Author Topic: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado  (Read 15767 times)

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Offline SUCK IT

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Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #60 on: June 05, 2010, 12:55:05 AM »
How many kids have died in treatment programs? Now compare this number to the percentage of troubled teens who end up harming themselves through drug abuse, or suicide. Death is possible outside of treatment programs, and one of the main motivators for parents seeking help for their child in the first place. The fact is the chances are extremely remote that a child will die in a treatment program. If a parent knows their kid is doing addictive and deadly drugs, what are the chances the kid will die from that? What if the kid has a close call and the parent comes home and they are passed out and survive an overdose on heroine, and the child still refuses treatment? In this case what would the average fornits poster argue happen? Because generally speaking a normal teenager's chances of harm are relatively low, but once a parent realizes they are using drugs, or drinking and driving, or any other number of dangerous behaviors the chances go up very quickly. It is at this point parents make the decision to seek treatment, and most will come to the conclusion the chances are greater the child will benefit and be safer in treatment than not.

You cannot take the most emotional and damaging singular events within an entire industry and attempt to indict it from top to bottom, it's not accurate. You can sit on top of a list of dead children and think it helps your argument, but this offers no solutions to parents with troubled teens in need of help. It's an effective position for one thing only, and that is offering up anti program propaganda which you seem particular eager to do. In this role I can understand your usage of these examples, but you are also forgetting their parents sought out treatment for a reason. Would offering no alternative or solutions have prevented them from sending their child to treatment? In this way fornits continues to fail parents because it's more interested in propagandizing than providing an accurate representation about the chances of success or failure within a treatment program. You should think to yourself, how can I use my insight to make this industry safer? Instead of attacking the industry perhaps consider starting a legitimate organization that people will listen to. You can help improve programs, which in turn will help everybody. Sitting on the sidelines throwing mud helps nobody. Think about it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
one day at a time

Offline Paul St. John

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Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #61 on: June 05, 2010, 12:58:22 AM »
I actually do have some ideas.

I have been thinking about them awhile.

I wouldn t be the person to do it though.  It's not what I want to do..

.. but I have ideas.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anne Bonney

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Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #62 on: June 08, 2010, 02:23:46 PM »
Quote from: "Whooter"
Quote from: "Pile of Dead Kids"
A pedophile and his assistant go around in a windowless white van marked "free candy". The pedophile gets arrested for obvious reasons. The assistant gets away with it.

A few days later the assistant is seen driving his own windowless green van marked "free toys".

We should give the former assistant a chance, right? I mean, how do we know for sure that he's doing the same thing as his boss used to?

Exactly, good analogy, People are not pedophiles by association, Pile.  If you hang out with gay people for a few years it doesn't mean you will become gay.

Who's talking about gay people??  Pile was talking about pedophiles.  Why are you attempting to conflate the two?

Most disingenuous poster EVAR!


And seriously?  Pile's analogy?  You'd send your kid into the assistant's van?  Wow....no wonder you  have such an affinity for programs.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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AA is a cult http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult.html

The more boring a child is, the more the parents, when showing off the child, receive adulation for being good parents-- because they have a tame child-creature in their house.  ~~  Frank Zappa

Offline Anne Bonney

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Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #63 on: June 08, 2010, 02:46:30 PM »
Quote from: "SUCK IT"
You cannot take the most emotional and damaging singular events within an entire industry and attempt to indict it from top to bottom, it's not accurate.

It is entirely accurate to indict programs that use these type of tactics.  They are completely unwarranted and have been proven to do more damage, not help.

http://www.teenhelponline.com/trust-your-teen.html

Some confrontation groups use strong group pressure to break down a at risk youth’s defenses in order to compel “honesty.” A target of such a group is sometimes referred to as “being on the hot sea.” Trying to defend against interrogation but subjected to intense attack from the group, the at risk youth eventually breaks under the strain of prolonged confrontation. Defenses are shattered, a flood of emotion comes forth, and the inner person is bared for the scrutiny of the group. The climate of the confrontation groups is one of invasion and exposure.


http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency ... 000919.htm

Treatment

Successful treatment requires close involvement of the child's family. Parents can learn techniques to help manage their child's problem behavior.

