Check out the August edition of SKYlights from Open Sky Wilderness Therapy!

Late Summer in the High Country!

There is nothing quite like summer in the high country of the San Juans. The southwest Colorado wilderness is the perfect backdrop for the important work that our students are accomplishing day in and day out. The challenge of summiting mountain peaks, the wonder of a vibrant columbine wildflower, and the solace of viewing the milky way in the clear night sky…these are the elements that become an integral part of a student’s therapeutic experience. This August 2019 issue of SKYlights infuses glimpses of the challenge and wonder of summer at Open Sky. Enjoy!

Congratulations to our 2019 Jumping Mouse Award Recipient: Emily "Jonesie" Jones!

Open Sky honors Jonesie as the 2019 "Jumping Mouse" at this week's Wilderness Therapy Symposium! Learn about the award and Jonesie's guiding journey below!

Interview Excerpt: My training in January 2017 was rainy, muddy, and cold the entire week. To add to the situation, I was sick with a cold which kept me coughing into the night. The gear I brought on training was only rated for summer camping and I was not used to the high elevation being from Indiana. I remember hiking out of Squaw Canyon and being the slowest member in our training. Feeling a sense of dread and weakness in my body frustrated me because I wasn’t able to accurately display my strengths.

This was the beginning of my Jumping Mouse journey....We nick-named our training cohort the “mighty muddy mice,” as all of us resonated with how the mouse represents the quiet observer at the beginning of... 

NEW Video Spotlight: Catching Up with Adolescent Boys Therapist, Morgan Seymour, LCSW

As a therapist for adolescent boys, Morgan Seymour, LCSW expertly blends compassion with a direct and effective therapeutic approach.

Check out Morgan's video and learn more about her approach to working with adolescent boys. Morgan works primarily with boys who internalize their feelings, avoid conflict, and struggle with social skills. She tends to work with students who struggle with anxiety, depression, gaming abuse, non-verbal learning disorder, and substance use as a secondary issue. 

Morgan approaches each student as an individual and challenges him in ways that are meaningful to his unique work. She focuses on her students' strengths and helps guide them to use those strengths in areas that are challenging to them.

Activating Potential: A Conversation with Clinical Director & Therapist, Sebastiaan Zuidweg

Discover more about Sebastiaan, his solution-oriented leadership style, and his relationship-based approach to working with students and families.

Interview Excerpt: Wilderness therapy isn’t just therapy in wilderness, it’s about integrating the qualities of nature into the treatment. There is mysticism and wonder about why exactly nature is so powerful. That keeps me really passionate about this work…the wonder that comes from just being outside under stars or experiencing an owl flying over the group around the campfire. Those moments make the experience more salient and special.  

As Clinical Director and therapist, I have the best of both worlds. In the therapist role, I work with the students and families in a beautiful natural setting, collaborating with field guides and the rest of the treatment team. As Clinical Director, I also get to support the Clinical Team and activate their potential as therapists. The job feels really important to me and I carry a lot of pride in this role...

Driven by Success: The Important Role of the Open Sky Transporter

A Conversation with Transport Manager, Evan Higgins

Article Excerpt:
We take to heart the fact that as transporters, we have the opportunity to set the tone for a student’s experience here. As Transport Manager, I have successfully completed hundreds of transports over the last three and a half years at Open Sky. While many transports have a similar flow, each transport is unique. I value how, as a team and an organization, we are able to adapt to meet the specific needs of each arriving student. We have a highly professional team at Open Sky and can individualize care...

Careers at Open Sky: Opportunities to Make a Difference!

For minimum requirements and application instructions, visit our CAREERS PAGE

Psychiatric Nurse/APRN: The position provides psychiatric treatment and medication management for adolescent and young adult clients; communicates with family members regarding clients’ treatment progress and relevant medication changes; and collaborates with a multidisciplinary treatment team of Medical, Clinical, Field, and Program staff. 

Clinical Therapist: This is a full or part-time position to support our innovative, holistic wilderness therapy program for young adults and adolescents based in Durango, CO. Responsibilities include: carrying a caseload; providing individual and group therapy; facilitating weekly phone calls with parents and professionals; delivering clinical training to field guides, and attending national conferences. Visit our careers page for additional details and requirements.

