As long as I can remember the outdoors has been a place that fills my soul with happiness, clarity, peace, inspiration, and connections. Connecting with Mother Nature is powerful and never disappoints, even when hardships are a part of that process. Sitting peacefully in any outdoor setting witnessing even the slightest hint of survival (think of that lone flower that grows out of a rock in the middle of a desert) is my life source and reminds me how precious and our lives are, and how resilient we can be. Having shared experiences with others in the outdoors brings me such joy!
My introduction to Wilderness Therapy came at a time when I, myself, was at a crossroads in life. Being witness to the reunification of children with their parents after being apart for several weeks was hands down the most miraculous thing I had ever witnessed. Weeks later, after packing my car with all my belongings, and my then 2 year old son, we ventured out to the deserts of southcentral Idaho to embark on a journey that I have never looked back from. The power and value of that parent-child connection has always been at the core of what has driven me in my home and in my work. My children and grandchildren are pretty remarkable too.
What I learned early on, and continue to learn, is that change is hard…..and necessary. We have to be able to be honest with ourselves, listen to others, communicate effectively, and continually make decisions which are based on the best information available to us at the time. One cannot hide from themselves for long when they learn to sit still, observe, and then take action. Trust, Reliance, Vulnerability, Humility, Sacrifice, Acceptance, Confidence, Honesty, etc. The list goes on and on as far as what one is capable of experiencing in a wilderness setting.
Since 1989 I have had many wonderful opportunities to be able to guide young people on their own journeys while enjoying the outdoors. Seeing the joy and eye-popping realization of one’s own value and capabilities is what drives me to stay involved in the work I do on a daily basis. Families embarking on this journey together is miraculous and inspiring. SouthCentral Idaho provides the perfect landscape for this amazing opportunity. Wilderness Therapy is my calling.
I have spent much of the last 20 years melding adventure and personal development into the lives of individuals. Fresh out of college and working in a group home for at-risk teens, I began to see the radical effect that adventure therapy programs could have on the lives of young people. Already a mountain and rafting guide, I began taking clients on excursions into the mountains of Colorado.
From that point on, I have always had my hand in both mental health and adventure therapy programs. I was the program director and executive director for a non-profit organization working with inner city youth, the clinical program manager for a wilderness program, the founder and clinical director of a wilderness therapy program for adjudicated youth and the clinical director at a therapeutic boarding school. I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC). I received my masters from Prescott College in clinical psychology with an emphasis in wilderness therapy. I am also trained in brainspotting.
I have extensive experience and training in working with clients struggling with depression, anxiety, oppositional defiance issues, trauma, addiction, family systems issues and grief. I believe that it is essential to work with the individual, family members and support systems to help create the optimal results.
I enjoy spending time with my wife and two children seeking out adventure in the big city of Boise, or out on the rivers and mountains of Idaho.
I grew up in South Carolina and earned a degree from Clemson University. After graduation, I had a deep urge to venture to the west, where I met my wife and eventually ended up in northern Idaho. I have been working with at-risk youth and their families for over 12 years in a variety of settings. I started my career in a therapeutic boarding school in Idaho, but quickly found my passion was in adventure therapy programs. I worked as a wilderness staff and, after a few years, became interested in working more with families. I became an admissions counselor and loved connecting with parents and helping to guide them to find treatment for their children.
Family took me back east, where I helped open the admissions office for a new adventure therapy program in North Carolina. The program was a great success, but the call from the west would not go away. My wife and I, along with my two boys, moved back to Idaho where I became the regional director of admissions for five programs in Northern Idaho.
Later, I became an admissions specialist, concentrating on internet marketing, for a group of all-female residential treatment centers across the United States and, most recently, as the admissions director for a small co-ed therapeutic boarding school in North Idaho.
I am married to a wonderful woman and have three growing boys. I am an avid skier, gardener, hunter and fisherman. I love to backpack and camp in the local wilderness. I spend most of my winter at Schweitzer Mountain, the local ski area. In the summer, I can be found boating, camping and fishing on beautiful Lake Pend Oreille, Priest Lake and many local streams and rivers throughout the Pacific Northwest.
I grew up here in Idaho and developed a love of the outdoors from the time I could carry my own backpack. From trips to my family’s cabin in Donnely, Idaho to yearly backpacking treks in the Sawtooth Mountains, I’ve always found the outdoors to be the most healing and peaceful place for me.