In cases of abuse, the child may need to be removed from the family and placed in a less chaotic environment. Treatment with medications or talk therapy may be used for depression and attention-deficit disorder, which commonly accompany conduct disorder.

Many "behavioral modification" schools, "wilderness programs," and "boot camps" are sold to parents as solutions for conduct disorder. These may use a form of "attack therapy" or "confrontation," which can actually be harmful. There is no research support for such techniques. Research suggests that treating children at home, along with their families, is more effective.


If you are considering an inpatient program, be sure to check it out thoroughly. Serious injuries and deaths have been associated with some programs. They are not regulated in many states.



Quote
You can sit on top of a list of dead children and think it helps your argument, but this offers no solutions to parents with troubled teens in need of help.

Primum non nocere.

Quote
In this role I can understand your usage of these examples, but you are also forgetting their parents sought out treatment for a reason.


I'm sure they did, but that doesn't make their "reason" valid.

 
Quote
You should think to yourself, how can I use my insight to make this industry safer?


By eliminating it and recommending real help instead.

Quote
Instead of attacking the industry perhaps consider starting a legitimate organization that people will listen to. You can help improve programs, which in turn will help everybody.

So your solution is just more regulation then?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
traight, St. Pete, early 80s
AA is a cult http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult.html

The more boring a child is, the more the parents, when showing off the child, receive adulation for being good parents-- because they have a tame child-creature in their house.  ~~  Frank Zappa

Offline westbeth

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Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #64 on: January 26, 2011, 03:52:11 PM »
I was at Open Sky in the over 18 program. They were not abusive.

 I was in the voluntary program, of course. In theory I could have left at any time. In practice, you have to walk ten miles to a phone with your 50-pound pack, which was not an option I seriously considered. You also get a guide haranguing you the whole way, and an ‘in case we need emotional blackmail’ letter from your parents. Apparently in the under 18 group they took everyone’s shoes at lights out to prevent runaways. [and encourage bedwetting, presumably.]

The guides in my group were pretty clearly sticking to the rules, and the policies were reasonable and safe, as long as never being unmonitored seems reasonable. They did have me strip, squat, and cough, but they never touched me. They made an itemized list of all the belongings I brought, taped the boxes shut, and stored them while I watched. While I was there, nothing escalated to the point where physical restraint would be reasonable, and nobody was allowed to touch anyone else, except for hugs when permission had been explicitly given. Obviously, packs were adjusted, blisters were taped, we gave a hand over rocks, but nothing hinky.

Nobody really got disciplined for anything much while I was there, except for things where you lost privileges like using a knife or going on extra excursions.

For me, Open Sky was 85% a waste of time and 15% helpful. It was basically really frequent group therapy, with a (fairly gentle) dose of boot camp, and wilderness mysticism.  They keep you busy 24/7 – basically no unscheduled time. You’re either doing the basic hiking/camping stuff, or you’re working on self-reflection assignments. The assignments were not helpful for me. If you’ve spent more than 2 minutes in therapy, you’ve already done all of it, though maybe not in such an organized way, or with a whole group of people looking over your shoulder. Being required to journal every day was helpful.
Open Sky might have been more helpful if I had been dealing with substance abuse issues instead of depression. Maybe the incredibly authoritarian rules and emotional manipulation would have been easier to swallow if it actually had a purpose with me.

We didn’t spend much time with actual therapists – once a week, with a fairly defined script – not especially helpful. The guides did most of the heavy lifting, on a game plan they cleared with the therapists.

They did take into account individual capabilities. The most strenuous stuff we did was carrying firewood and water for our camp, and if you said you couldn’t take a full load, you would still have to carry a partial load.  Peer pressure to carry your weight was definitely there, but we also helped each other out when we had trouble with physical stuff.

The other 3-7 people in your group are intimately involved with your work. They all have their own issues. Watching the other people in my group, I think Open Sky would have been totally useless if it hadn’t been my idea, and if I hadn’t gone into it wanting to do the work. Even starting from there, the almost totally inflexible rules and blatant manipulation kind of alienated me, and I spent a lot of time reminding myself that even though much of it seemed stupid, I had decided to try it their way, and it wouldn’t help if I wasn’t sincere.

