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I have a background in Psychology and I am currently working towards my Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology at Grand Canyon University. Born in London, England, I started traveling the world extensively from a young age, from Africa to India, South America and throughout South-East Asia. Later I became involved in multiple humanitarian missions abroad, promoting education and building schools in Central America alongside Raleigh International. I have resided in the beautiful Pacific Northwest since 2006 where I met my huge-hearted Captain.
I have previously worked in the fields of Family Advocacy, grief work in the school system and Hospice. My job had me helping women and children through crisis situations and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to make a positive difference in their lives. These experiences have shown me that I have a gift for helping others. I particularly enjoy the family dynamic and being a huge part of the family re-connection and healing process. I am grateful to have created our company: Rites of Passage NW wilderness therapy programs, with my husband and to live out our mutual passion through our work in the wilderness. In my free time, I volunteer with HOSPICE and am very passionate about the work I do with these families.
Luke Wenker grew up on a ranch in Scappoose, Oregon next to the Multnomah Chanel, across from Sauvie Island. Luke was raised with a passion for nature and travel. Luke has always spent time around nature, animals, and recognizes the powerful influence nature has on the connectedness of all things. Luke went on his first true overnight backpacking trip in Alaska in 2015, then the big island of Hawaii in 2016 the following year, and has not stopped ever since. Luke holds a BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and a Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR. Luke has extensive experience working with adolescents and young adults in various capacities including school counseling in a high school, working with college-aged students at a community college, and a large, private counseling agency in the Portland area. In 2014, Luke moved to South Dakota for two years and worked for a non-profit specializing in substance-use prevention and intervention. The weekends of those years were spent exploring the Black Hills of South Dakota and all they have to offer.
Through numerous jobs and experiences, Luke has cultivated a therapeutic counseling approach based in person-centered, cognitive behavioral, and motivational interviewing counseling techniques. He helps his clients with goal-setting, communication, self-care, self-exploration, and accountability. Beyond working as a wilderness therapist, Luke maintains a part-time private practice in Astoria, OR helping people explore their ability to manage difficult feelings, heal, and cope in a healthy and productive manner. Luke works from a strength-based, positive perspective and believes in the power and potential of his clients. Luke aims to be an ally for people from all walks of life, including those in the LGBTQ community, and different cultural backgrounds.
Glyn Deputy grew up among the Rocky Mountains of southeast Idaho. His first backcountry journey at age 13 was with Parks and Recreation, a 7 day backpacking trip in the high basins of the jagged Sawtooth Mountains. He later became a volunteer ranger and fire lookout for three summers in the vast Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana. Other adventures include backcountry skiing, whitewater rafting, summiting peaks, wildlife and nature viewing, and solo retreats and extended meditation retreats.
Glyn earned a Bachelors degree at the University of Idaho in 1999, majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Anthropology. Next, he was chomping at the bit to help others move “mountains” of self-illusion out of the way; thus his Masters of Education degree was gained (2003), with a specialty in Community Counseling and Vocational Rehabilitation. In the surrounding rural and frontier communities near the confluence of the Salmon, Clearwater and mighty-Snake Rivers in Idaho, Glyn spent three years serving children, teens, and families as a mental health therapist and psycho-social rehabilitation specialist. He also gained a year of excellent experience as a Disability Specialist at Washington State University, helping transitioning young adults with access to higher education in spite of physically, mentally or emotionally disabling conditions. Glyn recently offered up seven years of clinical treatment coordination and psychotherapy services to the community, all while cultivating a personality centered in the heart more so than in the the mind. He delved even further by volunteering for a local grief support center, facilitating Suicide Loss bereavement groups. Never to fear, Glyn is very grounded in the responsibilities and realities of day to day living and safety, and he approaches students with a strong experiential, academic and clinical background that in turn supports excellent Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy interventions. Moreover, he can draw on the Dialectic Behavioral Therapy focus of building discrete skills in emotion regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. He tries to stay deeply aware of the significance of over-arching developmental stages throughout one’s lifespan and for psycho-education he will often add this scope. Motivational Interviewing techniques are utilized for verbalizing and changing stuck and resistant patterns of behaviors, in particular regarding substance abuse problems. Finally, Narrative Therapy is an approach Glyn frequently utilizes to help clients “map” new and healthy personal narratives supported with rich description. In this way the client’s language becomes a kind of “scaffold” for the potential of accessing greater self-reflection and insight into solving old problems, identifying unique outcomes and generating new self-discoveries.
