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 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 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 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.
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 is trained in brainspotting and his 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.
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 also recently obtained his Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP) certification.
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.
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.
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.
Dave grew up locally in the Magic Valley and was raised in and around the Snake River Canyon. Much of Dave’s youth was spent learning wilderness skills alongside the children of Larry Dean Olsen in the canyons, flatlands, and waterways of Southern Idaho. In their teens and twenties, Dave, his brother, his sister, and most of his friends all worked as instructors for a variety of wilderness programs in Southern Idaho and Utah. In their teens, Dave and his sister were called on by several youth camps to teach survival skills during the summer months.
Dave has multiple degrees related to education and educational leadership. In addition to teaching in schools in California, Oregon, and Idaho, he has worked in wilderness programs for the last twenty-five years. Dave’s experience in wilderness includes time spent as an instructor, a therapist, logistics, safety team, independent contractor, field director, and program manager. Dave works both at blueFire Wilderness Therapy as the Director of Client Services and as the Principal of a local school.
Dave was originally asked to contribute blueFire Wilderness Therapy as a contractor and was present for many of the early meetings with local Planning and Zoning officials and concerned citizens. After working for a time as a contractor he was asked to join the team as a year-round employee. During his time at blueFire Wilderness, Dave has covered and helped oversee numerous departments and programs as they grew and developed in their effectiveness.
Dave and his wife reside locally and have two grown children. When not working, you will find Dave and his wife headed to the coast, in the backcountry camping, or hitting a jeep trail somewhere.
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.
Travis grew up in rural Missouri. He and his two brothers used to get into trouble exploring the land around where they lived, messing with their parents’ horses, picking up any wild animals they could catch, and finding unique and unpredictable ways of injuring themselves in their adventures.
Travis’ life in high school and college had its fair share of adventure too. He worked some summers at a summer camp and some at outfitters on rivers in Northwest Arkansas. He fell in love with wilderness, rivers, hiking, and climbing. The more time he spent with people outside, the happier and more fulfilled he found himself to be.
After finishing his undergraduate work, he found a job working as a field instructor at a wilderness therapy company. He was struck at how formative the experience of guiding youth through the therapeutic process in the backcountry was for him. He was captivated by the power of the work and the parallel process he experienced at that program. He worked there for a little over three years, spending most of his time in the field. He went on to work at a transitional living program for young adults as a mentor and program coordinator, and then spent three years running an experiential learning ranch-based program that worked with underserved at-risk youth.
Travis came to blueFire in January 2018. Coming to work at blueFire felt like a bit of a homecoming to him – he hadn’t realized how much he missed wilderness therapy until he was back in it. Currently, he oversees the logistics, adventure, and field departments. He works to foster a coherent and collaborative culture that drives positive outcomes for blueFire clients and promotes the health of the organization. He strives to build strong relationships with employees, clients, and other stakeholders and develops effective systems that help blueFire succeed in its mission. When he’s not at work, he spends time in the mountains fishing, woodworking, snowboarding, mountain biking, and enjoying life with his wife and two sons.
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.”
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.
As a family man with a wife and two little boys at home, it is my pleasure to work with blueFire families each week as the Family Spark Coordinator.
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
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.
Jessie had a very difficult start in life. She barely survived multiple placements where she was malnourished and severely mistreated. By the time she was adopted by Paul and Olga Goddard at just under one year of age, she had little use for people. As a “teen” she showed her anxiety through tearing the house to pieces every time she was left alone for even a few minutes – her parents always wondered if the house would be standing when they came home. Her daddy came to wonder if he could survive this “very troubled teen.” Jessie’s momma reminded Paul that it takes time to build trust, and that this is something he undertakes with great care for his clients, and must now do the same with his own “daughter.” Then, one day, while helping Paul at work, she got her leg caught in a steel coyote trap and tried hysterically to free herself. When Paul was informed of her situation he went running to help, and as soon as she saw him she stopped thrashing, looked him square in the eye, and knew that he was there for her. This was the moment when they first bonded!
Since then she has worked with great devotion as a Wilderness Therapy Dog. First, with her Golden Retriever brother, San’ka, and since his passing with her Golden Retriever sister, Leia. Jessie teaches the clients extremely valuable lessons in relationships and trust – as the kids must gently and patiently earn her trust and love if they want to spend time with her. She teaches healthy boundaries and the benefits of taking your time to build real relationships. Jessie is also very sensitive to clients’ pain and sadness, as she has been through so much in her life. She will often kindly approach a tearful young person and lovingly lick the tears from her face.
Jessie also knows a great deal about the process of healing. Some years ago she tore her CCLs (cranial cruciate ligament – the dog equivalent of ACLs) in her knees. The only way she would be able to run and play, as she so loves to do, would be to go through a TPLO surgery (tibial-plateau-leveling osteotomy), which is very intense. She successfully went through the bilateral TPLO and worked hard to recover, accomplishing much more than most dogs who go through this procedure. She did so with the love and help of her family and friends. Why is this so important? Because she serves as a powerful example to her clients that healing is possible, and that it takes hard work and dedication to reach your potential.
Jessie’s daddy and assistant therapist, Paul Goddard, Ph.D., is honored to share in her journey of supporting and challenging young people to find the strength and love to heal their hearts, minds and relationships as they reconnect with hopes and dreams that had started to slip away. Jessie is getting older, but still loves nothing more than to go out to the “field” with her daddy so she can explore, chew sticks, and love the kids who need a furry friend!