2024 Regional WTS Schedule



The Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council is excited to be returning to Asheville, NC for the 8th Annual Regional Wilderness Therapy Symposium.

Each year we welcome over 200 attendees and this year, we get to see students, field staff, faculty members, clinicians, executive leadership, consultants - not just from the field of outdoor behavioral healthcare, but from fields and industries that are doing important work adjacent to ours.

We are pleased to offer 25.5 CEs for those seeking them, but we encourage all of you to look through the titles and descriptions of all the presentations and attend what you believe will give you the tools and skills that help you be more confident in your work. You’ll see in parentheses suggestions for who may be a target audience for that presentation. The 2024 Regional Wilderness Therapy Symposium has been approved by NBCC for NBCC credit. Sessions approved for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Outdoor Behavioral Health Council is solely responsible for all aspects of the program. NBCC Approval No. SP-4498.

We want to make sure that your experience together and with us isn’t just enjoyable, but memorable.

Over the past few months, a lot of changes have been happening behind the scenes, and we’re so excited to share it with you in Asheville. Below are some changes we want to highlight that we know are going to make a difference in your experience:

  • Pre-conference workshop
  • Expo Hall and Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening
  • Provided lunch on Thursday
  • Diversity in presenters and presentation topics

You’ll notice in our schedule that we’ve included breaks between sessions. We know that some of you may still need to check email or take a call. Our hope is that you don’t feel like you need to rush between sessions, and this gives our presenters a little breathing room too.

There are coffee breaks in the morning, and coffee will be available on site for purchase during other times of the day. Remember, March is still dry in Asheville as the weather is a bit cool - don’t forget water is your friend too!

Lastly, we’re excited that we’re able to see you all in person again and show you what we’ve been up to. On behalf of the Symposium Committee and the OBH council we would like to welcome you to the Carolina’s!


OBH Council Symposium Committee

Wednesday 3/20
1:00Preconference Training: Included with Registration
5:00Welcome and Expo Hall
Come browse tables of our sponsors and exhibitors.
Heavy appetizers will be served and cash bar will be available.

French Broad Conference Center 1French Broad Conference 2French Broad Conference 3Blue Ridge Ballroom 4Blue Ridge Ballroom 3
Thursday 3/21
8:30Trauma History - What you need to work with these clients, Bernie Rupe, LCPC Professional Quality of Life in Field Instuctors, Robert Lee, MA Integrating NADA Acupuncture with Self-Guided Brain Spotting in the Outdoor Behavrioral Setting, Wes Fischer & Megan Reznicek Keeping the Tradition Alive of Wooden Spoon Carving and Using Hand Carved Spoons, Justin Swensen, AMFT Get Outside and In Your Body: An Exploration of Experiential Nature-Based Therapeutic Interventions, Renee Rourke, LPC
10:00Break Coffee Service in the Blue Ridge Atrium
10:30Legacy Burdens - Understanding Intergeneration TraumaThrough Internal Family Systems, Lily Kirschenbaum, MSWAEE Accreditation - Understanding How to Use Accreditationto Impact Programming and Stay Up to Date on Current Practices, Margaret Kelso Let Neuroscience Improve Your Teaching Strategies, Maurie Lung, PhD
1:30Nature as Healer, Josh Flaherty, LMSW & Tim Walsh & Nathan BennickKetamine Assisted Psychotherapy explained: What programs need to know, Sandy Newes PhD & Erika Czerwinski, Psy.D If connection is the opposite of addiction, what happens when an individual connects differently?, Justin Messinger, LCMHC & Bob Hennen, LMCHC, LCAS, LPC What does Safety Science tell us about wilderness risk management? Steve Smith Teaching humans how to Be, not how to Do, Michelle Wilson
3:30Mindful Transitions: Navigating the Journey from Wilderness Therapy to Aftercare, Mike Brown & Matt GeorgeiBalance: A Millenial Therapist's Perspective on the Rise of Technology Struggles Among Adolescents, Paul Fontana, ACMHCWilderness Wellness: Integrating Energy Work and Neurofeedback for Mental Health First Aid, Dianne Kosto & Angie Shockley
6:00Dinner and Keynote: Krissy Poztek

French Broad Conference Center 1French Broad Conference 2French Broad Conference 3Blue Ridge Ballroom 4Blue Ridge Ballroom 3
Friday 3/22
8:30It is Solved by Walking, Michael Sanders Creating a Culture of Safety Using Incident Reports, Bernie Rupert, LCPC 21st Century Outdoor Wilderness Therapy Program Participants: Autonomy and the Psychology of Risk, Andrew Bobilya, PhD, & W. Brad Faircloth, PhD & Brad Daniel, PhDTaming the Anxious Brain with Nature in Mind, Heidi Schreiber-Pan, PhD
10:30Experience Integration - Continuing growth through nature connection beyond the wilderness , Kathleen McIntyre, MS Trauma Informed Facilitation: What is it and how can we keep getting better?, Sandy Newes, PhD GUIDE WELLNESS: A Holistic Approach to Avoiding Burnout, Josh Flaherty, LMSW & Tim Walsh & Nathan Bennick
12:00Lunch and Closing Cermony

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

OBH Council Board Meeting board members only

8:00 to 5:00pm in the French Broad Conference Center 3

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

OBH Council Board Meeting board members only

8:00 to 12:30pm in the French Broad Conference Center 3

Pre-conference training with Dr. Sandy Newes,

Engaging with the Natural World: Nature Connection and Mindfulness-Based activities to Support Resilience and Heal Trauma

Included in registration

1:00 to 4:00pm

Located in: French Broad Conference Center 3

People come to Wilderness therapy and residential programs with a wide range of previous life experience. This includes not only clients, but also staff. Whether we are dealing with known trauma or related symptoms such as addiction, behavioral issues, anxiety, or depression, it is imperative for practitioners in all arenas to understand the role of the nervous system in both hurt and healing. It is also of critical importance that staff have skills and knowledge to apply this same understanding to themselves. Let’s just name it- no matter what the role, working in therapeutic programs is a super intense job! The complexity of the job itself, the potential for vicarious traumatization, the impact of previous challenges faced in life, and a multitude of other challenges leave staff vulnerable to adverse effects of traumatic stress. This can sap not only the joy in the job, but also joy in time outside of the job. Under such high stress conditions, understanding our own nervous systems and the felt-sense difference of between being in or out of our resilient zone, is key in supporting resilience and deep healing.
Nature-based connection and mindfulness practices can support this awareness, offering powerful tools that can offer antidotes to trauma. These are easily accessible both outdoor and indoors, helping people to come more fully into the present moment and reconnect with a renewed sense of safety and support in the world. Learning body awareness and self- regulation tools is critical to shifting nervous system dysregulation, and connection with the natural world can be a direct pathway to this.
This workshop will offer simple ways to understand, practice and teach the neurobiology of trauma, which will be useful for those new to the field and veterans alike. Using the framework of the resilient zone, participants will be guided through a series of nature-connection and mindfulness-based experiential exercises that can be done both in and out of doors to support the healing of trauma and nervous system regulation. Application of those activities will be explored to support effective use.  The goal of these activities is not only healing trauma for ourselves and others, but also to strengthen the capacity for present-moment experience and develop a deeper connection to self, world and others. Participants will leave with practical tools they can immediately apply in their work with clients and for self-care.

