822 on FM 97.3 WZBG. Our friends at the McCall Center and Help Inc. very cleverly decided to position our monthly interview right around the time of Give Local, Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills, which was really a master stroke. We want to introduce as our guest this time Melanie Vavrchak. this time, Melanie Vavracek. She’s a residential counselor at McCall Center and helping. Also joining us, and she’s going to chime in in a few minutes, about Give Local, Marissa Middlestad, who’s director of development and marketing at McCall and Help. Good morning, Melanie. Welcome to the show. Thank you for having me. Glad to have you on. We’re going to talk about something different, and for me, this gets me excited because I’m an outdoor guy anyway. We’re going to talk about adventure-based counseling.
We’re going to talk about adventure-based counseling. So this is something not all that new, but it’s a relatively growing concept at McCall. Let’s talk about what this is. So incorporating adventure-based counseling into substance abuse recovery planning, if you will, it has a number of benefits. Obviously, there are the physical and emotional and cognitive benefits of simply engaging in the outdoors, but these experiences give individuals in recovery a unique opportunity to step out of their comfort zone, to develop a sense of accomplishment, to sort of build to sort of build self-esteem and self-efficacy, if you will, in these supported adventure experiences that include things like, but are certainly not limited to, hiking, rock climbing, and even white water rafting.
We hear about these sorts of adventures being good for people in general. that only seems natural that folks who are getting into recovery would also get those benefits extended to them in a big way. Oh for sure, you know, unfortunately along with substance use comes a lot of isolation so it doesn’t necessarily come as naturally for people in recovery as it does to us you know outdoor nerds you know so I had this You know, so I had this opportunity this past year to participate in three different adventure recovery outings with some of our clients.
And I got to be honest, it was, it was transformational, you know, for all involved. And what was so cool about it was it, it didn’t matter what their background was or their it didn’t matter what their background was or their level of experience or you know in a lot of cases their initial hesitation you know if you will. Some people get a little bit iffy around nature. Oh yeah and you tell somebody who doesn’t go outside that they’re going whitewater rafting it’s terrifying for sure but it didn’t it didn’t really matter you know because everybody that was involved in these experiences it didn’t really matter, you know, because everybody that was involved in these experiences, it’s sort of this living tangible metaphor for accomplishing something, right?
They’re walking away from these experiences with, you know, this sense of mastery, you know, with this renewed confidence they didn’t have before. they really are, most importantly probably, right, making that connection with something greater than themselves. You know, we talk about isolation, you know, and substance use, connecting to, you know, a higher power of some sort. You hear that a lot. Connecting with something greater than yourselves, especially in the outdoors, is really powerful.
And not only are they doing that, but most importantly, they’re getting psyched to go back outside. but most importantly, they’re getting psyched to go back outside. Well, we all want to get out and enjoy recess, especially when the weather is nice and everybody wants to get out and play. Much of what you folks do at McCall and help about group therapy has to do with that camaraderie, that sense that we’re all in it together.
And that, of course, starts at the low end of things where you’ve got people who are battling addiction and they have that in common. But let’s talk about the camaraderie got people who are battling addiction and they have that in common. Let’s talk about the camaraderie when they get out and they embrace nature and the accomplishments you just talked about, that self of mastery as it were. Well you know, there’s nothing scarier than finding out you have to participate in a group project. I think everybody has trauma related to that in school.
Been there, yeah. Yeah, oh no, it’s the worst, right? Yeah, oh no, it’s the worst, right? So think of this as an opportunity to participate in a group project, if you will, but you’re not sort of living inside your head about it, right? You’re not overthinking it. What’s so cool is that in terms of recovery, the outdoors is, it’s a resource that’s accessible to everyone. It’s literally right outside. accessible to everyone. It’s literally right outside. Right? So we talk about access, you know, at McCall.
We want to make the very best services accessible to our clients. You know, that’s why we never turn anybody away away based on their inability to pay. We want to make the very best services accessible and available and this sort of accessibility and equity, this is not only our passion, it’s our top priority. Melanie Vavacek is residential counselor at McCall Center and Help Inc. Melanie Vavacek is residential counselor at McCall Center and HELP, Inc. It’s actually a perfect segue. I’m going to give Marissa a moment at the mic here. Marissa Middlestad, Director of Development and Marketing at McCall and HELP. Because this is Give Local, Greater Waterbury, and the Litchfield Hills. People hearing this interview are getting a great taste of some of the offerings that McCall uses in this approach with its clients.
I’m going to give you a chance now to basically make your appeal to folks who are considering on their donations at Give Local today. to basically make your appeal to folks who are considering on their donations and give local today. Yeah, thanks, Dale. Melanie did a great job explaining why your donations are so important. You know, accessibility to top of the line care is really what we are all about. Like she said, we never turn anyone away for their inability to pay.
And these therapies have typically been reserved for those with means. And recovery and nature are really for everyone. And that’s what we want to provide with means. And recovery and nature are really for everyone and that’s what we want to provide to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. We want to help them, give them the best. So if you can today, you go to givelocalccf.org and search for HELP Inc. or McCall. We would love your donations. We’re so grateful to all of our donors. You can also go to our at McCall Center CT or at Help CT and find the links to donate there. We really really thank you for all of your support. And we’re going to keep the links up on our website as well on our on our Facebook page as well for McCall Center and helping. I do want to finish up with Melanie though. You obviously have a lot of passion for this kind of therapy, adventure-based counseling. Give me your takeaway as to why you think this is such a critical tool that McCall brings as to why you think this is such a critical tool that McCall brings to the fore in helping people battle addiction?
You know, that’s a great question. I think, you know, the answer is a simple one. When we talk about equity and recovery, right, everybody is coming with access to different resources outside of our programming. The outdoors is accessible to everyone. If we can create that bridge is accessible to everyone, if we can create that bridge between somebody’s individual recovery program, if you will, and the outdoors, we are, regardless of their situation outside of treatment, we are providing them with this essential tool to serve as the foundation for everything that follows, right? If they can access the outdoors as their go-to tool Right? If they can access the outdoors as their go-to tool when they leave us, no pun intended, it’s only uphill from there. Right. And as you always said, it’s always right outside too. It’s right there. So that tool is always right there.
You know, it’s something to build on. Keep building. Keep climbing, you know. Melanie, a pleasure having you on the show. It’s great to be here. Good luck with the venture-based counseling. Another tool in the toolbox that McCall Center Another tool in the toolbox that McCall Center and Help, Inc. brings to the fight. Marissa, thanks for joining us as well. And we hope folks have learned a lot of important stuff about McCall and Help and that they’ll help you guys out at Give Local, Greater Waterbury, and the Litchfield Hills. And, of course, givelocalccf.org. And you can always learn more at McCall Center with their own website, too. Thank you, ladies.
All right, that having been said, let’s head to the newsroom and get caught up with Jeff. Good morning.