Into the Wild – Wilderness Therapy for troubled teens

Into the wild

Into the wild

The wilderness has long been known to hold power for personal transformation, growth and positive change.

The Scottish Highlands are wild, isolated and rugged – the perfect place to transform the lives of young people struggling with emotions and life-circumstances.

Venture Mor has launched an intensive wilderness therapy programme aimed at young adults from across the UK, struggling with challenges of transition to adulthood. The issues they face could be anything from parental break-up, bereavement, trauma, anxiety and depression, disengagement from education or many other responses to difficult experiences during the tricky transition between adolescence and adulthood.

It is the UK’s leading wilderness therapy programme for young people (aged between 14-18).

leap of faith

Leap of faith

The three week programme consists of intensive and immersive psychological support and experiential learning opportunities through wild-country expeditions over some of the UK’s most remote and challenging terrain. This blend of resources, programme design and environment form a compelling base for self-reflection, strategy building and commitment to positive change.

Our programme and approach is unique within the UK, but this model of treatment has decades of success in the USA.

The process is focused on the therapeutic task. We don’t do activities for reward, but we do engage in them for a reason; the activities we undertake are essential, experiential opportunities for reflection and challenge. We might hike to camp up on mountain ridges and high peaks; we might canoe down river rapids and across expansive lochs flowing out to a coastal beach; we might slow the pace in a woodland and sleep in hammocks around a campfire to focus differently during our time outside.

The end of the day

Whatever form it takes, the trail will be led by our team of outdoor guides and facilitators who have unrivalled experience delivering developmental and therapeutic programmes in the most remote and wildest parts of Scotland.

Venture Mor’s first Wilderness Therapy programme in March and the journey for both the young people and the organisation was a success. The participants worked through themes of attachment, resilience, dealing with challenge, preparing for transitions and independence. They had space and time to tend to their painful psychological wounds, grow in self-awareness, and develop effective strategies to transfer home.

After the successful launch of the inaugural journey, another group of teens is now out in the wilderness working with professional therapists and guides. Future programmes are already attracting interest from parents and family members of young adults who have tried traditional therapeutic support (counselling, psychotherapy, CBT, CAMHS, medication options etc.) but have not been able to make the changes they were hoping for.

The next programme is scheduled for 24 March – 14 April 2018. Talk to us about what  Wilderness Therapy can do for your family.

Call on 0845 340 2059 or email
For more information visit:

Nothing like biking along the North Coast 500


The North Coast 500 is a route like no other. It takes in some of the best road cycling the UK has to offer, with mountainous terrain, switchbacks, sheer drops, turquoise seas and white sand beaches a-plenty.

And what better way to explore the wild landscape of the north-west Highlands than as part of a challenge? You will feel a huge sense of achievement, pushing yourself to your limits and making lifelong friends, while raising funds for The Cookie Jar Foundation.

The charity provides help and support to both sick children and those in need, whether that be funding, educational or community based work. The funds raised from the cycle challenge will go to the Royal Edinburgh Sick Children’s Hospital so every mile you cycle will be doing something worthwhile.

The challenge starts in Inverness on 29 July 2016, and can be completed in one of three ways:

  • As a team of 3 splitting the 500 miles
  • As an individual cycling a leg of the challenge (over 2 days) – these spaces are first come first serve!
  • As an individual who is up for the challenge of covering the full 500 miles (6 days)

North-Coast-500-Scotland--009Our passionate and experienced guides will support you through climbs and exhilarating downhills, towards a huge achievement as you reach the finish line. We will provide accommodation, food and support vehicles, so all you need to do is turn up with your bags and get ready to cycle! 


  • What? A cycle relay challenge in aid of The Cookie Jar Foundation, covering more than 500 miles of the best that the North Highlands has to offer.  The route runs to and from Inverness, venturing up the West Coast and back via the rugged North Coast.  Where?  The North Highlands, starting and finishing in Inverness
  • When? 29 July – 3 August 2016
  • Contact sign up on the Cookie Jar website

12 Family Friendly Adventures For The Festive Period

1. Build a snowman and make snow angels

Make the most of the snow and build a snowman, don’t forget the carrot, raisins, hat and scarf for them!  And while you are at it, make a few snow angels as well!

2. Make pine-cone and twig Christmas decorations 

Go out for a walk and gather up all the pine-cones and twigs you can find, for a fun afternoon with the kids of making Christmas decorations!  Draw some eyes, for an owl and use some old scraps of fabric, or cotton wool to make a fun owl, or alternatively, glue some twigs onto a lollypop stick to create Christmas trees, and add on some pompoms or glitter if you want to make it a bit more colourful.

3. Animal watching

Winter time is a great time to go out and spot some animals.  Some of the animals you’re likely to see in Scotland at winter include, red deer, otters, common and grey seals, red squirrels, peregrine falcons, the golden eagle, pink-footed geese, red grouse and snow buntings.

4. Go for a walk

Check out the ninth blog of Christmas for some winter walk inspiration!

