Contact us Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm at 715-327-4402

Winter Fun


Over the weekend we had the opportunity to go off grounds with the Oak kiddos to do some snowshoeing and ice fishing.  All of the residents enjoyed themselves and learned the character lesson of the day which was “Seek Adventure Bravely.”  Many had never been fishing, or to a lake in the woods let alone ice-fishing.  Many also experienced snowshoeing and discovering game trails while hiking for the first time.  Those who were more experienced helped those who weren’t and all shared in lots of laughs and sunny winter fun. 


Soar to new heights


We know how busy you are and we’re honored you took a moment to read this story so we’ll get right to the point. Please take seven minutes out of your day to watch this video.

We invite you to take an emotional journey with the ladies of Prairieview. Filmmaker Meredith Nelson takes us inside the minds of these girls so that you, the viewer, can confront and reflect upon the issues our girls struggle with. They’ve articulated their journey beautifully through poetry and prose and they express their insight into how photography gives them a chance to freely explore outwardly so they don’t feel trapped inwardly, in a controlled, safe environment, and how liberating/novel that is for them; they can express themselves and release certain feelings in ways they couldn’t before. They get first-hand experiences with intangible and tangible results.

Take a moment to honor these experiences through this video.

Meet the Stars of the Show


“Zana is brilliantly articulate; Brooklyn is endearing and honest; Becca is our heroine; Zianni and Lauryn offer additional insights about the world and their experiences exploring it in a different way, finding extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary..” 

Meredith Nelson


State Representitives visit Passage

From left to right: State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, Representative Adam Jarchow, Northwest Passage Executive Director Mark Elliott, and Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett


Northwest Passage is always working to expand the visibility of our kids’ talents and worth through our In a New Light Gallery. Their work has been displayed at exhibits, both nationally and locally, and have been seen by over a million people! But there are still people who haven’t seen their work. That is why Northwest Passage hosted local tourism advocates at our gallery to meet with State Officials to discuss tourism in Burnett County and introduce them to the beauty of our area through our nature photography and the spirit of our kids. “We were honored to have the Senator, State Representative, and the Secretary at our Gallery. To be able to walk them through our space and introduce them to our kids was really special,” says Executive Director Mark Elliott.

Opportunities like these, where local community members come together with state level officials don’t happen every day. We’re thrilled to have had the time and space to foster a moment of awe for our visitors at the In a New Light Gallery and to collaborate on enriching our community. But we weren’t the only ones to enjoy it. Check out what our guests had to say below!

It was a great opportunity for NWP to share all the amazing work our kids our doing. Most of the youth that come into our program never get to celebrate anything positive in their lives. The Gallery gives them an opportunity to share their photography and stories not only with their family members, but also the community. To have representatives from the State of Wisconsin come in and see that the kids are making progress on their path to hope and healing was just incredible.

Chanda Elliott

Development Director, Northwest Passage

Tremendous visit, we gained a lot of information. We hope that State Senator Sheila Harsdorf will come back in the fall. The Burnett County Coalition would host a fall dinner meeting and a large informational meeting at which the Senator could present to the county business leaders.

Larry Main

Owner and Operator, The Main Store

It was great to  have Sec. Klett visit Burnett County and share her tourism spirit! Sen. Harsdorf and Rep. Jarchow demonstrated their support for economic development by getting out and learning about the great things happening in Burnett County.

Mike Kornmann

Community Development Agent, UW Extension - Burnett County

The meeting was great.  It was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss our local tourism environment and needs with Secretary Klett, Senator Harsdorf, and Representative Jarchow.

Their keen interest and open willingness to work with us to enhance our Burnett County tourism efforts was very apparent as they offered staff assistance, e.g. Burnett County Farmers’ Market ‘farm to table’ grant review, and proven ideas, e.g. ‘county wide’ Restaurant Week, to bolster our local economy.  With return on investment being an 8:1 ratio, focus on growth in tourism must be seen and remain as a key area for our county’s continued success, which they are in full support.

Chris Moeller

Executive Director, Siren Chamber of Commerce


Gallery Assistant Needed!


at Northwest Passage

Help us connect our kids with the world at large

Why we need you:
As a Gallery Assistant, you can help to ensure our customers receive the best possible service and enjoy our kids’ work and what it has to offer. Join the gang and help to get the word out about our kids and their art!

What skills do you need?
We are looking for passionate volunteers who are enthusiastic about the work of Northwest Passage. You will have good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to get along with people and work as part of a team. You will need basic retail checkout skills and clerical skills would be a bonus!

What will you be doing?
– Talking to customers and making them feel welcome at the Gallery.
– Operating the till and dealing with various types of payment using our Square-Up payment system.
– Answering customer questions and take custom orders.
– Working on weekends! Hours are 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays.