Erin wandered over to the Pacific Northwest from the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota. She has been working with young people since 2003. Her experience began with case management for youth at risk of homelessness, family conflict/violence, truancy, CPS (Child Protective Services), and more. While pursuing her Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy Erin spent time providing in-home family therapy for youth suffering from depression, ADHD, OCD, ODD, and Conduct disorders. When she is not in the field with Rites of Passage Erin is working for The Emily Program a mental health clinic that provides individual, family and group therapy for adults and young people struggling with eating disorders, substance use disorders, depression/anxiety, etc. Her approach to individual therapy is narrative and strength-based focused on a person’s inner ability to find their own healing and direction. In family therapy she values each member by guiding their ability to communicate and understand one another.
Growing up in Minnesota she was able to take advantage of all the water it had to offer: canoeing, kayaking, sailing, wind surfing, swimming, you name it. Life as a young person is not always easy, she experienced firsthand the healing power of the wilderness, which ultimately led to many adventures. Now you can find Erin hiking the Olympics with her partner and dog, cooking creative meals over a raging campfire, or enjoying her backyard garden.
David grew up in St. Louis Missouri. He attended the University of Missouri and completed his BA in Psychology and while obtaining his Master’s in Social Work at Saint Louis University, David developed his strong interest in the importance of healthy family dynamics and conducting therapy in a way that emphasizes a person’s self-determination and strengths. During his studies, he worked for Probation and Parole as a group drug counselor and caseworker, working to reintegrate parolees back into society with the support of their families. He has also spent some time working as an immediate access intake specialist at Chestnut Health Systems, where he conducted clinical mental health, suicide risk, and drug addiction assessments as well as individual and family therapy.
Recently, David completed a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. He constructed a website where he shared his experiences on the therapeutic effects of both solitude and community in a wilderness setting while also raising donations and awareness for community mental health. Upon completion of the trail, David decided he needed mountains in his life, so he moved from St. Louis to Bellingham WA where he currently resides.
I have been working with adolescents and children since 2002 in a variety of mental health settings. In 2000 I received my my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Anthropology from the University at Buffalo NY. After spending some time rock climbing across the US and Canada, I moved to Utah and worked as a counselor with children and teens in residential and psychiatric facilities. I became inspired to continue my education in this field. In 2009 I graduated with my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and Art Therapy from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont CA. Since my graduating I have worked with troubled and at risk youth in a variety of school based settings.
I use a strength-based approach when working with my clients and help them explore patterns and schemas that they use to interpret their past experiences and approach current challenges. I connect with my clients in the present moment, and accept them for who they are. Through this unconditional positive regard trust is established and healing and growth can occur within a safe environment. I feel extremely honored to be a part of an individual’s ongoing journey towards inner balance.
I am excited to combine my love of the outdoors with my professional career. I have been an outdoor enthusiast my entire life and have been camping and rock-climbing for over 14 years. I believe this environment provides a unique opportunity for individuals to face challenges that can be used as metaphors for life. As a therapist in this type of setting, I enjoy supporting each student as they grow to recognize their strengths and shed maladaptive patterns and behavior.
Luke began working with adolescents as a residential counselor after earning his BA in psychology and art studio from SUNY Geneseo. He was an active participant in the recreational therapy program and participated in outdoor learning and adventure trips. Luke then pursued his Masters in creative arts therapy from Nazareth College where he continued to focus on working with children, adolescents, and families.
During graduate school, Luke became interested in animal-assisted therapy. He certified his border-collie, Tana, with Therapy Dogs International. In 2010, he and Tana moved to Montana where they worked in the school setting providing group, individual, and family therapy for students with emotional and behavioral concerns. While in Montana, Luke was able to complete training in equine-assisted therapy and enjoy the magnificence of the many outdoor recreational opportunities Montana offers.
In 2013, they relocated to Seattle. Luke has continued his mental health work with youth; gaining experience with students on the autism spectrum and providing prevention services for substance abuse.
Luke uses an eclectic style of counseling, working with clients and within systems to find an appropriate approach after building strong therapeutic relationships. Frequently, experiential elements and in vivo coaching are used to facilitate growth and learning. Art therapy techniques may be used for expressive or insight-oriented work; and cognitive-behavioral techniques may be incorporated with psycho-education information when appropriate. Luke attempts to provide flexible and an ‘outside the box’ approach to reduce the stigma of mental health.
Luke and Tana both love being active and spending time in nature. They are excited about their opportunity to work with Rites of Passage and help teenagers and young adults transform into their best self.
Kris has been working in the mental health field for 11 years. Her experience ranges from: working with children and adolescents in schools providing individual and group mental health counseling, providing suicide assessments for the local school district, working collaboratively with Children’s Protective Services (CPS) as a Family Preservation therapist, providing mental health first aid for natural disasters, doing individual, group and family wilderness therapy for Rites of Passage and most recently, providing mental health assessments in crisis services within the emergency department at St. Peters Providence Hospital, Olympia WA. She has worked with people of all ages, from many walks of life and with many different mental health conditions.
