MEET OUR TEAM

We have years of experience gaining the trust and respect of troubled teens. Outback Therapeutic Expeditions employs a diverse group of professionals with a wide range of talents. Our staff is constantly trying to better themselves in the same way they are asking their students to improve.

REACHING TROUBLED TEENS

At Outback Therapeutic Expeditions, our highly trained staff is dedicated to improving the lives of troubled teens and their families. Your child’s safety is our top priority. In order to ensure their safety, each staff member has passed an extensive background check and has successfully completed training in first aid, CPR, outdoor living skills, and the industry-leading Outback Training Program. The Outback Therapeutic Expeditions staff also participates in weekly service training. At Outback, we maintain a two-on-one practice, never allowing one of our troubled teens to be alone with a staff member.

  • All
  • Executive Team
  • Clinical Team
  • Primary Therapists
  • Support Dogs
  • Admissions & Marketing Team
  • Field & Medical Team
  • Administrative Team
  • Rick Meeves, PHD, LMFT
    Rick Meeves, PHD, LMFT
    CO-OWNER AND CEO
  • McKay Deveraux, LCSW
    McKay Deveraux, LCSW
    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
  • Greg Burnham, MS, LMFT
    Greg Burnham, MS, LMFT
    CLINICAL DIRECTOR / PRIMARY THERAPIST
  • Trevor Allen, CMHC
    Trevor Allen, CMHC
    PRIMARY THERAPIST
  • Parker Newton, MS, ACMHC
    Parker Newton, MS, ACMHC
    PRIMARY THERAPIST
  • Scott Jones, CMHC
    Scott Jones, CMHC
    PRIMARY THERAPIST
  • Derek Cragun, LCSW
    Derek Cragun, LCSW
    PRIMARY THERAPIST
  • Kjrstin Walters, MA, LMFT
    Kjrstin Walters, MA, LMFT
    PARENT SUPPORT THERAPIST
  • Lucky
    Lucky
    SUPPORT DOG
  • Tracy Hopkins, MSW, LCSWA
    Tracy Hopkins, MSW, LCSWA
    DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | INCLUSION & BELONGING SPECIALIST
  • Theresa Wardle, MSW, LCSW
    Theresa Wardle, MSW, LCSW
    ADMISSIONS DIRECTOR
  • Aries M. McGinnis, MA, CMHC
    Aries M. McGinnis, MA, CMHC
    ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR
  • Daniel Hazen
    Daniel Hazen
    PROGRAM DIRECTOR
  • Jessica Smith
    Jessica Smith
    FIELD GUIDE RECRUITER
  • Pete Allerd
    Pete Allerd
    ACADEMIC COORDINATOR
  • Rich Rice
    Rich Rice
    LOGISTICS DIRECTOR
  • Farrah Holt, NREMT
    Farrah Holt, NREMT
    MEDICAL COORDINATOR
  • Dale Christenson, MD
    Dale Christenson, MD
    MEDICAL DIRECTOR
  • Emily Rowe, APHR
    Emily Rowe, APHR
    HR GENERALIST | OFFICE MANAGER

COVID-19 Update

Outback Therapeutic Expeditions is continuing to support families through this unprecedented time. We are closely monitoring information related to COVID-19, adhering to recommendations set forth by CDC, and have implemented additional safety precautions to mitigate risks. To learn more, contact us at 800-817-1899.

Rick Meeves, PHD, LMFT
CO-OWNER AND CEO
McKay Deveraux, LCSW
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

I started at Outback in 2002 as a trail staff, which resonated deeply with my love of the wilderness and my own history as a troubled youth. As I poured myself into helping the students, I found myself growing alongside them. This cosmic reciprocity, combined with the poignant “aha” moments I witnessed in the students, changed what I thought would be a seasonal job into a lifelong journey. As I transitioned into management, I found a meaningful extension to the saying, “Give a person a fish and feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and feed them for a lifetime.” The extension came in the form of “Teach a person to teach a person to fish and you feed a community.” Even though my work setting has transitioned from the wilderness to the office, I continue to find incredible fulfillment in supporting the youth who are struggling to “learn to fish” by ensuring that I do what I can to help their leaders learn to teach.

