Our mission is to provide the knowledge and mental fortitude each person needs to find peace during their journey. Through SPEAR, we encourage self-awareness to assist transgender youth in overcoming the obstacles they will inevitably confront in our society and inside themselves.
Our Resilience Retreat program combines the power of outdoor recreation and group development to empower young trans and nonbinary adolescents. The five pillars of the program are: support, physical recreation, empowerment, advocacy, and reflection – our SPEAR curriculum. Transcending Adolescence (TA) staffs each retreat intentionally with individuals of similar identities to provide ample support and encourage community among retreat attendees.
The Transcending Adolescence Resilience Retreat (TARR) program aims to develop coping skills in trans youth through outdoor recreation and intentional conversations with mental health professionals that allow for a more joyful existence in heteronormative societies. Transcending Adolescence offers a safe space for youth to discover themselves and their strengths to become advocates for their communities and each other. Youth experience a variety of activities and workshops that keep them engaged as they dive into unknown territories. Camp attendees engage in traditional and non-traditional camp activities daily. Through outdoor activities like archery, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, swimming, and campfires, pre-teens and teens will build their confidence and communication skills while they have fun experiencing summer camp in a physically, mentally, and emotionally safe environment. Workshops and experiences on retreats may also include yoga, self- defense classes, makeup artistry, primitive camping, field trips, and more. Throughout the program, TA’s staff – which includes a combination of mental health counselors and volunteer camp staff – build relationships with campers to learn and recognize their strengths. Staff then help campers understand how to use their strengths to build confidence, look at life less fearfully, and make positive changes to lead to long-term success. Experienced camp counselors and graduate students in mental health counseling programs ensure participants’ safety and build community.
With valuable knowledge of mental health disparities and supervision by licensed staff members, counselors-in-training will be equipped to identify strengths and help young people translate their strengths into interventions that will help overcome challenges outside of camp life. Staff training will include emergency action plan overviews, cultural humility training, and trauma-informed approaches to conversation facilitation.Counseling interns are able to log hours for each individual session with a camp participant or with a co-counselor. One intern from our inaugural retreat logged 10 hours toward his license. During stress-reducing conversations at the end of each day, counselors will help participants identify strengths and positive outcomes as they translate to real- life scenarios and goals. Topics of discussion will include but are not limited to: anxiety and depression; gender dysphoria; eating disorders; healthy living and relationships; transitions; substance abuse through a harm reduction lens; transphobia and misgendering. Counselors help participants manage anxieties, navigate both personal and interpersonal transition experiences, and handle disclosure to family members and social networks.