Her favorite way to spend free time is with her children and in the outdoors. She would always prefer to be walking, hiking, camping, rock climbing, swimming in lakes or the ocean, kayaking, canoeing, skiing or just sitting outdoors. She has faithfully been an outdoor enthusiast and has practiced yoga for the past 18 years. She is a passionate believer in wilderness therapy because she has seen firsthand its positive impact on people and how it changes lives.
Dr. Tanya M. Wilke, MD is a board certified family physician specializing in Family Medicine. She is our Medical Director here at Rites of Passage NW Wilderness Therapy and Rites of Passage Ranch. She is currently licensed to practice medicine in Washington State. She is affiliated with St Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital, and St. Joseph Medical Center. Her professional memberships include the American Medical Association (AMA), The American Academy of Family Physicians, Washington Academy of Family Physicians, King County Medical Society.
Dr. Tanya M. Wilke graduated from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine at New Orleans in 2006. She completed her residency at Family Medicine at Southwest Washington Medical Center (SWMC). She has been the clinical preceptor for both the University of Washington (UW) and Seattle University Nurse Practitioner programs and has been on the Medical Executive Committee for St Elizabeth Hospital since 2012. Her previous work was at Franciscan Medical Clinic in Enumclaw before going into private practice: Tanya Wilke Family Medicine LLC.
Tanya loves the outdoors. By early spring, you will never see her white car without her red and yellow kayak attached to the top! Whenever she has a spare moment you will find her paddling in the ocean, on lakes or down rivers. This coming summer of 2015 Tanya has joined a team of us to summit Mt. Rainier.
My wife and I created our life-changing wilderness therapy company in 2009 and have had the opportunity to help a growing number of families in the past few years. I received my MBA in 2012 from Grantham University and am currently working towards my PhD. As a Captain serving in the US Army guard since 2004 and working as a pioneer in the Wilderness Therapy industry, I have been blessed with leading people through a variety of challenging and unique experiences. After seeing the suffering in Afghanistan, the second poorest place on earth, I decided to make a difference when I came back home. The experience of serving with soldiers and teaching students in the States has given me a gift and purpose of impacting the lives of others. It is a true blessing to see our ROP students grow and become emotionally mature and self supportive. There is nothing more rewarding than helping people and there is nothing more healing than the wilderness. Our professionals are amazing life changing individuals that I am so proud of.
Our wilderness therapy program brings broken families together and implements healthy changes in individuals and in the whole family dynamic. We run both your child’s program and the family program simultaneously and in doing so, we achieve excellent results fast. I could not have created this experience without the help from so many other people over the years. I look forward to meeting you and being a part of this special process with you.
Zoë Triplett was born and raised in a rural, well-knit community called Anderson Valley in the redwoods of Northern California. Much of her youth growing up involved dabbling in the art of drawing and dance, playing volleyball, snowboarding and camping on the beach in Mexico with her family. After high school Zoë moved to South Lake Tahoe to pursue her passion in art and snowboarding at their community college before transferring to The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington. Between the time spent in South Lake Tahoe and the Pacific Northwest Zoë had developed a deeper appreciation for the outdoors through her personal experiences with backpacking, camping, snowboarding, and gardening. Her academic career at Evergreen helped solidified her belief that reconnecting with nature is a health alternative to better an individual’s well-being. As a senior at Evergreen State College she plans to graduate with a BA and a focus on health, outdoor education and leadership.
Savannah Robinson grew up in the small agricultural town of Nampa, Idaho and frequently visited her grandparents on their ranch in northern Idaho, where she played for hours in the forests and open pastures. From an early age she thrived when left to wander in open, wild spaces and this grew into a passion for all living creatures and their habitats. Fascinated by the dynamics between humans and their environment she left Idaho to pursue an education in Environmental Studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
The greatest achievement of her undergrad was a two-month backpacking trip through Patagonia, Argentina that empowered her to lead a life immersed in the wild landscapes that bring her such peace and tranquility. She is thrilled to share her passion of the outdoors with participants of the ROP Wilderness Therapy Trek programs and to help facilitate the incredible positive changes that await them.
Candice Trusty grew up in the small town of Annandale, Minnesota. She had always been drawn to the Pacific Northwest for all its natural beauty and moved to Portland, Oregon directly after graduating high school. For several years Portland was her home base to where she would return after her travels backpacking Europe, Central America, and New Zealand. In 2014 she through hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Candice’s travels in the backcountry reinforced her belief that time in the wilderness is able to greatly improve ones outlook on life. She is thrilled to have the opportunity with Rites of Passage to share her passion for the outdoors and to experience the benefits for others of extended time in the wilderness. Shortly after finishing the trail Candice and her partner moved to Bellingham, Washington where she is pursuing her higher degree in Environmental Science and planning her next travel adventure.
