Experiential Learning

Director of Residential Services, Tomi Cimarosti,  at Camp Wilderness in 2014

Both learners and educators know that hands-on, practical learning is important for a person to internalize knowledge. Our program offers several experiential learning experiences, and many of the youth who participate in them report that participating in these experiences has helped them conquer their fears and anxieties, learn to trust themselves and others, gain confidence in their abilities, solve problems and learn teamwork.

Experiential activities are structured carefully to provide maximum learning in a safe and fun environment. Every opportunity is taken to help youth connect what is happening “in the field” with their day-to-day lives. Experience through a high and low ropes challenge course, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities challenge youth to take risks in an atmosphere of cooperation and safety.  Success is defined by each youth's commitment to “choose his or her challenge,” and to step into the unknown and trust, communicate and support others.


Experiential education:

  • Promotes positive relationships and team building
  • Develops leadership skills
  • Teaches and enhances skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and anger management
  • Fosters increased resilience, coping skills and knowledge of individual strengths


Spiritual Life
Since its early beginnings in 1965, Charles Hall Youth Services has strived to meet the needs of at-risk youth in a holistic way, working toward healing and strengthening youth emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. The agency is committed to integrating spirituality with therapeutic practices, building on existing skills and mental health specialties to include the spiritual dimension.
Recent studies support that healthy spiritual development is associated with lower levels of depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and delinquent behaviors, along with later onset of sexual activity. This research, together with a recent survey of youth in our three group homes, reveals that adolescents see spirituality as a significant factor in their lives, but one which often goes unnourished. Fifty-two percent (52%) of youth surveyed responded with an emphatic “yes” when asked if they felt they needed and would benefit from spiritual life programming as an optional component of our core program. Another 10% of youth surveyed responded “maybe.”

Charles Hall Youth Services recognizes the strong connection between opportunities for healthy spiritual growth and the well-being of today's adolescents. 


Community Mentors

If there is one factor that is true of every youth who comes to Charles Hall, it would be her or his need for a solid, consistent, caring relationship with an adult – someone who is not a parent, counselor, custodian or probation officer. A mentor is a youth's guide who voluntarily comes alongside the young teenager, walking with and listening to the youth. Then, when the time is right, mentors can share special life wisdom and understanding from their own experience and knowledge base.

Our new community mentor program will provide yet another crucial piece in creating a well-rounded, relationally-based system of care for our youth. Mentor matches will strive for a “good fit” between mentor and youth – a relationship that can grow and be sustained, long after a youth leaves our direct care. Community mentor volunteers of all ages (21 and above) will be recruited, carefully screened and selected. All it takes is one, caring adult to impact the life of a young person.  Lynette Hendrickson, our mentor program coordinator, is available to share more information at: (701) 255-2773, ext. 303, or

Creative Arts Programing

Impact Creative Arts is a program partnership with local artists Wayne Pruse and Lynn Prouty of Bismarck’s Impact Gallery and Arts in Downtown Bismarck. This program has evolved to one of strongest programs in today’s Charles Hall experience.  In this program, Charles Hall youth work closely with Pruse and Prouty during the fall and spring school semesters. Each home comes to the Impact Studio once weekly during the school year in the evening, (two hours weekly), and nine youth are paired with the two professional artists to complete major group art projects (e.g., sculptures), as well as individual art works that evidence a broad arts education for the youth. For example, youth will work with differing materials and differing art genres from classical to contemporary.

CHYS youths' artwork displayed at Impact Gallery


Moves and Movement Creative Arts programming utilizes the clinical and evidence-based use of music intervention to accomplish individualized and group goals within a therapeutic relationship with Debi Rogers who is well-known across North Dakota for teaching music and theatre. Rogers leads music and movement activities to enhance therapeutic work with at-risk youth in care at the residential foster care agency. She engages youth through storytelling, guitar and Celtic harp music, as well as other creative activities. 

The Moves and Movement program uses music to enhance youths’ quality of life and development by setting goals, such as to improve communication and motor skills. Music and movement therapy has proven to benefit work with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorders, developmental delays, psychiatric and emotional disorders, and mental illness resulting from long-term neglect and abuse.



Other Activities

Our youth are involved in activities throughout the community through collaborations with area organizations, such as United Tribes Technical College, Impact Gallery, YMCA, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and Bismarck Parks and Recreation.