BlueFire Wilderness Team
Growing up in a large family, I spent most of my younger years in the outdoors and engaging in a variety of activities, from camping and hiking, team sports and annual family reunions at a mountain lake in northern Utah. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Recreation Therapy, and shortly thereafter became a nationally Certified Licensed Recreation Therapist. After five years working in the recreation department in an inpatient psychiatric hospital that served young children, adolescents and adults, I was introduced to adventure therapy programs. Playing on a competitive softball team that traveled to southern Idaho in 1994, I met the leadership team of one of the first adventure therapy programs.
Wilderness therapy was an ideal setting for me as I spent several years as a Field Supervisor, established the Field Director position, became Assistant Director and then was the Executive Director of a leading adventure therapyprogram for the next 12 years. I believe in the powerful change that happens in the outdoor setting and am also passionate about continuing to evolve this profession and how programs are provided. Blending the traditional high level care of a treatment team model found in residential treatment centers with a strong adventure component into the wilderness approach enhances the experience that our families have. Safety in this setting is a priority and, as such, hiring and training protocols are of the utmost importance.
I live in a community which values family and strong neighborhood connections. My husband and I have raised three older children and have our youngest still at home. I volunteer countless hours to support my community by coaching youth sports. Seeing young people gain confidence through physical success is an important part of my life. Spending time as a family is a top priority and we can often be found at a ball field, gymnasium, boating on the Snake River or enjoying the many winter activities in the surrounding mountains. I get excited to engage in new adventures and challenges on a regular basis. My family recently added a tandem kayak to their collection of outdoor gear.
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 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.
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.
Before coming to Bluefire, Shannon practiced in a variety of settings with a broad range of clients. She worked in residential treatment with young adolescent girls and their families with a strong emphasis in recreation and adventure therapy. Through this and her clinical internship in a wilderness therapy program she was able to see the miraculous transformation that occurs when individuals are taken outside of their comfort zones and removed from the distractions of our world, creating an opportunity to look within and find more effective coping mechanisms. Since her time spent in wilderness therapy, Shannon has ached to return.
Shannon utilizes a client-centered strengths based approach, mainly using Motivational Interviewing and Solution-Focused Brief therapy interventions. She also has extensive experience in Dialectical Behavior Therapy and has had foundational and intensive training through Behavioral Tech.
Shannon is an Idaho native that left for over a decade to pursue career goals and is excited to be back in the majestic beauty of the Idaho wilderness and the opportunities it provides. Shannon spends much of her free time with her husband, daughter, son and pup enjoying the outdoors.
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.
I grew up in Seattle with the ocean and mountains very close by. Most our family free time was found skiing, hiking and camping. I spent all my free time in high school alpine skiing and racing while mixing my love of gymnastics with crazy antics on skis. After a climbing course during those years, my real outdoor passion turned to rock climbing and mountaineering in college.
Back in Seattle, my wife and I started a family while I was the area director of Campfire Girls and Boys, until a phone call from Idaho changed our lives. We moved to Sun Valley where I spent 18 years developing a comprehensive outdoor education program for an independent K-12 school called the Community School. Since leaving that job, I have enjoyed commercial guiding jobs as a back country ski, rock and mountain, hike and river guide.
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.
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.”
Tawnie grew up in a small town in Oregon not much different than Gooding. She was raised outdoors helping out on her parents farm, and going hunting. When she was 18 she joined the Army as an Intelligence Analyst. When her enlistment was up in the Army, she transferred to the Air Force where she continued as an Intelligence Analyst. During her time with the Air Force she was deployed to Afghanistan, and received an Air Force Achievement Medal for her work there.
When she returned home to the states, she began her degree in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Fish and Wildlife Management. At a fork in the road, she discovered she had a great love for Accounting, and began working on that degree.
She is the mother of two children. She is constantly outside hiking, running, fishing, or exploring. If she can’t get outside, she enjoys programming and reading. She is constantly getting her kids outside, involved in their church, and volunteering in their community. She also coaches soccer and T-Ball. She is also a member of the VFW.
Her father started a non-profit organization in Oregon called Fishin’ Friends. The basis of that organization is to teach the youth of today, how to get outside and find hobbies in fishing. Once a year they hold a large event where they give out hundreds of fishing poles and tackle, and teach the kids how to fish. Working with a program that helps kids find their passion in nature, runs deep in her blood.
Two quotes that Tawnie likes to implement into her life are: “God didn’t add another day in your life because you needed it, he added it because someone out there needs you.” And “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my sense put in tune once more.” -John Burroughs