The direction of my personal life was changed as well when I began working at outBACK. On my very first day, I met a highly skilled and incredible supervisor who would later become my beloved wife. As a supervisor, she guided me into becoming a better leader and helped me to look beyond what was to better understand the WHYs behind human behavior. And as my wife, she is still providing me with that level of “supervision” as we navigate the world together as a family. We now have four children (three daughters and one son), and some people have speculated that our family life must be perfectly harmonious because of our professional backgrounds. I, however, am eager to reshape this perspective and clarify that while education and experience may help reduce some of the challenges that come with being a family, living a human life will always include myopic perspectives, vibrant emotions, and deeply entrenched imperfections. It is healthy to expect and accept some level of intense struggles in family life. Believe me, my children would be the first to tell you that their dad is still working on his parenting skills.

I earned a master’s degree in Social Work and became a licensed therapist in the state of Utah. I spent 9 years in the US Army Reserves and served one 16-month tour in Iraq as a convoy security scout. I wholeheartedly enjoy making things with my hands: trail skills, backyard sheds, clay pots, etc. The power of creation is a beautiful conduit for confidence, creativity and personal expression that I have seen positively impact the lives of adolescents as well as within myself. I also love finding new ways to harness healthy family traditions and culture. Such traditions span from setting aside one weeknight as a media-free snack-filled family time, or, to refining the annual science of trick or treating to increase candy production. Along with family being one of my greatest values, another one that is equally important is striving to remain authentic to myself and to others. While achieving this can be hard given some of the contradictory external pressures to perform, I have found that authenticity invites vulnerability. And it is in this level of vulnerability that healing becomes accessible.

PERSONAL INTERESTS
My favorite thing to do is spend time with my kids and my wonderful wife. We love to go sledding and ice skating in the winter, and hiking and swimming in the summer. I love using my hands and creative energy to make things. I’ve made wooden spoons, willow baskets, drums, and bows and arrows, but I also like to do home renovation projects like laying tile, painting and doing electrical work. My wife and I enjoy brainstorming about work-related topics; it genuinely is a favorite past time of ours. I used to be an avid rock and ice climber, but I eventually discovered the meaning of middle age once we were married and had children. My future goals are to begin running Tough Mudders and get my kids into climbing and mountain biking.

Greg Burnham, MS, LMFT
CLINICAL DIRECTOR / PRIMARY THERAPIST

THE STUDENTS GREG WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

I start off working hard to gain a fast connection with people. People want to know that you care about them and you understand. Part of this process of therapeutic alliance involves finding where you can agree on the direction of treatment. The therapeutic alliance is one of the highest correlated factors for treatment success that is backed by research. It is easy to say and harder to achieve. So I make it a focus since I know that I have a small window in which to achieve it. As that relationship is forming in those first couple of sessions I begin to find where I can challenge and invite perspective changes. At that point, those two processes become a feedback loop with alliance needing maintained and the inviting of change being a part of that relationship. All of this is framed and driven by a core understanding of skill’s oriented treatment vs motivation/insight-oriented treatment. Examples of skills would include, emotion regulation, perspective, executive functioning (Manage time and attention (perseverance) Switch Focus (flexibility) Plan and Organize (initiate) Curb inappropriate speech or behavior (inhibition) Integrate past experience with present action (metacognition). Expected too, and yet not able to use life experience to modify behaviors), etc… When I enter the relationship with the skills perspective it allows for an opening. The opening is that the individual doesn’t feel pressure from me to change. Instead, they experience a hope from me that over time with lots of practice and a different mindset things can get better. The strategic part of my approach comes in when we realize that the individuals I work with have been engaged in negative self-protection for a long time. Knocking on the front door is not an option. I have to shift, maneuver, bob, weave, duck, wait, engage, back off, listen, approach, slow down, speed up, engaged, disengage, reflect, challenge, validate, be firm, allow for escape, invite, etc… all at the right times and in the right ways to help someone begin to consider that change is safe. Then I have to do all of those same things to help implement a sustainable change process. Then I have to do all of those same things to help them sustain that implemented process. Then I have to do all of those same things to give that process over to them completely. And lastly, this process allows for a wonderful assessment of who they really are and what they need for their future. I do not rest until we find a sound understanding of who this wonderful person is!

