While day-to-day activities and schedules vary based on the needs of each individual and team, below is a snapshot of a “day in the life” for early adolescent students at Open Sky. Guides work together with the students to create the structure of the day while upholding a culture of physical and emotional safety, support, and accountability. The overview below provides a glimpse of daily components that occur on days at base camp, on expedition, or both.
BASE CAMP AND EXPEDITION
Yoga and Meditation
Students and guides have time for yoga and meditation. These mindfulness practices are cornerstones of Open Sky’s holistic approach and help students learn to stay calm and regulated.
Self-care is an essential component of health and well-being. Time is scheduled each morning and evening for students to attend to personal hygiene and self-care. Guides help students as they step into new self-care routines.
Students learn and master wilderness skills such as bow-drill fires, cooking healthy meals over fires, and building shelters.
Examples of camp chores include tidying up campsites and shelters, cleaning fire pans and utensils, and inspecting gear and equipment. These routines chart the course for the day’s activities and promote healthy patterns to benefit students beyond life at Open Sky.
Personal Time and Guide Check-Ins
Personal time, or “p-time” as it’s called in the field, is when students can work on their Student Pathway, write letters, journal, and practice other ways of self-care and reflection. Students also check in with their guide mentor throughout the day on emotional and physical health and well-being.
The evenings are filled with moments for community bonding, fun, reflection, and relaxation. Students and guides create the culture of the team and collaborate on the evening’s activities. Time may be spent around the campfire reflecting on the day’s challenges and triumphs.
Play, Creative Arts, and Other Fun Activities
Play and creativity are essential to healthy development. There is space to play games, explore, create, and imagine each day.
ADDITIONAL BASE CAMP COMPONENTS
Every student will participate in the following:
Individual Therapy Sessions
Students engage in one-on-one therapy sessions in the field with their primary therapist.
Group Therapy Sessions
The team therapist facilitates a group therapy session with the team and the guides.
On Wednesdays, everyone at camp—students, guides, families attending graduation or Family Quest, and other staff—joins for a community meditation session.
*During the COVID-19 pandemic, Open Sky has paused community-wide gatherings. Meditation practices continue within individual team communities to align with CDC recommended guidelines.
Field guides, students, and the team therapist circle up to offer candid feedback from the week for each student. Milan Group fosters transparency and accountability for the entire team. As it is part of the Wednesday staff exchange, it also makes for a smooth transition between outgoing and incoming field staff.
Milieu therapy is “in the moment” work that happens throughout the day. These are opportunities where the team guides and therapists help students put social, communication, or regulation skills into action. Milieu therapy is so important for this age group!
If therapeutically appropriate or necessary:
- Psychological testing
- Psychiatric appointments with staff Psychiatrist
Base Camp Accommodations
The early adolescent base camp is specially outfitted to provide students a comfortable and welcoming environment while maintaining the spirit of the wilderness experience. Early adolescent students sleep on high-density foam pads with soft and colorful microfiber sheets. Sand mats line the floor of the wall tents for added comfort and fun. Students also have camping chairs from Crazy Creek to use when they are in group sessions or just hanging out around camp. These accommodations help students feel nurtured during this transformative moment in their young lives, allowing them to step into the best parts of themselves.
ADDITIONAL EXPEDITION COMPONENTS
Therapeutic Approach on Expedition
During expedition, or “expo”, field guides run daily group sessions, teach curriculum, and oversee program activities throughout the week. By taking advantage of the teachable moments that present themselves each day in the wilderness, the guides inspire the students to live and learn in ways that honor their values and strengthen relationships.
Expedition hikes vary in distance from day to day and group to group. Hiking creates space for meaningful conversation, challenge, and a sense of accomplishment. During hikes, teams break for lunch, therapeutic groups, and wellness checks.
Camp Arrival and Departure
Once the team reaches their campsite, they work together to set up shelters, gather wood and water (all water is purified), and begin fire busting. In the morning, students and guides break down their individual shelters and the team campsite. They complete “leave no trace” practices as they prepare to depart their campsite area.
Therapists, guides, and field staff also incorporate art therapy, music, games, and talent shows into life at Open Sky. Teams celebrate milestones, such as birthdays, together. Holidays in the field are also important times for students and field staff alike. These celebrations are filled with joy; they offer unique moments to reflect on love and gratitude for family and the simple things in life.