I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with a masters in Marriage and Family Counseling. I have worked with children, adolescents, adults young, and their families in some capacity for the last 15 years. I have worked in a variety of settings including schools, outpatient addiction clinics, private practice, and therapeutic boarding schools. I am a registered supervisor with the state of Idaho and enjoys providing supervision for master’s level clinicians seeking clinical licensure as well as interns working on their LPC or LCPC degrees. I am also trained in brainspotting.
My first degree was in secondary education, and I taught U.S. history and psychology in high school. During this time, I also worked at summer camps as a counselor and as a Resident Director for college students. After a few years of teaching, I went back to school for a Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling, with an emphasis in trauma and complicated bereavement. In addition to time in private practice, and as a clinical supervisor at an addiction’s clinic, I’ve spent the bulk of my clinical career as a primary therapist at a therapeutic boarding school for adolescent boys. One of the highlights of this work was leading backpacking trips through the Idaho wilderness, and therapeutic trips overseas with students and their parents. These trips, through the jungles of Peru and Patagonia, and the streets of Nepal and Israel, showed me the true healing power of the wilderness. These adventures and my experiences in therapeutic boarding, showed me that things happen in the wilderness that are nearly impossible to mimic anywhere else.
I’m highly interested in personal growth and development both on the individual and family level, and I’m passionate about creatively finding ways to foster the insight required for change to happen. Building quality relationships is important to me and the work I do with clients. For this reason, I approach everything from a deeply relational person-centered perspective, with an emphasis on emotional awareness and connection. I practice EMDR and emphasize mindfulness for clients who have experienced trauma or related issues. I’ve also pursued advanced training in attachment issues, Emotion-Focused Therapy for couples and families, the Community Resiliency Model from the Trauma Resource Institute, and The Anatomy of Peace with the Arbinger Institute.
When I’m not working with students and families in the wilderness, you’ll find me hiking and running in the foothills of Boise, camping and climbing in the backcountry of Idaho, or mountain biking and snowboarding at the various Idaho ski resorts.
Morri has worked for therapeutic outdoor programs for over 8 years and has a passion for working with families and teenagers. Of all the positions that Morri has filled, her favorite is helping families through the admissions process. Morri is passionate about the program and believes it’s a full family experience that helps families start down the path to healing and success.
Morri was born and raised on a ranch near where the program operates and has dedicated her life to family, the outdoors and at-risk families. She has always been drawn to helping others and volunteers to manage and operate the local Toys for Tots program for Gooding County.
When Morri is not working or volunteering she enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 kids. Her family enjoys spending time in the outdoors, camping, fishing, riding and working. The four cornerstones of Morri’s life are honesty, hard work, loyalty and family.
As an Admissions Counselor at blueFire Wilderness, it’s a position I find I am well suited for from previous work experience and a role in which I am honored to support families in a time of crisis and concern for their loved ones.
Growing up on the Georgia coast, I was outdoors all the time. Fishing, boating, exploring the woods near my house. In college, I realized my sanity was tied to how much time I spent in the outside, and often dragged friends with me for new adventures. Those experiences guided my career choices for a long time. As I began to raise my own children, I saw such a difference with them and our family whenever we detached from the ‘front country’ full of devices and distractions.
I graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Ecology. On the path towards working to restore watersheds, I realized I wanted to engage people in the outdoors instead. I began with teaching youth at YMCA camps in Georgia, running challenge courses, and leading rites of passage trips in Washington.
From there, I started guiding full-time for a wilderness therapy program and guiding expeditions in California and Colorado. Spending weeks upon weeks outdoors and seeing the changes that happen to youth in those settings has been one of the most incredible experiences in my life.
From fieldwork, I moved to working in residential programs and running my own program. When I had a chance to return to working in the wilderness therapy world, I took it! I’m lucky to be able to share my experience, my view of the wilderness, and our work with families.
I spend my own outdoor time biking and fishing around the Appalachian Mountains and surfing along the South Carolina coast.
Liz was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she earned her B.A. in Psychology from Duquesne University. After completing her undergraduate degree, Liz went on to get her Master’s degree in Counselor Education from the Pennsylvania State University. Currently a Ph.D. candidate with Duquesne University, Liz is writing her dissertation on Social Information Processing of Aggressive Youth and has published work on this subject for academic journals.