Burke Okrasinski grew up in a family fueled by adventure. She spent many of her formative years exploring the Pacific Northwest with her two older sisters and family dogs. Some of her personal highlights from time outside are her family rafting trips, sailing in college and a three month trek through Patagonia in Chile. Having personally seen the impact time outdoors has on people (including herself) she is excited to share those experiences with others through the Rites of Passage Wilderness Programs. With her time off the trail Burke enjoys spending time with her dog “Animal,” going on Mountain Biking and Skiing adventures.
Burke attended Western Washington University where she earned her MA in Outdoor Recreation and a Minor in Psychology. She feels very passionate about the work she does and looks forward to learning from each experience. She currently has her Wilderness First Responder (WFR) but looks forward to attaining her Wilderness EMT in the fall.
Hello! My name is Krista Gould and I am in the process of receiving my masters of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Washington. I am a Southern California beach girl born and raised, so being outside is something I have always enjoyed. I found my niche for working with youth and young adults during my year off between my undergraduate degree in psychology to my masters program. I worked as an outreach instructor and taught people of all ages about marine biology. I specifically taught tide pool and whale classes. There I was immersed in lower income communities in Los Angeles and saw the need for these people to have access to the outdoors and specifically the ocean. When I looked through social work programs I wanted to choose a school that had an area where I could get experience in outdoor therapy for trauma related issues. In the end I found the University of Washington.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my two dogs. We day hike on weekends and enjoy long walks in the city parks during the week. I also played softball during my undergrad so now I play on a slow pitch Sunday softball league.
I will be interning at ROP for the remainder of the year and plan on contributing my skills in working with youth, young adults, and their families. I have been working with youth for about six years now and have focused my career goals on trauma. I hope to fine-tune my existing skills and I look forward to gaining so many more during my internship here at ROP.
Nicholas Chmielewski, also known as Nico, was born and raised on the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas of Western Washington and has a love for the land and water. His passion for life and being outdoors led him to study and get his Bachelors of Science in Biology with a major in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation at the University of Washington. Nico has familiarity with nature and experiences on extended wilderness trips. These experiences have given him a confidence and awareness of group and individual needs. He is a treasure trove of experiences and stories that capture the imagination and create excitement and a deepening awareness in all our students on trail.
Coming from his time in the wild, Nico believes that nature immersion is not only important, but vital to our well-being. He passionately practices re-wilding himself and his surroundings because he believes our health relies on us being aware and connected to nature. Those that have worked with Nico say he has a great ability to help others to look closer at the sacredness of the world and that he conducts himself with grace and reverence in nature which his students begin embodying.
Nico is motivated by and receives joy from a sense of servitude to nature. He strives to be a good role-model and mentor for his son and all other young people that he gets to spend time with. He is also excited for learning from and sharing in life-lessons with all who walk with him.
Born and raised outside of Chicago, Brien spent the summers of his youth fishing and hiking on trips to the Colorado Rockies. During college, he fell in love with the hills and lakes of Wisconsin and graduated from John Muir’s alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a degree in History and Sociology. In the summer of 2008, Brien worked for a summer camp and lead wilderness trips out of the San Juan Islands of Washington. There he learned how wild places, patience, and time had a positive effect on the growth, maturity, and self-reliance of not only the children he kayaked, biked, and hiked with, but also himself.
In his free time you can find him biking, hiking, climbing, surfing, eating veggies, drinking coffee, collecting records, and he usually has his nose in a book. He is excited about joining the Rites of Passage family, and cannot wait to share the wonders of Washington State with the teenagers and young adults that come through the ROP programs.
My name is Alison Fisher, and I’m married to Doug, one of our wilderness therapy field instructors. I have been volunteering with Rites of Passage for a couple of years now and I am also on the board of directors of the Bonnie Alaska Welch Childrens’ Foundation.
I graduated from Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2001 with a Master’s Degree in Pharmacy and currently work in the community pharmacy setting. One of my favorite areas of work is diabetes education as I am very passionate about promoting nutritional health and exercise by setting attainable and realistic goals for people to achieve a healthier lifestyle. I also worked for 4 years as a family support worker where I ran marriage enrichment courses and bereavement support groups for children coming to terms with death or divorce.
I am such a massive advocate for ROP, and its founders Nate and Emma Welch and love to help out wherever I can, be it administrative tasks or crocheting colorful hats for our ROP kids.
Stuart grew up in Federal Way, Washington and attended the University of Washington in Seattle, where he studied Mathematics and Education. Stuart’s passions include snowboarding, soccer, and backpacking. After developing a love for teaching, he wanted to combine that with his love of outdoor activities, and has since worked as a soccer coach and snowboard instructor. Stuart is a Wilderness First Responder and is excited to work with Rites of Passage this summer and share his love of the outdoors with others.