I got the impression not everyone had that attitude; one girl in particular was incredibly two-faced – what we said around the guides and what she said to the rest of us were very different. Everyone was there voluntarily, but some people it was because they had gotten an ultimatum from their parents. The people who decided themselves got a lot more done; one of the other guys was basically just telling them what they wanted to hear.

Going in, I had no idea what it was actually going to be like. They didn’t give any hint of the ten-mile to a phone rule, and I asked about it. The receptionist I talked to gave the impression that a few materials like books could be kept if they got approval, and then they didn’t do any thing about the stuff I had asked them to get approved, so I have no idea if it would have passed or not.

All in all, Open Sky seems safe if not generally effective, but people definitely need to be wary.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline 9403390

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Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #65 on: January 30, 2011, 12:51:58 AM »
I know this forum is about questions and answers but since there has been a long discussion I figured this thread was an exception as it has not been moved to another forum.
I didnt know there was a wilderness option for young adults because I figured most wouldnt go. What this previous poster highlighted to me though is the absurd double standard that seems to be a common theme in wilderness programs. Kids are told constantly that honesty is the best policy. Not just in this industry but at home from their parents. I came home the other day from work to find my twin toddlers in trouble for lying after spilling a green drink on a white couch. Their mother told them that were not in trouble for the spill but for trying to cover it up. I dont think this mentality is unique to my house and many parents who are frustrated enough with badly behaved teens to look at this option seem to be most frustrated if their kid tells lies. So if honesrty and moral integrity is one of the primary values that parents want their kids to have from going to wilderness, it is staggering that a program is so blatantly willing to lie.

Telling someone that they are free to walk away from a treatment program but doing everything possible to manipulate them out of this choice or make it physically difficult is blatantly dishonest and immoral. Battered wives are technically free to leave their abusive relationship but their partner often makes it exceedingly hard to do so. Nobody would say that this is OK. If you really wanted to set a young adult up to have a sucessful experience that got them back on track, surely giving them a detailed picture of what it entailed that was free of any manipulative behaviors would actually be more likely to get them on board. Recognizing that at 18 they are legally considered able to make choices for themselves and working through choices with them seems the only logical thing to do. If a place is not willing to do this then it is time to question the motives. Even prisoners who participate in rehab programs are given a detailed understanding of what is involved and in most cases the choice to sign on.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline lillith

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Re: Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #66 on: August 18, 2011, 10:27:13 AM »
If you would like some first hand information about Open Sky - here you go.  I sent my son (then 16) to Open Sky.  He was suicidal, self harming, clinically depressed and self medicating with drugs and alcohol.   My son's father was also clinically depressed.  I am a good, strong mother and did the best that I could but my home had become a toxic place for my son.  Those of you who think that parents can always help a child better than someone from the outside hadn't been in my house.   Did I make mistakes?  Of course.  Haven't you all?  Could I handle the situation?  I didn't think so - Things were going downhill fast.  All three of us needed help by the time that I made the decision to send my son to Open Sky.

I believe that Open Sky saved his life.  It certainly changed all of our lives.  Do I know for certain he would have died if he hadn't gone to Open Sky?  Nope.  But I wasn't willing to take the risk.

My son did not want to go but realized that he needed help.  After 15 weeks in the wilderness, my son came home knowing that there was hope in the world for him.  He gained self confidence and skills to deal with addiction and depression.  There were still struggles when he came home but I can say that 2 years later, he is on a much different path than the one he had been on before I sent him away.

Open Sky makes sure that parents are engaged in the healing process with their children as the home environment is often part of the problem.  I went to counseling, his dad went to counseling, we went to counseling together to help my son heal.  Open Sky gave all of us the tools to move toward a healthier, happier life.

Is it right for everyone?  I don't think so.  However, I do believe that there need to be choices for parents who are desperately trying to save their children's lives.  It takes a lot of work on everyone's part and for me, taking my son out of the home and sending him to Open Sky was the first part of that work, admitting that my best wasn't good enough and that I needed help.  I didn't just drop my son off and say "fix him".  I engaged and worked with Open Sky to make my life better so that I could help my son.

