assets they gained on an isolated experiential program back into their life, if their community does not support or understand their personal growth process. This is an area for further research. For the group of people that completed all three administrations of the DAP, the categories of Constructive Use of Time and Commitment to Learning did not have significant change between pre post 2. The p value for Constructive Use of Time was

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36 .016 and for Commitment to Learning the p value was .035. Since the growth was not maintained in these two categories for the smaller subset of people, these would be areas for counselors, agency leaders, and school personnel to focus on as they strive to support the youth in transferring learning from Big City Mountaineers back into their communities. Strengths and Limitations of the Study The Developmental Assets Profile (DAP) is a strong assessment instrument, as evidenced by previous s tudies (Haggerty et al., 2011; Scales, 2005). However, the DAP does have limitations. Within the context of a wilderness experience program, it may be more b eneficial to assess for change using a measure that allows youth to express their experiences in mo re creative or meaningful ways. The Developmental Assets Profile is limited in its scope because it is based on self report and it uses a Likert scale to quantify a wilderness experience. Another potential implication of using the Developmental Assets Pro file is that it may not distinguish differences between the experiences of adolescents from diverse backgrounds. In this study, the difference between students with more or less external support is noticeable in the results. However, there were no noticeab le differences between participants of different ages and cultural contexts. This may mean that differences do not exist or it may mean that the Developmental Assets Profile is not sensitive enough to cultural diversity to capture the differences. One li mitation of this research study is that it did not include a comparison group, as it is a case study of one particular wilderness experience program, rather than a comparison study. Without a comparison group, it may be difficult to definitively say

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37 whethe r any changes that occur on the Developmental Assets Profile are linked to the wilderness experience program or to other factors. It is possible that future studies could explore the impacts of different wilderness experience programs on the developmental assets of adolescents. Another limitation of this study is that each Big City Mountaineers expedition includes many variables and factors such as different leaders, volunteers, and youth. It is difficult to isolate the factors which have the strongest inf luence on growth and developmental assets. Determining which factors affect the most change may be an important direction for future studies. The sample size of 333 participants is both a strength and limitation of this study. While the size of the sample is larger than that of previous studies in this area of research ( Bettmann & Tucker, 2011; Allen Craig & Gillespie, 2009 ), it is not possible to generalize to the population at large based on a 333 person sample. Another limitation of this study is that o nly 70 students completed the posttest 2. Future studies may include larger sample sizes, which are more generalizable to a diverse urban adolescent population Since the data was not collected by the researcher, there may be associated limitations. There may have been differences in collection technique based on which Big City Mountaineers instructor administered the surveys to each group of participants. Since the researcher was not directly involved in collecting the posttest 2 results, there was not an incentive for participants to return the surveys. It is possible that if the researcher had been directly involved in the data collection, the sample size for the posttest 2 administrations may have been greater than 70.

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38 A strength of this study is that i t used data from a diverse pool of participants from different geographical regions and with a variety of ages and ethnicities. The strength of this dataset makes this research more generalizable to diverse populations than previous research studies. The o pportunity to compare multiple different groups on the Developmental Assets Profile was a major stre ngth of this study. Since this study did not pick up differences between demographic variables, it demonstrates that they may not be as important as we hypo thesized. The impacts of wilderness experience programs on developmental assets may be more generalizable than we initially hypothesized in this research study. Implications The results of this study provide promising information for professionals workin g in the fields of counseling, outdoor education, wilderness therapy, and experiential education. These results demonstrate that intentional outdoor programming, as provided by Big City Mountaineers in this case study, can positively impact the development al assets of adolescents. Additionally, since gains were observed within a week and maintained for six months after the program, this research supports the idea that short term interventions can have long term impacts. This research supports my belief in an experiential counseling model that incorporates the outdoors and harnesses the healing power of nature. I believe that this research demonstrates that outdoor experiences help foster developmental assets in adolescents. Having empirical support for a th erapeutic model of experiential education may inspire counselors and educators to integrate outdoor experiences into the work they do with youth.

