Therapeutic Winter Activities at Turning Winds

Turning Winds is a family-run residential treatment center for teens combined with a fully accredited academic program. We believe the success of our teenage clients is based on a combination of therapeutic and educational approaches that provide the best possible outcomes for each patient we treat in our program. 

The therapeutic approaches—many particular to the Turning Winds boarding school environment—include character education, health, and wellness of the body and mind, outdoor therapeutic experiential education, therapeutic and academic success, along with continuously improving each vital pillar of our world-class school through measuring outcomes in each area. Together, they constitute our five pillars of change. One of those pillars is utilizing the power of nature. 

David Armstrong Operations manager, activities manager. “I oversee the day-to-day functions, making sure everything is running smoothly, and safely; and every week, I plan all the activities for outings off-campus and on-campus.”

There are plenty of opportunities in northwest Montana for fun activities this time of year.

“During the winter, we ski a lot, at least once a week, up at Schweitzer Mountain,” says Armstrong. “We also do trek outings. We’ve had four-day excursions where we skied Lookout Pass, Silver for two days, and then Schweitzer for another day. Just getting out and engaging these kids in activities that most of them have never experienced is extremely valuable.”

Most of the teenage clients at Turning Winds have never seen mountains like the Montana Rockies. “We take these kids into the backcountry on hikes and to lookout towers, and these kids just get giddy because it’s nothing like they’ve ever really experienced in their life. So, it’s a lot of fun for them to see things that they’ve never seen before.”

But the winter activities—like everything else at Turning Winds—are not just fun and games. 

“When you take these kids out for different activities in the community or into the mountains, they really open up,” explains Armstrong. “When we get stuck in a routine too much, you don’t get that connection with these kids; but when you get them out, get them out on the water, get them out fishing, get them out hiking and skiing; it really opens them up. And you actually start building connections with these guys.”

With shorter days in the winter, outdoor activities have to be adjusted to the season. “What really keeps us from getting too stagnant is just having those experiences; snowshoeing, skiing, and we do ice fishing trips on weekends,” says Armstrong. “Most of these boys and girls have never experienced anything like the winters we have here in northwest Montana. When it snows, it’s like having little kids in your home because they’re so excited about the snow. It changes a little once we start shoveling and moving snow, but it’s a great experience.”

Eventually, Turning Winds teens start to become proud of the things they’re achieving—and not only in the snow. “At graduation not only the kids graduating are super-ecstatic about what they have accomplished and where they are headed; the newer kids sitting in the crowd watching it all happen get really motivated, too,” Armstrong says. “It’s a whole cycle, with the inspiration flowing into the more recent arrivals. It’s pretty amazing to watch.”

At Turning Winds, it’s the landscape and the people that make the difference. Over the course of 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, their families, and their futures. 

Contact us online for more information, or call us at 800-845-1380. If your call isn’t answered personally, one of us will get back to you as soon as possible.


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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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