My name is Alyssa Hartson and I was born and raised in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (high-fives to anyone who can pronounce that on their first try!). I graduated with a degree in Conservation and Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and then decided city life wasn’t for me. Since 2009, I’ve worked in the outdoor adventure industry, guiding on the Matanuska Glacier and assisting on multi-day trips in the Prince WIlliam Sound, and the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains in Alaska. Of all the amazing activities that I took part in, my favorite was always the 3 day ice climbing camps we offered to teenage students.
I’ve also spent seasons guiding on glaciers in Norway and New Zealand. Recently, I have returned from McMurdo Station, Antarctica where I spent the austral summer playing with penguins and working as a communications operator for the United States Antarctic Program. When I’m not working, my husband and I are often cycle touring, traveling, climbing, mountain biking or eating. I LOVE to knit, and if it’s a beautiful, sunny day, you can often find me on the porch trying to knit a sweater with a strong cup of coffee.
Vanessa comes to ROP having previously worked with adolescents and young adults in crisis and transition. Vanessa is originally from Michigan, and has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Michigan State University. She is currently working on both a Masters of Social Work and a Masters of Science in Kinesiology, focusing on Outdoor Education at the University of New Hampshire.
She is incredibly passionate about the outdoors and is dedicated to the field of adventure therapy. She has worked as a counselor and a guide with at-risk youth in wilderness programs and in residential treatment. She has also worked wilderness therapy with young adults in transition. She comes with practice doing casework in a homeless shelter. She has experience working with addiction, trauma, mood disorders, and learning disorders.
Vanessa enjoys mentoring students and helping facilitate change in their lives. She also has a variety of experiences in the outdoors. She has been rock and ice climbing for 8 years, and has worked as a climbing and canyoneering guide. She also loves scuba diving, paddle boarding, caving, snowboarding, cat photos, and electronic music.
Maureen grew up in Seattle, hiking around the Cascades with her family. While studying Cultural Anthropology and German at Western Washington University where she graduated with her Bachelors Degree, she dove into outdoor adventures on her own, finding strength and self-assurance through climbing, hiking, and backpacking, and deepening her appreciation for time spent in the wilderness. Maureen has since lived in Berlin, remote Alaska, a tent in the desert, Fairbanks, and most recently Olympia. She is excited to be involved in individual and community empowerment as a wilderness field instructor for ROP, and as a volunteer with GRuB (Garden Raised Bounty). She enjoys cooking, gardening, climbing rocks, riding bikes, and walking really far!
Tom James comes to us from just down the road. Having spent his entire childhood in the Pacific Northwest, the Olympic National Park was his backdoor playground growing up,. He is currently finishing up his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Economics at the University of Washington. After working in forestry, going to art school, rambling down to Guatemala and eventually moving to England for a year, Tom returned to his native Washington to pursue journalism and more meaningful work in the outdoors. After getting his Wilderness First Responder certification and spending months learning to lead teams and build trails with the Northwest Youth Corps, Tom took some time to work at a Washington newspaper and build a small house.
An avid rock climber and backpacker, Tom believes strongly in the power of inspiration to change hearts. Tom has a gift of connecting teenagers with experiences that will be inspiring for them and bring about healthy changes. As a mentor, this means Tom pushes himself to listen, and to guide wherever possible by encouraging the compassion, patience and reflection that open us to the possibilities all around.
Blessed to grown up within a circle of strong, supportive and creative adults, Tom is thrilled to have the chance to share the wonders of the back country with youngsters going through a time in their lives when they can benefit from it most.
Rachel Allard is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist since 2011. She graduated with a Bachelor’s in Therapeutic Recreation from Winona State University, MN (and has been a direct care counselor in Minneapolis, before she came to join us here in the Pacific NW. Rachel is passionate about the field of recreation and truly believes in the therapeutic potential and positive impact it can make on individual’s lives. Previously she has worked as a wilderness camp counselor, a Girl Scout troop leader, a wilderness ropes course facilitator as well as in the field of adaptive recreation. Rachel has both CPR and Wilderness First Responder certifications. In her free time she likes to travel, swim, ride her road bike along all the many Minnesota lakes, and volunteer with various youth organizations. Rachel believes in listening and learning from an individual’s past experiences and struggles and using recreation as a platform to help them work towards their potential and watch them truly become alive. Because as the American author Howard Thurman once stated, “…the world needs people who have come alive.”