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39 A willingness on the part of counselors and educators to be creative and integrative can positively impact yo uth. This research demonstrates the importance of advocating for outdoor experiences that provide adolescents with impactful growth opportunities that support their mental health and provide them with therapeutic experiences in outdoor settings. Direction s for Further Research One area for further research would be to begin to isolate variables and find out what the most important factors of the wilderness experience are, so that programs can emphasize the key elements. T he inherent variation between instr uctors, participants, delivery of programmatic elements, and locations may mean that isolating these variables could prove to be beneficial I think that further qualitative research could explore of wilderness e xperience programs they find to be the most influential. Hearing perspectives from the youth who participate could inform the structure of outdoor programming so it meets participant needs. Another area for further growth could include developing research that would include the entire sample in the follow up survey. Having a smaller sample gave us information on the possible varying levels of support for the group that completed the posttest 2. It would be interesting to know if the results would have varie d if the entire sample was included. It would also be beneficial to expand this study to other groups leading wilderness trips with adolescents to find out if the results of this study are consistent across experiential outdoor programs, or if there is so mething specific about the Big City

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40 Mountaineers Program model that is working well. This information could inform other outdoor programs and professionals. Conclusion I believe this research holds promise in bringing value to the field of counseling by e xamining the intersection of outdoor pursuits and developmental assets. Big City Mountaineers offers a case study which includes a diverse sample of youth ranging in age, geographic location, and ethnic background. The results of this study will inform cou nselors and outdoor professionals alike who hope to serve youth at risk by implementing outdoor experience programs and related interventions. This research reinforces the value of the wilderness on the growth and development of adolescents.

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41 CHAPTER IV TABLES Table 1 Friedman Two Way Analysis of Variance by Rank Averages for 8 Category Scales Comparing Pretest and Posttest Mean Rank Category Scale Pretest Posttest Test Statistic P value 1. Support 1.39 1.61 22.154 2. Empowerment 1.35 1.65 3 7.787 3. Boundaries and Expectations 1.39 1.61 19.758 4. Constructive Use of Time 1.36 1.64 36.480 5. Commitment to Learning 1.35 1.65 39.385 6. Positive Values 1.34 1.66 32.779 7. Social Competencies 1.30 1.70 55.827 01 8. Positive Identity 1.30 1.70 60.275 Note N=315, except for category 2, where n = 314; Degrees of Freedom = 1

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42 Table 2 Friedman Two Way Analysis of Variance by Rank Averages for 8 Categories for Posttest and Posttest 2 Mean Rank Catego ry Pretest Posttest Test Statistic P value 1. Support 1.49 1.51 .067 .796 2. Empowerment 1.51 1.49 .016 .898 3. Boundaries and Expectations 1.40 1.60 3.689 .055 4. Constructive Use of Time 1.57 1.43 1.667 .197 5. Commitment to Learning 1.55 1.44 1.473 .225 6. Positive Values 1.54 1.46 .581 .446 7. Social Competencies 1.55 1.45 .860 .354 8. Positive Identity 1.55 1.45 .860 .354 Note N=73, Degrees of Freedom = 1

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43 Table 3 Friedman Analysis of Variance by Ranks all Questions in Each Category Mean Rank Category Pretest Posttest Posttest 2 Test Statistic P value 1. Support 1.79 2.10 2.11 5.370 .068 2. Empowerment 1.64 2.18 2.19 16.058 3. Boundaries and Expectations 1.62 2.05 2.33 19.826 4. Const ructive Use of Time 1.66 2.28 2.06 16.481 5. Commitment to Learning 1.70 2.24 2.06 13.204 6. Positive Values 1.64 2.23 2.14 15.098 7. Social Competencies 1.55 2.21 2.24 23.832 8. Positive Identity 1.55 2.25 2.20 25.547 No te N=70, except for Category 3, where n = 69, Degrees of Freedom = 2

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44 Table 4 Pairwise Comparisons of Pre, Post, and Post 2 Administrations of the Developmental Assets Profile P value Category Pre post Pre Post 2 Post Post 2 1. 1. Support n/a n/a n/a 2. 2. Empowerment .966 3. 3. Boundaries and Expectations .012 .106 4. 4. Constructive Use of Time .016 .205 5. 5. Commitment to Learning .035 .272 6. 6. Positive Values .583 7. 7. Social Competencies .899 8. 8. Positive Identity 01 .767 Note N = 70, except in Category 3, where n = 69

