Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adventure Therapy For Veterans Coming to Incopah

Another great project I've learned about through Vets For Peace is called Incopah, a rural retreat for veterans transitioning back to life at home. This is something in the making, that isn't yet launched, at least not this chapter of a burgeoning nationwide network at Other similar campuses have opened across the country, no two exactly alike but all offering adventure therapy for vets.

Adventure therapy, via Wikipedia (excerpt): "Adventure therapy approaches psychological treatment through experience and action within cooperative games, Trust activities, Problem Solving Initiatives, High adventure, outdoor pursuits, and wilderness expeditions."

Google adventure therapy and you can find various counselors offering to facilitate such a process, as well as research and books on the topic.

I have been hearing about this over the past year or so as efforts have picked up here in Humboldt County, CA, where Incopah is planned near Willow Creek. My friend Marc Knipper is spearheading this local effort and has started getting some press for it. On Friday evening, KMUD radio aired an almost 8 minute interview (listen .mp3) that I excerpted for the GuvWurld news archive.

And this is from the July 21 Eureka Times-Standard (archive):

The program, a 22-acre retreat in the hills near Willow Creek, called "Incopah," would help transition vets using adventure therapy, non-denominational spiritual ceremonies and meditative work with the land, Knipper said.

Drug- and alcohol-free, the veterans would make pottery, raise bees, garden and do other therapeutic, tactile work, while participating in ceremonies based on indigenous philosophies.

"One day they're in Iraq killing people, and the next day they're home. One day you're a warrior and the next day you're not -- native people know you have to bring your warriors home, nurture them and prepare them," Knipper said.

Knipper said he envisions the veteran-built retreat offering veterans a place to reflect and recover, off the grid and solitary in the forest "to bring our warriors back into the tribe."

Incopah could house between 20 and 30 veterans at any given time, and would be open to the public for guided adventure tourism -- like rock climbing or white water rafting -- six months out of the year.

Knipper said by opening the resort to tourism, the program could be financially self-sustaining, and would teach the veterans skill sets that could benefit them in the job market after they leave.
This is such a great project and I'll be looking for ways to provide support. Fundraising is underway with sights set on January to begin clearing the 22 acres. The T-S article concludes:
Donations can be made to Incopah, or Veterans Village, through Knipper: or phone 707-498-6937 for more information.
Here is a link to the Incopah page on the Veterans Village website. The umbrella group was created by Nadia McCaffery whose son Sgt Patrick R. McCaffrey was killed in Iraq on June 22, 2004.
Because a commercial airliner brought Patrick's flagged-draped coffin to Sacramento and hundreds of waiting friends, media captured one of those rare administration censored visuals of fallen heroes. Since that day, an apolitical mother has publicly questioned the war and searched for a "totally new, better way to involve ourselves in the world."
The names of both mother and son are quite well known now, and each returns thousands of Google hits. Like the family of Pat Tillman, Nadia McCaffrey has been tenacious at compelling exposure of a full accounting of her son's death at the hands of Iraqis he was training. I can't help wondering if that is its own form of adventure therapy for the grieving?


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