The day begins at 5:00 am. The air is full of excitement as ten exuberant young men, between the ages of 17 and 24, pile into the van all trying to get a window seat (myself included). It’s a two hour drive and nobody is missing the view.
Our first stop is at McDonalds for an all Americans breakfast of McGriddles, Hash Browns, and clogged arteries. On the road again, I tell my fellow participants it is good luck to hold your breath through tunnels in Colorado. However, I didn’t know that the Eisenhower Tunnel was the next one (it is approximately 1.7 miles long). After holding our breath to near asphyxiation, our group finally arrived at Copper Mountain and the fun began.
Copper Mountain had extremely long runs, powdery trees, an official Woodward terrain park, and impressively fast lifts. After three hours everybody met back up at a restaurant at the base of the main trail and ate lunch. Stories were shared around the table as we discussed how “steezy our knar” was. Once lunch was over a group of us headed to the very top of the mountain and stood in front of the awe inspiring view. We decided to call it a day at 3:00 pm, as we packed up into the van there was nothing but tired faces with big smiles. To end our full day we got pizza and everyone was satisfied and looking forward to our next outing.
Allow me to formally introduce myself. My name is Matt. After making Integration Phase here at Insight Intensive, I am the new voice of Insight Intensive’s blogging community. It is now my responsibility to inform you (the reader) about what exactly goes on within our community.
However, as my first blog I would like to share some information about myself, so you (the reader) can develop an idea of who Matt is. I was born here in Colorado, I am 17 – currently the youngest participant here as most members are between 18 and 26. I came to Insight Intensive as an aftercare program. Before Insight Intensive I was in a wilderness program out in the southwest Utah desert. I am here at Insight to continue the progress I have made in my last program with drug addiction and depression.
For me, Insight Intensive was the perfect fit in between wilderness and the city life. We are secluded from outside distractions while still getting weekly visits to the ski slopes, climbing gyms, and other recreational activities.
I look forward to my future blogs and am excited to share a slice of our community’s life with all of you,
One of the many activities we have to occupy our time here at Insight, is arts and crafts. As you can imagine, when arts and crafts was introduced as an Insight activity approximately 2 months ago, the group of 18 to 26 year old guys that Insight harbors were less than excited about the prospect. Many thought that they were too manly, thought their muscles too big, their beards too thick, their B.O. too pungent, to engage in the dainty and feminine pursuit of crafting. Others were simply reluctant to engage in an activity that they hadn’t done since third grade. But after a couple weeks, many participants, myself included, grew to love the newly established craft corner of the Insight Intensive Lodge.
As Angela (the mentor who runs craft corner), frequently says, only half sarcastically, crafting is a great opportunity to learn patience and distress tolerance. After my first attempt at crafting, and many bracelets that were more tangled balls of string than functional pieces of jewelry, I had to agree with her. Almost no one is good at crafting on their first couple attempts, and exclamations such as, “This is impossible”, “I can’t do this Angela”, and “@#!#$ BEADS” are commonly heard around the crafting table.
But once the initial frustrating hump of the learning curve is past, designing and constructing your own jewelry is extremely satisfying. Progressing from struggling to put beads on a string to forging intricate wire wraps has been a challenging but rewarding process. The pieces of jewelry we’ve created far surpass any expectations we had when we first started crafting, and we’ve even considered selling our pieces online. I’ll let the pictures of our jewelry speak for themselves though, as you can see, they’re pretty damn fresh.
At Insight Intensive we frequently participate in many different off-campus activities. One of these activities, indoor rock climbing, has become a favorite among the community. About once a week, a group of 5 to 8 guys heads down into boulder to The Spot, a premier indoor bouldering gym. For the uninitiated, bouldering is very much like normal indoor rock climbing, you ascend a wall covered in colorful plastic handholds, the difference being that in bouldering, you have no safety harness. The walls that you climb are shorter than true rock climbing walls in an attempt to keep it safe; but trust me when I say that when your twenty feet off the ground, about to top out, hanging on to a rock smaller than your fist, you feel anything but “safe”.
