Two rock climbers—Jesse Spiegel and Vitek Linhart—are trying to change the way released prisoners are rehabiltated with a new program featuring a method we can't help but stand behind: adventure travel. Rewilding—a Kickstarter campaign currently looking for funding—will share the experience of bringing their first subject, Anthony DeJesus, on an eight-week backpacking adventure across the United States to climb mountains, take art classes, farm, and practice yoga. Since leaving foster care at the age of 22 (where he had been passed between six different families) and becoming involved in a gang community, DeJesus found himself in and out of jail and ultimately homeless. He may be the first adventurer to take the hike with Spiegel and Linhart, but this initiative is about much more than one person and an adventure vacation.
The campaign's Kickstarter video starts off with a strong statistic: 75 percent of formally incarcerated men will be arrested in five years of their release. Over the course of the Rewilding program, the group leaders will get to know the subject and his/her passions. At the end of the journey, the team will help introduce the subject to a series of programs in their hometown that can help them further their rehabilitation. "We don't claim we can solve this very big problem, but we do believe that we will have a real and positive impact," the team says. "Our mission is to offer life opportunities to young men who typically don't have access to them." And what better way to start anew than with a life-changing trip?
For more information—and a chance to contribute to the documentary—check out the Rewilding project on Kickstarter.
Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.