I also love helping parents make this shift and to see things from this new perspective. For parents, it is the shift to the relationship first and a change in perspective for them. This opens them up to learn to trust their instincts again as parents from this new framework. It has been difficult for them as parents because they feel like they are to blame and they are trying to find that one thing that is going to change things. So, that blame/fix framework combined with their child’s unmanageable behavior leads to family trauma, which necessitates family healing.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

I love running. I have completed 11 marathons. I enjoy all things outdoors but most of all hiking. My favorite hike was the Trans-Zion national park hike I did with my son his senior year in high school. Growing up my father and uncles played the guitar. I have many memories of sitting around the campfire singing songs with them playing. I realized several years ago that no one had learned to play the guitar in my generation and the tradition might be lost so I taught myself how to strum and play the songs that my father played. I love spending time with my family. I am married with four children. My son is my oldest and he has graduated from High school and I have 3 daughters. They are the joy in my life and I love watching them learn, struggle, play and grow. Lastly, I love traveling. More specifically I love traveling to tropical places.

Trevor Allen, CMHC
PRIMARY THERAPIST

THE STUDENTS TREVOR WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

  • Attachment Disruption
  • Grief / Loss
  • Trauma
  • Struggling w/ Identity Formation
  • Adoption
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance Use

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH
I have a great appreciation for the role of the student and the parent. The process of change is difficult and requires the student to really get out of his or her comfort zone. Change takes a lot of courage. I’m passionate about helping a student move from a shame-based view of self to learning to forgive and love themselves. I believe that once a student can love and forgive his- or herself, this love and forgiveness starts to spread to parents and others in their lives. I also love to see a student move from being powerfully destructive at home to becoming powerfully constructive. Our students come to us with misdirected power and often learn how to shift this power in a positive direction. These traits are present in the student with substance abuse issues, oppositional issues, anxiety, depression, etc. I love my work. I’m passionate about making a difference in the lives of the students who enter our program.

One of my most powerful tools is my well-grounded self. I know who I am. I’m solid in myself I’m not rattled by the intimidation, fear, and bizarre behavior that others put out there. I work hard to see the world from the perspective of the students and their parents. I am intentional with my work. Through my cognitive understanding, my passionate heart, and my intuitive gut, I’m able to find a balance in work. I have a great deal of experience and I believe I can see patterns quickly. I utilize evidence-based approaches of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and a Person-Centered and time-honored approach of 12 step. Not every approach works with every student. I’m also a huge fan of Brene Brown and her work. I work hard to link the approach with the needs of each student. One of my greatest passions in therapy is to speak to and from the heart. I have worked in many settings — wilderness is the most therapeutic environment and modality I know.

PERSONAL INTERESTS
I love my family. I work hard to find a balance of love, boundary, responsibility, and play. I am married to an amazing woman and together we are raising 4 wonderful kids. I am in my element when we are together on an adventure. I enjoy running, rock climbing, mountain biking, and spending time in the water. I love mountains, islands, and endurance sports. My greatest value is compassion. Two of my most spiritual moments were swimming with humpback whales in Tonga and riding a horse up the steep hills in Costa Rica.

