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Living in the wilderness among the elements provides students with unparalleled opportunities to increase competence, build resilience, and develop self-efficacy. Wilderness provides a classroom that teaches how everyday choices impact outcomes. Most often these lessons involve taking care of basic needs, eating when hungry, staying dry when it is wet, staying warm when it is cold, supporting others when it is difficult, and sharing expectations to succeed. The wilderness provides a natural laboratory in which to experience how good or bad decisions can impact circumstances.

The modern age has eliminated many of the challenges of our physical existence. Living in the outdoors requires planning, thought, and resilience. Students learn to problem solve and succeed in ways that are taken for granted in everyday life.

Most critically, students learn how to take care of themselves. Each day offers an array of challenges: living in a community, building shelters, busting fires, tying knots, cooking, cleaning, carving spoons, packing a pack, reading maps, taking care of personal hygiene, and caring for oneself. Accomplishing these tasks builds resiliency and self-efficacy, which translate to confidence in all aspects of life.

There is no better place to heal and reestablish one’s sense of purpose than in nature. Wilderness also gives the mind, heart, and soul a rest. Living simply and under the open sky is proven to have healing effects and engender a lasting ability to overcome adversity. When students graduate from Open Sky, they leave with a tremendous sense of pride, empowerment, and confidence that will serve them for their entire lives.

Areas of Impact

Open Sky transcends traditional wilderness therapy by delivering an experience greater than the sum of its parts: treatment for the whole family, a powerful and transformative experience, a focus on total health and well-being, and an unyielding belief that everyone has the capacity to thrive.