Family Services Therapist: This is a full or part-time position to support our innovative, holistic wilderness therapy program for our Family Services team based in Durango, CO. Primary duties include working 3 days in the field (2 overnights) and 1 day in the office. Primary responsibilities include facilitating Family Quests and Wellness Weekends, offering weekly phone sessions with parents, and participating as a member of an integrated treatment team.

Episode 6 • How Will Wilderness Therapy Benefit Me?

Featuring: Mariah Loftin, MA, LPC, Clinical Therapist - Young Adults

What's the point of wilderness therapy? In this episode, Young Adults Therapist Mariah Loftin answers frequently asked questions about wilderness therapy and explains the benefits of therapy conducted outdoors. Among them, instead of returning after a therapy session to the same ruts and patterns in your life, you are immersed in a supportive and healthy environment—the wilderness—which leads to lasting change.

Episode 7 • Preparing Your Child For The Road And Cultivating Resilience

Featuring: Jonathan Mitchell, MA, LPC, Clinical Therapist - Adolescent Boys

"Lawnmower parenting" or "Helicopter parenting.” The common theme among these terms is a relationship in which parents aren't allowing their kids to experience challenge or develop a sense of self-confidence. In this episode, clinical therapist, Jonathan Mitchell explains how parents can shift out of these common parenting struggles and help their children build confidence and resilience.

Welcome, Baby Blankenship!

Chris and Sterling Blankenship are excited to welcome Willow Cannon Blankenship! Willow was born on July 19, 2019 and is enjoying summer in Colorado. During her first month of life she has come to enjoy hikes in the high country, watching Rockies baseball, and talking about her feelings at 3:00 a.m. Chris and Sterling are looking forward to more of the former and less of the latter.

Cycling for Courageous Kids

Finance Director, Erin Meyer, MBA, MSF recently biked over 100 miles and roughly 7,500 ft. in elevation gain through mountain passes in the Courage Classic bicycle tour!

The Courage Classic is a fundraiser for Children's Hospital Colorado in Denver. Erin's team, the Durango Derailers, pedaled to raise funds specifically for families and children in the SW Colorado and NW New Mexico regions. Open Sky is a proud sponsor of the Durango Derailers and the Courage Classic! Thank you, Erin!

It is still possible to donate to the cause! CLICK HERE to help alleviate travel costs and other financial burdens for families in our community seeking pediatric treatment in Denver.


Open Sky Team Represents at Wilderness Therapy Symposium

Program Director, Danny Frazer; Executive Director, Emily Fernandes, and Family Wellness Counselor, Norman Elizondo present and share their expertise at the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council's Wilderness Therapy Symposium this week!

Open Sky is also thrilled to sponsor the Friday night Jumping Mouse Ceremony and Dinner, honoring the grit, excellence, and dedication demonstrated by field staff across the industry - including our own Jumping Mouse, Emily "Jonesie" Jones! (See profile on Jonesie above!)

Dr. Aaron Wallis Attends American Psychological 

Young Adults Clinical Therapist, Aaron Wallis, PhD, LP had the opportunity to attend the APA Convention in Chicago earlier this month. He participated in discussions and sessions surrounding new therapeutic approaches to depression and anxiety, better informed post-concussion treatment, and strategies to improve psychological evaluation accuracy for people with substance use issues. Dr. Aaron is committed to continual learning and immersing himself in the latest research on effective treatment.

Reaching For The Stars!

Sky’s the Limit Fund’s “Reaching for the Stars” fundraising breakfast event takes place in Denver on September 26! This is a free event that will inspire and educate the Denver community through stories from youth and parents who have walked the wilderness therapy journey and transformed their lives.

We look forward to joining the Denver community in alleviating the financial burden of wilderness for families in need. Visit the STLF website for more information and to reserve a seat! Space is limited!

Open Sky Alumni Reunion to be held in Denver!

We are thrilled to host another Open Sky Alumni Reunion on Thursday, September 26 in Denver! Our reunions are for any Open Sky alumni families and students. Please join us from 6:30 - 8:30 PM for tacos, tasty bites, conversation, and an opportunity to reConnect with local Open Sky Alumni and Open Sky Staff! Save the date and email for more details and information about how to register.

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."
— Aristotle

Adolescent Boys Team Helios certainly experienced the marvelous in nature during this expedition in early August! Follow @open_sky_wilderness on Instagram to catch more snapshots and inspiration from the field!



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