Parker Newton, MS, ACMHC
PRIMARY THERAPIST

THE STUDENTS PARKER WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

Teenagers are the most capable people in the world. Their energy, power, and ability to accomplish most anything is at its peak. The future of humanity depends on the ingenuity and complexities of their minds. Unfortunately, these incredible characteristics can be misinterpreted, misconstrued, or expressed in destructive manners. Knowing and understanding the therapeutic relationship is a major catalyst for any change. As a therapist, my focus is on purpose, accountability, discovering what students love and supporting them as they uncover their truest self; especially in a time during which identity is being experimented. Respecting the dynamic nature of the wilderness and acknowledging its presence is also something to which I stay humble. Empowering students through ownership develops resilience and newfound internal resources. Having been a student and a guide gives me a unique perspective into the hearts, minds, and souls of my students. It also provides me with a full circle understanding of the entire Wilderness process, and the importance of family dynamics, aftercare, and family resolution. My dedication, understanding, and trust in empowering the teenage population and their families is insurmountable. Developing new communication tactics and personal inner resources are always my prominent therapeutic goals. Purpose and autonomy and the entrance in adulthood are also major facets that guide my belief system and approach. Theoretically, my approach is based in attachment, family systems, mindfulness, and healing unresolved pain. I am also grateful to be able to incorporate ideologies from other clinicians such as Gabor Maté, Peter Levine, Janet Sasson Edgette, and Dan Siegel. I continue to view my own personal growth as directly correlated to the quality of self-care and personal therapeutic work in which I pursue and remain involved. The therapeutic journey is non-linear and continual. One of my greatest values is dispelling the idea that life must uphold to any traditional format, and that purpose and success can manifest organically outside of the traditional realm.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

Walking through the forest with my two sons is where my heart feels at home. Things I enjoy doing include listening to the Grateful Dead, meditating, creating art through the mediums of drawing, tattoos, digital art, sketch comedy videos, and fashion. I even customize and sew my own clothes! One of my main interests is human connection and the supportive community that has developed in my life over the past 20 years. Spending time outdoors is extremely important for my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. As such, hiking, rock climbing, surfing, running, and slip n’ slides are big parts of my life. I am someone who enjoys, and holds a deep gratitude for, the process of existing and enjoying the world and its wonders.

Scott Jones, CMHC
PRIMARY THERAPIST

THE STUDENTS SCOTT WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

I have great reverence for the process of change and growth that students and their families go through while in treatment. I approach therapy as a humble participant in that change process. I embrace the power of relationships in inviting change. With over 25 years of experience in the adolescent treatment industry, I understand that change requires risk and healing can only happen in a safe and nurturing environment. The wilderness provides the perfect milieu for this to take place. I believe that students “would if they could” and often their self-destructive behaviors come from a shame-based view of themselves. When working with a student or parent, my mantra is “don’t get stuck in the thick of thin things”. Often students and parents are so focused on the immediate “problems” that it is difficult for them to recognize a way out of the challenges they face. I take a strength-based, relational approach to therapy and love helping students discover their unique strengths and “see” their inherent value, often for the first time. My approach draws from cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and the 12-step model.

I have a calm and patient personality and am not easily rattled or offended. I am not threatened when a student’s behavior is oppositional or challenging and have years of experience de-escalating crisis. I am adept at seeing through a student’s defense mechanisms and using humor and kindness to gain a student’s confidence and trust. I work well with students who have co-occurring issues that come with addiction such as depression, anxiety, trauma and attachment issues. I have a passion for working with adolescents and their families and am grateful for the chance to be involved in the miracles that happen every day with those families.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

When not at work, I can often be found on the soccer pitch refereeing amateur, high school, college, semi-pro and professional soccer. I serve on the Utah State Soccer Referee Committee and love mentoring up-and-coming referees. I enjoy golf, running, cycling, and anything that has to do with water. I have completed several half marathons, LOTAJA, and the Salt to Saint cycling events. My wonderful wife and I are the proud parents to three amazing kids, two kids-in-law and one grandson. I love spending as much time as possible with family especially if it involves a beach!

Derek Cragun, LCSW
PRIMARY THERAPIST

THE STUDENTS DEREK WORKS WITH HAVE A HISTORY OF:

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

DEREK IS FORMALLY TRAINED IN:

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

My work, as I see it, is to help students heal from their wounds and develop new tools. Healing involves reconnecting with the parts of themselves that have always been there. Each of them is born with a 360-degree personality, curiosity, and the ability to experience a full spectrum of emotions. They experience life with the depth in which it is intended; with all the highs, lows, and in-betweens. Through a combination of adverse experiences, biological differences that create barriers to being understood, unmet personal needs, and a lack of tools and resources, they slowly fragment themselves into versions of themselves that are no longer whole and authentic. They slowly lose their, “childhood” qualities and retreat into emotional numbing, avoidance, and distancing behaviors that do not serve them. These are all symptoms of a greater wound that requires healing.