What support will we give you?
We will provide all the training you need to feel confident in the role. The Gallery coordinator to give advice and assist you, as well as other experienced team members as you get started. On the weekends you would be alone, but help is just a phone call away!

What benefits do you get?
– The satisfaction of knowing you are making a vital difference to the life transforming work of Northwest Passage.
– Learning new skills and gaining retail experience.
– The enjoyment of meeting new people!
– Still interested? Watch some of our videos below to see the work you’ll be supporting!

Where will you be based?
You’ll be in Webster, Wisconsin at Northwest Passage’s InaNewLight Gallery.

How do you apply?
Email us today at:

Watch some videos about our work!

Riverside heads to Feed my Starving Children


This month some residents of Northwest Passage Riverside made a real and tangible difference in the lives of children around the world. They did so by donating their time and money to the Coon Rapids-based charity “Feed My Starving Children.”

Students had been studying about South America and Africa in geography class. In addition to learning about the interesting physical features and positive cultural aspects of these continents, students were introduced to the harsh reality of severe poverty that sometimes afflicts children and adults in these (and other) parts of the world.

The goal of the lessons on poverty was not to heap guilt or hopelessness upon our residents, but rather to raise awareness and to prepare them to make a real difference by turning a situation of despair into one of hope.

In preparation for the field trip, residents were given the opportunity to donate their hard-earned “school bucks” (our incentive program at the Riverside School). Many of our students responded to the call and donated a total of $62.75 to the cause of feeding hungry people around the world. (The students’ school bucks were traded in for real dollars at a healthy exchange rate).

At the facility we were given a brief orientation to the goals and impact of Feed My Starving Children and the procedures for making the food packs. After this, three staff with 11 residents helped to scoop, weigh, bag, seal, and box meal packs that were going to be shipped to needy areas around the world. The food packs (called “Manna Packs”) consisted of a vitamin mix, dried vegetables, soy filler, and rice. The cost to produce one of these packs, which make 6 – 12 servings, is a mere 22 cents. The low cost is partially due to the fact that much of the labor needed to produce the Manna Packs is completed by volunteers – like our group of boys from NWP Riverside. Our young men worked energetically and cooperatively to produce numerous boxes of potentially life-saving meals. One resident was so focused on his task in the effort that he refused to take a water break. And while our residents were engaged in serious work, they also had a lot of fun volunteering at the facility with other local school groups. They enthusiastically cheered whenever they completed a box and some of them even felt comfortable enough to loudly sing along to some songs being piped through the facility speakers.

At the conclusion of our shift, we were thanked for our hard work and donation. We also were given a sample of the Manna Pack meals that we had been making. The director of the facility then shared the total number of packs produced at the facility during the shift – enough to provide over 35,000 meals. While this effort involved more than our small group of students, I am very proud of our residents’ contributions in time, energy, and resources to make it happen.


Prairieview at the Birkebeiner!


Six young ladies from Prairieview traveled north and braved the bone-chilling rain to volunteer and capture some special moments of the skiers as they traverse the trail in their final miles.

The 43rd American Birkebeiner took place over the past weekend and Northwest Passage was there to capture the action. The young ladies of Prairieview volunteered at the Gravel Pit Aid Station with helping hands. They passed out water, energy drinks, and snacks to the racers. Some of the fastest cross country skiers in the world were on hand along with dedicated citizen racers from around the country. The girls from Prairieview not only volunteered but captured the excitement and emotion of the ski marathon with their cameras.

Building Character with Marshmallows!

Building marshmallow towers, building character, just another day at Prairieview

It is easy to take for granted the power of character and how we develop the very mental and moral qualities special to each of us, but here at Passage we work every single day to nurture healthy “characters.”

Each week, the ladies at Prairieview participate in “Character Development” group. The group teaches the girls about 14 character traits, such as respect, honesty, integrity, compassion, empathy, perseverance, tolerance and character. The goal of the group is to educate and inspire the girls to treat one another with respect and kindness. The group also educates them on the difference between inevitable conflict and bullying – a core theme of the group. The girls participate in group discussion, team building exercises, projects, activities, and even have take away work to reflect on their experiences.

Recently, the girls had a team exercise to wrap up the latest cycle of their group. The challenge was to build the tallest structure their group could in just 12 minutes! Each group was allowed: spaghetti noodles, different sized marshmallows, and 1 object of their choice to build their tower. The structures had to be free standing. Each group approached the challenge differently, but they were all successful in collaborating and practicing the traits they have learned about!

Brittany Bosak – Prairieview Teacher



Prairieview makes friends with the horses

The girls enjoy making friends with the horses during horse therapy. Check out some of their reflections and photos from some of their sessions this summer.

