Fall Greetings From Open Sky!

Welcome to the early fall edition of SKYlights! In this edition, you can check out clinical blog articles you may have missed, learn about inspiring leaders...and take a moment to catch up on all that's happening at Open Sky!

Open Sky Creates Clinical Leadership Team 

Open Sky’s core value of community is apparent throughout every part of our organization. On the Clinical Team, this value manifests as a strong culture of teamwork, consultation, and learning, with each clinician offering leadership and perspective from his or her given areas of clinical expertise. 
Clinical Therapists Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC; Kirsten Bolt, MEd, LMFT; and Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC (pictured above, left to right) hold uniquely important roles on the Clinical Team. Each has between seven and ten years of clinical experience at Open Sky and provide mentorship drawn from these longstanding tenures. We are excited to announce their promotions to Senior Therapist for their respective client populations: Mariah for young adults, Kirsten for adolescent girls, and Jonathan for adolescent boys. In many respects, this promotion formalizes the natural ways they have been contributing to the team for some time. As Senior Therapists, they will continue to carry their regular caseloads while also providing collaborative support and valuable case consult for the therapists in their given populations. They will also support a new Clinical Director once the appropriate candidate has been selected. 
“Jonathan, Kirsten, and Mariah embody Open Sky’s core value of excellence in all they do,” says Executive Director, Emily Fernandes. “The beauty of this leadership role is that it supports them in doing what they love—working directly with students and families—while simultaneously contributing their knowledge and wisdom to the rest of the team. We are deeply fortunate to have three of the industry’s most experienced and skilled wilderness therapists at Open Sky, and we are so grateful for the unique gifts and strengths they bring. Congratulations to this dynamic trio!”

Family Matters: Parenting with Distinct Styles and Shared Values

Matthew Krugh, MSW | Family Services Director

Article Preview: To provide the best parenting environment for children, parents need to be a united front. This is the case for whether parents are separated or divorced, happily married, not getting along well, and yes, even if they have different parenting styles. A united front means parents are on the same page in prioritizing and upholding values, creating and enforcing boundaries, and emotionally attuning to themselves, each other, and their children. These characteristics also apply to single parents, as strong values, boundary-holding, and emotional attunement are paramount...

Planting the Seeds of Change

How Therapist, Morgan Robak, LCSW, Helps Adolescent Boys Flourish in Wilderness

Article Preview: In my senior year of undergrad, I did a NOLS backpacking and pack rafting trip in Alaska for 32 days. I learned an immense amount about myself. I came out of that experience a completely different person with a whole new level of confidence. I finished my undergrad degree and decided that I had to work outside. I knew I wanted to be a social worker, even though everyone told me I’m too sensitive to be a social worker. Yes, I’m sensitive and I’m strong and I use both to my benefit, working with adolescents. After the NOLS trip and graduating with my social work degree, I read something about wilderness therapy in a NOLS alumni email. I started researching...

The "Yes" Within the "No": How to Parent so Your Teen Trusts You

Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC | Adolescent Boys Clinical Therapist

Article Preview: At dinner one night, a friend of mine and I were speaking about our teenage years and how much we pushed the envelope of our parents’ rules and boundaries. She lightheartedly recounted a vignette of what occurred years before when her son came home after smoking marijuana for the first time as a teenager. She acknowledged that although it is easy to chuckle about in retrospect, it was quite distressing at the time, as she proceeded to describe...

A Natural Fit

A Conversation with Adolescent Girls Therapist Kim Kelley, MEd, LPC

Article Preview: In the early 90’s when I was in graduate training, I had never heard the term “wilderness therapy” before. It was at that time that my younger brother experienced wilderness therapy as a student. He expressed that the experience changed his life. I and the rest of my family could see this change and the positive impact it had on him. I tucked this unfamiliar term and idea away as I continued training. I later moved to Massachusetts and was trained in adventure-based counseling. I was sold...​​​​​

Welcome Back, Susanna Shakespeare!

We're thrilled to announce Susanna is back from maternity leave! Georgia Shakespeare Karshner (named after her great-grandmother) arrived on June 7, weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces. Georgia's hobbies include playing with her hands, snuggling, and looking at herself in the mirror. She has already traveled through Montana, Idaho, and Utah. She just received her passport in the mail and is excited to check out some international destinations, as well! Congrats and welcome back, Susanna!

Chris Blankenship to Present at YATA Conference

Clinical Therapist Chris Blankenship, LSW will present at the Young Adult Transition Association (YATA) Conference in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho on October 18. Chris and Educational Consultant Jill Rickel, MS, CEP, will co-present on the topic of young adults and technology. Their presentation, The 24-Year Old Virgin: How Technology is Creating a Generation of Intellectualized Dummies, addresses how technology has made today's young people more informed and aware than previous generations, though seemingly at the cost of valuable life experiences. "This presentation will explore the strengths and challenges that the internet-formed Generation Z are experiencing, as well as the implications for care providers." 

Alumni Corner: Where Are They Now?

Open Sky Alumna, Emily O. stopped by recently to say hello! Emily was a young adult student in Mariah Loftin's group and graduated in June, 2015. During her recent visit, she not only connected with Mariah but also Assistant Field Director, Sam Johnson. Sam was a guide in Emily’s team during her time at Open Sky.

“When I came to Open Sky, I was on so many substances. I’ve been sober since the day I got here,” Emily shared with the Open Sky team. We're thrilled we could be a part of Emily’s path to health and well-being. She now works at Red Mountain Sedona, a transitional treatment program for young adults, and is going to school to become a therapist. We're excited for Emily's future!

Click HERE to learn more about Open Sky's Alumni Reunions.

Dr. Aaron Wallis Featured in Podcast on Motivation

Dr. Aaron Wallis, a Clinical Therapist at Open Sky serving the Young Adult population, was recently featured in an installment of Lon Woodbury’s podcast series “In Their Own Voice.” Listen to the podcast to learn more about brain structure as it relates to motivation, the stages of motivation and action, and how parents can help their young adult in a constructive and compassionate way.

Read more about motivation and young adults in Dr. Wallis’s blog article, Deconstructing Motivation.

Employee Shout Out: 11-Year Field Legend Chris Moeller, Program Mentor

"Chris Moeller was a senior guide in one of our Adolescent Girls teams for many years. Eventually, it became clear he'd hit a level of mastery with guiding, mentoring other guides, and overall awareness of the program. We expanded his area of influence so that it could benefit the entire guide community, not just the guides he worked with in that one team. Since Chris took on the role of Program Mentor, guides have become more and more effective in their work. Through Chris’s influence and the culture he helps to create, he inspires guides to live the lifestyle that it takes to be a guide."
- Evan Meyer | Field Director 

Click HERE to learn more about the important role of Field Guide at Open Sky.

Let's Go! Open Sky Preps for Annual Move to Utah Course Area, Slated for October 8

With Open Sky headquarters in Durango, Colorado, we have the rich and diverse landscape of the Four Corners region at our fingertips. This time of year in our Colorado summer course area, temperatures are cooling and the aspen trees are changing color. This means the move to our winter course area is drawing near! Our fall and winter location in southeastern Utah boasts a dry and temperate climate—a welcomed alternative to the harsher Colorado winters. All team sites in Utah has access to shower stalls, covered kitchen structures, tipis with wood stoves, canvas wall tents, and gravel pathways—each designed to enhance the wilderness experience for our students. We are ready to greet the change and the wide-open Utah views!

Coming Soon...

...a new Open Sky video! The video was filmed in mid-September as the fall colors peaked in the San Juan mountains. *Image above: Captured September 18, 2018 - on expedition with Team E.