5. Outdoor bowling

Fill and freeze some water balloons (optional: add some food colouring to jazz them up), to create a fun outdoor bowling game!  Fill some plastic bottles with water for the pins, and find a relatively flat area and you are ready to go.  The frozen balls will last long enough for a few rounds of bowling.

6. Winter campfire

Who says campfires are only for the summer?!  Rug up warm and set up a campfire in the backyard (or local campsite site) and toast marshmallows over the fire, drink plenty of hot chocolate and tell campfire stories and try and identify the star constellations.

7. Cycle

Dust off the bicycles and scooters and explore the local neighbourhood.  And if you’re lucky there might still be some Christmas lights up in your neighbours gardens!

8. Treasure hunt

A treasure hunt is ideal any time of the year!  Either go searching for items belonging to nature e.g. birds feathers, pine cones, a heart shaped rock, a flower, or alternatively hide some of the old baubles around the garden and see how long it takes the children to find them all.

9. Ice-skating

Head into your local city centre and go ice-skating for the afternoon.  Make sure to bring a spare pair of socks, and wrap up warm!  It’ll take a few minutes to get stable on your feet, but once you get the hang of it, you will be twirling and jumping like Torvill and Dean!

10. Have a snowball fight

Build a fort, make a stockpile of snowballs and get ready to wage war on the other half of your family!  The older the children are, the more tactical you can make it, if they are just little ones have a competition to see how far they can throw the snowball instead.

11. Do some festive baking

Make gingerbread for a gingerbread house, reindeer pops, Christmas pudding crispie cakes or maybe some biscuits to hang on the tree.

12. Walks in the rain and jumping in puddles

Once all the snow has melted, or as the case is more likely, after its rained, wrap up in your new Christmas jumpers and put on the wellies, and enjoy jumping in puddles and seeing who can make the biggest splash!

11 Items You Should Always Have In Your Bag On a Scottish Adventure

If you find yourself reaching into your bag when you’re out on your bike or at the top of the hill and realise that a bit of kit that could have been really useful isn’t there, fear not.  Here is a checklist of some things you should never omit when you’re packing for a Great Big Adventure.  Most of the items relate to your own (and your mates’) personal safety and wellbeing, so pay attention and if it comes to it, everyone will be glad you did (if it helps, you could read this to yourself in the voice of a nagging parent? Just a thought).]

1. A map & compass

If you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, the adventure might end in:

  1. Disaster
  2. A long, cold, unplanned night
  3. Mild frustration
  4. Some learning which means you always have a map & compass in future

We always carry a spare map too – they are like large kites on occasion.  But it’s not just about carrying them.  You need to know how to use them too!  Spend some time practicing old school navigation and leave your GPS at home for complete confidence that you’ll always be able to find the pub at the end of a long day!

2. A whistle

If you get into difficulties, it’s useful to be able to attract the attention of passers-by or a rescue team.  It’ll get you found a lot quicker!

3. A group emergency shelter

At the size of a can of beans, for a 2-person shelter, there really is no excuse.  There are several brands on the market and you will be astounded at how effective these are.  Try one for lunch or a brew stop and you’ll never leave it out of your pack again.

4. A hat & gloves

When out and about, the temperature and the weather can change abruptly.  Most of our body heat is lost through the head, so having a warm hat to minimise heat loss will make a big difference if you get caught out.  Equally, if your fingers stop working because they are too cold, it can be hard to navigate and that could cause serious issues too.

5. Flapjack

Some sort of high energy, slow release snacks are vital in any adventurers backpack.  Check our third blog of Christmas for the only recipe you’ll ever need!

6. Mobile phone

For obvious reasons, it’s important to be able to contact people.  If you have signal, you can phone someone from the top of a hill to gloat, or raise the alarm if something goes awry.

7. A torch

Sometimes, through no fault of our own, a route takes longer than we expect. We spend a little longer than planned taking photos, swimming in fresh mountain pools or enjoying watching eagles soar.  It’s OK.  But make sure you take the stress out of getting back in the dark by carrying a head torch.

8. Midge net

In the summer, there are midge.  Unless it’s windy.  But it’s not windy surprisingly often which is why we recommend carrying a midge net.  Repellent is OK, but a net is better if you want a reasonable chance of functioning.

9. First aid kit

For those moments after unforeseen things have happened.  Make sure it is well stocked with items that reflect your first aid abilities.  There is much debate on what should be carried, but whatever you carry, make sure you’re comfortable with it and know how to use it.

10. Duct tape

For when your tent pole breaks or your jacket rips or your water bottle leaks, or your car bumper falls off, or your walking pole snaps, or your boot sole comes apart, or your trousers split or…you get the picture.  You don’t have to take a whole roll. Just wind some around a walking pole or a water bottle.

11. Fluid

Dehydration is something that affects us all, more than we realise.  When we are active, our body needs more fluid to function well but often we take in less because we are busy being active.  Make sure you take fluids with you and fill up when you get the chance. Drink when you feel thirsty.  Hydration bladders are excellent for this as you’re more likely to be sipping regularly.