The purpose of this interpretive case study was to explore how a wilderness challenge intervention was experienced by “at-risk” youth, to uncover the meanings of those experiences, and to assess the generalization and transfer of their experiences beyond the intervention. Two motivational frameworks involving theory of optimal experience and self-determination were used to guide the study. Forty research participants involved with a therapeutic wilderness program were interviewed using in-depth, semi-structured interviews as the main source of data collection. Using constant comparison as the method of analysis, three themes encompassing the topics of challenge, community, and key player relationships were constructed from the data. Data analysis led to the construction of optimal experience, self-determination, social capital, optimism, and youth initiative resulting in a grounded theory of positive youth development. Implications for practice include encouraging greater parental involvement in the overall program and offering sustained, challenging follow-up activities.
Author Sydney L. Sklar, Stephen C. Anderson, Cari E. Autry
Volume Vol 41, No 3 (2007)