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Category: Field

 

Summer Support: Living and Thriving in the Colorado Mountains

From panoramic mountain views to verdant aspen groves, summer is a particularly vibrant season to experience wilderness therapy at Open Sky. Living in the vast wilderness allows Open Sky students to challenge themselves and build skills to foster resilience and competence. At Open Sky, we take the utmost care to attend to students’ physical needs […]

Why Guide at Open Sky: Field Staff Share Their Passion for Their Work

Our field staff are the heart of Open Sky. They are with students day and night, providing necessary structure and containment and supporting students in becoming their full selves. They are compassionate, playful, strong, creative, and essential to our program. Below, members of the Open Sky field team share what makes this work special and […]

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: The Foundation of Field Guiding

If our students acquire the tools necessary to meet their needs for physical safety, emotional safety, love and belonging, and self-esteem, then the realization of their full potential is within reach.

Driven by Compassion: The Vital Role of Open Sky’s Intake Specialists

Open Sky intake specialists welcome new students to Open Sky and guide them through the arrival process until they join their teams in the field. In this blog post, Intake Director Rick Crawford discusses the crucial role intake specialists play at Open Sky. Interested in joining the Open Sky team as an intake specialist? We’re […]

Academics at Open Sky

Students at Open Sky have the opportunity to earn 3.5 high school credits in six academic areas. In the following article, Education Director Dr. Melia Snyder describes the philosophy of Open Sky’s academic program, the ways it intertwines with the organization’s clinical approach, and the types of credits available. Melia has a Ph.D. in counseling […]

Ready for a New Adventure? Learn about Field Guiding at Open Sky!

Are you ready for a new adventure? Visit our Field Guide page to learn more about field guiding at Open Sky. Apply today for our upcoming orientations: March 30-April 11 and May 18-29. Read the Q&A below to hear from Assistant Field Director & Field Guide Recruiter, Alex Bond about the unique and rewarding experience […]

Guiding through Challenge with Grit and Grace: Welcome, New Field Guides!

Open Sky is pleased to welcome 12 new field guides to the team! This cohort brings highly positive energy to the field and to the organization as a whole. They are deeply committed to the work of connecting with, supervising, leading, and encouraging our students as they embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth. […]

How Does Open Sky’s Medical Team Support Student Wellness and Growth?

At Open Sky, our belief is that when students’ physical needs are met, they are able to better focus on the deep therapeutic work that brought them to our program. As they are the first responders to any medical and wellness need in the field, every Field Guide is a certified Wilderness First Responder. Beyond […]

“Stories From the Field” Podcast Features Norman Elizondo, Open Sky Family Wellness Counselor

Open Sky Family Wellness Counselor Norman Elizondo was recently featured on the podcast, “Stories from the Field: Demystifying Wilderness Therapy”. In this podcast episode, listeners get a glimpse into Norman’s past and how he found his way to a career in wilderness therapy.   Norman immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines when he was six years old. A “city […]

Preparing for the Magic of Winter in Wilderness

Winter is a particularly powerful time to enroll in wilderness therapy. Living amidst the winter elements provides students with unique opportunities to increase competence and resiliency. When students complete a winter stay at Open Sky, they leave with a tremendous sense of pride, empowerment, and confidence – attributes that will serve them well as they […]

The Power of Intentional Time Alone in Wilderness

Senior Clinical Therapist, Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC (adolescent boys) addresses common questions about the “solo” experience at Open Sky, from purpose to impact, and logistics to supervision. Jonathan celebrates his 10-year Open Sky anniversary this month. He has facilitated more than 1000 solos over the course of his tenure at Open Sky.   Question: What […]

What’s it like to spend the holidays in wilderness?

Alumni Student Laney, C., shares how holidays in wilderness therapy were both meaningful and memorable.

