Family Services Counselor
Joined Open Sky: May 2009
In Wilderness Therapy since: 2009
Interview with Evan
Q. Why do you work in wilderness therapy?
I work in wilderness therapy because it is the most rewarding job that I can imagine at this point in my life. The work is challenging and provides a lot of opportunity for personal growth. It also feels good to know that this line of work has a positive impact on people and the larger world. I love being outside and sharing the magic of the wilderness with other people.
Q. Why do you think wilderness therapy works?
I think wilderness therapy works because it gives participants a chance to go back to their roots as human beings. Students live in small communities, share chores, cooking and lots of time sitting around a fire and interacting with each other. Life is simple and basic survival is a large part of the everyday experience. This is what humans did for thousands of years without all of the distractions of the modern world. Living simply and in small groups creates emotional safety that is just not present in our culture.
Q. What do you think Open Sky student's need?
One of the most common things that cultures and communities around the world share is ceremony and rites of passage. Our culture does not really have either. I believe that these two things are extremely important to give people a sense of belonging and a strong sense of self worth. I believe that a lot of Open Sky students do not have a strong sense of self worth or belonging and need ceremony and rites of passage to feel good about themselves.
Q. If you were able to meet anyone (living or dead) who would it be and why?
The person who I would like to meet lives deep in the woods somewhere. I am sure that this person exists somewhere in the world, I just do not know their name or where to find him or her. He or she holds wisdom and knowledge long forgotten by our culture, we would call it magic. They know how to talk to plants and animals and listen to the whispers of the stars and many other things. I want to meet this person because this is the kind of wisdom that I seek.
Q. What are a few of the defining moments in your life and why?
The first backpacking trip that I did when I was 15 forever changed my view of what is important in life. I stopped being concerned with being cool and wearing the right cloths, I started to become aware of social and environmental issues around the world and put thought and effort into these instead of my image. On my 20th birthday, I hiked to the top of a peak under the full moon and watched the sunrise from the top. This hike forever changed my spirituality. I felt more close to “God” or “Life” or “the great spirit” than I ever had before. I got the overwhelming sense that I was taken care of, whatever I want, I just have to try for and things will work out for me.
Q. Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
My dog, Little Bear, has been my biggest inspiration. He toughs out adverse weather or temperature without complaint. He never complains about eating the same meal every day and does not look at food as a pleasure but merely a means of sustenance so that he can live his life to the fullest. Little Bear always lives in the moment. He never knows what the day is going to bring and just accepts whatever comes. On backpacking trips he is not concerned with the route or blisters, he is just concerned with smells and animals. He does what he wants when he wants and the only thing he stresses out about is whether or not he gets to go hiking when we leave the house.
Q. What are your unique gifts and/or experiences that help our students?
I have a love of the wilderness that can be contagious. I am pretty good at plant identification, which some student really get in to. I also have a calm and steady presence that can be grounding and comforting for students. I also simply love what I do for a living and many of the things that Open Sky does such as yoga, meditation, fire making, spoon making and hiking.
Q. What do you like to do for fun when you are not working in the field?
I spend a lot of time on bikes during my off shifts, mostly mountain bikes but I also enjoy road biking. I love to go for long hikes and look for edible and medicinal plants and mushrooms. I love to cook meals for friends and family. I have recently gotten into wood working, making spoons and other kitchen utensils.
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