In 2006, Open Sky Wilderness Therapy opened its doors in Durango, Colorado, with the mission of inspiring individuals to live in a way that honors values and strengthens relationships. Since the beginning we have been driven by our core values of courage, community and excellence. After more than a decade of operations, Open Sky has worked with thousands of students and family members, inspired by the belief that all people have the capacity to thrive.
We chose Durango as home because of its proximity to the spectacular beauty of the San Juan Mountains and the canyon country of southeastern Utah where we conduct our field operations. With white-capped mountain peaks in the summer and warm desert sun in the winter, there is no better place to experience the power of nature to heal and reestablish one’s sense of purpose.
Before starting Open Sky, founder and CEO Aaron Fernandes worked in outdoor education and wilderness therapy. He witnessed incredible transformations resulting from spending time in nature and even suggested wilderness therapy to his brother, who was struggling. That experience had a profound impact, giving Aaron a unique perspective on the critical role of family involvement in the treatment process. At the time, however, the typical wilderness model involved sending the child to a program where he or she would be “fixed” and returned to the parents. Aaron realized that parent involvement was crucial to effective treatment and long-term success.