A Time to Reflect...

The end of one year and the approach of a new one provides the ideal opportunity to reflect. How have you evolved over the past year? What do you appreciate about where you are now? And what new paths would you like to take moving forward? In this issue of SKYlights, join us as we explore these questions. We provide a snapshot of how 2021 unfolded for Open Sky, share articles, resources, and inspiration from our community, and take a look at what's on the horizon for 2022.


2021 has been an exciting year for Open Sky. Over the past 12 months, we:


New Year, New Challenges: Building Confidence Outside the Comfort Zone

Mariah Loftin | MA, LPC | Clinical Director and Senior Clinical Therapist for Young Adults 

Article excerpt: Taking risks means we learn how to develop grit and draw upon the most resilient parts of ourselves. It’s through stepping outside our comfort zones that we find richness in challenges, embrace and create change in our lives, and experience success.


Understanding and Responding to Your Teen's Defiant Behavior: Essential Strategies for Parents

Jonathan Mitchell | MA, LPC | Senior Clinical Therapist for Adolescent Boys 

Article excerpt: The tendency to want to fix or problem solve is a natural impulse, especially when the people we care about are in high-stress situations. The goal for a parent in the initial stages of conversation with a defiant child is not to create remedies but to rather show up in a curious, nonjudgmental way and seek to understand what your child is going through.


Living in Alignment with Values: Get to Know Brooke Lederer, Clinical Therapist for Adolescent Girls

Brooke first joined Open Sky as a field guide in 2016. Now a Clinical Therapist, she uses a holistic and strengths-based approach to support students and families in their growth and healing. Fueled by a desire to support others and connect them to the power of wilderness, Brooke strives to meet people where they're at with compassion and care while also holding loving boundaries. 


How We Show Up in the World: Helping Early Adolescents Understand Themselves and Others

Liz Lucarelli | MS, NCC, LCMHC, RPT | Early Adolescent Program Director 

Article excerpt: At Open Sky, we help early adolescent students develop the skills to build the connections they desire and learn how to navigate complex social challenges. We also encourage them to begin exploring who they are and what values drive their actions. Ultimately, understanding themselves better and experiencing meaningful connection in relationships lays a solid foundation for our students entering adolescence.


Arrival Day at Open Sky: The First Step on a Journey of Healing and Self-Discovery

Article excerpt: It is of the utmost importance to Open Sky that families feel they can trust the path they have embarked upon with their child. Providing a positive arrival day for both parents and students is essential, ensuring that from the very first meeting, Open Sky families feel secure and supported in the decision they’ve made on their journeys of healing and discovery. 


Honoring Connection and Community: Holiday Traditions at Open Sky 

Article excerpt: At Open Sky, we work hard to incorporate special activities into the holiday season to help students feel welcome and supported while spending this time of year in the field. Holidays are a particularly memorable time at Open Sky. The traditions we create help connect us to one another and imbue this time of year with special meaning. 


Field Staff Reflect on Their Passion for This Work

Article excerpt: Our field staff are the heart of Open Sky. They are with students day and night, providing necessary structure and containment and supporting students in becoming their full selves. They are compassionate, playful, strong, creative, and essential to our program. In this article, members of the Open Sky field team share what makes this work special and why they love what they do.


Haley Meyers is one of the most senior guides working in the field at Open Sky. She takes compassion to a new level and is a committed, powerful, and considerate mentor. A self-described nature geek, Hayley most values helping students explore the beauty of the natural world and fosters students’ creative expressions whenever possible. She also loves to play and laugh and infuses a sense of humor into her work. 

Chase Colley helps keep the wilderness in the therapy. He shares his love of nature with students and loves seeing them achieve things they never thought possible. He enjoys building strong relationships and values the opportunity to help students through challenging moments. By teaching skills and coming alongside them during hikes, Chase helps students grow in self-efficacy, pride, and confidence.

Open Sky Welcomes Ben Allen to the Admissions Team

Please join us in welcoming Ben Allen to Open Sky as Admissions Counselor! Ben has extensive experience in both wilderness therapy and admissions. He has worked as a field guide, medical and logistics coordinator, and program director for a wilderness therapy program. He also has many years of experience as Admissions Director for a private boarding school. 

"Ben is caring, hardworking, and energetic," said Tere Snodgrass, Admissions Director for Open Sky. "His prior experience and desire to help families in crisis make him a perfect fit for our team."


The family support was totally unexpected and hugely appreciated. Actually, it was life changing for me as a parent. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude for this part of the program. 
Open Sky was a profound experience for me. I feel like it opened up a completely new and honest way of communication for our family. All families should have this experience.
Open Sky is the greatest family help we have ever received. The personal aspects were done so well. Our family is better. We will hear each other in the future and our trust is stronger. 


It’s difficult to pick one favorite part of Open Sky. The therapists, the setting, the activities, the guides, the communication...
Altogether, it worked for us! 

Open Sky holds families with so much love and support and gives us the skills and hope for deeper connections with ourselves and our family. We could not have picked a more supportive place for our son.



In 2022 we’re looking forward to: 

  • launching an exciting new resource for job seekers interested in joining the Open Sky team.   

  • providing the highest quality experience for our students and families by continuing to make infrastructure updates to our Utah base camp.  

  • premiering a new season of the SKYlights Podcast, with episodes launching this winter.
  • seeing you at conferences, Sky's The Limit Fund events, alumni events, and tours of Open Sky! We look forward to seeing you in person - hopefully!

Keep an eye on our website, social media channels, and future issues of the SKYlights Newsletter for other exciting program updates in the year ahead!