Liz has worked as a mental health therapist since graduating from Penn State University in 2015 and has loved each professional endeavor more than the last. She has worked with populations in school and community settings, including wrap-around services, psychiatric inpatient hospital, outpatient counseling centers, and classrooms from Pre-K to High School. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, Liz’s enthusiasm for her work comes from the immense gratitude she has for a career that allows her to make meaningful connections with others, instill hope in the lives of children and families, and the constant learning opportunities presented to her through this special work.
Ever since she was a young girl, Liz has felt most herself in the outdoors. It has been a long-held dream to work in wilderness therapy, as it joins her career and academic interests with the healing power of nature. Liz’s free time is spent exploring the beauty of Idaho with her favorite hiking pal and dog, Fezzik.
<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Jeff Johnson, PharmD, PA-C graduated from Idaho State University in 2000 and worked as a community pharmacist for two years before becoming a Physician Assistant. He has worked in emergency medicine, family practice, and mental health. He has been an assistant professor at Idaho State University since 2011 and teaches numerous medical topics. He is passionate about mental health issues and enjoys helping patients improve their lives. He is a member of IAPA, AAPA, ASAM and PAEA.</span>
I grew up in Boise, Idaho. I spent my summers hiking around the Frank Church Wilderness and Sawtooth National Forest. My parents instilled a deep reverence for the power of the outdoors in my four brothers and I from a young age. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to share that with our clients at blueFire.
I attended school at Brigham Young University before getting my Master’s in Business Administration at Boise State University. After teaching school for several years I stumbled onto blueFire while looking for summer work. After catching the “blueFire bug” I couldn’t stay away and joined the company full-time in 2019. I spent 2 years in the field, working to guide our clients through the wilderness, helping them meet their physical and emotional needs. It was fun to combine my experience working with young people with my love for the outdoors. Now I’m lucky to work as the Field Director, helping to recruit and train our staff to be expert wilderness instructors.
I grew up in small-town Utah. I fell in love with the outdoors at an early age, growing up at the base of the Wasatch Mountain Range. My dad would always take my brother and I camping. Then through the Scouting program I really excelled and developed a passion for being out in nature. Spending my free time biking, backpacking, and going on long 500+ mile walks. I feel blessed to be connected to such a beautiful state.
blueFire is the second Wilderness Therapy program I’ve worked for, where I have a combined 3 years as a Field instructor. I have spent 16+ years working with teenagers in a therapeutic setting, the majority of that being in Therapeutic Boarding Schools and Residential Treatment Centers. Collectively I have spent 20+ years working in Mental Health and Health Care settings.
In my role as Field Supervisor, I am the director of education for our field teams. I develop trainings so that our instructors may have the confidence and tools to help the clients we work with. I am very passionate about training our instructor teams because the job they do can be both difficult and equally rewarding.
At blueFire our mission is; “Inspiring and guiding others to a place of self-discovery and personal resolve to achieve great success.” When I break that down the way I understand it, it states “Others” and so in that it is our job to Inspire and Guide everyone we interact with and that is the culture of which I cultivate in my daily interactions and trainings with our field instructors.
I hail from the best of the Midwest, the beautiful state of Minnesota. This is where I got my start in the outdoor guiding industry and working in wilderness therapy. I grew up in the city, but my family spent most of our free time at our cabin just outside the BWCA in the northern part of the state. Throughout my youth I had a proclivity to be in the woods exploring or swimming in any body of water I could find. This was the beginning of a lifelong affinity and connection to nature.
Entering adulthood and after college I was unsure of what path to take in life, or even which first steps to take. I studied Psychology in Central Wisconsin and knew I wanted to work outdoors. In 2004 I was hired at a rock climbing gym and fell in love with the sport. Through metaphors and resiliency, climbing showed me that it was possible to incorporate both mental health and adventure sports. I have been climbing ever since, personally and as a guide.
From 2004-2015 then 2020-present, totaling over 1,700 field days I have worked for various wilderness therapy and expedition style programs as a field instructor, program director, climbing director, and guide with an emphasis in climbing, canoeing, and backcountry Xc skiing. This brought me to parts of the country where “polar vortex and longest record heat waves is a thing”. I feel lucky being able to have worked in a wide range of outdoor therapeutic programs like, MN Dept of Corrections, non-profits, and therapeutic boarding schools. This work has also led me to supporting inner city harm reduction and anti-bully initiatives In public schools.