Miles came of age in the Seattle area where his playground was the beaches and mountains of the Pacific Northwest. He studied Latin American studies at the Evergreen State College, where he had the opportunity to travel, work, and learn abroad. He has worked in the outdoor education field for all of his adult life in roles ranging from climbing instructor, to wilderness expedition leader. He gained most of his expedition experience guiding youth through the canyons and mountains of the Southwest, and the rainforests of Costa Rica. Miles also has extensive experience as a school-based social worker supporting marginalized youth. Miles resides in Olympia, Washington where he volunteers for a non-profit that supports homeless youth who want to finish school. In his free time you will find him backcountry snowboarding, rock climbing, or picking his guitar on the back porch.
Andrew Tromey has his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and is working towards his Master’s in Wilderness Therapy at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. He loves to be outside and loves to share that passion with others. He has been a wilderness instructor for troubled teenagers in Colorado, a wilderness guide, an outdoor wilderness educator, a snowboard instructor, and a camp counselor in the past years. Andrew is certified in CPR and in Wilderness First Aid. A few of his favorite things include rock climbing, snowboarding, traveling, Hiking in the wilderness,connecting with people, listening to and creating music, and eating ice cream. Andrew has a positive attitude towards life, and a love for our natural world that he hopes to share with as many people as possible. Andrew brings a great deal of FUN into the wilderness therapy trek experience and his positive mood is con
Hello, my name is Liz Woods and I hail from the Great Lakes State – Michigan! Growing up in Michigan, I gained an immense love for the wilderness, spending weekends camping with friends, hiking, catching turtles, mountain biking, and running through fields. This love compelled me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Biology, with hopes of someday becoming a Marine Biologist. After serving two years as a Resident Assistant at Central Michigan University, and as a Peer Mentor prior to that, I discovered I also had a passion for working with students. After graduation, in May 2011, I had the opportunity to combine some of my skills while working as the Recreation Wilderness Intern at a camp, and later as the Assistant Crew Coordinator; the aforementioned roles eventually led me to Clemson University, where I am close to completing the first year of a Master’s Degree in Higher Education with an emphasis in Counselor Education/Student Affairs.
I feel fortunate to have held all of the positions mentioned above, as they have proved to be extremely rewarding and allowed me to grow tremendously in the areas of self-discipline, leadership, conflict resolution, programming, and mentorship. Friends would describe me as joyful, charismatic, pretty flexible, and driven. Similar to others in the field, I have a heart for people and ensuring that students have equitable opportunities to grow, learn, and thrive in life, by further equipping them with the tools necessary to face both the changes and challenges headed their way.
Jamie Jasinski graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Recreation and Sport Science, with a focus on Outdoor Education. He is currently working toward his Master’s in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology Wilderness Therapy at Naropa University.
Jamie has been working with youth of all ages in outdoor settings. He was the founder of the Gilmour Academy Outdoor Adventure Camp and was the Director of OAC for ﬁve summers. He has 2.5 years of clinical experience as a case manger. From 2011-2013 he worked for a non-proﬁt on Seattle’s Eastside that serves homeless youth. During this time he realized that his love for the outdoors and abilities to connect with youth should be combined.
If you are interested in food, sports, humor, music, or just being yourself Jamie is great person to sit by around the campﬁre. He is WFR/First Aid/WRT certiﬁed, and has been practicing mindful meditation since 2007. Jamie really enjoys cooking, playing his mandolin, playing hockey, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, and snow boarding. He believes that everyone can reach their dreams as long as they stay true to themselves along the journey. Above all else Jamie has experienced life, the ups and the downs. If you need to talk about sobriety, courage to make changes, or being cool with being you, Jamie would love to chat. The sky is the limit! Where does your river want to take you?.
Kolt Gorham is an excellent guide and connects with kids. Besides being an avid rock-climber he has his own non-profit organization MTN DRTY which gives teens the opportunity to get into wilderness outdoor sports, make friends, and become passionate about life. Kolt is a Healthcare provider (CPR & AED) and wildernessFirst Aid. He brings challenge and a great deal of fun to our wilderness therapy program. He inspires a true love for the outdoors in our graduates and we’ve had several go on to take up his passionate sports of mountain bike riding and rock- climbing when they go home. He also is in charge of our holistic food program and explains the importance of healthy choices when it comes to putting different types of foods in our bodies.
I graduated with a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in 2008. I worked at Catholic Community Services in Tacoma, counseling a diverse clientele that included children, adults, and couples. For the past four years, I have been counseling people who are struggling to overcome substance addiction. I have also lead several therapeutic writing workshops. My areas of emphasis in counseling are addictions, compulsions, trauma, aging, mood disorders, and gender/sexuality identity issues. The therapy approaches that I apply include cognitive behavioral, person-centered, object relations theory, and mindfulness.