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45 Table 5 Independent Samples Mann Whitney U Test for Response Differences Based on Age across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile Category Test Statistic P value 1. Support 10,06 9.000 .185 2. Empowerment 9,499.500 .023 3. Boundaries and Expectations 9,907.500 .108 4. Constructive Use of Time 10,950.000 .714 5. Commitment to Learning 11,427.000 .792 6. Positive Values 10,502.000 .344 7. Social Competencies 10,533.500 .365 8. Positive Identity 12 ,155.500 .223 Note. N = 315 except for Category 1 where n = 312 and Category 3, where n = 314

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46 Table 6 Independent Samples Mann Whitney U Test for Response Differences Based on Sex* Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile Cate gory Test Statistic P value 1. Support 11,106.000 .197 2. Empowerment 11,563.500 .315 3. Boundaries and Expectations 13,015.000 .359 4. Constructive Use of Time 10,968.000 .078 5. Commitment to Learning 12,118.000 .755 6. Positive Values 12,089.000 .730 7. Social Compet encies 12,449.500 .918 8. Positive Identity 11,134.500 .123 Note N= 315, except for Category 1, where n = 312 and Category 3, where n = 314 *Sex is the term used by the Developmental Assets Profile

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47 Table 7 Independent Samples Kruskal Wallis Test for Differences in Response Based on Ethnicity Across 8 Categories on the Developmental Assets Profile Category Test Statistic P value 1. Support 3.990 .678 2. Empowerment 5.218 .516 3. Boundaries and Expectations 7.466 .280 4. Constructive Use of Time 1.145 .980 5. Co mmitment to Learning 4.728 .579 6. Positive Values 7.975 .240 7. Social Competencies 7.865 .248 8. Positive Identity 12.995 .043 Note. N = 313, except for Category 3, where n = 312

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48 REFERENCES Allen Craig, S. & Gillepsie, E. (2009). Enhancement of resilience v ia a wilderness therapy program: A preliminary investigation. Australian Journal of Outdoor Education 13 (1), 39 49. Asay, T. & Lambert, M. (1999). The empirical case for the common factors in therapy: Quantitative findings. In Hubble, M., Duncan, Barry L ., & Miller, S. (Eds), (1999). The heart and soul of change: What works in therapy (pp. 23 55).doi: 10.1037/11132 001 Becker, S.P. (2010). Wilderness therapy: Ethical considerations for mental health professionals. Child Youth Care Forum 39 47 61. doi: 1 0.1007/s10566 009 9085 7 Bettmann, J.E. & Tucker, A.R. (2011). Shifts in attachment relationships: A study of adolescents in wilderness treatment. Child Youth Care Forum, 40 499 519. doi: 10.1007/s10566 011 9146 6 Big City Mountaineers (2012). Instructor Handbook Big City Mountaineers. Big City Mountaineers (2014 ). www.bigcitymountaineers.org/programs Big City Mountaineers. Coon, J. T., Boddy, K., Stein, K., Whear, R., Barton, J., & Depledge, M.H. (2011). Does participating in physical activity in outdo or natural environments have a greater effect on physical and mental wellbeing than physical activity indoors? A systematic review. Environmental Science and Technology 45 1761 1772. doi: dx.doi.org/ 10.1021/es102947t

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49 Corey, M.S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. ( 2010). Groups: Process and practice (8 th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole/Cengage Learning. Cunningham, J.B. & Aldrich, J.O. (2012). Using SPSS: an interactive hands on approach Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications. Hill, N.R. (2007). Wilderness therapy as a treatment modality for at risk youth: a primer for mental health counselors. Journal of Mental Health Counseling 29 (4), 338 Friese, G. Hendee, J. and Kinziger, M. (1998 ). The wild erness experience program industry in the United States: Characteristics and dynamics. Journal of Experiential Education 21 (1) 40 45. Haggerty, K., Elgin, J., & Woolley, A. (2011). Social emotional learning assessment measures for middle school youth Seattle, WA: Raikes Foundation. Hendee, J. & Pitstick, R. (1993). The use of wilderness for personal growth and inspiration. Paper p resented at the 5th World Wilderness Congress Tromso, Norway. Ivey, A.E., Pedersen, P.B., & Ivey, M.B. (2008). Group Microskills: Culture Centered Group Processes and Strategies. Alexandria, VA: ACA Press. Jordan, M. (2009). Back to nature. Therapy Today 20 (3), 26 28. Retrieved from http://www.therapytoday.net/ Krakauer, J. (1995). Loving them to death. Outside 72 82, 142 143. Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2009). The Nature Relatedness Scale: ture to environmental concern and behaviour. Environment and Behavior 41 715 740. doi: 10.1177/0013916508318748

