Preparing for Panama: Teen Leadership and Adventure Therapy

Scenic view of Panama's lush landscape and skyline

Empowering Teenagers through Global Service

Turning Winds organizes international service trips abroad for our teen clients twice a year: this November, the destination is Panama. The excursions offer a unique blend of travel, cultural immersion, leadership training, and adventure therapy. 

Additionally, these international trips provide invaluable opportunities for personal growth. These trips have become a big part of the therapeutic experience for our teenage clients since the focus is on helping others. Moreover, these unique experiences are empowering and life-changing. 

Transformative International Experiences for Teens

Our international service trips are meticulously designed to foster leadership, resilience, and a profound sense of global citizenship. Subsequently, our teenage patients develop empathy and a hands-on understanding of diverse cultures by engaging in community service, contributing to their personal and academic growth.

Turning Winds has taken clients to Greece, Peru, Thailand, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and most recently Morocco. The trip to the North African country had a very positive impact on the kids. 

They were amazing ambassadors for the United States to the Moroccan people,” remembers therapist Sean Carlin, who accompanied the clients on the trip. 

“We get a lot of teenagers at Turning Winds who have burned every bridge possible, alienated themselves. Most people in their lives would have given them labels and not very positive ones.” 

What we do at Turning Winds and what we did on this trip is build relations. Ultimately, that’s our foundation; we build a relationship with these kids and do it in a very structured environment.” 

On their Guatemala service trip. Students and local children playing "red-light green-light" and "Duck, Duck, Goose" outside

A Decade of Adventure Therapy: Turning Winds’ Journey

Our international service trips for teens are more than just a break from the routine; they are a leap into a world of self-discovery and community connection. Each journey is an opportunity for growth, allowing teens to explore cross-cultural experiences that broaden their horizons.

“We’ve had international service trips for about half a decade now,” says Turning Winds CEO Owen Baisden. “I had experiences abroad when I was a kid, and they were powerful because life in the United States can be quite different from what the rest of the world experiences.” 

Initially, the Turning Winds team took students on trips to Washington, DC, and Hawaii but felt they were too much like vacations in the US. “Then we thought, ‘Let’s get something with a little more meat on the bone, a more meaningful experience for the kids,'” remembers Baisden. 

Therapeutic Value: Life Skills and Cultural Immersion for Youth

Traveling to foreign countries to be immersed in other cultures and help people less fortunate than ourselves is an exciting opportunity to gain new perspectives and boost self-confidence—especially in young people.

The service trips have many therapeutic aspects. First, the kids learn new skills. Secondly, they work with other kids, teaching them English and playing games with them. 

Traveling to foreign countries to be immersed in other cultures and help people less fortunate than ourselves affords new perspectives and the ability to learn that people worldwide are not that different from you and me.

Welcoming 'Bienvenido a Panama' sign at the start of our adventure

Panama Awaits: A New Chapter in Service and Learning

“In Panama, this time, the kids get to visit two schools in impoverished neighborhoods,” says program director Enoch Stump. “They’ll be immersed in a Spanish-speaking environment and have the chance to teach some English to their new friends.”

The therapeutic value of the service trip experience cannot be overstated. “We continuously witness how the lives of our students change as a result of our service trips. We have seen teens who struggle to look outside themselves and think of others cry with tears of gratitude, appreciation, and love for their fellow human beings. It’s nothing short of amazing,” says Turning Winds Chief Operations Officer Carl Baisden. 

Two Decades of Excellence in Teen Therapeutic Programs

At Turning Winds, it’s not only adventures abroad but the people who make the difference. Over more than twenty years, we’ve built a team of some of the world’s finest academic and therapeutic professionals, all of whom share the same goal: to help teens re-engage meaningfully with their lives, families, and futures.

It all began with the simple desire to help young lives see a new path. In two decades, the program has matured into a sophisticated program that blends the benefits of a wilderness program, a residential treatment center, and a boarding school.

Our mission is to rescue teens from crisis situations, renew their belief in their potential, reunite them with their families, and put them on a sustainable path to success. 

Contact us online for more information, or call us at 800-845-1380. If we miss your call, rest assured we will reconnect with you promptly to start planning your transformative experience.


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John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden Jr is the father of seven inspiring children, and he is married to Kara, the love of his life. Together they have created a family-centered legacy by leading the way with early childhood educational advancement. John loves to write and is an author of a children’s book, An Unlikely Journey and plans to publish additional books. Show More

John is a visionary in his work and applies “outside-the-box” approaches to business practice and people development. He is the Founder of Turning Winds, along with several other organizations. He has extensive experience launching and developing organizations. His skills include strategic planning, promoting meaningful leader-member movement, organizational change, effective communication, project management, financial oversight and analysis, digital marketing and content creation, and implementing innovative ideas through influential leadership. As a leader, John seeks to empower others and brand success through collaborative work. His vision is to lead with courage, grit, truth, justice, humility, and integrity while emphasizing relational influence rather than focusing on the sheens of titles, positions, or things.

Finally, John is passionate about life and promoting equity among those who are often overlooked because of differences that frequently clash with the “norm.” He lives in Southern Idaho and loves the outdoors and the life lessons that can be learned in such an informal environment.

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