Will My Child Receive School Credit for Attending Alaska Crossings?
The case management team works with each participant’s school on an individual basis. We are able to provide a syllabus which often equates to a life skills course. Participants have also received credit for physical education, history and Alaska Native studies, and comprehension and reading. Each participant returns home with a completed journal which schools often request to review for validation and evidence of the work done in the program.
Alaska Crossings is also a participant in the Anchorage School District Credit by Choice program. Any participant from the Anchorage School District will receive 2 credits in the following courses:
*H9944 Impact = 0.5 credits
*H6052 Pursuing Wellness = 0.5 credits
H6666 Individual Rec and activities = 0.5 credits
H6740 Wilderness Rec and Activities = 0.5 credits
The participant and family wishing to be involved with the Credit by Choice program will need to inform their school of their enrollment in Alaska Crossings and get written consent from their school. When the participant prepares to return home a case manager will send the school a letter stating the participant has completed the program.
Alaska Crossings is currently working on developing relationships with other school districts for participants to receive credit for attendance in the hopes of meeting our mission statement of “helping youth succeed”.
What If My Child Wants to Leave the Program?
Participants are placed in the program by the authority of their parents or guardians, who are highly involved in the child’s treatment from the initial point of contact throughout the duration of the program. Alaska Crossings is a voluntary program. Some participants enter treatment by choice; others are not pleased about attending the program, but agree to do so. Alaska Crossings staff are happy to assist families with the intake process. We are also willing to speak directly with your child if they have hesitations or concerns about attending the program. No child can attend the program without knowledge and consent to treatment. There are no exceptions. Alaska Crossings does not allow a child to be “escorted” to the program by a “for fee” service that takes the child against their will. We feel that these services can actually traumatize the child.
While it is in the best interest of participants to complete the entire program, those who indicate a desire to leave the program will be given the opportunity to discuss this option with their staff. The staff will relay this information to the clinical team who will work with the child’s family to determine whether or not it is safe and appropriate for the child to leave the program. This means that many times participants cannot exit the program when they want to. Even when it is determined that it is in the best interest of the child to leave the program, they may need to remain in the program until arrangements for placement in another program or transportation from the field may be made.
What Are the Rules & Expectations of My Child During the Program?
General rules of conduct
Alaska Crossings is not a punitive program and rules are in place to protect the well being of all participants and staff. Failure to abide by these rules may result in removal from program and possible criminal prosecution. All participants are held to the following rules of conduct:
We do not permit use or possession of alcohol, drugs or tobacco products.
Over-the-counter medications and prescriptions may only be administered with specific permission from parents or physicians. All medication is held by appropriate staff and self-administered by participants under staff supervision.
Weapons or articles which staff believes could be used as weapons, including personal knives, are not allowed.
Participants may not leave, or work on plans to leave the program, without permission of staff.
Participants must avoid behavior that endangers themselves or others, including staff. This includes violence or threats of violence; engaging in or encouraging risky behaviors; or failing to follow instructions regarding safety issues. Participants may be charged if they assault another participant or staff.
Participants are responsible for following the program’s rules and for obeying staff members at all times.
Participants are encouraged to participate in the development of their treatment goals. Youth are encouraged to help in the setting of program rules. It must be stated that no participant is allowed to conduct themselves in a manner that places themselves or others at risk. Learning to question authority, boundaries and rules in a respectful and thoughtful manner is an important skill to be developed.
Participants will not have the opportunity to work for remuneration. They engage in substantial physical activities each day; hiking, paddling, collecting firewood, cooking, constructing shelters, and traveling backcountry. These activities are necessary for keeping up with the group, taking care of themselves, assisting others, an. Some expeditions may have an opportunity to complete a short community service project. Participants must agree to these projects and they would never be forced to participate in these projects. Typical projects would involve minor trail clearing or trash pick up for the Park Service.
Can I Speak With or Visit My Child During the Program?
Verbal communication is limited to emergency and operational needs during the program. For this reason, after the initial contact is made with you upon your child’s arrival in Wrangell, we are unable to facilitate phone calls to your child while in program.
We ask for a letter of support from parents or guardians to be delivered to your child approximately half way through the program. Your cooperation with this request is greatly appreciated. At that time participants will write a response letter to their parent or guardian. Parents and guardians may write other correspondence to their child during the program, and send them to the Alaska Crossings office. These letters will be delivered to the participant the night or morning before the graduation at the end of the program. We do not open a participant’s mail. We ask that families do not send in food to the program.
Visits to Alaska Crossings
Visits are not possible during the program. However, we do encourage family members or guardians to come to Wrangell to attend the graduation ceremony at the end of each program.
