blueFire Wilderness Team
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 grew up in South Carolina and earned a degree from Clemson University. After graduation, I had a deep urge to venture to the west. I moved to UT to ski and that is where I met my wife. From there, we were looking for a place that had skiing and water. After a long search we ended up in northern Idaho. I have been working with at-risk youth and their families for over 17 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 wilderness 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.
My wife and I are raising three growing boys. I am an avid skier, gardener, hunter and fisherman. I love to backpack and camp in the local public lands. 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 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 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 visiting the NC mountains at my family’s cabin in Linville, NC. The beauty and tranquility of those experiences shaped my love for the outdoors and adventure. I was on the ski patrol at Sugar Mountain from the age of 15 and continued on the pro patrol throughout my undergrad at Appalachian State University.
I spent an inordinate amount of time rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, exploring and skiing during those years in Boone, Blowing rock, and Linville, NC. I continued my quest for more adventure in the outdoors by moving to Mammoth Lakes, California where I began backcountry skiing and continued rock climbing,biking and backpacking. I gained such a positive perspective on life from being in Nature.
I had a drive to serve others and particularly in the mental health field. I met my wife and began my career in the mental health field at a therapeutic boarding school in Utah. I loved it and was driven by learning in the field and seemed to have found a niche working with children with emotional issues.
After getting my Masters in Counseling in California, I went on to become licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California. I worked in a residential treatment facility in San Diego for seven years gaining incredible experiences in the field working through the therapeutic relationship to increase personal awareness and growth in the clients I served.
My wife and I moved back to NC and I became licensed as a NCLPC. I began to specialize in cognitive techniques and analysis creating a focus on clients with depression, ADHD, anxiety, negative self beliefs, and anger issues for the next six years.
I wanted to take the knowledge and experiences I had gained from working with clients and their families in the residential and academic settings and apply them to a wilderness program that valued clinical and family components. I was lucky enough to find Blue Fire Wilderness Therapy and I truly enjoy working here.
Mark Ellis is the Embers Therapist and specializes in working with boys age 11-15. The focus of his career has been to improve family systems and parent/child relationships. Mark’s client expertise is in pre-teen and early teen boy challenges such as oppositional behavior at home, low social functioning, rigid thinking, depression, anxiety, spectrum and attachment issues. Mark joined blueFire Wilderness bringing with him a passion and level of experience perfectly aligned with the growing need for therapies focused on our Embers population.
“I love to help families learn skills and build a tool box full of options to manage their emotions in the most stressful situations. Healing is done within the entire family unit and blueFire Wilderness gives families a unique and effective platform to ignite this change. We help your child better understand where they are, learn conflict resolution, and become more accepting and communicative moving forward.”
Mark is a husband, and father to six darling children. In between family time and work he still manages to stay physically active and has most recently taken up swimming in preparation for future triathlons.
As an adoptee, I enjoy any opportunity to work with adopted young people. I have trained with some of the leading experts in adoption and attachment. I am committed to helping kids and families heal their relationships and improve communication. I believe in treating the “core” issue instead of only focusing on behaviors. I also believe in establishing strong relationships with my students and families as an effective means of facilitating the therapeutic process. I believe that the key to effective therapy is all about the connection. In my opinion, therapy is not about techniques and the latest research, but about the connection between people.
One of my biggest strengths is my creativity. I use this in my work with families, adolescents, and young adults. I emphasize the importance of complete openness and honesty with my families. I feel this is the time to get everything out on the table and to share the things that you’ve been afraid to share in the past. This helps bring families closer together as well as improving overall communication.
I also believe in individualized treatment. I believe that you have to meet every family, adolescent, and young adult where they are and that you must adjust your style depending on what they need. It is necessary to have a lot of tools in your toolbox because every person brings a set of new challenges and issues. It is important to be able to find a way in and establish a relationship with whom you are working with. Oftentimes this means thinking outside the box and being creative. I challenge families to gain insight into their own issues and I believe that the process by which they resolve their issues is more important than the issue itself.
I have also worked with the full range of behavioral and emotional challenges youth struggle with, including mood disorders, grief, attachment, trauma, substance abuse, learning and attention/impulsive disorders. I’ve assisted countless young people in developing stress management strategies and improving social and life skills. I have worked extensively with families in helping to improve family communication and relations. I have also supervised many clinicians working towards licensure, as well as provided training to mental health workers. I am very committed and dedicated to my clients and their families and bring professionalism and authenticity to my work.
