There is perhaps no one quite like Chris Moeller working in the field of wilderness therapy. Chris, who joined the Open Sky team as a field guide in 2007, has garnered over 2,275 field days and held a variety of roles central to Open Sky’s operation. He has served as a Senior Field Guide for over a decade, become a Clinical Therapist, trained and mentored countless guides, supported the Operations team, and drawn upon his 31 years of experience as an EMT in his work as Field Medic. Now, as Program Mentor, Chris utilizes his gifts, knowledge, and experience to support other guides in their work and strengthen the Field team.
Chris has lived a large portion of his life outside. Before entering the field of wilderness therapy, he spent about a decade guiding wilderness trips and takes every opportunity to be outdoors.
“If you like spending time outside, you probably know its peaceful nature,” said Chris. “Being outside provides the ability to be in direct relationship with something that isn’t going to treat you any differently for who you are. It helps you connect to everything.”
For Chris, outside is home.
Committed to continuous learning and expanding his own horizons, Chris obtained a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hiram College, completed a graduate program in marine biology at Northeastern University, earned a Master of Science in biology from the University of Alabama, and a Master of Social Work from Western New Mexico University. As Program Mentor, he utilizes his many skills to create the best possible experience for Open Sky’s guides and students.
“Throughout the years, I’ve constantly looked for ways to push myself outside my own comfort zone,” says Chris. “I seek ways to learn more, have a greater impact, and reach more people. I’m continually refining my craft and seeking new perspectives, always with the goal of helping people create positive change in their lives.”
Chris strives to be intentional about creating congruency between his personal life and what he does professionally. He not only uses his wilderness therapy and programmatic skills in his work for Open Sky, but also integrates them into his daily life.
“A lot of people might behave differently when they’re outside versus when they’re back out in society,” says Chris. “It’s important to me to be true to myself and what I’ve learned and not be a different person in different places. I am me no matter where I am. If I’m going to dedicate so much of my life to living outside helping people, I need to be able to live the values I’m teaching.”
Operating under the belief that all people are basically good and doing the best they can with the resources they have, Chris shares that his role is to help people identify their potential and grow stronger than they realized they are. He believes wilderness is the most powerful place to do this.
“Being outside and being with other people is the therapy,” says Chris. “No matter what you do, you’re going to grow. You’re going to be stronger. You’re going to have more resilience. You’re just going to start to believe in yourself because time and again you’re going to prove to yourself that you can do it.”
When asked what has kept him at Open Sky for 15 years, Chris answers in one word: relationships.
“I was fortunate enough to come along when Open Sky was very small, so I know and have worked closely with most of the Leadership team right from the beginning,” says Chris. “It’s nice to be able to share things with people I know, give feedback, hear feedback, and grow together. Open Sky has been supportive in my personal growth over all my time as well, so it’s nice to know that they are willing to invest in me as a person. I can come to them with sometimes unusual ideas and they respond with, ‘Great! Go do it!’”
Finally, a tribute to Open Sky’s favorite Program Mentor would not be complete without mention of his canine co-therapist, Pippin. Pippin, whose russet fur and gentle demeanor are familiar to many Open Sky students, families, and employees, retired last fall after over 1,600 days of work in the field. Chris shares that at 13 years old, Pippin made it clear he was ready to spend more time resting at home. Much to the delight of those who know him, however, Pippin still makes the occasional cameo appearance in the field when Chris has the resources to keep him comfortable and warm.
“I feel so grateful for all the years we were able to spend out there together,” says Chris.
Guide. Medic. Therapist. Mentor. Friend. Chris has embodied countless vital roles at Open Sky. For 15 years he has supported and inspired everyone he meets to live authentically and form deeper connections with self and others.
“Chris has committed himself to a life of self-discovery and growth and to bettering all of humanity,” says Program Director Danny Frazer. “We are so very fortunate to have him as Program Mentor. He is a leader and a role model in our community, not just for our students but for all of us at Open Sky.”