Finding Balance- Stand Up Paddle Boarding as a Therapeutic Activity

Legacy Treatment Center and Juniper Canyon Treatment Center are adding Stand Up Paddle Boarding to their adventure curriculum! 

As the weather warms and snow melts, our clients and staff move from the desert to the mountains. We spend more time in our high-elevation areas that offer beautiful aspen forests, alpine meadows, and countless lakes and streams. 

The natural water sources in our field area are deeply important to us in the summer months. Our clients and staff rely on them for drinking water, cooling down, and sometimes even catching fish for dinner! We are excited to add another activity that allows us to interact with water in a meaningful way. 

Stand Up Paddle Boarding is an activity in which one stands on an inflatable board (similar to a surfboard) and uses a long paddle to move through the water. Stand Up Paddle Boarding requires focus and practice in body awareness to stay on the board and navigate the water. Our program will facilitate this activity primarily on lakes and reservoirs, as the still water is less challenging to balance on. This activity is beginner friendly, as one can stand, kneel, or sit on the board depending on their level of comfort and experience.

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Our staff will be trained in the procedures of this activity and ensure that all clients are safe when on the water. We will go over the proper stances and paddling techniques, and how to get on and off the board safely. Staff are trained in assessing risk and making sure that all clients are fit for the adventure before embarking. 

There are many different lakes and locations that we will be able to paddle board in this season, including reservoirs in the Fishlake National Forest, desert lakes near Capitol Reef National Park, and even sections of the Colorado River. 

Our treatment team is highly skilled at bringing therapeutic intention and mindfulness practice to our adventure curriculum, and paddle boarding is no exception. 

We strive to practice mindfulness every day with our clients, whether that’s doing a meditation exercise in the morning or taking a moment of awareness before dinner. Being present and in the moment can support self-awareness and body awareness. When engaging in Stand Up Paddle Boarding, there is no rushing through it. One must focus on their balance, and maintain a steady and precise movement. It’s also important to stay flexible, as the board will move with the water. Finding a balance between strength and flexibility is a challenging task, but a valuable lesson. When do we need to be more fluid and flexible in life? When do we need to be more disciplined and measured? 

There is rich metaphor in paddle boarding that can be related to our client’s recovery. In this activity we are working with factors in our control: our body, our focus, our skillset, and factors outside of our control: the water, the wind, the board. It begs the question: how do we prepare and handle ourselves as best as possible to work with things outside of our control? In a world in which very few things are actually in our control, how do we find success? Whether that is staying sober or maintaining healthy relationships, we need to practice self-awareness and be prepared for the unknown factors. 

Legacy and Juniper Canyon are excited to utilize our newest adventure activity to its fullest as we support our clients in paddle boarding some of Utah’s beautiful lakes!