Roughing It In The Wilderness Saved This Teens Life

Roughing It In The Wilderness Saved This Teens Life

Posted on , in Section Essential Reads

Not every teenager considers ten weeks in the middle of nowhere a “good time.”

Mary was no exception—yet she is thrilled that she did it.

16-year-old Mary was somewhat reluctantly brought by her parents to a unique “wilderness therapy” program called Wingate Wilderness Therapy. Located in the beautiful desert of southern Utah, Wingate takes its students on a distinctive journey—not just through the wilderness, but through their own perceptions and challenges. Mary, who had been struggling with drugs, alcohol, and other risky behaviors, was very skeptical at first, but was also, as she says, “Numbed out. I didn’t know where I was in my life, but I knew that something needed to change. I was up to whatever. It was scary and different. I was not expecting to find primitive camping!”

But camp she did, along with other students in the harsh winter weather—in the desert, but still cold and wet and uncomfortable. Without electronics and other modern conveniences, Mary says she found herself in a place that was both “silent and noisy.” She recognized her own unique strengths and abilities, and knew that pretending to be someone else just to be accepted by everyone else was not something she wanted to keep doing. 

Rehabilitated Mary Ford smiling

Giving Back To The Troubled Teens Of The Future

“The relationship with myself is probably the biggest thing I learned,” Mary said thoughtfully. “Before my teenage years, I really didn’t have one, I acted however I thought everyone else wanted me to act. And now that I’m my actual self—I’m okay with me. It was a long process.”

But it was a process, it seems, that did excellently well for her. Mary is 22 years old now, and a student at the University of Utah, earning a degree that will help her on her own path of helping troubled teens. But she wants to encourage them now as well:

“This too shall pass,” Mary wrote. “No matter how bad things may seem, it will always get better. Never stop fighting for your happiness, because you deserve everything you want from this precious life of yours.”