Providing a Genuine Healing Community
In one way or another, most of our adolescents at Open Sky are suffering from a wound of some kind. That wound has often been internalized, and the hurt is deep. It might be the loss of a loved one; a violation of a personal boundary; regret of a past behavior; or a feeling of not being accepted or appreciated, the source of which could be any number of events or life moments. Each of us, at one point or another, experiences this kind of hurt. At Open Sky, we provide an emotionally safe and supportive community where students can be heard and acknowledged as they work toward healing.
Adolescents at Open Sky will share their stories with the other students, their therapists, and field guides, and in so doing will have the opportunity to heal and be given support for growing and learning. Through the day-to-day time spent in the nurturing presence of the treatment team and peers, there is a chance to discover the source of strength and courage that emerges from overcoming challenges. Students begin to see how these experiences enable us to expand our compassion for ourselves and others.
Inspiring Self-Confidence through Real Successes
The modern age has taken away much of the challenge of our physical existence, arguably creating an unhealthy culture. Material abundance has brought the highest rates of obesity and apathy ever known. Living in the outdoors requires work: demands of the weather, of walking everywhere you go, or living without furniture means that you learn how to take care of yourself in ways that are easily taken for granted. There is no shower, bed, toilet, microwave, television, computer, or electric lighting; all of these basic amenities are missing. Students learn to make do with what they can do for themselves. They learn how to take care of themselves completely, without the modern conveniences that prop up their lives. This engenders a sense of empowerment, of being capable of keeping themselves physically comfortable and safe, warm when it is cold, dry when it is wet, and fed when they are hungry. At Open Sky, adolescents become successful students of life, confident in themselves and what they are capable of accomplishing.
Harnessing Nature’s Healing Capacity
Being outside provides a space in which everything is free to be felt and expressed without judgment, without limit, and without consequence. Nature can handle an adolescent’s barrage of angry outbursts or depths of grief and sorrow. Nature is receptive to everyone’s presence and allows for a space that isn’t present in the busy-ness and materialism that surrounds normal, everyday civilized existence. The pure beauty of vistas, of mountains, of desert landscapes, of plants and animals, generates a reverence and appreciation for life and our surroundings. For many people, their greatest personal solace is found in the wilderness. With Mother Nature embracing them as a part of this spectacular planet, our adolescents heal and re-balance themselves.
Celebration and Ceremony
Lastly and perhaps most importantly at Open Sky, we genuinely enjoy working with young people. There is nothing quite like the excitement and enjoyment of working with youth; of being immersed in the innocence and freshness of young people, their creative and expressive energy; and being in the presence of growth and healing. Our team is comprised of people who genuinely enjoy the essential aspects of youth and find that being with adolescents and young adults is invigorating and inspiring. Our guides are role models for living a healthy and vibrant life.
It is a tremendous honor and inspiration to each of us to witness the adolescent experience: one of the most significant and challenging stages of human development. For centuries before the arrival of the modern world, adolescence was honored with some life-affirming rites of passage. Adolescents had guides to lead them through the journey to their emerging adulthood. As each adolescent accomplishes a set of objectives in the student pathway, we honor this growth with a ceremony utilizing the symbolism of the four directions in a rite of passage experience.
People of all ages seek acknowledgment in their growth and learning, and we believe a successful experience with Open Sky is the very acknowledgment that young people need to make the healthy shift to adulthood.