As a family we enjoy hiking, but we also use hiking as a tool to help Penfold A.K.A Freddie with his PTSD and Anxiety. The impact that hiking has on him is amazing. Some friends of ours where taking on the Camino de Santiago Portuguese route this summer and invited us to join.. So without hesitation we all jumped at the chance. 

In order to help prepare Penfold for this journey we developed a home made map of the entire route, that was broken down into daily stages including rough mileage and accommodation for that night, as we would not be able to stay in the same location each night. 

In the past this was a problem for us, and even staying in one different location was problematic, so eventually we purchased a motor home and this allowed for us to go away with a home from home. It worked and eventually Penfold's trust in going to new places and understanding that we still all went home together evolved and this opened up doors for us in the ways that we were able to travel. 

We no longer have the van and have now completed 3 thru hikes staying at different locations along the way. I am not saying this is not without issue because there is still that level of apprehension and a billion repetitive questions about where  we will be staying. We use the guidebooks and you tube to help with visualisation before we go absolutely anywhere new, especially if we are staying over night. 

Along the Camino my amazing wife, came up with an idea to show him the nights accommodation at breakfast time that day, so he was able to visualise where he would be staying each day and where he would be walking to each day, this did help. 

For those who do not know the Camino hike is a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella  in Spain and there is a variety of routes that you can take in order to reach the final destination and we choose the route starting in Porto, Portugal, this saw us walking a total distance of 178 miles in 12 days. 

The trip was amazing and i am so incredibly proud of Penfold for completing such a huge undertaking especially as he is only 9 years of age. His legs kept him going well, and on the last day he was even skipping along the route. Overall he managed well with the changes of distances daily, due to the guides only being rough estimates, as they are always as the crow flies and does not take into account the undulating nature of the environment. He also coped well with what not knowing where we would stop each day for lunch, we did pack snacks for him, but again this is something that can be a challenge for him. 

However the trip did not go without its hiccups and after a few days of settling into to walk and getting used to walking with others constantly, he began to push me aside and would not want to walk with me, and if i got close then he would begin to be rude to me and try and isolate me from others and ensure the walking gap between me and him was longer than it needed to be.  

I struggled with this because I could not understand why he was doing this. I took some time on this day and took an alternative route. The route this particular day provided two options so half way I decided to take one of the routes and take some time to contemplate. After a little while my phone began ringing and my wife was asking me to slow down as she was coming with me. Freddie had agreed to stay with the group and let cas join me.. on arrival home after the trip and a month later I discussed this behaviour towards me with his pyschotherapist and she advised that he is not being mean, although it feels like it, he feels safe with me, so as he is trying to work out how to let others into his world at the same of sharing it with me, his messages can become disjointed and then the behaviour comes across all disorganized. 

I have to say I was relieved by this.. because it did feel quite rejecting. 

The trip itself highlighted to us further how this boy without knowing is challenging himself and really living proof that yes the world is a scary place and more so when we see it through different experiences, but with support we can challenge it back and really prove to ourselves that we can achieve ... 



For more photos and daily insights please follow penfolds adventures on Facebook or Instagram.. The social pages are updated with the daily activities and the website is used to contemplate over certain situations and allow for a space to also provide stories that may help others going through similar situations and resources ..