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Women of the Valley project takes girls to River Falls

On July 11, 2015, a group of seven girls from Northwest Passage Prairieview set out to meet and interview Danette Olson – their first assignment as a photojournalist team. This summer the girls at Northwest Passage will meet many women throughout the St. Croix River Valley to learn from them and try to capture their stories. This is part of a summer program connecting the youth with women who have overcome obstacles and who also advocate for the environment. Danette is a leader and inspiration in the St Croix River watershed area through her work in humanities, the arts, and conservation.

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The meeting place was Glen Park in River Falls, Wisconsin. The girls gathered around Danette as we stood by the Kinnickinnic River. The authentic woman standing before us shared her passion for theatre and asked the girls to embrace their imaginations and tell a story with another by giving one word at a time. Together they created some imaginative short stories.

The interview included thoughtful questions designed by the girls. One observant girl from Northwest Passage noticed Danette’s necklace. She begins the interview by asking about the meaning of the symbol on the necklace. Danette explained that she got the piece of jewelry, which depicts a metallic person hanging from the leather cord, almost 21 years ago. The symbol means “hang in there, everything will be all right.” It continues to be a small source of strength for Danette. With that question, inspired purely by curiosity and observation, the rest of their interview continued to be full of energy.

“Have your life experiences led you to believe in nature or nurture?” Danette explained her answer to this question by stating her reasons for believing in both factors, to an extent. Other intriguing questions included, “Is your personality more like the rush of a river or the calmness of a stream – why?” and “What is your biggest fear and why?” Danette embraced every question with enthusiasm and tenderness. She smiled at the girls with deep compassion shown in her eyes all the while maintaining a playful spirit.

Meanwhile, back at their residential treatment center, the girls are beginning to narrate their own personal stories through art and writing. During the remainder of the summer these girls will continue to express themselves while meeting inspirational women in the St. Croix River Valley. As one resident of the treatment center explains, “I think my personality is more like the rush of a river. When I’m not doing something, I get bored, and when I get bored, I get myself into trouble… Usually if my body is calm, my mind is still rushing.”


“Women of the Valley” is a project exclusive to the Northwest Passage Prairieview program. It teaches the young ladies photography and photojournalism to empower them in understanding their own “heroine’s journey” through connecting them with the women who have helped shape the history of the St. Croix Valley.

Prairieview girls are introduced to solar ovens

The girls at our Prairieview program recently learned how to capture the suns UV rays, convert them into infrared rays, and use them to make food. Each girl was given a pizza box that had been donated by staff. With these boxes, the girls worked in teams to construct solar ovens using only basic materials. This activity had many benefits to the girls. They not only got to work on their team-building and communication skills, but they got to learn a new and fun way to cook, along with some fun facts:

  • The amount of solar energy that strikes the Earth in one hour is more than enough to provide all of the Earth’s energy needs for a complete year!
  • Solar ovens have a long standing history and are used all over the world, including places where firewood is scarce. They are a great way to make food without the use of electricity.

Prairieview girls are introduced to solar ovens

After completing their project, they were even able to test their ovens, “roasting” marshmallows for s’mores.

Brittany Bosak, Prairieview Teacher


At Northwest Passage we strive to give the young men and women a well-rounded education. This includes many different and interesting things; like how to design and make solar ovens! Thank you to the staff who help make this possible.

Fun with Track and Field Day

Northwest Passage Riverside held their fourth annual Track and Field Day on Thursday, July 16. The boys at Riverside used different skills as they competed in some lighthearted events both individually and as a team, while also getting to enjoy some treats during the day.

There were five teams; the blue, green, yellow, purple and pink team. Each team consisted of four or five kids and one staff member. During the events, the boys had to work together completely, using all their social and team-building skills. They had to review each challenge and figure out the best way to complete it. They used the problem solving skills they have been working diligently to improve and together came up with the best solution. They were there to help each other and always cheer on their teammates. The team activities included: two relay races, Oreo contest, golf ball toss, the obstacle course, and wet sponge dodge ball.

They also had the opportunity to strive as individuals through a pie-eating contest, punt-pass-kick competition, soccer kick, 40 yard dash, and basketball shooting. These types of activities helped to keep the boys active while also reminding them of good sportsmanship. Each individual showed strengths and had something to be proud of at the end of the day. They all enjoyed themselves immensely and were given praise for their accomplishments.

The boys got the chance to experience the treats of “fair food” for lunch with special treats such as fruit/cool-whip funnel cakes, foot long hot dogs, mini-donuts, deep-fried Oreos and others. Healthy eating is a big deal here at Northwest Passage, so this was a very special thing just for the day and the boys LOVED it!

Erin Hermann, Riverside Teacher


Track and Field day is not the only event that Riverside holds in order to help its residents actively practice team building skills. They also work on life-sized cardboard boats for several weeks that they eventually race across Clam Lake and they compete in derby car races! Sign-up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any of the fun!

Underwater photography’s second year is up and running

What’s that sound you hear? It is the collective sigh from a group of therapists, project coordinators, and most importantly kids, in northwestern Wisconsin. We’re all breathing sighs of relief because our second year of underwater photography programming, New Light: Under the Surface, is up and running after a month of training and practice.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, a warm spring, and a little flexibility from everyone, we’ve been able to get our kids out and into the water four weeks in a row, where much healing and adventure takes place.