Welcome Reception and Expo Hall

5:00pm to 7:00pm in the

Appetizers will be served.  Cash bar is available.

Join us in the Expo Hall!  Get to know the sponsors and area programs.  Mix and mingle with folks as we kickoff the 2024 Regional Symposium.  Then take the opportunity to explore downtown Asheville and have dinner on your own.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Morning Mingle

8:00 to 8:30 am in the Blue Ridge Atrium

Coffee service will be provided from 8 to 9am.

Breakout Presentations and Workshops

8:30 to 10:00 am

Trauma History - What you need to work with these clients (1.5CE)  (All attendees)

Presenter: Bernie Rupe, LCPC, Executive Director of Chicago Voyagers

Trauma is ever present in many of our programs. It lives in our client’s bodies and comes out in seemingly unexpected ways and times. This workshop is designed to explain the origins of trauma and how it puts our clients in stuck places. We will also review current best practices in helping our clients work through their trauma. The old method of clients having to talk through their trauma over and over to best heal from it is no longer an accepted optimal practice. Alternate less invasive practices and techniques, many of which anyone can implement, will be presented.Located in: French Broad Conference Center 1

Professional Quality of Life in Field Instructors (1.5 CE) (Program Leadership, Field Instructors, Students)

Presenter: Robert Lee, MA in Outdoor Education Leadership

Field Instructors are essential to wilderness therapy as a treatment tool.  The entire process relies on field instructors to implement it and therefore the professional vitality of field instructors is directly linked ot the efficacy of wilderness therapy as a whole. There may be a link between compassion satisfaction and burnout. Robert’s master’s thesis research supports this proposition. He performed a study quantifying compassion satisfaction, burnout, and secondary trauma in current field instructors working at OBHC member programs. He utilized a tool known as the Professional Quality of Life Scale or the ProQOL. The ProQOL compares the positive and negative side effects of one's job on their mental well-being. He will share the trends observed in terms of the average amount of burnout, secondary trauma, and compassion satisfaction recorded in his study and what that means about the current state of the field instructor workforce.

Located in: French Broad Conference Center 2

Integrating NADA Acupuncture with Self-Guided Brain Spotting in the Outdoor Behavioral Health Setting (All attendees)

Presenters: Wes Fischer, Certified Addiction Specialist, Certified NADA Practitioner, COO of AIM House & Megan Reznicek, Certified NADA Practitioner, ER YT 500HR Yoga Instructor, Creative Director AIM House/Madelife

This workshop explores the integration of NADA (National Association of Detox Acupuncture) with self-guided brain spotting as a holistic approach to behavioral healthcare. We will provide a brief explanation of brain spotting, highlighting its efficacy in addressing various psychological challenges. Brain spotting is a therapeutic modality that taps into the brain's natural ability to heal itself by accessing the body's innate ability to process and release stored traumatic experiences.

Additionally, we will delve into NADA acupuncture, outlining its principles and benefits. NADA acupuncture involves a 5-point protocol (Sympathetic Nervous system, Shen Men, Kidney, Liver, Low Lung) each spot carrying specific benefits and meanings. The interactive component of our session will include hands-on experience for attendees to receive the acupuncture protocol as well as the option to participate in a self guided brain spotting session, enhancing their understanding of its practical applications. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 3

8:30 to 11:30am

Keeping the Tradition Alive of Wooden Spoon Carving and Using Hand Carved Spoons (Field Staff, Students)

Presenter: Justin Swensen, AMFT Primary Therapist/Equine Program Director with Legacy Outdoor Adventures 

Join master spoon carver Justin Swensen in preserving the time-honored tradition of handcrafted wooden spoons. This workshop transcends the mere act of carving; it is a journey into the art of transforming a simple piece of wood into a functional and exquisite creation with a sense of ceremony. Discover that spoon carving is more than just a skill—it is an avenue for unleashing your creative energy and crafting something both utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing. Engage in a meaningful exploration of self-expression, forging a deeper connection with the natural world, and fostering a profound way to connect with clients in your field. As we meticulously carve away the excess wood from the spoon blank to unveil its inherent beauty, you will find that wooden spoon carving is a metaphor-rich experience. This workshop delves into the ceremonial use of hand-carved wooden spoons, delving into essential topics such as the selection of quality wood, mastery of basic tools, and adherence to wood carving safety protocols. Participants will not only gain knowledge but also practical experience, culminating in the completion of their own handcrafted wooden spoon. Elevate your craftsmanship and immerse yourself in the artistry of spoon carving with Justin Swensen. Located in: Blue Ridge Ballroom 4

Get Outside and In Your Body: An Exploration of Experiential Nature-Based Therapeutic Interventions(3CE) (All Attendees)

Presenter: Renee Rourke, LPC, Adventure Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor, Adventure Within Therapy

This workshop will take attendees on an interactive journey exploring various experiential nature-based interventions for therapeutic settings. The workshop will offer many different types of initiates from more physical and movement-based initiatives to more mindfulness-based and quiet activities. Most activities will be centered around building trauma informed mind-body awareness and will blend theories from the fields of Adventure Therapy, Nature-Based Therapy, Internal Family Systems Therapy, Somatic Psychology, Mindfulness, and Yoga. There will be initiatives offered that can be applied to individuals, couples, family, group therapy or other programming. Participants will get the opportunity to experience the interventions firsthand through active participation and processing. Attendees can participate at their level of comfort. Located in: Blue Ridge Ballroom 3


10:00 to 10:30am in the Blue Ridge Atrium

Coffee service will be provided from 10 to 11am.