I hope this helps anyone out there who has to make the same terrible decisions that I did.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Oscar

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Frostbites treated in relationship with Open Sky Wilderness in Colorado
« Reply #67 on: January 24, 2016, 03:13:32 AM »
Quote from: The Durango Herald
Open Sky chief says agency ‘deeply concerned’ about frostbite cases
By Jonathan Romeo Herald staff writer, January 16 2016

The Durango-based Open Sky Wilderness Therapy program could face licensing and accreditation repercussions following a December incident in which six students were sent to a hospital for frostbite and two of them required an emergency flight to Denver for further care.

According to Open Sky’s CEO and founder Aaron Fernandes, the students were treated for frostbite on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29 at Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez after being out in nearly zero-degree temperatures in the Utah backcountry.

Four students were evaluated and released. However, two students were flown to Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, where they were treated and subsequently released, Fernandes said.

“We don’t have the final answer yet, but at the moment it appears that the students were not wearing suitable footwear for the cold weather conditions,” Fernandes said. “We are still investigating if there were errors in the decision-making by our staff regarding footwear or any other deviations from our safety guidelines.”

Fernandes said responders moved as quickly as possible, but he was “troubled that it took the time it did to get the students from the backcountry to the hospital.”

“Obviously, I am deeply concerned and alarmed about these events. We are doing everything we can to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”

Fernandes said he couldn’t comment further on the nature or seriousness of the injuries, citing student privacy. But he did say “all six students are either currently enrolled in or have recently graduated from the Open Sky program.”

Open Sky, founded in 2006, takes troubled teens and young adults into the backcountry for therapeutic treatment. Courses can last up to 10 weeks, based on the needs of the student.

The program has a summer location in the forests of the San Juan Mountains near Dolores, at an elevation of 7,700 feet.

Its winter site, where the incident occurred, is about an hour and forty-five minutes from Durango in the high desert of southeastern Utah, near the city of Blanding. The base camp elevation is 6,300 feet.

The National Weather Service reported that on Dec. 28 at the Blanding Municipal Airport the high was 26 degrees and the low was 4 degrees. The next day, highs hovered around 28 degrees with lows near 17 degrees.

Paul Gibson, clinical director of the emergency department at Mercy Regional Medical Center, said “it’s got to be pretty freezing out there” for frostbite to occur. Gibson was unfamiliar with the Open Sky incident, but said “the exposure was probably tremendous” to require a transport to Denver.

“They probably exhibited later signs of frostbite,” Gibson said. “That’s when the skin starts to die and fall off. Generally, they’ll send them to the burn center in Denver, because the treatment is pretty similar.”

Open Sky is accredited by the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council and the Association for Experiential Education.

Mike Gass, a director at Outdoor Behavioral research center, said internal and external reviews are conducted of field incidents, which could affect an organization’s accreditation status.

“If a program did something inappropriate, they could be put on probation or, if it’s serious enough, have accreditation revoked,” Gass said. “My understanding is this was a cold snap that came in and affected the program. It’s a rare occurrence, but there are some things in nature you just can’t predict.”

Dan Miller, a standards director for the Association of Experiential Education, wrote in an email that the organization is “aware of this incident, and it maintains regular communication with all of our accredited programs to ensure that they remain in compliance with our standards.”

The Human Services departments of both Colorado and Utah, which Open Sky is licensed under, did not respond to inquiries about the specific incident. Pamela Neu, with Colorado’s DHS, said if an incident reaches a critical level, investigations could be launched under the state’s Child Welfare program.

Fernandes said Open Sky is in compliance with the reporting requirements of both states.

Wilderness therapy came under intense scrutiny in the mid-1990s following the death of a 16-year old boy in Utah involved in a different program. That caused criticism that outdoor programs were more of an abusive boot camp than a holistic healing experience.

Danny Frazer, a co-founder of Open Sky, told High County News at that time it was a “kick in the butt” to the industry, which led many wilderness programs to seek state licensing and accreditation.

“There’s been a major transformation since the mid-1990s when there was a number of accidents and incidents that were inappropriate,” Gass said. “The field has really matured since, in the last 10 to 15 years.”

Robin Reber, an admissions director for Star Guides Wilderness in Grand Junction, said it’s industry practice to use state-of-the-art winter gear when bringing students out into the backcountry in cold temperatures.

“I don’t know of any wilderness program that doesn’t operate year-round,” Reber said. “We’re very careful with the young people we have, and we don’t like being cold either. You have to be really conscious of the temperature.”