Summer in the Great Outdoors

At Open Sky, we have always viewed the outdoors as an environment for healing, adventure, reflection, challenge, and just about anything in-between. "Our state has some of the most beautiful natural open spaces in the world," says Colorado Governor, Jared Polis. Throughout this issue of SKYlights, we hope you'll take a moment to gain new insight into our clinical approach, listen to new episodes of the SKYlights podcast, learn about our community outreach, and discover more about the foundational components of our work in this unsurpassed wilderness setting. 

Building Family Connection in the Digital Age

Nick Lenderking-Brill, MA, LPCC • Clinical Therapist • Adolescent Boys

Article Excerpt: If you’re reading this, you are probably well-aware of the damaging effects screen overuse can have on familial connection. So, let’s talk about what you can do to curb this pattern, and revitalize the felt sense of love in your family. Human relationships are naturally messy, full of conflict, vulnerability, and opportunities for self-reflection. When we filter conversations through digital media...

Empowering Strategies for Managing Anxiety

Mary Zaunbrecher, MS, LPC • Clinical Therapist • Young Adults & Adolescent Girls

Article Excerpt: The fight or flight response is a function of the sympathetic nervous system... Your body is mobilizing oxygen to the muscles, preparing to quite literally fight back or flee from danger. You can see why this would be necessary for life-threatening situations. However, this response is out of proportion to the causes of general or social anxiety for many people. This is why...

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy’s SKYlights Podcast returns with brand new episodes throughout the summer! Executive Director Emily Fernandes hosts new conversations with our clinical experts on a variety of topics such as healthy communication, parenting styles, the link between trauma and addiction, to name a few. 

Click here to preview upcoming episodes! Be sure to tune in to today's episode of the SKYlights Podcast: “How to Build a 'Communication Toolbox' and Improve Family Relationships” with Clinical Therapist Nick Lenderking-Brill.

SKYlights Podcast Episode 18: Understanding the Link Between Trauma, the Nervous System, and Addiction

with Brian Leidal, MA, LPC • Clinical Therapist • Young Adults & Adolescent Boys

In this episode, Clinical Therapist Brian Leidal walks us through his understanding, research, and expertise on the topic of trauma and addiction, and the link between. The foundation of any conversation or therapeutic work on trauma begins with a grounded nervous system and healthy connection: to others and to self. Tune in to learn more!

Instagram Takeover: Mike Higgs, Assistant Health Director

Thank you to Mike Higgs, Assistant Health Director, for taking over our Instagram account for a week! Mike has extensive experience in the field at Open Sky, with just under 500 field days as a guide, 3.5 years as a field medic, and coverage experience in field management, operations, and transport. Mike has a real photographer's eye which is evident in all of the beautiful images he captured in the field.

We hope you were able to catch the takeover! If you missed it, head to @open_sky_wilderness on Instagram to see his "Story Highlights" at the top of our profile!

Open Sky Donates to Mancos FoodShare and Navajo Nation

For the past two years, Mancos FoodShare has offered free summer lunches for kids in Mancos, Colorado (the location of Open Sky's operations hub). While organizers couldn't plan their typical fun, social gatherings due to COVID-19, they have been offering lunch kits for families to feed children throughout the summer. Open Sky was excited to support this effort and donated all of the peanut butter for the summer program once again this year!
Mancos FoodShare is also coordinating food and supply donations for Navajo Nation, which has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. In support of these efforts, Open Sky furnished 330 bottles of hand sanitizer for direct donation to Navajo Nation. Kudos to Mancos FoodShare for their work in our community!

Weekly Farmer's Market

Open Sky Farm Manager Brittney Meyer also runs a farm with her family, which hosts a farmer's market and produce delivery for the Open Sky community every week! Brittney has worked for Open Sky since 2009 and has managed the Open Sky greenhouse since she helped conceptualize and design it eight years ago. Brittney and her family are happy to provide a direct source of locally grown food and herbs for Open Sky staff.

The Meyer family looks forward to providing food handled only by their family members using best agricultural practices and adhering to all CDC and Open Sky guidelines for social distancing, hygiene, and face coverings.

STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Tori Moon, MS, Assistant Field Director

Tori Moon came to Open Sky through personal experience. Her brother attended Open Sky and went through an amazing transformation. Tori appreciated being included so she could learn more about his past and how she could be supportive in the future. That emphasis on including the family throughout the student’s journey is what attracted her to Open Sky.

Tori joined the team as a field guide in 2017. As a field guide and eventually a senior guide, Tori valued supporting students in becoming their best selves. She became Assistant Field Director earlier this year and we are grateful for the way she continues to carry out her work as a supervisor, mentor, and leader!

Welcome Baby Carson!

Congratulations to Family Care Coordinator Hunter King and her husband on the birth of their first child! Carson was born on Tuesday, June 16. "We are thrilled and very much in love with this little trooper," said Hunter.

Celebrating 9 Years at Open Sky!

Congrats to Clinical Therapist Kirsten Bolt, MEd, LMFT!

"Kirsten was AMAZING!! She was very supportive of us and she did such an impressive job of challenging us to work towards the goals and issues she identified. She was able to identify the issues that were so deeply present for our daughter. This was the first time that we have ever been able to tap into that. Life-changing!" - Alumni Parent, 2020

Celebrating 6 Years at Open Sky!

Congrats to Clinical Therapist Chris Blankenship, LCSW!

"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done to help our son and our family. We will be forever indebted to you, Chris. The kindness, caring, honesty, and support that you have shown to all of us is immeasurable. You have a special gift and I feel grateful and blessed to know you." - Alumni Parent, 2020

Open Sky in the Weekly

The online magazine “The Weekly" included insight from Open Sky Executive Director Emily Fernandes and Clinical Therapist Chris Blankenship in their article, "The Nature Cure" on June 23.

The article describes how wilderness therapy and the outdoors helps young people manage stress and find healthy connection in the midst of COVID-19.

Open Sky Featured in Osprey Packs Blog

Open Sky outfits students with the highest quality gear, including Osprey backpacks. We are grateful to be featured in their “Osprey Stories,” which shares inspiration, stories, and education from the Osprey community. Our Osprey Stories article, “Three Ways to Increase Your Health and Happiness During Quarantine,” includes tips for tending to your emotional and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check it out!

Durango Magazine Features Open Sky

Don't miss our feature in the summer/fall 2020 edition of Durango Magazine! Durango is the perfect place for Open Sky and we are so grateful for our local community. 

Open Sky in Spoke + Blossom and Yoga + Life

We are thrilled to be featured in YOGA + LIFE and SPOKE + BLOSSOM online! Check out the articles for healthy ways to focus on your personal well-being and tips for enjoying the outdoors.

Snapshot from the field: Thank you to Senior Guide Danit Cohen for this beautiful summer expo shot! 
"Everything in nature invites us constantly to be what we are."
     - Gretel Ehrlich (American travel writer, poet and essayist)