While at blueFire I have worked as a Head Field Instructor, Adventure Coordinator, and now Adventure Director. Many great folks have built up this program and I am excited to have the opportunity to continue the amazing growth it has had over the years. Facilitation, expanding comfort zones, and applying coping strategies while rock climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, or Xc skiing is a huge component to adventure therapy. By processing an experience clients begin to feel empowered to become better versions of themselves and practice new strategies when feeling stressed. blueFire encompasses what I value in experiential education and mental health, and that made the decision easy when accepting any position in the company. The professional development, attention to client care and success, and gorgeous scenery is what sets blueFire apart. As they say, it takes a village. And I have the greatest global village here at blueFire.
I am a certified Level II equine specialist through EAGALA, a model of equine-assisted psychotherapy services which focuses on growth and learning. Throughout my years, as both my spirit and ego have evolved, the only constant in my life has been horses.
My love of horses helped me connect with my father, which led me to become a professional rodeo cowboy. I learned horsemanship, integrity and the value of a hard day’s work from my father. We became best friends, confiding in one another, never judging and always understanding.
After high school in the southern Idaho area, I attended Idaho State University on a track scholarship. Following graduation, I became a high school math teacher. But it wasn’t the algebra or geometry that motivated me. My favorite part of teaching was the counseling.
Some kids have come back and said, “You saved my life because you let me spend time to visit with you.” That is the best thing.
During my years of teaching, I competed in local rodeos and eventually hit the professional rodeo circuit. In the fall of 1983, I launched a successful music career. For 15 years “Johnny U and the Dodge Country Band” toured the nation 300 days out of the year. As country music evolved, I always stayed true to my roots.
Working in the equine therapy field at an adventure therapy program has provided a great opportunity for me to combine my love of horses, desire to help youth, and even bridging in things learned along the way through my music career. For me, it is the most wonderful, powerful thing I’ve ever seen.
I am Tim Weaver the Logistics Director at blueFire Wilderness Therapy. I was born and raised in Gooding Idaho and really like the small-town life. While growing up I enjoyed all kinds of sports. My favorites were basketball and baseball. As I got older I played league softball many weeknights and most weekends all summer. I spent countless hours coaching my own kids in the sports they participated in. My four children have now given me seven grandkids.
In my previous career, I worked 38 years for the City of Gooding public works department and was a superintendent. Managing a team, making plans, and solving problems were some of my strengths. What I bring to the table as a Logistics Director is organization and leadership. One of the reasons I took this job after retiring from the city is to work with the exceptional people here and help the kids in any way I can. I’ve worked with blueFire for two years now and I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve met and the work that has been accomplished here. Taking care of others is what I do.
Misti was raised in Gooding, Idaho, and loved growing up in a small community. She moved to Boise after graduation to attend college. Misti worked for 7 years running a luxury theater with a full-service restaurant and managed over 100 employees. She genuinely loves working with people and creating an experience for others. Shortly after having their second child Misti had the opportunity to accept a job near San Francisco. Misti and her family packed up and spent a couple years experiencing city living and spent their time at the beach. Misti and her family missed the feeling of a small community and moved back to Gooding in February of 2020.
Misti married her high school sweetheart and have been together for 13 years. They have a 5-year-old and a 3 year old. Misti and her family spend their summers boating on the SnakeRiver, hiking, kayaking, camping, and at the ball field. Their winters are spent in the mountains skiing and snowboarding. Everything they do includes family.
Misti chose blueFire because she loves what the program provides to their clients such as the adventures, curriculum, staff, and the overall experience that is given. Misti also loves to witness the growth and change in our blueFire clients and said it is an extremely rewarding position to be able to witness a client’s journey through blueFire.
One of Misti’s favorite quotes is “The biggest communication problem is, we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” -Umesh Dhande
Odessa comes to us from right here in Gooding. Having worked previously with Kathy, Kathy couldn’t think of a better addition to our team as Office Manager than Odessa. Odessa has several years of office management experience. She was in charge of helping clients set up their accounts, and assist with financial counseling at her previous position.
In Odessa’s spare time she enjoys the outdoors with her family. They enjoy going camping, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. She has been married to her husband Jeff for 16 years, and together they have a 10 year old son.
When Odessa was asked to provide a quote for us that inspires her and brings her into this line of work, she gave us “The hardest moments are a calling to something Greater.”