I’ve been at Insight for three and a half months now, and have gone bouldering almost every single week it’s been available. One of the great thrills of the sport has been being able to watch myself and my peers getting better and better every time we go climbing. It’s a problem solving sport, the first time you try it you’re forced to stick to the easy walls, and can’t fathom how anyone could possibly top out on the seemingly impossible hard walls. But as you continue to climb, you rapidly get better, and truly feel like you are accomplishing something as you conquer the more challenging problems in the gym. The experience of spending all day on a particular unsolvable problem, then coming back a week later with a new perspective and getting it on your first try, is incredibly satisfying.
Climbing has been my favorite off-campus activity, and I have gained a passion for the sport. It’s definitely something I plan to pursue after I leave insight, and am thankful that I have been exposed to it during my stay here.
My name is Nick, and I will be taking over the Insight Intensive Blog after the graduation of our last blogger Adam. I have been at Insight Intensive for almost three months now, and I can honestly say that my time here has been life changing. Through the many activities and lessons the participants have access to, I have grown as a person. These activities vary from lessons in life skills, to cooking classes and going out on trail rides with the Insight Intensive horses. Such activities are accessible to all members of the Insight Intensive community.
Of all the activities here at Insight, the one I have most enjoyed is working with the horses. Every week, there are one or two opportunities to take the horses out on the trail and, every Friday Pam Harrington, a certified Pilates Instructor who has spent most of her life around horses, comes up to help participants learn to communicate and work with horses in a more mindful way.
As the new Insight Intensive blogger, it will be my job to share with you what is going on at Insight, reporting on weekly trips off campus, and on campus activities such as the newly founded “Coffee House”. These events allow the participants an opportunity to take part in activities that they may not usually have access to, and a chance to try something outside their comfort zone. Hopefully in reading this, you will walk away with an understanding of the inner workings of Insight Intensive, and I hope the experience proves to be enjoyable to all who read this.
As a participant progresses through the program, he gains more opportunities to get off campus. Several of us recently had the chance to visit the local Whole Foods Market to learn a bit about shopping on a budget.
The trip was aimed towards those of us who have been in the program for a while and now have an eye towards leaving. Once you’ve reached that point you start attending Transition Group, which focuses on issues you might face upon leaving Insight.
We were given a tour around the store with a focus on finding the best value in a supermarket. We were given a good array of advice, such as buying produce in season or freezing meat in bulk. It was a fun, informative tour, and it didn’t hurt that we were given free samples along the way.
The tour was led by Leah McClay, a marketing specialist with the Boulder Whole Foods location. I had the chance to ask her a few questions before we left. She focuses on community outreach, but she said her favorite part of her job is “getting to do things like this.” “I can see the engagement change in guys,” she said. “They come in skeptical and leave more informed.”
At the end of the tour we each were given a ten dollar gift card to test our new skills. We were all able to buy ourselves a nice lunch, the perfect way to round out the trip. We all learned a lot from our visit to Whole Foods, and with graduation rapidly approaching for some of us, it’ll soon be time to put that knowledge into practice.
One of the most important truths in life is that all things must come to an end. This is true even of a stay at Insight Intensive. Graduation is often one of the most meaningful occasions in a participant’s stay at Insight Intensive. Our resident blogger, Joe, has just graduated from the program, so it seems like as good an occasion as any to talk more about the graduation ceremony itself.
The ceremony is traditionally held at the labyrinth, a twisting spiral of stones with a beautiful view of the lake, although it’s also been held inside the lodge in cases of inclement weather. The community gathers in a circle around the edge of the labyrinth. The graduate then makes his way through the maze holding a stone. The stone is one he’s picked out, and each graduate is encouraged to paint on its surface a quote or phrase he finds relevant to his time here. Once he makes it to the center of the spiral he can take some time to say a few words about what Insight Intensive means to him, how graduating makes him feel, and what he’s now headed for. He may then go around the circle and give individual feedback to his fellow participants, mentors, and any attending family. It’s a poignant way of giving some last-minute encouragement to his friends, even though it’s not uncommon for participants to keep in touch with past graduates. The community is then free to give feedback to the graduate, usually relating to how dramatically they’ve changed since their arrival. The feedback segment is by far the most emotional part of the ceremony, as the graduate says his goodbyes to the community and receives messages of support and love back. Finally, the participant places his rock at a point of his choosing and carries a blank rock back out of the labyrinth, where it becomes potential fodder for another participant’s graduation, symbolizing that the participant has not only left his mark here but is taking much with him.
