Our approach

Since 1996, the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation has organized therapeutic adventure expeditions for young people living with cancer. These adventures are much more than just wilderness outings; they give participants an opportunity to spend time with other young people who share the same realities, to exchange ideas, and to be understood without needing to explain themselves. We aim to help them regain self-esteem and recover hope in life by enabling them to push their limits during these expeditions. Further, by facing challenges together, they can create close bonds of friendship, as many young people wish to do at this stage of their lives.

Conventional medical treatments aim to treat the body’s ailments, but therapeutic adventure heals the soul, the heart, and the mind. Our interventions – together with the beauty of the landscapes, the contact with nature, and the pleasure of sharing in the group activities – enable young people living with cancer to change their story, to become aware of their strengths, and to recover their dreams.

Benefits of therapeutic adventures

We are not therapists; we do not offer therapies. However, our expeditions, punctuated by moments of reflection and intervention activities, have indisputable therapeutic benefit.

The results of a series of recent researches indicate that the On the Tip of the Toes Foundation therapeutic adventure expeditions have had significant psychosocial impacts on many levels.*

Youth's benefits

Psychological Well-Being

[…] that the psychological well-being challenges of their participant diagnosed with childhood cancer persisted into adulthood and affected other areas such as relationships, education and employability. (Zelter et al., 2009)

[…] a significant improvement in the psychological well-being scale of adolescents following their participation in the therapeutic expedition. […] Adolescents benefit from their participation in the expedition in a very important area. (Fortin, 2019)

[…] having discovered and developed certain strengths of character such as perseverance because of their participation and success in the various activities offered. (Crête, 2017)

[…] an opportunity to discover their strengths and to fulfill their potential in a context which does not involve competition between the participants, and which is conducive to meditation and introspection. (Boucher-Marcuri, 2016)

The expeditions seem to meet the three basic psychological needs of autonomy, the need for competence and the need to belong. (Crête, 2017)

Self-Perception

Self-perception has been identified as an important factor influencing quality of life and well-being, allowing cancer survivors to continue to thrive after diagnosis and treatment. (Awick et al., 2017)

[…] an increase significant level of self-perception among adolescents following their participation in an expedition. (Fortin, 2019)

The results show a significant increase of the level of self-esteem among adolescents following their participation in an expedition. (Boucher-Marcuri, 2016)

Autonomy

The level of autonomy of young people with cancer is significantly lower […]. This is one of the major developmental challenges associated with adolescence and which are compromised by the onset of the disease. (Van Riel et al., 2014)

The results of the present study revealed a significant improvement in the level of autonomy. (Fortin, 2019)

[…] underline the sense of accomplishment and pride felt by young people in having overcome obstacles, challenges and achieve goals. Young people consider that they have discovered internal strengths and have been surprised by the extent of their abilities. (Boucher-Marcuri, 2016)

Interelations

Identification to peers is a central development process of the adolescent period. (Ellis, 1991; Lewis, 1996)

Social support, also defined as the nature of the relations maintained by the adolescent with other young people of his age, is significantly lower in young patients. (Van Riel et al., 2014)

The component of feeling isolated from their peers who do not have cancer is often reported in this population. (Elad et al., 2003)

[…] the new relationships created by the participants during the expedition as being more meaningful friendships than those they have with their peers who have experienced cancer. They explain this by the feeling of being better understood and the feeling of having a more mature perspective on life in general. The expedition therefore enabled them to create links with other young people with whom they identify more easily. (Crête, 2017)

Young people would be considered to feel more accepted, supported and included in their group of friends, as a result of their participation in the expedition. (Fortin, 2019)

The expedition helps to break the feeling of isolation experienced by young people with cancer. (Crête, 2017)

The adversity encountered during this type of expedition facilitates an improvement in positive self-perception and promotes socialization. (Crête, 2017)

The component peer support and the feeling of connection with the other participants in the expedition is a positive point reported by all respondents. (Crête, 2017)