As a team of families living abroad, we find ourselves breaking away from the conventional mold, therefore it’s only natural that MSF’s model is intentionally unconventional. Survivors of war are welcomed into our camps where they are exposed to physical and mental challenges that help them recognize their strengths, grow, and find hope. Our team provides access to mental health support in a nontraditional setting – the mountains – where our experienced psychologists enable families with a resiliency toolkit rooted in the principles of positive psychology and PERMA+. Our professional mountaineers guide participants into fearful situations with the certainty of safety, allowing for significant emotional growth in a short period of time.
“On the edge of discomfort is where you grow the most.” – unknown
Here we employ the train-the-trainer model during an active camp in a central location – the “Hub,” also known as “Healing Base Camp.” This enables our core team to provide consultation and support to future mountain guides and therapists that go out to deploy key components of our program in “Spoke” locations, or as we affectionately call them, “Mini Base Camps” (but there’s nothing mini about them!).
It is in the Hub that we extend a warm embrace to families who have faced the trials of war and survived. This week-long program not only challenges participants physically and mentally, but also complements these challenges with therapeutic sessions led by our experienced psychologists who nurture the development of effective coping strategies.
To learn more about why our Hub is in Kaprun, Austria, we invite you to read our blog post here. In a nutshell, it’s a place built by climbers for climbers of all levels.
Our strategically positioned “Mini Base Camps,” our Spokes, are thoughtfully designed to extend our program to more families in need, with a special focus on those who are most vulnerable within Ukraine. Here we offer military families access to climbing in an indoor climbing gym. An onsite psychologist integrates key components of our larger program and facilitates meaningful connections among the parents while the children work with guides to challenge their limits and confront their fears.
At the Mountain Seed Foundation, we recognize that therapy is not one-size-fits-all. We embrace a unique approach by integrating mountaineering and climbing into our therapeutic process. We encourage parents and children to embrace vulnerability as a path to personal growth and healing. Our programs are tailored to the skill levels of each child, providing them with opportunities to conquer challenges, enhance their courage, and strengthen their spirits. Simultaneously, we empower mothers to focus on their personal growth, understanding that a healthy family unit starts with parents in a sound mental state.
“We gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Mountain Seed Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, EIN 87-1017090. Donations are tax deductible.