Wilderness Therapy Community Initiation


Saying “I love you guys” to everyone at the top of your voice before bed at night.


My informant practiced this during his time in a wilderness therapy program during high school; the program is located in Colorado. In this program, you would be with a group of people of the same gender, and you would hike from the camp in Colorado to the camp in Utah over a couple of months. When you first get there, you have to shout “I love you guys!” to your group, and then as the months go on, every night, everyone would yell “I love you” to one another before they all retired to their tents. The reason for this initiation is that you immediately become vulnerable with your group, creating a level of comfort with your peers in the program.


The use of this initiation is by making the participant uncomfortable, as saying I love you to a bunch of strangers your age is not a normal thing to do. But since the group is going to be together for a few months, the vulnerability expressed breaks the tension and makes the group more comfortable with one another. As the group says it every night before going to bed, it creates a good vibe, and even though the program can be taxing, the group is getting through it together with positive energy.