State of Alaska Child Abuse Hotline
At the start of each program all participants are provided with the State of Alaska Child Abuse Hotline phone number. They are then instructed that if at any time they feel they are being abused by a staff member they will be allowed to contact the Child Abuse Hotline to make a report. This call can be conducted through one of the programs satellite telephones. The participant must demonstrate that they are calm and in control of their behaviors and actions prior to their use of the satellite telephone as it is a vital piece of emergency equipment.
What About My Child’s Privacy?
Each participant’s personal privacy will be ensured and protected within the constraints of communal living in an outdoor environment. The participant’s own behavior may determine additional measures needed to ensure the safety and well-being of the participant, which may affect the degree of personal privacy available to them. The Alaska Crossings behavioral health philosophy includes personal solitude and time alone. Participants set up their own tarps or tents in an area assigned by their staff. Occasionally participants may need to share a tarp or tent when necessary due to weather, location or damage to outdoor equipment. Privacy for dressing, cleansing, toileting and self-care is largely determined by the participant’s own efforts.
A written, dated and signed consent form shall be obtained from the participant and the participant’s family or legal guardian for any involvement in research programs, or for photographs and quotations that might be used by news media or in promotional items for the Alaska Crossings programs.
Dignity & Respect
Each participant’s personal dignity shall be recognized and respected in all aspects of their all care and treatment.
Participants are not allowed to bring personal property with them on program, except for clothing as described in the Alaska Crossings equipment list.
If unapproved items are discovered once the participant has arrived, they will be collected and left in a secure location in town. These items will be returned to participant upon leaving program. Because we cultivate an environment of honesty and trust, participants are given the opportunity to turn over any of these items without question or consequence before beginning the program. A comprehensive list of approved items is included in the intake packet.
Alaska Crossings will not be responsible for unapproved items found once the program begins. We ask that parents and guardians be attentive and assist in packing their child’s bags. If there is suspicion of any possible contraband items, we ask that you inform Alaska Crossings. Equipment searches are sometimes unavoidable and unpleasant for participants and staff. They are conducted for the purpose of providing a drug-free and low-risk environment.
What About My Child’s Spiritual Beliefs?
Alaska Crossings cannot provide access to religious services, religious leaders, or to the standard community religious resources of each participant’s choice. Participants are encouraged to consider the spiritual aspects of the wilderness setting. They are free to discuss any aspect of their own religion and values. We observe 30 seconds of silence before meals to allow for personal reflection as each participant sees fit.
What Does a Typical Day at Alaska Crossings Look Like?
6–7am | Wake up, pack personal gear, eat breakfast
We have discovered that by starting the day early helps ensure that you get off the water in good time to avoid late arrivals to camp. Behaviors are sometimes more prevalent when fatigue kicks in. Also, if the participants have gone to bed around 8pm the night prior, they are getting ample sleep if they get up between 6 and 7am. This is also a time when medications are often distributed.
8–9am | Load boats and start paddling
On days that you have miles to cover, or big head winds to deal with, or any other potential factors that affect your progress, getting on the water considerably earlier may be necessary!
12pm | Stop and eat lunch, do journal exercise
Similar to wake up time, if lunch gets much beyond noon, the day often gets pushed into a challenging unload and camp set-up increasing the likelihood of behaviors, incidents, etc. This can be a good time to do journal as one guide can be prepping lunch, while the others are explaining and roving kid to kid helping with their daily journal activity.
3–4pm | Pull off the water
This allows folks to settle into camp “in good style”. Unloading gear, setting up individual and group tarps and settling into camp in the daylight is important. Once in a while, a good long paddling day may happen which has it’s own benefits. This should be the exception and not the norm.
4–5pm | Facilitate group exercise, possibly play a game
By doing these things around the same time each day, the group gets into a good routine, again, knowing what to expect and feeling comfortable. This is a good time for folks to collect firewood.
5:30–6pm | Eat dinner and clean up, have a fire
After dinner may be the time that you choose to do your Group exercise for the day. Fires are something that we often have, but are also a group privilege that requires cooperation and teamwork.
7:00pm | Points and review Voice of the Day
This period of time prior to heading to bed should be a calming, calculated part of the day. Reviewing points and talking about the VoD is a great way to wrap up the day with some positive and constructive feedback sitting calmly in a circle.
7:30–8pm | Off to Bed and Reading
Every night, a guide reads to our kids. This occurs once everyone is settled into their tarps. Bedtime for some participants brings out relevant history that may be presented as homesickness, or possibly just “acting out”. If this happens, it is less of an issue at 8pm than it is at 10pm. Sleep for all is vital to maintain energy for this extended expedition. During the day, consistently strive for the goal of early bed times and you will be a happier Alaska Crossings guide throughout, with happier participants, too.