In my spare time I love to mountain bike, hike, snowboard, cross-country ski, skate ski, back country snowboard, and play guitar. I am a musician on the side and have been in many bands over the years. I love hiking with my dog Pliskin and have enjoyed raising him from just 8 weeks old. I have guided biking trips all over the U.S.
I grew up in rural North Carolina where I spent a great deal of time outside rambling around in the woods and on the water. I was fortunate to attend Western Carolina University as an undergrad where I studied Parks and Recreation Management/Outdoor Leadership and began a career doing guide work in several different settings. I enjoyed this work immensely and realized I had a knack for leadership and helping others feel safe as they journeyed into a world that was unfamiliar and exciting.
After college I began a 6+ year long career as field instructor doing wilderness therapy in North Carolina and Colorado where I continued to grow personally and professionally. During this time I was fortunate to be mentored by several talented therapists and work with many, many clients. I moved into a leadership position within the field department doing staff training, managing a high ropes course, and indirectly working with clients for several years.
Eventually, after a summer in Alaska, I attended Western Carolina University again and received a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a focus on addictions treatment. I did a practicum and internship experience at a dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment facility working with clients of all ages and walks of life.
It is hard to explain in just a few paragraphs how much I believe in wilderness therapy and profound the experiences are that I get to witness regularly. I believe wilderness therapy is effective for clients because everything they do in the wilderness matters and gives near instantons feedback. At the same time there are little outside distractions to interfere with this feedback making it a powerful experience that words cannot do justice. No matter the obstacle in wilderness, its never personal for those trying to overcome it, and I believe this helps clients transfer a sense of personal agency into their lives. There are endless opportunities to become creative in the wilderness help articulate a theme, and I enjoy engaging clients actively in their therapeutic process instead of just talking about it. I enjoy working at Bluefire Wilderness Therapy because there is an emphasis on individualized treatment for clients. There is also an active family therapy component that is crucial and helps create a more thorough and effective treatment process.
In my personal time I enjoy spending time with loved ones and friends, being outside in the mountains, floating rivers, reading, cooking, and volunteering with the fire department.
Lindsay grew up in Texas and attended Texas A&M for her undergraduate. Lindsay earned her BS in Economics and her BA in International Studies while at Texas A&M. During her undergrad Lindsay began pursuing her passion for supporting individual and group growth through wilderness and adventure activities. For the past 8 years, she has been working with a variety of populations in this capacity. Lindsay eventually decided to pursue a Masters in Counseling at Prescott College to continue to develop her skill set. There she focused her studies on Adventure Based Psychotherapy and completed a thesis project exploring secondary and vicarious trauma in wilderness therapy frontline staff.
Paul started working with special needs kids in 1975 at a camp for handicapped youngsters. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with specialization in Child and Family from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1993. Dr. Goddard first worked as a wilderness therapist at Aspen Achievement Academy in 1997, where he learned to further integrate the healing power of Mother Nature with the Science of Psychology. As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (Utah and New York), he subsequently worked as a testing psychologist, clinical director and executive director for some of the nation’s foremost adolescent treatment programs. In 2005 Paul returned from an administrative position at a program near Lake Placid, New York to his love for working with “kids” in the wilderness.
Paul’s ability to balance genuine nurturance with personal accountability has earned him the reputation of being a “Giant Teddy Bear” among his clients. Building trust with treatment resistant young women – who sense his genuine care and concern balanced with his belief in their ability to face their “monsters” and heal – is Dr. Goddard’s specialty. He also loves to facilitate parent workshops and other family work. His dedication to promoting healing throughout the family system is evident in all of his work. Families are prepared to play an important and positive role in the journey of healing.
Dr. Goddard’s experience and training include work with trauma and abuse, adoption and attachment issues, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse and addictions, learning difficulties, attention deficit, oppositionality and low self-confidence. He challenges students to “find that which is best within and to express that inner strength to make the world a better place.”
Paul stays young by playing with his ever-energetic dogs – Jessie and Leia. Exploring diverse cultures, playing the guitar, and spending time in nature are cherished activities.
