By Milly Day
What is Recovery Trekking?
In a nutshell, Recovery Trekking is a brand new recovery platform, both for addicts stuck in active addiction, and for those who have already begun their journey, whereby you’re guided along an ancient pilgrimage route as a form of healing for the mind, body and soul.
Over the course of the trek, you will eat, sleep and breathe a new way of living that takes you into history, 12-step addiction fundamentals and fellowship. Each day will consist of moderate physical exercise, guided meditation, journalling, 12-step meetings, stepwork, as well as other writing activities.
How and when did the idea come about?
Sparrow, one of the founders of Recovery Trekking, hiked the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain and experienced firsthand its healing powers, which gave her an idea: after losing a sibling to heroin addiction and adopting her husband’s two children, whose biological mother had had multiple unsuccessful attempts at rehab, it occurred to her that this could help addicts for whom other methods were failing. In 2017, she founded the company alongside her good friend and business partner, Peter, who she met in recovery almost a decade ago.
Since then, the pair have successfully partnered on two other companies and numerous charity projects. Between them, they have raised more than US$2 million for various charities and they continue to volunteer, fundraise and spread the good news of recovery, specialising in working with addicts that have not found lasting recovery through traditional channels.
I then met Sparrow in the summer of 2017 and we instantly connected. Though we lived in separate countries, she and I stayed in touch and by some wonderful coincidence, she contacted me shortly after I’d left another job to tell me she had some “potentially very exciting news” for me, which was that she wanted me to be involved in Recovery Trekking as a guide.
What are the different options available?
If you are new to recovery, and are perhaps struggling to get well through the conventional methods like rehab, we offer a 30-day program called Rehab Reimagined. On these treks, the group recovers together, a reminder that we are not alone on this journey of recovery. The guide provides individual guidance for each participant, while the group provides encouragement and support along the way. Participants will be taken through a specific set of writing exercises and group activities to help them identify relapse triggers and behaviours that deflect personal responsibility and other causes of self-destructive behaviour.
Alternatively, you can opt to go on a shorter trek with our Adventures in Recovery program. This is ideal for anyone looking to reconnect and recharge their spirituality. Over the course of eight days, you’ll have the opportunity to break away from your routine and immerse yourself in recovery, without any distractions. Each day includes morning meditation, a walk of between four and six hours and an evening 12-step meeting, moderated by the guide.
Both programs have been created by people in recovery who have found a way to be free of the yoke of addiction. We are not a traditional rehab facility nor a conventional halfway house. We are people who live recovery in our personal lives, every day of our lives. If you choose to journey with us, we will try to instill in you or your loved one the tools which have allowed us to become free.
What are the benefits of walking in nature for addicts?
Mind: There is no doubt that walking through nature has a restorative effect. It has been shown that time spent outdoors refreshes one’s focus, and improves cognitive function. You don’t hear much while you are trekking, besides the birds, wind and rustling of the trees, meaning there are fewer distractions and you’re able to think more clearly. This can help you understand your place in life and make you see what you want to get out of it.
Body: Like all other forms of exercise, trekking helps you stay in good physical check. It also enables you to sleep better, and a good night’s sleep is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle – not only will you feel great, but you’ll also have a whole lot more physical energy.
Soul: When you look out at the beauty of the nature surrounding you, it is hard to not to feel content. Somehow stress is processed differently when you’re in nature, which is inevitably connected to the fact you’re away from any environment that induces stress and anxiety. Fresh air, sunlight and those soothing sounds will give you the chance to connect with what’s real.
Our first trek along the Camino de Santiago will begin on March 1st and the deadline for registration is February 15th – to register your interest, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions, you can send them to the same email address or alternatively, contact us via our Facebook page.
We are hoping to get another trek up and running along the beautiful C&O Canal Trail in Washington DC soon, so watch this space!