When Michael Keenen was a student at Seattle University, a classmate (who happened to be an Open Sky alumni student) gave a presentation on wilderness therapy. Michael immediately knew he would love to be a field guide. He enjoyed leading retreats and holding space for others to be vulnerable, as well as backpacking with friends. Michael began reading all the articles he could find on wilderness therapy, and wrote a few papers on it while finishing his psychology major.
After graduating, Michael worked at an addiction treatment center with at-risk boys. In that role, he found it easy to connect with the boys and work with their resistance to change using physical activity. He built relationships and taught lessons that the students didn't resist. Michael now plays with the same dynamic at Open Sky, helping students grow and change by completing everyday tasks.
Eager to develop more skills as an outdoor educator, Michael moved on from his job in addiction treatment and completed an instructor development course with Outward Bound. There, he honed skills in navigation, survival in harsh elements, and teamwork.
Michael felt comfortable to be himself the moment he started working at Open Sky in January 2017. He loves that all parts of him are welcome in his job: his confidence, his tears, his sense of humor, everything. His superiors and peers never ask him to put on a mask or fake strength. Instead, they support him as he works through hardship, finding the gifts hidden in suffering. Michael feels most powerful at work when he models vulnerability and working with his self-critic.
Away from work, Michael rock climbs and cooks tasty food. He visits friends and family scattered throughout the Southwest. Michael has an ever-growing interest in yoga, meditation, and other activities that push the limits of his body and mind.