Dr. Jeremy Chiles is a licensed clinical psychologist who has worked with in the area of psychological testing since 2002. His training in personality, cognitive, achievement, and psychosexual testing helps specify problems and concerns that will allow for identification of the most appropriate level of care or most suitable academic environment. In helping individuals and families work toward psychological health and balance in their lives, Dr. Chiles employs strategies including psychological testing/assessment, comprehensive interviews with students and parents, consultation with clinicians, close interaction with educational consultants, and “on-site” testing to gather the most accurate and useful information in a timely manner.In addition to a standard test battery consisting of cognitive, achievement, personality, mental health, and behavioral measures, Dr. Chiles has training in assessing autism spectrum disorders, learning disorders, neuropsychological screening issues, and psychosexual issues.
Dr. Chiles attended the University of Utah where he received his bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology and a minor in history. He attended Brigham Young University where he received his doctoral degree in clinical psychology. While providing a strong psychotherapy training program, the training at Brigham Young University also offered an assessment curriculum that addressed intellectual/cognitive and mental health/personality aspects in children, adolescents, and adults. Additional training during graduate school involved assessments of adolescents and adults at the Utah State Hospital, Utah State Prison, residential treatment centers, outpatient treatment settings, acute care facilities.
Dr. Chiles is a member of the Utah Psychological Association and American Psychological Association. Dr. Chiles is known among wilderness and therapeutic programs as a thorough, empathic, energetic, and personable clinician. His passion is working with adolescents and their families, and he finds it rewarding to work with programs and personnel that are equally skilled and passionate about their work.
Hello, my name is Richard Conant III and I have worked at blueFire Wilderness Therapy since July 2016. I came into this job looking for a new route in life and also needed it to be able to improve on communication skills when conversing with those who are in the process of healing or growing. I have been living in Utah for the past 11 years, with travels in between, and am now a resident of Idaho. I originally grew up on the east coast in the state of Connecticut.
I chose to work at blueFire because of their willingness to accept me into their program and give me the proper trainings to be able to grow within the company myself. There is a wide array of learning that can be done with rescue courses, primitive skill courses and other opportunities that helped my growth as an instructor and now into one of the Field Director’s.
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.
Meet HeidiHeidi has been working in medicine for the last 18 years and is trained as a Physician Assistant through the University Of Washington School of Medicine-Medex in Seattle and have been working as a Psychiatric Physician Assistance since 2009 in Idaho and Oregon.Heidi is licensed in Idaho and Oregon as a Physician Assistant. She is a member of the American Association of Physician Assistant, Idaho and Oregon Physician Assistant organizations as well as the American Psychiatric Association and the Neuroscience Education Institute. She has worked on medical humanitarian missions from as close as Caldwell, Idaho to as far as Puerto Maldonado in the Peruvian Amazon. Heidi believes strongly in education and has worked with the University of Idaho’s Physician Assistant program as a guest lecturer on multiple psychiatric topics including PTSD and Trauma in Children. Heidi has been a supervising Physician Assistant and preceptor for training physician assistants and medical students.
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 paddle boarding. 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.”
I was born and raised in Gooding, ID. I graduated from Gooding High School and went to college in the Seattle area on a volleyball scholarship. After graduating from Green River College, I returned to Gooding and finished an Elementary Education degree at the College of Southern Idaho. I’ve spent the last few years coaching and starting a family.
I married my high school sweetheart in 2014 and we have 2 little boys, Iker and Noah. In our spare time you can always find us in a gym or on a field. We are passionate about sports and fill most of our evenings with league games around the Magic Valley. I’ve coached volleyball for the past several years from elementary rec ball to traveling club teams.
Family means everything to me. Being able to help families through a time of trials and healing is why I chose blueFire.”
David plans, organizes and helps lead blueFire’s outdoor adventure trips for clients. His 20-year professional background includes work in wilderness therapy, adventure therapy, outdoor leadership, and youth homes. He holds multiple guide licenses in Idaho to provide the following activities: XC skiing, snowshoeing, rock climbing, and mountain bike riding. David has led and co-led expeditions in Alaska, Patagonia, The Cascades, and The Wind River Range. He is a trained WFR, EMT, WEMT and provides comprehensive training and supervision to his adventure team and field instructors and provides an atmosphere of collaboration and teamwork- all in efforts to provide high-quality program activities for clients.