Douglas Fisher is an exceptional addition to our team. He has been traveling worldwide since the age of 12. From 1998-2002 he worked with children in orphanages in Africa (Gambia, Senegal), Albania and guided youth groups in Scotland, Macedonia and throughout Italy. 2004-2006 Douglas worked as a commercial diver in the US Navy. Doug loves ice hockey, wilderness hikes, scuba diving and helping kids reach their potential. He is gifted at pulling our wilderness groups together and working on motivation skills. His military training helps him teach discipline by example. He spot corrects behaviors on the go and is nicknamed “the Enforcer!” by our kids. He is good fun and brings that fun with him into the wilderness experience.
Idil has has been working with youth in the outdoors since 2004, when she was lured to the Pacific Northwest by the beauty of its forests and coastal islands. After growing up an urbanite in Washington DC, Idil’s first exposure to the transformative power of backcountry experiences was as a student at the National Outdoor Leadership School, where Idil backpacked, canoed, caved, and rock climbed for three months straight. Since then, Idil’s passion for learning in and from the outdoors has only grown. She has worked as an environmental educator at outdoor schools, facilitates custom outdoor programs for schools, and has been leading multi-week backcountry trips with Rite of Passage Journeys for young adults since 2011. She is excited to join the team at ROPNW and offer her gifts of guiding and mentoring young people into closer relationship with their truest selves.
In her free time, Idil enjoys traveling to new places and returning to Turkey to visit her extended family, playing with her nieces and nephew, and learning new dance moves. Idil will also be starting graduate study this April at Antioch University in their Couples & Family Therapy Program.
Louise lives in Bellingham and is a student at Western Washington University majoring in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Psychology and Spanish. Louise’s passions are to someday work with female adolescents on skill building and body image awareness and with victims of trauma through wilderness therapy. In her free time she enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, running and reading. Louise finds peace while gardening with both her inside and outside plants. She loves traveling and has backpacked through twelve countries in Central America and Europe. Her favorite quote is: “…because you’re so concerned with your worries, pains, limitations, desires, and fears that you are blind to the beauty of existence.” -Pema Chödrön
Arielle has worked in various fields over the last ten years, but by far her favorites have been those that she has seen from the peaks of the Adirondacks. She has worked closely with farmers and producers as a buyer at the Olympia Food Coop, which makes her most knowledgeable about holistic and organic foods, a topic she loves to share with the students out on trail. She has spend time in the desert southwest as a natural therapeutic specialist. During the summers, Arielle has been a camp counselor for every age group from 8-18 and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in counseling and art therapy in Washington State.
Tristan grew up in Mankato, MN, growing up exploring the many lakes, waterways, and trails of that beautiful State. Encouraged to explore the natural world at a young age, Tristan has been building his relationship with the outdoors since he was a child.
Tristan worked as a wilderness therapy field instructor in Alaska in the summer of 2008 and 2009, leading at-risk youth around State and National Parks in trail construction. After completing his degree in History in 2012, Tristan completed a hike of the Appalachian Trail. Through his experience arose a commitment to helping others see the benefits of prolonged outdoor living. His sense of adventure led him to backpack Southeast Asia in 2013, eventually living in Vietnam and teaching English to children and adults. Nature soon called him back again and Tristan completed a hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014.
Tristan believes that nature can heal and coupled with compassionate role models, can turn lives around. He is an avid backpacker, trail runner, mountain biker, and adventure seeker. Tristan is a Wilderness First Responder and is thrilled to make an impact on lives as a field instructor for Rites of Passage.
Pacific Northwest born and raised, Michael grew up backpacking throughout the Olympic Peninsula. Early exposure to beautiful places cultivated a life of mindfulness, adventure, and joy. Michael continued his naturalist path at Northern Arizona University, graduating with a BS in Environmental Science emphasis in Biology, minor in Chemistry, and certificate in Forestry and Conservation. His college education reflects his thirst for knowledge, always pushing to further his understanding of the natural world “knowledge is freedom”.
In 2014, Michael completed the Pacific Crest Trail hiking 2,650 miles from Canada to Mexico. During this journey his eyes were opened to the healing powers of the forest. Long days of meditation and reflection brought clarity to the mind and body. You will often hear him say “if you have a problem, go on a walk, the slower the better”
In addition to his love of walking, Michael finds joy in many other life adventures. He is a world traveler, talking with locals and embracing the culture of wherever he ends up. He has traveled throughout Central America, spent a semester in the Northern Marianas Islands, a summer rock climbing in Thailand, and a spring break in Europe. On his days off you can find Michael picking his banjo at the base of a rock climbing route or on his bike pedaling along the back roads of Washington.
A Washington Native, Mary grew up hiking and camping throughout the North Cascades and Washington Peninsula. Her upbringing in the country helped her learn early the healing qualities of solitude in nature. She blossomed when outdoors and community were combined during here 5 years as a Camp Councilor. Mary continued adventuring in the outdoors through whitewater rafting. It was during her 8 years of guiding she first started leading teens on multi-day wilderness escapades.
