The teenage brain is (notoriously) impulsive and sensation seeking, which has implications for adolescent decision making. It is a natural part of human development, to be sure, but it is also an aspect that we address head on in our Middle School program in many different contexts and with many different approaches.
Take, for instance, our 8th grade's avalanche and snow science studies in the classroom and their winter backcountry trip. A three-day experience in the where students are getting to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom—lessons about making safe decisions—which translate from the backcountry to almost any setting. Ultimately, students come to understand that good decisions in the backcountry, like in life, comes down to managing risk and focusing on the factors that you can evaluate and control and putting into perspective those factors you cannot control.
Embedded in the regular 8th grade curriculum, the field experience follows seven in-class sessions where students study terrain, snowpack, weather, and the heuristic or human factors. By the third day of the trip, students are leading the way: making safe, good decisions and minimizing the risk and enjoying spectacular days in our mountain playground.
Middle school students are at the edge of adulthood; they want (and need) to be trusted to make good decisions, but they need (and want more than they often admit) our guidance and a safe landing if they fall short (like we all do sometimes). Our Outdoor Program is one way we build their skill sets and offer them the reins, and they more than rise to the occasion.