Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Wilderness and Adventure-Based Therapeutic Outdoor Services (WT) 3: Access to Service

Services are available to youth with personal, social, or developmental needs that can be met through wilderness and adventure-based therapeutic outdoor activities.
2020 Edition




Youth who participate in Wilderness and Adventure-based Therapeutic Outdoor Services expand individual capabilities, develop self-confidence and insight, ameliorate symptoms, and improve interpersonal skills and relationships.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Proper documentation is the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Timeframes are often missed; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • No written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or 
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.      
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Admission procedures
  • Policy on prohibited items
  • Informational materials provided to parents, youth, and placing representatives
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth or families served
  • Review case records

Fundamental Practice

WT 3.01

Prior to providing consent, parents or legal guardians, referral or placing representatives, and youth, whenever possible, receive information about:
  1. the type of adventure activities youth will undertake;
  2. program activity participation requirements;
  3. educational options; and
  4. any actual or perceived risks.
Examples: Program activity participation requirements can include whether (1) the program has a “challenge by choice” philosophy, (2) youth will be required to complete all or most elements of the experience, or (3) alternative activities can be used to accomplish the same goals to ensure that the person granting informed consent understands in advance this feature of the program.


WT 3.02

The organization engages youth and their families and/or legal guardians in an admission process that includes:
  1. helping youth and their families to understand the reasons for admission; 
  2. preparing youth to join the program, and providing a pre-admission visit whenever possible;
  3. obtaining written, informed consent from parents or legal guardians and, whenever possible, youth; and
  4. adherence to intake criteria, assessment requirements, and procedures for group integration, whenever admissions are expedited.


WT 3.03

The organization describes:
  1. personal items youth may bring with them, consistent with a safe, therapeutic setting;
  2. items that are discouraged or prohibited; and
  3. any safety procedures the program follows, or consequences that can result, when prohibited items are brought to the program site.


Given the rise in information and communication technologies, organizations must specify in their admission materials what electronic devices are permitted and prohibited.
Examples: Permitted personal items will vary as appropriate to the program’s design but can include photos, books, cellphones, computers, other electronics, or clothing.