Open Sky Presents at NOLS Wilderness Risk Management Conference

Open Sky Family Wellness Counselor Norman Elizondo, Senior Clinical Therapist Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC and Assistant Health Director Coulter Stone, MAT, W-EMT were honored to present at the recent Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC). The WRMC, presented by NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School), offers education and training in mitigating the risks inherent to exploring, working […]

Heroes and Legends: Master Senior Field Guide, Mike Kangley

We had the chance to sit down with Master Senior Field Guide, Mike Kangley. A veteran guide at Open Sky, Mike has worked across several departments and worn many hats as a leader in the field and mentor in our community. In this interview, we extract lessons from Mike’s experience as we discuss what led Mike to […]

2019 Jumping Mouse Award Recipient: Emily “Jonesie” Jones

Every year at the National Wilderness Therapy Symposium, a select group of field guides are honored for their excellence and grit at the Jumping Mouse Ceremony. Each participating program is invited to nominate one exceptional field guide to receive the Jumping Mouse Award, which recognizes a guide for his or her excellence and commitment to […]

Wilderness Therapist, Chris Moeller, MS, MSW: 1,850 Field Days (and Counting!)

Q: You have been with Open Sky for 12 ½ years! You’ve been a field guide, a program mentor and now…a wilderness therapist. How have these roles shaped your experience at Open Sky?  A: I have accumulated over 2,250 days in the field in my guiding career so far, 1,850 of which have been at Open Sky […]

Are You Ready to Make a Difference? Open Sky is Hiring Field Guides

Updated November 2019 The Raven is the iconic and majestic “mascot” of the high desert; its familiarity matched only by its mystery. The clever bird finds solace from the realities of the desert in many places, among them the resilient and adaptable branches of the Utah Juniper. The tree’s metallic blue pinecones, often confused by […]

GUIDE SPOTLIGHT: Dylan Cohen Reflects on Life in the Trenches as an Open Sky Field Guide

Lessons in Fire Busting After working in experiential education, challenge courses, and a behavior-focused program for at-risk youth, I was hungry for something more therapeutically productive. I found out about Open Sky and was immediately drawn to its holistic treatment approach. I moved to Durango, completed guide orientation, and entered the field in my new […]

Tradition, Feasts and Fun: Celebrating the Holidays at Open Sky Wilderness

  Holidays in wilderness are an important time for students and field staff alike. They are fun and filled with joy; they offer unique moments to reflect on love and gratitude for family and the simple things in life. Staff put a lot of intention into programming for the holiday season. And it all starts […]

Experience Matters: Program Director, Danny Frazer

  Danny Frazer always dreamed of a career path that would allow him to help young people become the best version of themselves. Early on, he envisioned being a leader and role model for young people as a college basketball coach. However, after a summer internship with a Montana-based, family-run wilderness therapy program in 1996, […]

Operations: Building the Foundations for a Safe and Meaningful Student Experience

Updated November 2019   Open Sky’s experienced and passionate Operations Team works both behind the scenes and hands-on to develop, construct, and maintain program infrastructure and processes. The Operations Team is responsible for the vehicle fleet, student clothing and gear, the transporting of students, and the maintenance of multiple facilities and base camps. Operations Director […]

Open Sky Field Guides: Courageous and Compassionate

Article contributed by Senior Guide, Rebecca Slotta.   It’s Wednesday morning. My eyes snap open and a feeling of confusion passes through me. I stare at the ceiling, trying to figure out why I’m awake while the sun is still sleeping behind the horizon. I realize it’s Wednesday. My alarm is telling me to gear up because […]

From Student to Guide to Jumping Mouse Award Recipient!

