|dc.description.abstract||The effect of poverty, opportunity-deprived and unstructured home environments, HIV/Aids, violence and crime put more and more children and youth at risk of becoming increasingly involved in high-risk behaviour. The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) recognises the fact that the school is an ideal setting to reclaim youth, by redirecting them away from self-defeating and destructive ventures, through enhancing resilience and developing self-esteem. However, strong community links and intersectoral collaboration will be essential to support schools in their efforts to become reclaiming environments. Supportive strategies and various alternative modes of intervention should be explored in order to assist schools. Adventure-based education programmes, and in the case of this study, wilderness rites of passage programmes, are examples of alternative types of intervention that could be considered to support school communities.
The aim of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of youth about their wilderness rites of passage experience and the value they perceive the experience had for their lives. The researcher operated in an interpretive/constructivist paradigm. A qualitative research methodology was employed, which included purposive sampling to select participants, the use of individual interviews, documents, records, observations and reflections to collect data, and content analysis to analyse data.
Research findings arrived at indicated that participation in a wilderness rites of passage programme contributed to the personal growth and development of the participants and thereby, through strengthening their protective factors, enhanced resilience. Wilderness rites of passage programmes can therefore be a major contributing factor towards school support for young people. Findings also highlighted that young people in the South African context are in need of caring school communities and adult mentorship. Young people are in need of support, discipline, guidance, as well as experiences of trust, love and care. School environments should change from being places of disappointment and become places of safety and growth. Such a culture of care possibly could curb the anger, resentment and distrust of youth and support learners who are experiencing or manifesting emotional or behavioural difficulties in schools.
Keywords: perception, adventure-based learning, wilderness rites of passage, experiential learning, Circle of Courage, adolescence, emotional and behavioural difficulties||en_ZA