Breakout Presentations and Workshops

10:30 to 12:00pm

Legacy Burdens - Understanding Intergenerational Trauma Through Internal Family Systems (1.5 CE) (All attendees)

Presenter: Lily Kirschenbaum, MSW, Program Director at Cambium Family Services

Intergenerational Trauma will be unpacked through the lens of Internal Family Systems. The psychoeducational portion of the presentation will encompass legacy burdens- a concept in IFS that introduces the notion that we all have beliefs and emotions that are passed down through ancestral lines. This workshop will explore intergenerational trauma- what it is, what it feels like, how to identify it, and ultimately, how to help heal from it- as people and providers. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 1

AEE Accreditation - Understanding How to Use Accreditation to Impact Programming and Stay Up to Date on Current Practices (Program leadership)

Presenter: Margaret Kelso, AEE Accreditation Council, Executive Director of Talisman Camp and Risk Management Advisor for Cornerstone Safety Group

An overview of the process, including roles such as the role of the council liaison for programs. Understanding accreditation and the history.A focus on frequent un-mets and misunderstood areas (difference between external reviews, internal reviews, and risk management committee functions, for example).Updates on current developments - like the new manuals (key changes) or updated terms of accreditation (got rid of 10 year, what things we look for to obtain a 6 year, etc).

Talking about the differences between OBH Member Program expectations versus AEE Accreditation expectations.What is the AEE Accreditation Council looking to do next? Updates on exploration of veteran programming. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 2

Let Neuroscience Improve Your Teaching Strategies (1.5 CE) (Clinicians, Field instructors)

Presenter: Maurie Lung, PhD, Program Director of the Adventure-based and Nature-based Counseling programs, Prescott College, Found and CEO of Life Adventures Counseling

Educational neuroscience, the study of the brain’s development, structure, and function, is a powerful discipline that can be very helpful whenever we find ourselves in a teaching role, as a field guide, a trainer, or a counselor. This workshop is rooted in the current research from how the brain learns, behaves, and relates to instructional practices on relevant issues that pop up in our field work or training environments. Since learning changes the brain constantly, we have a huge influence on the developing brains of our participants. By understanding our brains are affected by factors such as their community, home environment, substance abuse, and other factors, such as the emotional, social, and cognitive characteristics of each participant, can help us with the relationship of these elements when choosing the most helpful teaching strategies. We will be exploring how neuroscience shines light on a huge range of topics of importance to your everyday work, including neuroplasticity, memory, trauma-informed practices, learning space, creative and active instructional strategies, metacognition, mindfulness, retrieval strategies, reflection, and calming strategies. You will leave this workshop with many new ideas to try right away. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 3


12:00 to 1:00pm in Blue Ridge Ballroom 1,2,3

Included in registration

Buffet style lunch and beverages will be served. There will be a vegetarian option available. If you have an allergy or intolerance, please let us know.

Breakout Presentations and Workshops

1:30 to 3:00pm

Nature as Healer (1.5 CE) (All attendees )

Presenters: Josh Flaherty, LMSW, Executive Director of Adventure Recovery & Tim Walsh, Founder of Adventure Recovery & Nathan Bennick

The main goal of this presentation is to help others comprehend strategies and techniques that help connect outdoor adventure and traditional clinical therapeutic models.  By examining practices, research, and application we hope to better the field of Wilderness Therapy by encouraging time spent focusing on what matters most, the healing process of our clients/students. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 1

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy explained: What programs need to know (1.5 CE) (All attendees)

Presenters: Sandy Newes, PhD, Licensed Psychologist, Living Medicine Institute/Clear View Psychology & Erika Czerwinski, Psy.D. Asheville Integrative Psychology

With the explosion of information on psychedelic medicine in the news, published research from such esteemed places as Johns Hopkins and Harvard, daily references in the mainstream media, and even a Netflix series, clients are asking to incorporate psychedelics into their treatment. This raises questions about how it might fit into wilderness and residential settings. Currently, Ketamine is the only legal form of psychedelic assisted therapy available in the United States—and its use as a therapeutic intervention is skyrocketing. At the same time, risky recreational use is on the rise. With the increased popularity, documented benefits, and associated risk factors, programs need to have accurate information about the treatment. This workshop will provide an overview of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. Our intent is not to advocate for this approach; rather, the goal is to support providers in understanding the process of KAP treatment including options of administration, science and research, realistic risks, how KAP might be used adjunctive to treatment, and how KAP might support experiences of “awe.” Case examples, including those from young adult treatment, will be shared. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 2

If connection is the opposite of addiction, what happens when an individual connects differently? (1.5 CE) (All attendees)

Presenters: Justin Messinger, LCMHC, Primary Therapist at Blue Ridge Wilderness & Bob Hennen, LMCHC, LCAS, LPC, Primary Therapist at Blue Ridge Wilderness

Milieu focused treatment settings often center upon the concept of community and group-based therapeutic engagement. Belonging to a community of others with shared experience is believed to enrich a person’s sense of connection. What happens when an individual connects differently?

Providing clinical care for autistic individuals in a treatment setting requires professionals to consider 1) the unique differences of the individual and 2) how individual differences may impact the therapeutic benefit of group-centered approaches. Recent studies suggest that up to 36% of autistic individuals may have co-occurring issues with substance use. Many commonly utilized interventions for substance use disorder may be unsuitable for autistic individuals and research on this topic is limited. There is a need to explore ways in which an individual’s differences may impact engagement and responsiveness to common approaches in SUD treatment.

Presenters will discuss common clinical biases and perceptions related to substance use and treatment for autistic individuals. Presenters will inform the audience using case study reviews as well as experiential exercises aimed at creatively modifying traditional treatment approaches. The intention of the presentation is to increase awareness and highlight the need for inclusion to people who connect differently. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 3

1:30 to 4:30pm

What does Safety Science tell us about wilderness risk management? (All attendees)

Presenter: Steve Smith, Founder and Consultant Experiential Consulting, LLC

The past 100 years of occupational safety management has led our society to some deeply-entrenched views about how things "should be done," including many theories driving behaviors that were never actually grounded in any kind of research or evidence of effectiveness. This session will provide a brief overview of how we got here, what more recent safety science tells us, new paradigms and practices, and how we might manage risk more effectively based on research and current thinking.

