Valuing the Outdoors, More Than Ever

May 5, 2021

If there has been a silver lining to the pandemic, it is that we have all realized what we value most in this world. Green Chimneys has always placed great value on the power of nature, and this has only been reinforced by the circumstances we live in today. When it became clear that outdoor programming was the safest approach to keeping active, the Recreation team, along with all of the direct care staff at Green Chimneys, took this to heart and made getting outside a top priority.

Student Michael has been benefiting from outdoor adventure.

Drawn to the outdoors

The desire to be outside as much as possible quickly took over the campus. Cornhole boards that had sat in the field unused all spring, had the grass completely worn down to dirt from all of the feet shuffling around it by mid-summer. Frisbee golf sets used only sporadically became the most in-demand items on campus. Video games were put away and children began hanging around in the trees for “Hammock Hour” or taking time just to walk out to the woods.

Welcoming new experiences

And students were trying activities they hadn’t before. Fishing has always been popular with a select few at Green Chimneys but before we knew it, interest spread to all of our youth. New fishing equipment was purchased and we developed staff training on proper fishing etiquette. Activities like bike riding, high ropes, and the climbing tower had more children signing up and participating regularly than ever before.

Aspiring to adventure and conquer fears

Michael with staff Todd Dorris and Tony Shenderovich.

One student, Michael, became one of our adventure stars. Michael has always been active in our outdoor programs but it wasn’t until summer that he suddenly looked to the high ropes course and climbing tower. With encouragement from Residential Life staff member Todd Dorris, Tony Shenderovich from Recreation, and others, Michael practiced and moved past his fear of climbing 30 feet up into the trees. Once up there, Michael found a place that brought out the best in him and made him rise to other new challenges. He has gone from the person who would never do it, to the person begging to climb any chance he can get.

Forever a part of the Green Chimneys experience

Every day at Green Chimneys, we see the inspiration and impact that animals, plants, and the outdoors can have on an individual. Our natural setting has been transformative and uplifting for the students and staff, and will remain as such once the pandemic fades into the rear view mirror, and our minds focus on our future.

For Green Chimneys students enrolled in Residential Treatment, the hours outside of the school day can be equally important to their learning and growth. Children participate in recreational programs designed to support individual therapeutic goals. These activities foster socialization, boost camaraderie among the dorms, strengthen coping strategies, and gently challenge students to stretch. And, of course, recreational programs also helps our students stay active and have fun. Learn more about recreation and extracurricular activities at Green Chimneys