Outdoor survival camps fill a unique role. Twin Eagles Wilderness School offers camps and classes in Spokane and north Idaho with activities ranging from archery and fire building to storytelling and natural camouflage—all of which help develop self-awareness and a connection to the natural world, including the people around them.

Michele Dao has three children who have done a number of camps with Twin Eagles, including winter survival and a Father’s Day camp. “It is an amazing program. They allow them to do things that, as a parent, put me on edge but are good for them. They’ve made spears and throwing sticks; they make fire and use knives to whittle wood. Every experience has been really worthwhile.”

Twin Eagles’ Tim Corcoran, who co-founded the school with his wife, Jeannine Tidwell, says that participants gain a lot of self-confidence. “We all need to be challenged in meaningful ways,” he says, adding that through age-appropriate challenges kids and adults gain both resilience and better problem-solving skills.

“We work on creating a conscious mentoring culture. How we’re interacting is as important as what we’re teaching, so the benefits are very holistic,” says Corcoran. “Inside a mentoring culture, we are conscious about naming our emotions in healthy ways. There is an emotional maturity that comes out of that.”

When asked about the mental and emotional benefits of their experiences, Dao told me about her husband and sons at a Father’s Day camp last year. “It was transformative,” she says, adding that her sons still mention that weekend as one of their favorite memories. Rylan, Dao’s 11-year old son, was very positive, “My favorite is making fires. Tim has taught me to be patient. And Jeannine tells good stories.” //