This session will include case studies, large and small group discussions, and opportunities for participants to apply the concepts to their own organizations. We will end with concrete actions steps for programs to take to bring the learning back home to their programs and people. Located in: Blue Ridge Ballroom 4

Teaching humans how to Be, not how to Do (All attendees)

Presenter: Michelle Wilson, Field Director at Summit Achievement

What happened to the Grinch’s heart? How did Mr. Scrooge turn his “bah humbug” into charity and love? What happens when you discover that the person you’ve been angrily tailgating is an elderly person that reminds you of your own mother or father or grandparent? The answer lies in a heart of peace as beautifully explored in The Arbinger Institute’s book, “The Anatomy of Peace.” A heart of peace is achieved by a powerful shift in mindset, to see others more clearly, to see people as people as opposed to objects. As informed by cognitive behavioral therapy, there is a profound connection between our thoughts, feelings, and actions. We have great agency in how we perceive others and thus feel about the humans around us in moments of crisis, in conflict, in succeeding at the radically candid delivery of feedback, in how we approach different leadership strategies, and the list goes on and on. The reason being that a shift in mindset, cultivating a heart of peace, gets to the root of a multitude of difficulties that we may face in achieving positive and productive operations of Wilderness Therapy programs. Located in: Blue Ridge Ballroom 3

Break 3:00 to 3:30pm

Breakout Presentations and Workshops 3:30 to 5:00pm

Mindful Transitions: Navigating the Journey from Wilderness Therapy to Aftercare (Field instructors, Non-clinical program staff)

Presenters: Mike Brown, Director of Business Development at Red Mountain Sedona & Matt George, Program Manager at Red Mountain Sedona

Drawing on their roles as members of the leadership team in a transitional living program, the presenters will shed light on common trends observed in clients emerging from wilderness therapy. During this presentation, they will explore ideas on how staff in the field can enhance their support to help clients prepare for the transition and sustain the momentum gained in wilderness therapy. Furthermore, as alumni of wilderness therapy and transitional living programs, the presenters will also offer valuable firsthand experience of the process of transitioning from the field into a step-down program., they will discuss practices that proved helpful and unhelpful during the final weeks of wilderness therapy and the preparation for the subsequent transition into aftercare. Participants can anticipate gaining new insights, practical skills, and empathetic awareness regarding their clients' mental states, leaving with a renewed enthusiasm for the task of guiding clients through this vital period. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 1

iBalance: A Millenial Therapist’s Perspective on the Rise of Technology Struggles Among Adolescents (1.5 CE) (All attendees)

Presenter: Paul Fontana, ACMHC, Primary Therapist at Gateway Academy

Based on a series of psychoeducational groups I run at Gateway Academy, this presentation will cover all of the most relevant data, information, and insights in regards to the increasingly enmeshed role technology plays in the lives of young people. Starting with a broad perspective of what is "technology" and how it has evolved exponentially, especially since the Industrial Revolution, and moving into the present and future implications of having what could ostensibly be described as a "dopamine button" in our pockets at any given time. We will explore everything from social media (and their "influencers"), to memes, video games, pornography, to misinformation, and the latest trend of "TikTok Psychology." With the rapidly changing landscape of the technological boom, it is important to discuss this and figure out best practices that are balanced with understanding the risks while not brushing everything off as "bad." As a millennial, I am just as connected to the rest of the world as our student population while also knowing what life was like before the boom. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 2

Wilderness Wellness: Integrating Energy Work and Neurofeedback for Mental Health First Aid (1.5 CE) (Field instructors, Program leadership)

Presenters: Dianne Kosto, Author, Mom on a Mission, CEO & Angie Shockley, MA, Founder/ Owner, Q&A Associates and MindFully Aware, Founder of Saddles and Smiles

In the challenging and often unpredictable environment of wilderness therapy, planning for and providing mental health first aid is crucial for staff well-being. A dual-layered approach that combines on-site energy work with post-field neurofeedback sessions can provide staff with the perfect tools to not only manage but to improve their mental health.

Energy work techniques, including breath work, grounding exercises, and mindfulness, are ideal for the unpredictable wilderness setting, offering immediate relief from acute stress and trauma responses (Hover-Kramer, 2011). Once back in a structured environment, qEEG brain mapping can be used to quickly identify areas of brainwave dysregulation (Sterman, Egner, 2006). This leads to individualized neurofeedback sessions that calm the central nervous system.

This holistic approach ensures staff are well-equipped to handle both immediate and ongoing emotional and psychological challenges, enhancing their capacity to provide effective wilderness therapy. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 3

Break 5:00 to 6:00pm

Dinner and Keynote Included in registration

6:00 to 8:00pm

KeynoteSpeaker Krissy Pozatek, MSW

Empowering Parent with the Parallel Process

In this Presentation, Krissy Pozatek MSW, will be sharing with the wilderness therapy

community, how they can Empower Parents. Parents today have become disempowered by

the school system, medical system, the legal system and the culture in general. Parents have

become afraid of their kids and are reluctant to hold boundaries and stand in their parental

authority. Krissy will be teaching the Parallel Process principles to show how much power

parents have, where they frequently feel powerless. When parents see and understand their

enmeshed patterns and learn to step into their parental authority, they will actually be

increasing security and attachment for their children. Krissy will be discussing concepts such as

enmeshment, parental authority, attunement, boundaries, reframing, safe struggle and healthy

separation. Secure parents create safety for their kids, to feel, be with uncertainty, struggle,

and self-regulate, and take more ownership over their lives.


Friday, March 22, 2024

Breakout Presentations and Workshops

8:30 - 11:30 am

Taming the Anxious Brain with Nature in Mind (3 CE) (All attendees)

Presenter: Heidi Schreiber-Pan, PhD, Clinical Director of the Chesapeake Mental Health Collaboration, Center for Nature Informed Therapy

Discover the transformative power of Nature-Informed Therapy (NIT) in this engaging workshop. NIT is an innovative approach that integrates nature-based methods with psychological healing, offering profound mental health benefits, especially for managing anxiety and stress-related challenges. Dive into essential neuroscientific concepts of anxiety, and explore practical, nature-based strategies to navigate emotional turbulence effectively. This workshop is incredibly pertinent today, as global conflicts and climate crises have intensified societal anxiety and unrest, necessitating effective therapeutic interventions that resonate with our intrinsic connection to nature. Located in: Blue Ridge Ballroom 4

8:30 to 10:00 am

It Is Solved by Walking (Clinicians, Field instructors, Students)

Presenter: Michael Sanders, Director of Adventure Programming at Solstice RTC West

What is solved by walking? Why do we hike? Why do we walk? These are questions often asked by students in outdoor behavioral healthcare programs, and sometimes also by staff! Baguazhang is a Taoist internal movement art that has its origins in the mountain circumnavigating practices of Tibet and Nepal. The central practice is walking a circle.

There is a reason that walking, as a practice, has been held in high esteem across the world. The Dine of the southwest say that life is a walking, the Asian Taoists wrote that walking is the mother of ten-thousand exercises, and famously, it is told that St Augustine quoted the Greek philosopher Diogenes when he said “Solvitur Ambulando”, It is solved by walking.

This workshop will explore walking and it’s applications for mental and physical health within a therapeutic programmatic context working with youth and young adults. We will use the circle walking practices of Baguazhang to do this.