Follow us from safety training to critter finding below:

Week One: Safety Training

Week Two: Testing the Waters

Week Three: Getting the Hang of Things – Girls & Boys!

Week Four: Rainy Day Adventures

We’re devoted to providing our kids with a wide range of experiential therapy opportunities and underwater photography is just one of the many things our kids get to do while here. Check out all that we’re up to on our Facebook page or follow our blog to learn more.

Summertime Art Workshops

Join us for our artist guided workshops on select Thursday evenings this summer at Northwest Passage’s In a New Light Gallery. Seats are limited so register today!

Pints & Poems
July 16 6pm – 8pm | $10 per person
Deconstruct the world of poetry and rebuild it with the courage of a beer.
Sangria & Ceramics (Part I & Part II)
July 23 & 30 6pm – 8pm | $20 per person
Come and get muddy while creating a charming ceramic frog in this two-part ceramics workshop. Attendance in both sessions is required for participation. During the first session a ceramics artist will lead you step-by-step through the process of hand-building a frog that can serve as garden decor, wall pocket, or a flower vase. The second session will allow you to add extra personality to your frog during the glazing process. In the end you will walk away with a piece of art that will stand the test of time and is made by none other than you.
Lemonade and the Living Dead (Zombies)
August 6 6pm – 8pm | $10 per person
Come along for a family friendly night of zombie sized fun! Learn the art of 88zombie making with an interactive program from a special effects artist that will teach you how to transform your loved ones into the living dead. Blow your friends and family away by your corpsy results!
Franzia & Photo Editing
August 13 6pm – 8pm | $10 per person
The line between a home photograph and a professional masterpiece may seem to lie in the realm of the New York Advertisers and Hollywood magicians, when in fact it’s been drawn right here in Webster, Wisconsin! Gather at the In a New Light Gallery with photo editing extraordinaire Bobby Nash to learn some game changing photo touch-up techniques which you can perform for free at home! Anything from fixing red eye to removing pimples to colorizing your old pictures, learn and retain fun and useful photo editing techniques while benefiting from the restorative and creative benefits of your favorite boxed wines!
Whisky & Woodwork
August 20 6pm – 8pm | $10 per person
Whittle a hunk of wood and sip a little whiskey.
Watercolors & Wine
August 27 6pm – 8pm | $10 per person
Join us at the In a New Light Gallery for an evening of wine and watercolor. There will be relaxing, laughing, and delicious wine! We will begin with basic techniques to get everyone in touch with their inner artist. By the end of the night everyone will be able to take home their own artistic masterpiece. 
Paddles & Porter
September 3 6pm – 8pm | $20 per person
Join Ian Karl for an evening of carving canoe paddles, sharing stories of paddling adventures, and sampling some of the fine dark beer that the Midwest has to offer. Ian is an accomplished woodworker and paddler…and after a round or two he may share some tales of broken paddles and canoe adventures. Cedar blanks for carving “otter tail” style paddles will be provided, as well as an assortment of tools (feel free to bring your favorite carving knife, spoke shave or block plane however). Class is limited to 6 participants.

RESERVE YOUR PLACE TODAY
Contact Audrey at audreym@nwpltd.org or 715-309-4254
The In a New Light Gallery is located 1 mile south of Webster off of Highway 35

Passage boys place at local race

The boys of Northwest Passage Riverside ran in the City of Trails Trail Run 5K during St. Croix Falls’ Wannigan Days celebration! The team has been training hard in the mornings under the leadership of our dedicated staff: Josh, Ryan, Reid and Austin.

Our residents: Garrett, Westin, Logan, and Carlos had great attitudes and put forth outstanding effort despite getting rained during the race. The boys started in the back of the pack and still managed to grab race places! Garrett placed 2nd in his age group and 5th in the overall race, Josh placed 2nd in his age group and 6th in the overall race, and as a team the boys received a golden shoe to celebrate that they were the fastest team!

Ashley and I were able to work with our residents Andre and Holden to capture some of the memories. We’ll get the photos uploaded soon.

Sarah Bach, M.S. Weekend Supervisor 

I’ll be better when I can get under the water…

Today the girls of Northwest Passage stopped into the In a New Light Gallery (where our kids’ stunning photography is displayed) to prepare for their third week underwater. I asked one of our girls how she was doing. She looked down at her feet and pondered her response for a moment. When she looked up, she made my day and she said, “I’ll be better when I can get under the water.

Here is a peek at their latest adventures under the surface; enjoy!

“I’ll be better when I can get under the water.”

Passage boys’ latest adventures

The boys at Northwest Passage reviewed the photos from their most recent trip to Crex Meadows Wildlife Area and Shell Lake, and the results are great!

Garrett captures two Lilly pad flowers at Shell Lake.

Flower on Lilly Pad

Cooper discovers a bumble bee collecting nectar and pollen from a flower in order to make honey.

Buzy Bee2

Andre finds a family of Canadian geese swimming at Shell Lake.

andre canadian geese

Holden sees a deer running through the water at Crex Meadows.

deer dawn2

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