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Arrival Day at Open Sky

It is important to Open Sky that families feel they can trust the path they have embarked upon with their child. Providing a positive arrival day for both parents and students is essential, ensuring that from the very first meeting, Open Sky families feel secure and supported in the decision they’ve made on their journeys of healing and discovery. 

How Students Arrive

There are a few different options for how students arrive at Open Sky. Some students arrive with parents at the Open Sky Durango office while other students—more typically young adults—travel on their own and are met at the airport by Open Sky staff.

Other students arrive via a transport company. Open Sky only refers families to companies who are members of the Association of Mediation and Transportation Services, an organization that upholds standards of excellence and integrates cohesive, safe practices surrounding intervention and transport.

Families work directly with their admissions counselor to determine the best travel option for their child and family.

Intake Specialists

Once in Durango, a student’s first point of contact is a two-person team of Open Sky intake specialists. Intake specialists welcome students to Open Sky, guide them through the arrival day process, and accompany them to meet their teams in the field.

The intake team focuses on ensuring support for the incoming student throughout the day by helping them meet their basic needs with plenty of water, healthy food, and rest, as well as care and compassion. Understanding that incoming students may be feeling anxious and nervous, the Open Sky team strives to build rapport, establish trust, and create a warm, welcoming environment where students feel safe and supported.

Medical and Wellness

After students meet with the intake team, the first step in the intake process is completing paperwork and dropping off medication (if applicable) to Open Sky’s pharmaceutical coordinator for processing.

Next, the student is seen at Durango Urgent Care for a physical examination to confirm that they are healthy enough to participate in our program. The student also receives a tetanus shot, if needed, and completes a routine lab draw. After this visit, lunch follows at a healthy local restaurant like Zia Taqueria or Raider Ridge Café. This is time for students to enjoy a nourishing meal with our caring intake staff and ask any questions they may have before meeting their teams in the field.

Outfitting Process

The intake specialists then drive the student to Open Sky’s operations ranch in Mancos, Colorado. Here, the student’s personal belongings are inventoried, recorded, and stored, to be returned upon graduation from the program.

Following inventory collection, students are outfitted with brand new Open Sky gear. This thorough outfitting process sets students up for success in the field, providing the equipment and clothing they need to participate in all aspects of the program.

Meeting the Team and Mentor

After the outfitting process, the student is driven to the field to meet their team. The team is made up of other students, field guides, a field manager, and the student’s therapist. Upon the student’s arrival in the field, the field manager and field guides receive updates on how the student is doing as well as other pertinent information including dietary restrictions, medical information, and wellness needs.

The student then meets their peer mentor. Their mentor provides a bridge to the team, which becomes the student’s close community at Open Sky. The peer mentor can also be emblematic of where the new student can be in time, providing a sense of hope and comfort. Peer support is an essential aspect of each student’s progress in the program, starting with their first day.

The Student Pathway: Gateway

At Open Sky, we use a Student Pathway comprised of several stages to guide a student's journey through the program. Each stage corresponds to specific therapeutic goals and objectives designed to both challenge students and provide opportunities to experience success.

Each incoming student begins in the first stage of the Student Pathway: Gateway. In Gateway, each new student has time to orient to the basics of self-care, the program, and what it means to be a member of the team. Gateway is a time to reflect, observe, and begin to build trusting relationships with peers, guides, and their therapist.

What Families Can Expect

Throughout the student’s arrival day, there is a consistent flow of communication between Open Sky teams to ensure that each student’s needs are considered and met. The intake specialists communicate with Open Sky’s medical director, pharmaceutical coordinator, field medic, doctor, and staff psychiatrist, as necessary. Parents then receive updates from their admissions counselor, who is in close communication with Open Sky’s intake specialists.

Additionally, a family care coordinator sends a welcome email to parents with information on their child's intake and transition to the field and follows up within 24 hours with more specifics on the logistics and details of the day. The family care coordinator is a family’s administrative point person at Open Sky, assigned upon enrollment and available throughout their entire journey in the program. They represent a friendly and familiar voice on the other end of the phone if parents have questions, are seeking information, or need support.

Parents are also introduced to the several resources available to them to support their parallel Open Sky experience. They have 24-hour access to a secure Parent Portal, where they can find helpful resources, such as the Family Pathway, family documents, and photos of and letters from their child.

Parents can also consult information and registration details for the various services Open Sky offers, such as Wellness Weekend, parent coaching, the Family Quest intensive, Family Pathway class, Monday evening parent calls, Thursday evening Family Pathway class, and graduation.