Baguazhang, or Bagua for short, is related to Taiji (Tai Chi) and Qi Gong, and has many principles in common. It can be applied in three main areas: Promoting health and healing, exploring interaction and interpersonal relationships, and for meditation and spiritual endeavors.

*This will be a gentle, active and interactive experience. Exercises can be adapted for participants of all levels of activity and ability. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 1

Creating a Culture of Safety Using Incident Reports (1.5CE) (All attendees)

Presenter: Bernie Rupe LCPC, Executive Director of Chicago Voyagers

How can we keep our clients safe? How do we create a culture of safety and most effectively manage our risks? This workshop will focus on these questions. This workshop will discuss how to create a solid culture of safety and how to use an incident management process to best manage field risk in your organization. The incident reporting process itself only works with a good culture of normalizing reporting as helpful and not using them in a punitive way.

The workshop will cover not just injuries, but also near misses and behavioral incidents. A sample incident report and a process for how to use them will be presented. Finally, a few legal thoughts will be explored.

Chicago Voyagers risk management and safety process was deemed best in class by the Recreation Law Group - a presenter at WTS symposiums and leader in the field. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 2

21st Century Outdoor Wilderness Therapy Program Participants: Autonomy and the Psychology of Risk (1.5 CE) (All attendees)

Presenters: Andrew Bobilya, PhD, Professor and Program Director of M.S. in Experiential and Outdoor Education at Western Carolina University & W. Brad Faircloth, PhD, Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of North Carolina, Program Assessment Coordinator for UNCA and Director of Research for 2nd Nature TREC & Brad Daniel, PhD, co-founder and Executive Director of 2nd Nature TREC

Wilderness therapy programs have traditionally encouraged increased participant autonomy as a part of their program design. These programs have also embraced challenge and stress as tools for personal growth. Recently there has been debate over the most effective way to encourage personal growth and the related role of participant autonomy (letting participants be alone or with less supervision) while engaged in an organized wilderness program. This workshop will explore whether wilderness therapy programs can encourage personal growth in the mental, physical, emotional, social, and/or spiritual dimensions using different levels of challenge and if/how to integrate autonomous student experiences. We will review recent research (e.g., neurosequential model, psychological processes related to risk and decision making) and discuss several questions: How do today's participants respond to challenge and risk? Is there an optimal amount of challenge that encourages personal growth? Should programs be modified to serve today's participants? If so, in what ways? Participants will engage in small and large group discussions and activities designed to stimulate their thinking about risk, challenge, disequilibrium, dissonance, safety, security, and self-regulation as they relate to wilderness therapy programming. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 3


10:00 to 10:30 am in the Blue Ridge Atrium

Coffee service will be provided from 10 to 11am.

Breakout Presentations and Workshops

10:30 to 12:00pm

Experience Integration - Continuing growth through nature connection beyond the wilderness (All attendees)

Presenter: Kathleen McIntyre, MS, Co-founder and Director of Mindfulness and Outdoor Leadership at Davidson Green School

Newly discovered ways of relating to oneself, family, and the surrounding community can be challenging to integrate after an extended therapeutic nature experience. Returning to ecological systems where behavioral patterns were formed can cause feelings of uncertainty about continued growth or falling back into old habits. Offering strategies to clients to support them in integrating new skills learned in the wilderness, such as mindfulness, somatic awareness, and therapeutic nature connection, within their home environment can offer hope and success with continued growth.

In this workshop, you will learn strategies to expand a client’s concept of nature beyond the wilderness experience to include the nature around them in the urban/suburban landscape. This expanded view of nature is empowering and honors a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds that have limited access to more wild spaces. You will learn how to support your clients in creating an ecomap of accessible nature resources and strategies to incorporate somatic, mindfulness, and therapeutic nature connection tools within their ecological landscape. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 1 

Trauma Informed Facilitation: What is it and how can we keep getting better? (1.5 CE) (All attendees)

Presenters: Sandy Newes, PhD, Licensed Psychologist, Living Medicine Institute/Clear View Psychology

Skilled facilitation allows clients to feel safe enough to be open, present, and willing to take risks. With all of our current understanding of nervous system regulation, we know the importance of creating and facilitating programs through a trauma informed lens. There are many ways to do this, and considerations for program implementation vary based on your context, contract and population. This workshop will provide a basic introduction to trauma, resilience and resourcing as a foundation to understand trauma informed facilitation. Specific trauma informed principles will be introduced, and participants will engage in large and small group resourcing exercises, as well as discussion around how to implement these principles into treatment settings and group experiential processes. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 2

GUIDE WELLNESS: A Holistic Approach to Avoiding Burnout (1.5CE) (All attendees)

Presenters: Josh Flaherty, LMSW, Executive Director of Adventure Recovery & Tim Walsh, Founder and CEO of Adventure Recovery & Seth Gottlieb, National Field Manager of Adventure Recovery & Nathan Bennick,  National Field Director of Adventure Recovery

Adventure Recovery will present on how to identify, support, and prevent burnout and fatigue throughout organizational structures (from field staff to management). Our hope is that by acknowledging and problem solving these key issues we will be able to create environments for sustained longevity within the industry, and more importantly to provide a consistent and high level of care for our clients. We want to help answer the question of how do we implement our personal and organization missions while embracing the nature of difficulty regarding direct care and maintaining a healthy personal/professional balance.

AR will discuss current research and discussion based formatting on burn-out, staff development and support, and provide tools and insight practices as a resource for guides, management, and organizations. We will utilize research, powerpoint, group discussions, break out discussion with take home individualized worksheets. Located in: French Broad Conference Center 3

Lunch and Closing Ceremony

Included in registration. Assorted sandwiches and beverages will be served. There will be a vegetarian option available. If you have an allergy or intolerance, please let us know.

12:00 to 1:00pm in the French Broad Conference Center 3

We know networking is a big part of the experience at WTS, so we’re giving you the chance to do that without feeling like you’re pulling yourself away from presentations. During this hour, you’ll get a chance to grab some food and mingle. We’re thrilled to welcome students and faculty from the area colleges that have degrees and certificates in outdoor leadership, wilderness therapy and clinical counseling. We’re excited to help facilitate new connections between those in the field and those who are considering it.

Additional Information

Wellbeing while at the Regional WTS: The OBH Council recognizes that Symposium days are long, engaging and can sometimes lead to overstimulation and exhaustion. In the spirit of our work and encouraging you to take care of you, we’ve designated the Parks Board Room for those who need some time to disconnect during the day. After the Friends of Bill meeting on Thursday and Friday mornings, the Parks Board Room will transform into a break area. We have also built 30-minute breaks into the schedule between morning and afternoon sessions. Our hope is that you will be able to learn and digest the information before diving into your next session.

