Check Out What's Blooming at Open Sky!

Days grow longer. Birds sing. Flowers blossom. As signs of spring emerge, we're reminded of the beauty in change and feel energized by new possibilities. From alumni testimonials to staff spotlights to articles from our clinical experts, this edition of SKYlights is full of opportunities to learn and grow. Whether you're looking to cultivate therapeutic skills, integrate academics into treatment, or explore a meaningful job opportunity, this issue has something for you!

Healing Through Self Awareness: Treating Complex Clinical Issues in Wilderness

Maura Nolan | LPC, ACMHC, NCC | Clinical Therapist for Young Adults

Preview: Maura Nolan frequently works with students and families struggling to navigate complex mental health issues. Depression, anxiety, mania, trauma, psychosis, addiction—they all leave a wake of destruction in their midst if left untreated, one that affects not just the individual, but the entire family unit. Maura helps students and families build self-awareness and provide them with the tools, education, compassion, and support they need to move from surviving to thriving. Click below to learn more about Maura's approach!


Game Plan: Treating Excessive Gaming in Pre-Teens

Mark Sobel | LCSW | Clinical Therapist for Early Adolescent Boys 

Preview: Video games are a normal part of many pre-teens’ lives and, when used in moderation, can provide a sense of fun, creativity, and social connection. But when does gaming become a problem? How much is too much? In this blog, Mark Sobel, Clinical Therapist for early adolescent boys, discusses the symptoms of excessive gaming and its impacts on pre-teens, how wilderness therapy can help, and what parents can do to support healthier habits in their early adolescent children. Click the link below to learn more about Mark's approach!


Open Sky's Weekly Family Pathway Class: Essential Skill Building and Support for Parents

Preview: A key aspect of family engagement at Open Sky is the Family Pathway class, an educational hour each week for parents to learn more about topics relevant to their child’s treatment. The Family Pathway class is an example of Open Sky’s systemic approach, highlighting the importance of understanding an individual not in isolation but as a part of their family and providing therapeutic treatment for both the student and their parents. Click the link below to learn more about this 11-week curriculum designed for parents!


Wellness at Open Sky: Cultivating Healthy Relationships and Lives for Our Community

Amy Hartline | MA | Wellness Director

Preview: Wellness Director Amy Hartline joined the Open Sky team in 2018 and has over 20 years of experience in wilderness therapy and outdoor education. In this Q&A, Amy discusses the importance of learning how to regulate ourselves, cultivate connection, and the ways in which Open Sky’s wellness efforts support health and quality of life for students, families, and staff. Click the link below to learn more about Amy's experience and approach!

Did You Know? Young Adults Can Integrate Treatment and Education!

When registered for a minimum of three credit hours in the approved courses, families can use funds from 529 plans and AmeriCorps vouchers to pay for treatment at Open Sky and for Western Colorado University course credits. 

Many young adults who are experiencing challenges with mental health, substance use, or independent living have to interrupt or delay attending college. At Open Sky, however, young adults can choose to continue to pursue their education by enrolling in a three-credit-hour class through Western Colorado University while receiving treatment. Click the link to learn more about earning college credits at Open Sky!

The Power of Curiosity: Asking Questions to Foster Connection with Your Child

Liz Lucarelli | MS, NCC, LCMHC, RPT | Early Adolescent Program Clinical Director and Parent Coach

Preview: Early Adolescent Clinical Program Director Liz Lucarelli has extensive experience working with kids ages 1214 and their families in wilderness settings. In this article, Liz explains how curiosity can help parents and children increase awareness and build connection during early adolescence. Click below to learn more!

Finding Courage in Connection: Open Sky Alum Isabelle Shares Her Story

Preview: Before Open Sky, Isabelle struggled with her communication skills and didn’t share her emotions with anyone. She bottled up her feelings and frustrations and turned to unhealthy activities to cope. Isabelle’s time at Open Sky helped her learn to express herself, form meaningful connections with others, and practice the intrapersonal skills she needed to lead a happier and more fulfilling life. Click the link below to read Isabelle's story!

Join Our Team! Open Sky is Hiring Therapists in our Family Services Department

While students receive treatment in wilderness at Open Sky, families participate in a parallel process. They learn about the foundations of effective communication and practice essential skills to complement their child’s work in the field. At the heart of this process is Open Sky’s team of therapists in Family Services.  

In this Q&A, Family Services Manager Austin Presas details what working as a therapist in Family Services looks like, who would thrive in this position, and her favorite aspects of working for Open Sky. Click below to learn more!


Chris Moeller joined the Open Sky team as a field guide in 2007 and has garnered over 2,275 field days. He has held a variety of roles central to Open Sky's operation, including Senior Guide, Clinical Therapist, Field Medic, and Program Mentor. An expert in wilderness therapy, Chris has committed himself to a life of self-discovery and growth and believes that all humans have the capacity to thrive. We are so fortunate to have him as a leader and role model for the entire Open Sky community!

Mariah Loftin joined Open Sky in 2012 and has been an integral member of the Clinical team ever since. From supporting field guides on her team to using her position to invest in the growth of other therapists, Mariah has always maintained a passion and skill for leadership and development. As Clinical Director, Mariah is attuned to the evolving needs of Open Sky's community and leads the treatment team in delivering transformative therapeutic experiences for students and families.

Peter Thorburn began his Open Sky journey in 2012 as a field guide. After completing 200 days in the field as a guide, Peter joined the Operations team. As Operations Coordinator, Peter values the opportunity to interact with a diverse range of students and co-workers and help create an environment that supports curiosity, understanding, and healthy development. He is consistently inspired by the Open Sky community and the healing power of nature.

Grant Helmus joined Open Sky in 2017 with a rich history of wilderness therapy experience. At Open Sky, he has worked as a Senior Guide, Field Manager, and moved into the role of Transition Mentor in 2020. As a Transition Mentor, Grant supports families as they reunite for graduation and embark on next steps. He experiences fulfillment daily as he serves students, families, and his team members and is thrilled by the opportunity to help them heal and strengthen relationships.

As Assistant Admissions Director, Shahara Davis understands the complexities parents face when making the decision to place a loved one in treatment. She is known for her compassion and empathy as she supports families through the process. We are so grateful to have Shahara on the Open Sky team!

Stephanos Calligas came to Open Sky in January 2017 with extensive wilderness experience and has been thriving ever since. As a Senior Guide, Stephanos values the opportunity to sit around a fire, eat dinner, and hike next to students while also teaching them vital communication, coping, and mindfulness skills.