Students and staff who spent their winter holidays with New Summit Academy had no shortage of exciting activities to keep them busy. The two-week holiday break was divided into two separate Aventuras: one week on the wild Pacific coast of Costa Rica, and one week of adrenaline-pumping adventure in the Arenal Volcano area.
On the coast, students surfed, spotted wildlife while kayaking among mangroves, and rode mountain bikes on the beach. The areas surrounding Arenal Volcano are famous for their outdoor activities, and students took full advantage, rappelling and rock climbing, zip-lining, horseback riding, and white-water rafting their way through the countryside.
In between these Aventuras, students and staff gathered at one of our dedicated teacher’s homes in Atenas to celebrate the holiday, sharing a traditional meal and exchanging gifts.
NSA hopes that everyone in our extended family had a wonderful holiday as we kick off 2017 with renewed energy and optimism for another banner year!
Updates like these make all of the efforts worth it:Hi, Kelly,
Life is fantastic right now! I am settled in to my dorm (my roommate is awesome) and have had two days of classes (already five hours spent on homework). I have met up with a lot of my old friends and I am hanging out with another NSA grad often, he’s doing great as well. We went on the same backpacking trip and saw a bear less than 15 feet away, walking toward us! It was a really fun trip and we had perfect weather with a full moon and blue skies.
I had a full time job this past summer as a dish washer with 50-hour weeks (roughly). I managed to go to three concerts through all of that: Rebelution, Guns n Roses, and Blink 182. At the Blink 182 concert, I caught the drummer’s drumstick!
I was sick right when I moved back (figures) but it only lasted a week and I’ve been healthy ever since. There already parties almost every day up here and I’ve managed to stay sober so far so that’s good, still having fun though.
I have no idea what I want to study but I think that is a good thing. I feel comfortable on campus and around all these people, everyone is really friendly up here.
I know I’ve said this before, but in times of reflection, I think I should say again that I am forever grateful for NSA and how it helped me turn my life around. Without it I would not be in college right now and maybe not even have a high school diploma. Then there’s all the emotional knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained, but I won’t go on about that (although it’s really important/advantageous). But the most important skills I learned at NSA were how to live with people, solve conflict, and open up as a person. I am so comfortable around everyone here, and it helps others be comfortable around me. It’s quite an experience to look back on, and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could.
Thanks for all your hard work.
Feel free to share this with people and I will write a letter to Martin ‘cause he deserves one and he helped me so much.
Arriving at a new place can be overwhelming for anyone, especially when that place is a new school, with a new group of peers, new staff, and different rules – and in an entirely foreign country!
Preparing students for a successful transition from New Summit Academy is a crucial step in helping them succeed in the next stages of their lives. A huge part of this help comes from their work within the NSA Transition Program - an intensive process which engages students, families, and a "Transition Team" in planning and preparing for life after New Summit.
The planning begins well before students' final quarters, when they work with their families to create drafts of their Transition Plans, which will be refined and edited for months before final approval. These comprehensive plans include expectations about education, finances, family and house rules, socializing, and more. Throughout the Transition Program, students also engage in life-skills workshops of their choosing, including topics such as College Level Skills, Planning for and Preparing a Meal, Independent Travel, Budgeting and Finances, and Sex and Dating.
"Therapeutic Educational Experiences" (similar version published in We Are NATSAP newsletter October 2016)
by Dr. Heather Tracy, Ed.M., Ed.D., Executive Director at New Summit Academy & The Bridge – Costa Rica
During the admissions process at therapeutic boarding schools, there is no shortage of educational symptoms listed: Grades declined. Skipped classes. Suspended. Fell into a negative peer group at school. Bullied. Whatever the case may be, what happens at school is often framed as a symptom of a deeper clinical issue that is the true reason for seeking treatment. What is often not highlighted is just how integrated an adolescent’s educational and personal development experiences actually are. The up side to all of this is that education does not solely serve to alert us to symptoms needing clinical attention, but
rather educational experiences can be important facilitators of healing and growth as well.
What could be more therapeutic than...
Each and every one of these examples is representative of how New Summit Academy is not just filling up students’ days with scores on tests and credits on transcripts. NSA's teachers and administrators work tirelessly to create “therapeutic” educational experiences for our students. We do this believing that someday soon other schools will catch on to the idea that therapeutic education is not just healing what has “gone wrong” for our students; instead, it is what education is meant to be at its core – an experience that facilitates learning about ourselves, each other, and the world around us so that we might meaningfully contribute in our own unique and positive way.
by Kelly Weld, NSA therapist
I was having one of those incredible moments last week when I found myself surfing at sunset with Nico. Our Surf Club heads to South Jaco every week, which may be my favorite part of the job (which says a lot). I’ve been out in many different conditions: the perfect 4’ rollers in which everyone feels like a professional; big waves in which many of us ride the white water (when we clearly are not professionals), or even flat calm days in which there are no waves to catch, but everyone still feels the magic.
There is a particular bond that happens between people over a surf outing: first the anticipation and shared excitement on the drive to the beach, and then the stories told over post-session pizza. It is during these activities where some of my best student connections are made. Paddling in the warm water under a rose-covered sky, I watched Nico return to the lineup after surfing the last set. He grinned at me, happy and proud of the wave he caught, while clearly amused by my recent wipe-out. I am not the best surfer, but laughing at ourselves is part of the fun.
I have found that it is moments like these that allow the most natural and open relationships to develop between myself as a therapist, and the students with whom I work. There is an emotional connection that occurs when sharing favorite activities with someone, particularly in an outdoor setting. Profound relationships develop when that activity includes a “challenge element” (eliciting the “flow state” of presence and mindfulness) with an attainable struggle that eventually leads to mastery (creating a sense of earned pride and personal confidence).
On our drive back to campus, I could tell that something special had happened out in the water that evening: Nico and I had strengthened our shared experience and personal history. Whether it be surfing, rock climbing, paddling, or the rhythm of walking, NSA’s experiential Aventuras create opportunities for deep therapeutic rapport, the foundation for clinical efficacy.
Blog authors may be students, staff, parents or colleagues. We're all-inclusive! Just enjoy!