We also recognize many of you are leaders with your programs, companies and organizations and may need to squeeze in some work time.

Meals: We’ve included a reception with heavy appetizers on Wednesday evening, a lunch on Thursday, and a buffet with the keynote presentation Thursday evening as well as lunch Friday. These meals are all included in your registration. Breakfast is included with room if staying on site at the Embassy Suites. There are also a variety of restaurants and coffee shops in the area as well. For those staying until Saturday, we encourage you to explore Asheville - we are in the heart of downtown.


Presenter Bios (Alpha Order by Last Name)

Nathan Bennick is an American Mountain Guide Association Single Pitch Instructor and has worked in the mental health field since he graduated with his B.S. in Psychology from Union College. Nate is based in Colorado and travels around the world for adventure expeditions. While working in adventure-based counseling with youth, he realized the true healing power of adventure and the immeasurable gift of experiences that empower and guide us to a healthier way of living. Nate has extensive experience in wilderness therapy and youth services. Since joining Adventure Recovery, he incorporates the outdoors into every aspect of his life, always searching for new ways to expand his skills. Through climbing, he has learned to elevate his goals, to dream bigger, and foster deeper connections. It is his passion to guide others to learn how to discover joy and realize their goals.


Mike Brown After successfully completing treatment at both Red Cliff Ascent and Red Mountain Sedona, Mike began his professional journey in the summer of 2017 by returning to Red Mountain as a staff member. Throughout the years, Mike has had various roles at Red Mountain, including working as a Front-Line Staff, Admissions Coordinator, Case Manager, Program Director, and currently serves as the Director of Business Development. Throughout Mike's time at Red Mountain, he has worked directly with over 300 young adults supporting them in navigating the transition from wilderness therapy to the initially unfamiliar environment of transitional living. As a martial arts teacher and meditation instructor, Mike demonstrates a deep commitment to assisting Red Mountain students in finding purpose and becoming better friends with themselves. Along with working at Red Mountain, Mike is a certified Five Wisdom Energies practitioner from Irini Rockwell, MA, through the Five Wisdoms Insititute and is currently training to become one of a few authorized Five Wisdom Energies Instructors.


Andrew Bobilya serves as a Professor and Program Director of the M.S. in Experiential and Outdoor Education at Western Carolina University. He also serves as the Director for Training and Education at 2nd Nature TREC (Training, Research, Education, Consulting). Andrew has experience as an instructor, trainer, and director for various outdoor and adventure-based programs. His research interests include outdoor adventure program outcomes and autonomous student experiences.


Dr. Erika Czerwinski is a Licensed Psychologist with extensive training in depth-oriented psychotherapy, attachment theory, neuro-psychoanalysis, and trauma theory. She is certified through Living Medicine Institute and Integrative Psychiatric Institute in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy and Psychedelic Assisted Therapies. She has been facilitating Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy since 2019. With over 18 years of clinical practice supporting adolescents, adults, couples and groups, and 15 years of combined experience in wisdom-based traditions, rites of passage ceremony, and yogic philosophies and meditation, Dr. Czerwinski brings a unique approach to her Ketamine Assisted Therapy practice, honoring the relational and sacred process of the work. Dr. Czerwinski is on the board of Western North Carolina Psychologists Association, and Horizons at Carolina Day, and provides educational trainings on Ketamine Assisted Therapy to practitioners and psychotherapists. She also provides Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy to young-adult residential and transitional programs in the Asheville,NC Area.


Dr. Brad Daniel has been a college professor, wilderness trip leader, and field science instructor for over 40 years. Brad is a co-founder and Executive Director of 2nd Nature TREC (Training, Research, Education, Consulting), a consulting agency that partners with existing programs to help them become more effective at what they do. Brad’s passion is using the outdoors to engage the heart, challenge the mind, and nurture the spirit. Brad enjoys hiking, canoeing, photography, philanthropy, rescuing dogs, drinking coffee, exploring natural landscapes via any mode of travel, and reflecting on this thing called life.


W Brad Faircloth serves as a Professor in the Psychology department at the University of North Carolina

Asheville. He also serves as the Program Assessment Coordinator for UNCA and as the Director of Research for 2nd Nature TREC (Training, Research, Education, Consulting). Brad has experience as an instructor, trainer, and evaluator for various outdoor education programs. His research interests include outdoor adventure program outcomes and psychological effects of outdoor experiences.


Wes Fischer is a dedicated and results-driven professional with a comprehensive background in program management, case management, and fitness direction. Proven success in leadership roles, currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of AIM House and AIM Health. Adept at overseeing diverse teams and ensuring the successful implementation of programs. Possesses strong communication skills and a commitment to fostering positive client outcomes.


Josh Flaherty is a part-owner and Executive Director of Adventure Recovery and avid outdoor enthusiast. He brings 15+ years of experience as an executive in the entertainment industry to his expertise. Josh has a passion for recovery and mental health and his career in the field is a testament to this calling. He began as a client with Adventure Recovery in 2018 and then progressed through AR’s Guide Training program. Josh is the first person in AR history to transition from client to Guide. Josh received his Master of Social Work from Fordham University and his experience and contacts in the recovery community, the entertainment industry, and corporate America provide unique insight into his work with AR. As Executive Director, he is a key member of the Leadership team, manages operations, staff supervision, and drives strategic growth and development.


Paul Fontana After attending a wilderness therapy program and aftercare himself in 2009-2011, Paul attended UNH to study Outdoor Education knowing he wanted to return one day to help others. Paul spent 2 years in the field at Second Nature before leaving to get his Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling while working some time as a floor staff at Gateway Academy and as a manager with a disabilities services company. Finding himself drawn towards the long-term work that is done at residential programs, he returned to Gateway where he now works as a therapist, trying to inspire the students to get excited about learning how to take ownership of their mental health.


Matt George is a proud alumnus of Open Sky Wilderness Therapy and Red Mountain Sedona. After graduating from Red Mountain, Matt spent a year working as a wilderness therapy guide. Upon his return to Red Mountain as a staff member, Matt showed an ability to be clear and encouraging with students, supporting them to take action in their own lives. His interpersonal skills and compassionate leadership style allow him to be of great service to the Red Mountain community as the Program Manager. In addition to working at Red Mountain, Matt is also pursuing a degree in psychology at Northern Arizona University with the hopes of one day becoming a wilderness and outdoor-focused clinician.


