Shunda Creek’s program supervisor, Jeff Wilson, has been honoured with the Michael Stratton Practitioner’s Award. This prestigious award is given to a hands-on practitioner with high ethical standards that has demonstrated significant progress and change, and a noted impact on the lives of participants and clients.

It was his own passion for the outdoors and the wilderness that drove Jeff Wilson to join Shunda Creek in designing a unique addictions treatment program. Shunda Creek is a 90 day wilderness residential addictions treatment program where a substantial portion of time is spent outdoors at a remote location.

As a key designer of the Enviros Shunda Creek program, Wilson had spent years working as an outdoor guide, with sled dogs, and simply enjoying all that nature had to offer. Combined with his extensive education and training in the fields of Experiential Learning, Adventure Therapy, Physiology and Environmental Health Education, he knew that his passion could be used to help others who had become detached from the natural world.

“There’s something about being outside. It’s simpler living because you’re eliminating distractions,” explains Wilson. “But it also makes you look at what’s really basic and important in life. You are looking at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of basic needs; food, shelter, just taking care of yourself, safety. And that is the core that people need to go back to. To really see what’s important, so that they can see what they need to let go of in pursuit of a greater purpose.”

Wilson designed Shunda Creek to be purposefully remote; participants come voluntarily and live in individual rooms on the edge of the pristine Alberta Rocky Mountain wilderness. Through 1 to 4 day excursions such as whitewater canoeing, backcountry skiing, camping, hiking and rock climbing, participants are able to challenge themselves physically, mentally and emotionally, away from the distractions of family, relationships, work stresses and the struggles of addictive behaviours and situations.

Because of Wilson’s tireless commitment to his clients, he’s been honoured with the prestigious international Michael Stratton Practitioner’s Award which is given to a hands-on practitioner with high ethical standards that has demonstrated significant progress and change, and has had a noted impact on the lives of participants and clients.

“I have to admit I was quite surprised. It’s an international award so there’s a lot of incredibly gifted people in the field,” says Wilson. “It doesn’t happen alone. There’s an incredible conjoining of people at Shunda: Will Black, Bev Oldman, Serena Rose, and myself have such a synergy and that allowed us to build up a dynamic and innovative program. Between the four of us, we have over a hundred years in the field.”

As part of Shunda Creek, clients are given a hand in designing not just the framework of their stay at Shunda, but also their own future. Building relationships is key and Wilson says staff too are encouraged to be on their own journey of self discovery; they aren’t expected to have all the answers and instead are learning from each client and each day’s experiences and challenges.

Though humble, Wilson does admit to having a passion for his work.

“I just really enjoy working directly with people. I think my ability to lead and to bring out the best in people and in a team comes through years of exploring and learning with our clients.”