I built a neat relationship with Telly. Telly is my baby. I would call him my horse. My bro. My bestie for the restie. I hope I’m able to see him again. He’s something I’m thankful for. He makes me smile!


You make your own pains in life, like we made our paths today. And the fact our paths coincide with each other shows how we came together at Passage.


Tully (Freedom’s Call)

I feel as though I cultivated a budding relationship with him. He was fun to just be around and work with! I wish I could bond with him more, like twice a week so he could get to know me better. Would they stop being so shy if they saw me more often? Or would they just stay shy? These are the questions that keep me up at night. Ha ha!


I really enjoyed being out here. It was an awesome incentive to go home and stay out of the 4th floors… I loved getting to work with the horses and the little guys. I guess they all have their own personalities. I’ve always wanted to work with animals when I get older. Or even once I get out of Passage. Thanks for letting us come out here ladies!


Adios (Pony)

I liked the pony. Well all of them but me and the pony had a lot in common. I relate to the pony because he tends to run away from people/or doesn’t trust them. That is totally me. It’s hard for me to trust people but I can always work on it.


I have trouble building relationships with other people. I don’t have trust issues, I’m not shy, I just don’t connect with people as others do. I feel like I came from another planet and I have to learn how to relate to these people on earth. I feel as though this is reflected in the way I interacted with the horses. I can be nice, I can be friendly and talk about things other people and I have in common, but usually it doesn’t get much farther than that. I can like a person, get along with a person, and we can call each other best friends. But there’s always this subtle barrier that makes me believe that my relationships with people aren’t as deep as they could be.


We all need a partner in

life’s journey

Whether it’s an animal or a person

it doesn’t matter

Love is love, isn’t it?



IMG_20150812_105407310  IMG_20150812_105530807 IMG_20150812_105835201


Connecting with Earth, Art, and Soul – Pottery at Riverside

“Clay work is like the Cinderella of the art therapies. She still waits to be discovered with her magic, her beauty and her ability to transform the wells of human suffering into places of insight and celebration. Her dark earthly solid mass, often appearing in greyish, brownish or terracotta dress, is hardly alluring at first sight. Touching this sticky cold mass, you sense she has a longing and determination to merge with your skin.” – Sherwood, 2010

Soggy, sticky, and not necessarily visually appealing, clay sets itself apart from other mediums. While creating ceramic pieces, there is a level of hands-on involvement that is absent from other forms of art. Its malleability is very appealing to everyone who touches it. It can be squeezed, squashed, and rolled; holding the form a person molds it into. It takes on whatever texture the creator impresses on it.IMG_9820

For these reasons the residents of Northwest Passage often express the comfort that working with clay brings them and their desire to use it as a “fidget”, which is a coping strategy means to calm or distract them. But ceramics provide the residents of Northwest Passage with much more than just a sensory tool; it provides them with the opportunity to gain competency in a new skill.

It is not uncommon for the residents to express hesitance and a lack of confidence when beginning ceramics, adamantly insist that they will never be able to complete the task given to them, let alone master it. Some even try to throw in the towel halfway through class when challenges arise on their way to their end goal. But with time and encouragement the residents start to fully understand how the material works and begin to master the techniques needed to achieve the task that they set out to complete.IMG_9822

The ultimate reward comes when their pieces emerge from the kiln after the glaze firing for the first time, all shiny and bright. There is something really special about seeing for the first time something that you created with your hands that is so tangible, solid, and permanent. For many residents this is an “I can” moment. A moment when they get to hold a ceramic piece in their hands that is a physical representation of how time and effort can and will result in something wonderful.

The notion that effort will result in a better outcome is something that is essential for all people who want to obtain a goal, but is especially important for the residents of Northwest Passage to know, as they are overcoming challenges that are seem insurmountable to the most people. Ceramics is a tool that is used to help the residents to know what it means to learn a skill, practice it, and ultimately succeed.IMG_9821

Experiences like these give the residents of Northwest Passage a sense of confidence and pride that will allow them to see their past experiences as challenges to overcome as opposed to an impassable road block.

Jae Mawby, Northwest Passage, In a New Light Intern – Summer 2015

The boys of Riverside filmed the assembly of their new pottery wheel. They had a blast and we hope you enjoy watching them in action.

Northwest Passage Riverside is a residential treatment abode for boys learning to deal with intense mental health struggles. Aptly named, Riverside is situated along the calm banks of the Clam River, in Northwestern Wisconsin and proves to be a place of both healing and building new connections with everything from self to nature. Be it enjoying the grounds, including a private peninsula, or taking part in the powerful and unique experiential based therapy programming, these boys have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to heal at Northwest Passage.

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