- Elements Wilderness Program provides a safe and healthy therapeutic environment for struggling young men (13-17). While with us, our students (and their families) will be provided the opportunity to explore past choices and set a new course for their futures. In order to accomplish this goal, we’ve chosen to use wilderness therapy: embracing the outdoors, healthy role-modeling, adventure activities, and evidence-based therapeutic methods.
- Field Mentors are the foundation of our program and a core part of each student’s experience. Mentors create a physically and emotionally safe environment for our students in order for growth to occur. Mentors operate as direct-care staff, building relationships with our students while living alongside them in the outdoors for a week at a time. Students often point to the relationships they built with their Mentors as the most powerful part of their process! We believe our staff are part outdoor education professionals and part mental-health professionals.
- Our next Training opportunities will be February 26th to March 5th, April 2-10 and May 21-29
- Real-world Skills - Our approach is focused on real-world skill-building and decision-making. We utilize Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and The 7 Challenges model. Of note, we are not a 12-Step nor abstinence-based program. Instead, we challenge students to identify what role certain choices/ substances were playing in their lives, and to explore new ways of operating instead.
- Tight-Knit Community & Treatment Team - Elements is an intimate and owner-operated program. This allows us to maintain our primary focus on the students. As a Mentor, you will work alongside founders and owners out in the field. Mentors work closely with therapists to help implement the treatment plan designed for each student, while maintaining the big picture for the whole group. Successful Mentors are passionate about this work, have a desire to grow, and demonstrate resilience & flexibility.
- Embrace the Wilderness - We seek to use the wilderness as an active piece of the therapeutic process, not just the setting we live in. We maintain a nomadic program model and use Adventure Programming (AP) to meet this goal-- read more below!
- Elements specializes in treating young men, ages 13-17, who are struggling with emotional or behavioral issues such as low self-esteem, mood dysregulation, anger and defiance, and poor relationships with friends & family. Many of our students have begun to experiment with or abuse drugs or alcohol as the result of peer pressure, or in an attempt to manage their own uncomfortable emotions. The young men we work with will have a wide range of challenges. They also have in common the intelligence and internal resources to engage productively in therapy, form new, pro-social ways of dealing with life challenges, and enter healthy, independent adulthood.
Adventure Programming (AP):
- AP is a unique way for students to engage with the program and practice new skills in a concrete way. We have separate, certified staff who facilitate the technical aspects of adventure activities. That said, Mentors are supervising and participating the whole time as well. Our goal is that AP is built seamlessly into the flow of the week, both logistically and therapeutically.
Life in the Field:
- In a typical week, the group will have a mix of hiking and lay-over days. No matter the week's schedule or day's activities, we are using the lived experience of the group to practice new skills and develop more awareness. Mentors will generally have 1-3 student mentees that they work with more closely during a given week, providing direct coaching and assessment. Staff also lead segments of a day (e.g. a hike, preparing dinner and cleaning up, etc) and facilitate therapeutic groups. Of note, we are a nomadic program-- this means we are moving most days and seeking to embrace the challenge and joy of the wilderness. Groups do not return to any kind of Base Camp and have no access to cabins/ electricity/ running water, etc. We provide groups clean water, fresh fruits and veggies, and other basic necessities regularly. Nutrition, holistic wellness, and self-care are vital tools we emphasize with students.
- Staff are the guardians of physical and emotional safety in the field. Thus, our Mentors: pro-actively manage risk, look after client health concerns, follow Elements policies and procedures, fill out student paperwork, create and follow-through on their own development goals, role-model program tools for students, and bring their own passion and personality!!
- Mentors must be able to blend and occupy different roles in service of our students. In one day, you may play a game, teach a lesson in LNT ethics, hike cross-country for 3 miles, maintain safety expectations, and be a stable, supportive confidant for a student in turmoil.
Outside the Field:
- Field Mentors at Elements work an 8-days-on, 6-days-off schedule. The work week runs Tuesday-to-Tuesday, with two shifts alternating in the field. This schedule provides ample time to get to know the students while working, and also provides plenty of time off to relax, explore, and connect with your friends and family. Elements operates 365 days a year. Field Mentors alternate working major holidays. Mentors accrue two paid shifts off per year and are encouraged to take time off to practice their own self-care.
- Most staff live in the Salt Lake City area when not working. SLC offers the advantage of a big city along with nearby outdoor attractions, such as renowned skiing in the winter and hiking/ biking trails in the summer. Some staff also choose to live in Moab, Utah or Grand Junction, Colorado. All three cities offer ample trails, cliffs, and water-ways to explore! Staff can live wherever they want, as long as they arrive to work on Tuesday at 9am well rested and ready to go. We also provide a staff bunkhouse, including a shower and small kitchen, that staff may use at the beginning and end of each shift.
Pay & Benefits:
- We believe Field Mentors are professionals in this industry. Therefore, we provide on-going training and hold staff to a high standard. We also provide one of the highest starting wages, and one of the most competitive overall packages in the industry.
Mentors work through a level system, each level focusing on developing skills relevant to certain areas of the work. Field Mentors will start with a focus on learning the role and are paid $165/ day for their first three shifts ($170/ day thereafter). After that, you will move through the levels at your own pace with our support and direction, working your way to Assistant Group Lead ($185/ day) and Group Lead ($215/day). Most staff are able to achieve Lead status within ~ 1 year of employment. In addition, we offer bonus-based retention contracts starting at six months of employment to those employees in good standing that commit to, and fulfill, certain amounts of time.
Benefits – Mentors are eligible for medical & dental insurance after 60 days of employment. Elements pays 75% of the monthly premium. We also pay for Wilderness First Responder certifications and re-certifications as well as providing pro-deal discounts.
If you have significant previous experience in wilderness therapy, we are certainly interested in chatting with you about your professional goals and may recognize your previous experience on a case-by-case basis.