Wilderness Challenge Program

Changes for 2024

The Wilderness Challenge Program is looking a little different this year. Instead of a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota with new participants for summer of 2024 we are going to be doing four shorter day programs. The programs will focus on team building and problem solving. The day programs will consist of either a canoe paddle down the Fox River, or a team-building event at Urban Air trampoline park. After participating in the summer day program participants will be invited to on-going activity-based group experiences and leadership development meetings throughout the rest of the year. After the first year of participating in the group experiences, participants can apply to be peer leaders for the next year’s Wilderness Challenge trip.

Requirements for Participation

  • Must be a graduating 8th, 9th or 10th grader
  • Must live within the nonprofit service area of the agency (Geneva, Batavia, St. Charles, Campton Township, Aurora Township, Virgil Township, Blackberry Township, Kaneville Township)
  • Must be able to swim or keep afloat in water
  • Must be willing to engage in team-building and group interaction

Program Background

In the early years of its existence, TriCity Family Services’ work with youth groups was a cornerstone of the agency’s service profile. One of the most successful group approaches then used was a wilderness camping and canoe trip. Popularized during the past decade by Outward Bound, Inc., wilderness challenge programs have proven to be a highly effective mechanism for helping youth develop the ego strengths and social skills they need to successfully confront the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives.

Program Details

With financial support from Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles, the Wilderness Challenge Program (WCP) is made available, on a full or partial scholarship basis, for up to 30 graduating eighth or ninth graders from the middle schools within those communities. Both males and females are invited to apply.

Modeled after the Outward Bound Program, the Wilderness Challenge Program is designed to build participants’ character, self-confidence, self-awareness and personal fulfillment through the physical, mental and emotional challenges of a remote wilderness experience.

Wilderness Challenge Program participants will become more equipped to face the complex challenges of everyday life by:

  • developing problem-solving and decision-making skills
  • developing team-building and social relationship-building skills
  • developing new leadership skills
  • learning the value of contributing to a group
  • learning what it means to accept and receive help from others
  • discovering their own inner strength

Candidates are referred prior to the end of the school year and invited to participate in a screening interview conducted by program staff. Once selected, participants would begin the team-building process through involvement in planning, orientation and training sessions prior to the trip.

CLICK HERE to view 2023 Wilderness Challenge photos.

CLICK HERE to access the 2024 Application!

(Get your application in soon–deadline to apply is May 15, 2024!)

Greg Watson presents the TriCity Family Services’ Wilderness Challenge Program.

Click here to view the video on the TriCity Family Services’ YouTube Channel.

Participants of the Wilderness Challenge Program are invited to attend the Wilderness Challenge Group for social and leadership development meetings throughout their high school years. The group helps sustain and build upon the lessons learned from the trip.

For more information, call us at 630.232.1070 or email Wilderness@TriCityFamilyServices.org.

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