Graduation is a beautiful, emotional ceremony that symbolizes both a single participant’s achievement and the further evolution of the community. With that in mind, allow me to introduce myself as the new participant blogger for Insight Intensive. My name is Adam, and I hail from West Nyack, New York. Before Insight I bummed around a few colleges on the East Coast, unsure of what I wanted out of life. Since being here I’ve rediscovered my passion for writing and plan to pursue a Film Studies degree with an eye towards screenwriting. I’ve been at Insight for about a month and a half now, and I’m eager to share with you all a first-person account of life here at Gold Lake. I’ll be bringing you news of both major events in the community and the smaller, quieter moments that fill the days here. I hope my words can shine a light on what makes this program so unique.
Jennifer trained to become a yoga teacher after eight years of practice in order to connect the discipline with her therapeutic background. “The mind-body connection was so powerful,” she says, “and as a therapist, I realized I could bring those two things together.” Her job has enabled her to do just that, and each week at Gold Lake, she leads one or two group yoga classes.
“I think the biggest part about yoga up here is giving you guys a space of that radical acceptance of who you are—what you look like, what you feel like,” she says. “It’s an unconditional space to be okay with your thoughts, your body, and your emotions, and to challenge yourself to go places you’ve never been before, physically and emotionally.”
The all-male composition of the classes is unique, and presents a challenge for Jennifer, but one that she enjoys. “I love teaching you guys,” she says. “It’s a highlight of my week for sure.” She tailors the classes to the community, and constructs them around various themes; examples include “accepting yourself,” “confronting fear,” and “finding your voice.” Some participants have even worked with her to design and lead their own classes.
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to practice yoga here. I can get exercise in a relaxing and undemanding environment, and it gives me a place to think and meditate away from distraction and stress. Other participants have had similar experiences. “It’s super relaxing, and it gives you energy,” says Jack. “It clears your mind and helps to get away from distractions.”
Trevor’s mother is a yoga instructor, but he had never taken a class until he got to Insight Intensive, even though his mom and sister had tried to make him. “Then I got here, and I found out it actually was calming and relaxing,” he laughs. “I like it because it’s a challenge, and it makes you feel mellow, relaxed and focused.”
Many others share similar enthusiasm for Jennifer’s yoga classes, and they all attribute it to her passionate, yet light-hearted, approach to teaching. Her fundamental goal in teaching us, she says, is to build confidence and connect the body and mind in a way that’s healthy—pulling us from our heads back into our bodies.
People often tell Jennifer about the positive effects they have experienced from yoga, such as sleeping better and being more relaxed—and often, the results are remarkable. “I’ve seen people progress in strength, and that translates to their confidence,” she says. “They walk away more socially engaged and connected to the community because they took the time to take care of themselves.”
And that’s exactly what our weekly yoga sessions enable us to do—take some time away from everything to work on ourselves.
My name is Joe and I’d like to introduce myself as the newest blogger for Insight Intensive’s website. As part of my job internship here at Insight Intensive, I will frequently update this space, providing an inside look at the activities and experiences offered by the program. I’m a few credit hours away from getting my degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Georgia, and I’ve spent much of my time there working for UGA’s student newspaper. During my time here at Insight Intensive, I will be blogging on behalf of our unique community, a diverse group of people (and animals), who come from all over! I’ll cover various things, such as special events and trips, the facilities here, and different aspects of the program. My hope for this space is to give readers a better sense of the inner workings of this special place from the point of view of a real life participant, and I’m excited to have an outlet for creative expression during my time here. I hope it proves to be as beneficial for you as I know it will be for me. Enjoy!
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is taking place this week in Colorado, and on Saturday, the 683-mile race, which features some of the best cyclists in America, passed right by the entrance to Insight Intensive on the Peak to Peak Highway. We joined a group of people waiting along the side of the road, and watched as the race sped by us in a blur!