Seth Gottlieb grew up immersed in the great outdoors of Colorado partaking in backpacking, skiing, and hiking at an early age. He is an Outward Bound graduate, having completed a 28-day expedition as a young teen that laid the groundwork for nature as a teacher and guide. Seth is a Certified Wildland Firefighter, a Wilderness First Responder, and holds a degree in anthropology, focusing on human behavior patterns. In addition, he lived and worked in the Caribbean for 10 years and travels extensively. He brings his guide experience—300+ days guiding in the deserts of Utah, over 2,500 miles of trails and served as Director of Student Services at a residential treatment facility and provided mentorship as a recovery coach. Seth is empathetic, kind, and positive with a relatable understanding of adolescents and young adults, having navigated similar experiences facing those he mentors. He is always up for adventure and works on developing hard and soft skills to better his life and those around him.


Bob Hennen is a Primary Therapist at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness working with adolescent boys. Since 2011, Bob has worked with those struggling with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders in residential, outpatient, and wilderness settings in roles ranging from support staff to clinical director. He has special interests in recovery throughout the lifespan and in life transitions, the intersection of harm reduction and abstinence based approaches for SUD, and the power of grace within human relationships.


Margaret Kelso is currently the Executive Director of Talisman Camp and a Risk Management Advisor for Cornerstone Safety Group. She also serves on the Association of Experiential Education Accreditation Council. She has primarily worked in wilderness therapy including programs in Alaska, Colorado, and in North Georgia/Western North Carolina and has worked with commercial rafting, canoeing, and kayaking companies. She is formerly the Best Practices Committee Chair on the Outdoor Behavioral Health Council Board.


Lily Kirschenbaum holds a Masters in Social Work from New York University with a clinical background in family treatment and stabilization. Lily's work encompasses clinician and director of parent programming in residential-wilderness and transition programs. Lily founded Cambium Family Services because believes in the accessibility of the coaching model in supporting families and individuals to grow and heal in the context of their everyday life.


Dianne Kosto, a dedicated 'Mom on a Mission' and accomplished author, is the driving force behind SYMMETRY Neuro-Pathway Training. With a profound personal journey marked by her family's experience with brainwave dysregulation, Dianne has made it her life's mission to bring accessible Neurofeedback technology to families and individuals globally. Since 2010, Dianne has served as a trusted mentor and consultant for Neurofeedback providers across the continent, transcending various professions. Her invaluable expertise continues to inspire and guide through SYMMETRY’s SAGE Advisors division. Along with Angie Shockley, Dianne is the co-Founder and co-facilitator of the Awaken Your Soul Intensive Experience, combining neurofeedback technology with Indigenous Shamanic Healing of MindFully Aware.

Dianne's sincere and empathetic voice has resonated at numerous conferences, including ISNR, NATSAP, ATTACh, ATN, YATA, TCA, WTS, IECA, and more. In her memoir, 'From Trauma to Triumph: A Mom’s Mission with Neurofeedback, Dianne chronicles her journey of helping brains regulate better, enabling individuals to overcome trauma and achieve triumph.


Robert (Bobby) Lee is a recent graduate of Prescott College. He has an MA in Outdoor Education Leadership and his research specialty is in professional resiliency in the outdoor industry. The subject of his thesis was the professional quality of life in wilderness therapy field instructors. He has over 10 years of experience in the outdoor industry, including working as a senior field instructor at TRAILS Carolina from 2014-2015. He currently resides in Marshall, NC, and is currently employed as a white water rafting instructor for Blue Heron Whitewater and Mild to Wild Rafting and Jeep Trails Tours.


Maurie Lung PhD, is the founder and CEO of Life Adventures Counseling (www.LifeAdventuresCC.org) in the Tampa Bay (FL) area, a community counseling center that provides therapeutic, educational, and recreational opportunities for individuals, groups, families, and couples. Additionally, she is the Director of Adventure-based and Nature-based Counseling program at Prescott College The growth and change she witnesses through this process continues to amaze her. Adventure allows participants to step away from their usual environment, try out new ways of being, and truly become “mentally healthier.”


Kathleen McIntyre, forest ecologist turned nature therapist, has led therapeutic and life-enriching experiences in Nature for 25 years. As a lifelong educator, she co-founded and is the Director of Mindfulness and Outdoor Leadership at the Davidson Green School. Kathleen leads retreats internationally, facilitates workshops, is a speaker, and supports individuals to reclaim their body, mind, and spirit through embodied connection with Nature. She is the author of The Nature Reset, which will be released in March 2024. Kathleen has a Master of Science in Forest Resources and is pursuing her Masters of Clinical Social Work.


Justin Messinger has his MA in Clinical Counseling and is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor in NC. He is a Primary Therapist at Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness. He has worked in Wilderness Therapy for the past seven years in a variety of roles including Transition Support Coach, Family Therapist and Primary Therapist. He has a passion for helping his students discover a sense of significance and belonging. He is eager to continue learning more about helping neurodivergent youth in a wilderness therapy setting and hopes to innovate wilderness therapy programming to better serve individuals’ unique strengths and needs.


Dr. Sandy Newes is a Licensed Psychologist in Asheville, NC. In her private practice, she specializes in trauma, chronic stress, anxiety and resilience, and the integration of clinical and brain-based models into therapeutic settings. Sandy also provides psychological evaluation, neurofeedback, and consultation with programs nationwide, and is involved in the development of clinical protocols and training in psychedelic medicine through the Living Medicine Institute. Sandy is a co-developer of the Clinical First Responder (CFR) staff training, a skills trainer in the Community Resilience Model (CRM) and offers other trainings upon request. She takes pride in walking her talk, and values treatment and life approaches that foster authenticity and resilience.


Krissy Pozatek received her education at Middlebury College, Smith College and NM Highlands

University. She has had almost 30 years of experience in the wilderness therapy and adolescent treatment field. In 2006, Krissy switched from adolescent therapy to parent coaching, and works with parents of struggling adolescents and young adults in her parent coaching practice and on her digital coaching platforms. She is the author of The Parallel Process, the landmark book that teaches parents how to grow alongside their

struggling adolescent or young adult child in treatment and to integrate the changes into the home, Brave Parenting and Brave Teaching. Krissy has coached parents in home transitions since 2012 and launched Parallel Process Transitions in 2023. Krissy was also a visiting professor at Middlebury College. Krissy is the mother of 2 daughters (one is a young adult and one a teen), and lives in Vermont with her partner. She loves to travel, to be in nature, skiing, hiking, yoga and mostly being with her family.


Megan Reznicek is devoted to the intersection of creativity and purpose, she is a seasoned Creative Director with a proven track record across diverse industries. Megan’s expertise lies in Team Management, Organizational Development, Marketing, and Design. As a creative professional, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. Her passion for aligning creativity with meaningful causes has been a driving force in her career, and she is eager to bring this commitment to the presentation on Integrating NADA Acupuncture with Self-Guided Brain Spotting. Drawing on my multifaceted experience, she aims to inspire and demonstrate the transformative potential of these holistic approaches within the context of outdoor behavioral healthcare.


