Article contributed by Field Director, Evan Meyer.
Every year at the OBH Wilderness Therapy Symposium, a Jumping Mouse Ceremony is held to recognize an exceptional Field Guide from each participating program. Award recipients demonstrate outstanding commitment to the work of field guiding and represent the qualities and characteristics most valued by the programs for which they work. This year, Open Sky selected Senior Guide, Alex Molo as the Jumping Mouse award recipient.
The Jumping Mouse award is based on the Native American folk story of the Jumping Mouse, a story that has long been part of the history and lore of wilderness therapy and Open Sky. Jumping Mouse hears a calling—one that is both unusual and challenging—to journey to the Sacred Mountains. He heeds the calling and leaves his comfort zone to do something exceptional. Along his journey to the Sacred Mountains, he must give of himself to help Buffalo and Wolf. It’s a story of spirit and of determination; a story of trust in, and of service to, others.
Senior Field Guide, Alex Molo embodies these qualities. Alex puts his heart into the work and genuinely cares about the students and guides on his teams. He is open and committed to serving something beyond himself: by helping students heal, as well as by supporting fellow guides and colleagues on their journeys in and out of the field. He gives of himself for the greater good of his team, of the greater Open Sky community, and of humanity.
Alex began field guiding at Open Sky in 2015, but his experience at Open Sky began years earlier: as an Open Sky student in 2010 and in 2011. He completed our program twice, went to an aftercare program, and came back as a field guide two years after that. He was drawn to return to Open Sky after witnessing the strong guide community as a student. He wanted the opportunity to mentor and support others through challenging times in their lives, just as he was supported as a student, and continues to be now by his fellow guides.
The fact that he went through the transformative journey that our students begin here is unique and invaluable. He can speak to the struggle, challenge, and reward that our students experience not just in a metaphorical sense, but in a very tangible, direct, and relatable way.
As a field guide in Alex’s team when he was a student, and now as his Field Director, I have had the unique opportunity to witness Alex’s growth along the way. He is healthy and grounded. He’s an incredible role model of resilience and grit for so many students and guides that hear his story and see how far he’s come. He demonstrates a desire to learn, he accepts feedback, and he seeks to grow from challenges. He faces challenges head-on and is skilled at handling a variety of situations. He is now able to pass what he knows on to other guides by mentoring them along their guiding journey.
“An attribute that stands out in Alex is his commitment to personal growth. He is constantly seeking to learn. He has the humility needed to be receptive to feedback. These are attributes that he demonstrated as a student and that he continues to apply to his life and work today, thus becoming an exceptional field guide and mentor.
“There is vibrancy, resiliency, and passion within Alex. He’s lived a life that, in some respects, is a glimpse of what our students could themselves attain if they commit to growing in the way that he has committed to it.”
“Something that stands out about Alex is his vision—there’s a curiosity behind it. He’s able to act on the steps he needs to take toward his own exceptional future. He has that vision for himself. He’s self-reflective and he’s able to offer that level of reflection and guidance to others (both students and guides) so that they can pursue their own goals. He really meets people where they’re at so that he can best support them in affecting real change in their lives.
“Alex has a very strong awareness of what the team needs and he has this incredible ability to assess situations. Then, he’s able to break things down into smaller steps and set up the day or the week so that it’s the safest, most productive, and most inspiring for both students and guides. I would say that sums it up – I always know the team, students, and guides are in good hands when Alex is out there. He’s a strong leader and a really wonderful human being.”
“[Alex] Molo is super invested and attentive. He gives really direct and insightful feedback in a fantastically relational way. There was one specific time when I was on a break while he was filling in as Field Manager. We started talking about my guiding. I was still working on my bow drilling [fire making] at the time, so that topic came up. Alex said, ‘Ok let’s get down to it right now.’ He got out his bow drill set and gave me a personal coaching session on the spot. He had a lot of tips and really helped me fine-tune my skills.
“He’s also taken time to mentor me outside of the field. When he was working as the Field Mentor in my team for a few days, we didn’t have a ton of one-on-one time. We arranged to meet outside the field for coffee. We covered a lot that we didn’t get the chance to cover in the field. He gave me some really good feedback.
“I think that’s what makes Alex so incredible – his style of giving feedback. Alex is very collaborative, and he really tries to understand my process, my thinking, my guiding style, and the relationship that I have with the students in order to give insightful, positive, and constructive feedback. His advice really helps frame my thinking and my approach to working with students.
“I guess the last thing I can say is… Dang – he is just a really… good… guide! Watching him with the students is mind blowing. He’s so good!”