Mary received her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Western Washington University. Her studies focused on how modern technology is effecting culture and community. She is currently in the practicum program at the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center to become a certified mediator. She is a Reiki Practitioner and is creating a series of guided meditations for teens.
During her time off she can be found growing plants, bicycling or painting water color.
Growing up in North Carolina and spending most of my time in the Appalachian Mountains I’ve always had a curiosity towards the natural world and what can be gained from meaningful experiences in nature. Having studied Environmental Studies with a minor in Outdoor Education at Montreal College gave me opportunities to pursue my passion for facilitating experiential learning in a wilderness setting.
One of my favorite places in the world is Australia where I lived and worked leading school groups on expeditions teaching bush crafts, backcountry living skills, canoe journies, climbing, orienteering, environmental stewardship and natural history. I also love hiking, so much so that I’ve completed the Appalachian Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail with hopes to keep these large scale adventures going. Some of my favorite activities around camp are cooking tasty meals, perfecting a tarp set up, and using a bow-drill to make campfires.?
My name is Kari Even though I’m tall, I’m really not scary After a few weeks in the woods, I’m definitely hairy I’m from Montana and love to run I moved to Eugene Oregon, just for fun I now live in Washington Its a beautiful place And work here in the Olympics Where there is always a smile on my face Back in Montana, where I finished college I had no idea that there was so much more knowledge About the holistic healing nature can give To those out experiencing the elements and learning to live With all my energy And outdoors skills I’m here to help students learn the cheap thrills Of thriving on the trail and under the trees So they can go back to their life with as much ease As they possibly can, empowered and in peace
I am an adventure seeking Montanan, who has been living in the pacific northwest for the last 5 years. I believe strongly in the holistic benefits of spending time outdoors and am able to provide students with strong and energetic leadership. My educational background is based in psychology study and wilderness medicine rescue. When I’m not hiking and camping, I’m usually running, reading or spending time with my family. I love to go on road trips because seeing the country from an eye level window provides colorful perspectives on life. I currently am living in Anacortes, and couldn’t have fallen more in love with the spectacular setting of the far continental northwest.
Hello! My name is Heather, or just “H” for short. I grew up in Michigan with my family where I spent a lot of time on a boat, in the water, and played an immense amount of sports. I received my bachelor�s degree in Psychology shortly before I made the jump the Pacific Northwest to continue my education. I studied at the University of Washington where I received my graduate degree in Social Work. With my passion for the outdoors coupled with my love for learning, I went ahead and obtained my Wilderness First Aid certificate. Along my life, I have connected with youth whom come from all walks of life. I have worked in a variety of settings and programs that aim to help youth in need. I have discovered my passion with being a part of creating a better path for young people.
In my journey to the PNW, I have created a relationship with nature. Backpacking Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula has fed my soul! You can find me strolling the streets of Seattle when I�m not in the mountains. More often than not, I�m usually traveling the world, free-hand bouldering, taking my husky, Nala, on hikes, or eating Sour Patch Kids. I explore with my friends quite often and they are my home away home. I have learned first-hand how nature can heal and nurture the soul. I am excited to bring my knowledge to ROP and help provide students with the skills and tools they can use to enhance their own lives when they are facing challenging circumstances.
Kalyn is a wandering soul and feels so fortunate to have found her feet with Rites of Passage. While in college at the University of Washington she majored in Community Environment and Planning. The structure of freedom in the program allowed her to study Permaculture and healing landscape design, while minoring in Landscape Architecture. Currently she is working on her EMT certification and will soon be a Wilderness EMT and a volunteer for Search and Rescue. Kalyn believes in wild spaces and their capacity to heal. She is a lover of plants, herbal medicine, and cooking. She is also a certified Divemaster and enjoys the ocean, and its many temperatures. From sailing and living on her boat in the Caribbean to clearing trails in the Idaho wilderness she has learned the best kinds of medicine are a good laugh and sleeping outside. When she isn’t on the trail or at the beach she resides in Port Townsend in a little off grid cabin.
Jody was born and raised on the East Coast and spent his summers hiking, camping and fishing in the Appalachian mountains as well as working on his grandfather’s farm. He has a degree in Business Management from the University of Mount Olive and is planning to get his Master’s Degree in Counseling. The time that he spent outdoors growing up gave him an appreciation of nature and an understanding of the benefit that nature has upon our mental and physical health. He spent a season as a Head Wilderness Field Instructor in the North Carolina mountains and has worked with youth in various other capacities as well including teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu and coaching wrestling to middle school and high school students and he continues to volunteer as a wrestling coach.
Jody has seen firsthand the healing benefit of wilderness therapy and he is passionate about helping families gain access to the care that they need. He is grateful to have the opportunity to work with Rites of Passage and help families heal through wilderness therapy.