Renee Roark works as an Adventure Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor in Tennessee in her private practice Adventure Within Therapy. Renee graduated with her Bachelors in Outdoor Education from Georgia College and her Masters in Counseling from Prescott College. When she is not outside working or playing, you can find Renee busy in the kitchen, garden, or pottery studio.


Bernard (Bernie) Rupe has 30 years of experience in the adventure therapy field and has 15 years’ experience working and managing Adventure Therapy programs. He is the founder and Executive Director of Chicago Voyagers. He is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and Certified Clinical Adventure Therapist. He has developed a community-based model for providing services to those in need and presented workshops four times at national conferences.


Michael Sanders graduated from Arizona State University in 2006 with a degree in the academic study of religion focusing on Indigenous American and east Asian religious traditions. He is an avid martial artist and energetic teacher. He is a student and teacher of Taoist internal movement arts and an affiliate of Ray Carbullido Sifu in Honolulu, HI. For nearly ten years, Michael built a practice as a manual somatic therapist and personal life and wellness coach at Brimhall Wellness Center in Gilbert, AZ before returning to wilderness and outdoor behavioral healthcare in 2014 to the present.


Heidi Schreiber-Pan, Ph.D. is the clinical director at Chesapeake Mental Health, Maryland, and founder of the newly launched Center for Nature Informed Therapy. Dr. Schreiber-Pan is a licensed professional counselor and board-approved supervisor. Her clinical specialization in the treatment of anxiety disorders, PTSD, OCD, stress reduction, and occupational burnout has made her a sought-after international speaker.

As an affiliate and former Loyola University, Maryland faculty member, her past research has focused on resiliency, psychological well-being, and nature-informed therapy.

Dr. Schreiber-Pan has worked with various organizations, schools, and corporations to reduce stress on a communal level and increase organizational well-being through training in positive psychology and integrating nature into mental health.

She is the author of the successful self-help book: Taming the Anxious Mind. Her new book The Outside Within: Stories of Nature’s Role in Psychological Well-being was published in April of 2023.


Angie Shockley is the founder and owner of Q&A Associates, the parent company for three young adult transitional living programs located in Davis, WV. She and her staff operate Applewood Transitions for Young Women, The Journey Transitions for Young Men, and Cabin Mountain Living Center. She has spent most of the past 20 years working in the world of therapeutic programming in various roles from direct care to program leadership. In addition to operating the programs of Q&A Associates, Angie is a Certified Shamanic Practitioner and owner of MindFully Aware, where she provides coaching, education, consulting and alternative healing services for individuals and groups. Angie is a certified teacher of the Medicine Wheel, a transformative experience comprising four workshops throughout one year in which individuals explore their own personal, professional, and emotional growth journey. Along with Dianne Kosto, she is the co-founder and co-facilitator of the Awaken Your Soul Intensive Experience combining the science of Symmetry Neuro-Pathway Training with the Indigenous Shamanic Healing of MindFully Aware.

Angie is also the Director of Saddles & Smiles, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit providing equine assisted learning experiences to children, teens, and adults with a variety of challenges and disabilities. Angie enjoys singing, playing piano and guitar, riding and training horses, traveling and hiking. She and her husband Matt are parents to four adult children and one amazing grandson. They make their home in beautiful Canaan Valley, WV.


Steve Smith has worked in the outdoor industry for over thirty years, in the field, in the office, in the boardroom, and in national conference leadership roles, specializing in program leadership, risk management, and staff training. His career has included leadership roles with national organizations including Outward Bound and The Student Conservation Association. Steve served as the Chair of the Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC) for three years (2014 - 2016). He served two terms as a board member for the Northwest Outward Bound School, where he continues to serve on the school's Board of Directors Safety Committee. He has a master's degree in teaching English, along with years of university-level teaching experience, and earned a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification from the Society for Human Resources Management, all of which help him view outdoor education through a variety of educational and administrative lenses.


Justin Swensen has been helping adolescents, young adults, and their families for more than 20 years. He brings his wealth of knowledge, passion for wilderness therapy, and desire to help young people heal and find a healthy path to his current roles as a primary therapist at Legacy Outdoor Adventures and Equine Program Director. Justin holds a BA from Prescott College in Therapeutic Use of Adventure Education with an emphasis on human development and a minor in Art and Design. He holds an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a Level 1 Whole Fit Life Coach. Justin has been carving wooden spoons for 25 years and has been teaching spoon carving and wood carving in various settings for more than a decade.


Tim Walsh is an outdoor educator and recovery coach trainer who specializes in guiding people through the external and internal wilderness. Over the last 25 years, he has founded and led numerous programs and institutions in youth development and the addictions recovery and prevention fields. He offers individualized support for those seeking purpose and spiritual development. Tim advises and develops experiential education, adventure therapy, and substance misuse awareness programs for private schools, youth development programs, treatment centers, and national conferences. He’s a pioneer in the field of adventure-based counseling and was one of the founding team members of Mountainside Treatment Center and served as Executive Director for Newport Academy. Tim has earned Instructor Trainer levels of certification in ACA Whitewater Canoe, Pro-Rescuer First Aid & CPR, and Lifeguarding as well as certifications in Advanced Swiftwater Rescue and Whitewater Kayak Instruction, BCU star 3 Sea Kayaking, Wilderness First Responder, recovery coaching and adventure-based counseling. He studies various wisdom traditions, healing rites, and practical tools from elders and practitioners from both Western and Eastern disciplines. With reverence and respect for ceremony and ritual, Tim crafts a tailored approach to the personal transformative process, creating healing experiences for individuals of all ages. When not on the river, Tim is with his family, exploring the natural world, paddling whitewater, and playing with the puppy.


Michelle Wilson worked as a Field Guide at Summit for almost a year and a half, delving into the roles of logistician, medic, and team leader. Shelley then moved to the role of Field Director, where she currently provides oversight and guidance to both Achievement and Traverse programs, outfits students for expedition, conducts staff trainings in the field, and assists in direct crisis response. One of her primary goals in her job as Field Director is to bridge connections throughout the community, and implement more mindful practices with students and staff alike.



Meeting Sponsor

Explore Asheville

Registration Sponsors


Basecamp Sponsors


Red Mountain Sedona

Fix My Claim



College Exhibitors

2nd Nature TREC

Western Carolina University, MS in Experiential and Outdoor Education

Southwestern Community College, Wilderness Therapy and Outdoor Leadership