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 […]

Diversity Education Series at Wilderness Therapy Symposium

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy is proud to be a Diversity Education Series sponsor at the upcoming Wilderness Therapy Symposium. The Symposium will take place August 23-25 in Park City, Utah. The Symposium brings together a cross-section of clinicians, field instructors, educators, educational consultants, professors, research specialists, students, and programs to share theories, insights and best […]

Fire Busting: A Daily Challenge with Lifelong Rewards

Article contributed by field guide Anna Hanson. The sun sets, the sky glows orange and the last signs of daylight disappear behind the juniper trees. Camp is set up and our team begins to make a fire with their bow drill sets. I feel excited as I see the team dedicated and working hard. As […]

Renewal of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Accreditation

We are proud to announce that the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) has renewed Open Sky’s Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Accreditation. This accreditation is a symbol of our unending commitment to providing our students, families, and team members with the highest quality practices in the industry. AEE has a long-standing reputation for accreditation of experiential and […]

Reflections from Thanksgiving in the Field

“I’m grateful that we share our ‘gratitudes’ not just on Thanksgiving, but on every day at Open Sky,” shared one student, referencing our daily practice of sharing “gratefuls” before evening meals. On this Thanksgiving, the gratitudes shared were even more potent than usual, for staff and students alike: family, friendship, fresh starts, the desert, food, […]

Open Sky’s Utah Winter Base Camp

Updated November 2020 Summers at Open Sky are spent in the high country of southwest Colorado, amongst the aspen groves and mountain peaks of the San Juan National Forest. As the season changes from summer to fall, so does our location. In early October, we make the annual move to our winter base camp and […]

From Ember to Fire: Sam’s Journey of Transformation

Robin Wolthausen, a Family Services Guide & Transition mentor, reflects on an experience with a student from his days as a field guide.  Week 1-4: Old Patterns and New Options When I first met Sam, an adolescent boy in Team Avatar, his eyes were heavy and downcast. He was sarcastic, apathetic and sluggish. He argued […]

Wilderness Therapy Symposium: Learn, Grow, and Honor

Last week, Open Sky staff members had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Wilderness Therapy Symposium in Park City, Utah. The Wilderness Therapy Symposiumprovides opportunities to explore topics related to wilderness therapy, advance knowledge, build community, and recognize excellence. The event is held bi-annually by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBHC). Open Sky’s Program Director, […]

Aaron Fernandes and Danny Frazer featured in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council’s new video

Open Sky Founder & CEO, Aaron Fernandes, and Open Sky Program Director, Danny Frazer, were honored to participate in the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council’s new video, which highlights the council’s flagship event, the Wilderness Therapy Symposium! The Wilderness Therapy Symposium is an annual gathering of wilderness and adventure therapy programs and practitioners. Danny Frazer also […]

Annual Senior Guide Retreat Provides Training, Appreciation, and Team Building Opportunities

In many ways, Open Sky’s wilderness field guides are the heart and soul of our program. They live in the field with students 24/7, including holidays. Guides not only ensure the safety of our students; they also serve as mentors, role models, teachers, and friends. Our guides are passionate about our mission and encompass a […]

Danny Frazer Named Open Sky Program Director

I am pleased to announce Danny Frazer has been named Open Sky’s new Program Director. As Program Director, Danny is responsible for the overall quality and delivery of services to our students and families. As one of the organization’s founders, Danny has been with Open Sky since the beginning; helping to craft and foster our […]

Thanksgiving in the Field: A day of Community, Connection and Fun!

Every year, millions of families partake in a gloriously gluttonous gathering to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and life’s many blessings. For many, Thanksgiving takes place around a table in the comfort of a warm home. For Open Sky students, Thanksgiving is celebrated outdoors, under the warm desert sun.  In many ways, Thanksgiving in the field […]

The Great Tree

Graduation from Open Sky is usually a bittersweet process. As much as a student and their family can reflect on their successes and be proud of their progress, there is still the task of saying goodbye to all those individuals who shared in this transformative experience. Simply put, it’s often a very emotional moment. Recently, one […]

Reflections on Successful Wilderness Therapy Symposium

“The Wilderness Therapy Symposium is a big metaphorical campfire that people love to gather around” – Rob Meltzer, Founder, WTS Under the leadership of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council, The WTS brings a diverse cross-section of clinicians, field guides, rites of passage guides, professors, educational consultants, research specialists, college students and residential program staff under […]