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50 Nisbet, E. K., Zelenski, J. M., & Murphy, S. A. (2011). Happiness is in our nature: Exploring nature relatedness as a contributor to subjectiv e well being. Journal of Happiness Studies 12 303 322. doi: 10.1007/s10902 010 9197 7 Norton, C. L. (2010). Into the wilderness A case study: Psychodynamics of adolescent depression and the need for a holistic intervention. Clinical Social Work Journal 38 226 235. doi: 10.1007/s10615 009 0205 5 Plante, T. G., Gores, C., Brecht, C., Carrow, J., Imbs, A., & Willemsen, E. (2007). Does exercise environment enhance the psychological benefits of exercise for women? International Journal of Stress Management 14 (1), 88 98. doi: 10.1037/1072 5245.14.1.88 Rosol, M. (2000). Wilderness therapy for youth at risk. Parks & Recreation 35 (9), 42 52. Rosenthal, H. (2008). Encyclopedia of Counseling New York, NY: Routledge. Russell, K.C. (2005). Two years later: A qualitative assessment of youth well being and the role of aftercare in outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment. Child and Youth Care Forum 34 (3), 209 239. Retrieved from obhic.org Russell, K.C. (1999). The theoretical basis, process, and reported outcomes of wilderness therapy as an intervention and treatment for problem behavior in adolescents. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, College of Natural Resources, Moscow, ID 83844 1144. Retrieved from obhic.org Russell, K.C. & Hendee, J.C. (1999). Wilderness therapy as an intervention and treatment for adolescents with behavioral problems. In Watson, A, Aplet, G. and Hendee, J. Eds. 2000. Personal, Societal, and Ecological Values of Wilde rness: 6th World

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51 Wilderness Congress Proceedings on Research, Management and Allocation Volume II Proc. RMRS P 00. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Retrieved from obhic.org Russell, K.C., Hendee, J.C., & Phillips Miller, D. (2000). How wilderness therapy works: An examination of the wilderness therapy process to treat adolescents with behavioral problems and addictions. In Cole, D., McCool, S. Eds. 2000. Proceedings: Wilderness Science in a Time of Change Missoula, MT, May, 1999. Proc. RMRS P 00. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. Retrieved from obhic.org Scales, P.C. (2005). Developmental assets and the middle school counselor. Professional School Counseling 9 (12), 104 111. Schaefle, S., Smaby M.H., Maddux, C.B., & Cates, J. (2005). Counseling skills attainment, retention, and transfer as measured by the skilled counseling scale. Counselor Education and Supervision 44 (4), 280 292. doi: 10.1002/j.1556 6978.2005.tb01756.x Scheinfeld, D. E., Roc hlen, A. B., & Busser, S. J. (2011). Adventure therapy: A supplementary group therapy approach for men. Psychology of Men and Masculinity 12 (2), 188 194. doi: 10.1037/a0022041 Search Institute (2012) Developmental Assets Profile Minneapolis, MN: Search I nstitute. Search Institute (2013). Overview of the Developmental Assets Profile Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. Search Institute (2014 ). www.search institute.org /system/files/a/40AssetsList_12 18_Eng.p df Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.

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52 Siegel, S. & Castellan, N. (1988). Nonparametric statistics for the behavioral sciences (2 nd Ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill. Smith, E. J. (2006). Strength based counseling model. Counseling Psychologist 34 (1): 13 79 doi: 10.1177/0011000005277018 Tripoli, L. (2009). Ecopsychology: Mind, body, spirit, and planet: An interview with Thomas Joseph Doherty, Psy.D. Alternative and Complementary Therapies 15 315 317. doi: 10.1089/act.2009.15607 Tucker, A.R. (2009). Adven ture Based Group Therapy to promote social skills in adolescents. Social Work with Groups 32 315 329. doi: 10.1080/01609510902874594 Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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53 APPENDIX A Search Institute (2014 )

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54 A PPENDIX B

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55 Search Institute (2012)

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56 A PPENDIX C Search Institute (2013)