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The 2016 Wilderness Therapy Symposium: Presentations, Representation and Awards

Jake George | Marketing Specialist

The Wilderness Therapy Symposium (WTS), held annually by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBH), is the premier conference within the wilderness therapy community.  Open Sky has a close and active relationship with the OBH, with one of our company’s founders, Danny Frazer, serving as the Chair Officer of the OBH and our CEO, Aaron Fernandes, serving as a member of the National WTS committee. This year’s event in Park City will draw hundreds of professionals from the wilderness therapy community; Open Sky alone sent 13 individuals to represent all aspects of our organization.

What separates the Wilderness Therapy Symposium from the catalog of conferences that take place every year, is the opportunity to advance the overall wilderness community through education and to recognize excellence within the field.  As a leader, driving advancement in wilderness therapy, Open Sky’s staff actively present at the symposium. This year, our own Emily Miranda will co-present about multicultural awareness in residential treatment environments.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working with one of our adolescent girls’ groups, Emily began her career in the field of private pay behavioral health and wilderness therapy in 1999, working as a field guide, therapist, and clinical director.  She has also worked in residential and outpatient settings with adolescents and young adults. Emily’s passion of multicultural awareness in treatment settings is vital in understanding how to most appropriately provide a client or student with individualized care. Emily has presented this subject at other conferences and has provided her insights on one of our field’s leading blogs, All Kind of Therapy (Link Here).

In addition to presentations, the WTS features the Jumping Mouse awards. Each organization attending the WTS is asked to select an exceptional Field Guide from their program to be recognized for excellence in guiding and long term commitment to wilderness therapy work. Open Sky is proud to recognize Michael Kangley as our Jumping Mouse recipient. Michael came to Open Sky in 2010 after working with adjudicated youth. Over the course of six years and 900+ field days, he has shown consistent excellence and support both as a Guide and Field Manager. He represents the spirit of the award and we are proud to have him represent the Open Sky Wilderness Therapy field team.

Joining our field department leadership team, Open Sky senior guides Anna Hanson, Mary Beth Johnson and Maya Shulman-Ment are attending the symposium. This year’s symposium will highlight women in wilderness leadership.  Working in wilderness is tough work; it requires grit, tenacity, the ability to remain calm in the face of adversity, extraordinary risk management skills, and a plethora of characteristics and qualities that could fill the length of a history dissertation.  The intent of the women in wilderness topic is not to simply acknowledge the presence of women in this burly world of transformative work, but to shed light on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual strength these individuals hold. These three guides embody this strength and are exceptional leaders in their line of work. Open Sky is proud to have them representing our guiding community.

Needless to say, we are excited to have such a wide reaching presence at this year’s event. Please feel free to stop by and say hello to any and all members of the Open Sky Wilderness Therapy team.

August 27th, 2016

Jake George | Marketing Specialist