The students I work with are most often experiencing a great deal of emotional pain, and are engaging in behaviors that are creating unnecessary suffering. They are doing the best they can with the tools and resources they have available, and are in desperate need of learning new tools so that they can do better. They are desperately seeking connection. They are needing to be seen, heard, understood, and taken seriously. They are needing to be able to see themselves as they actually are and have always been. Lovable, and deeply worthy of connection.

I feel honored to be a part of facilitating this healing and growth process. I feel grateful for the privilege of companioning our students in their process of reconnecting with themselves and actualizing their potential. I wish it was as easily done as it sounds, but as a trained clinical social worker, I realize that none of this can be done without a lot of ongoing work.

In my approach, I focus on the relationship first and foremost. Research indicates that the therapeutic relationship is the primary driver of lasting positive change. I pay extra attention to maintaining my working relationship with my students, families, and referring professionals by leaning into my personal strengths of honesty, transparency, kindness, compassion, and deep listening to understand. I will make mistakes, and I will take accountability for them and model relationship repair. I also recognize that this alone is not enough to create lasting and meaningful change. My students are engaging in the maladaptive behaviors they are engaging in as a defense. We all have defenses, and we all need defenses to survive. As a compassionate clinician, I do not ask my students to discontinue using their defenses without teaching them new and more effective ways to cope and to adapt. I equip my students with new tools to use in place of the defenses that are no longer serving them.

In addition to my work with my students individually, I fully understand that no family can go through this process of, “losing” their child without an element of trauma. The pain of seeing your loved one engage in self-destruction, and the thwarted attempts to be helpful in the process often lead to significant family distress and relationship wounds. Part of my job is to help families heal, and to help create a roadmap for moving forward.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

I love spending quality time with people I care about and learning new things. I tend to stay in my “growth zone” and am at my best when I am physically challenged, mentally stimulated, or feel emotionally connected to others. My favorite ways to do this are through traveling, backcountry snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing and trail running. Music has been a keystone in my life as well, which I express by playing guitar, going to concerts, browsing the record store for what some may consider an absurd amount of time, and talking about obscure bands no one has heard of while being defensive about being called “hipster”. When I am in need of calmness and comfort, I enjoy cozy nights in cooking delicious meals, reading dorky books, or watching 90’s comedy movies. All of these things are made meaningful to me by doing them with people I love and care about. I am fortunate to be surrounded by quality friendships, a loving partner, and the best dog in the world, Moose.

Kjrstin Walters, MA, LMFT
PARENT SUPPORT THERAPIST

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

I love adventure. I love the unexpected growth, challenge, joy, beauty, pain and creativity that springs from entering into an unknown experience. Throughout my career I have come to appreciate and love supporting parents as they navigate the challenging experience of a struggling child. I work to give parents tools and support to help them approach their experience as an adventure that hopefully can bring growth, challenge, joy, beauty, pain and creativity.

My therapeutic style is experiential, collaborative and simple. I seek to create teaching experiences that help people learn ways to overcome, embrace or accept the challenges they face. I strive to find ways for others to discover their own solutions that work in their lives.

 

PERSONAL INTERESTS

I love being outdoors, traveling, adventuring, experiencing the world. I love music, art, nature, literature. And now, as a mother of three girls, I love being with my family and experiencing the world together. Sometimes I enjoy pushing my body with challenges like rock climbing, triathlons, hiking, rafting. Sometimes I enjoy sitting and watching the sunrise or sunset. And staring into a fire. I feel like a citizen of the world and enjoy travel and getting to know different parts of the world.

Lucky
SUPPORT DOG

Hi my name is Lucky and I am a 6 year old Red Heeler mix. I grew up in a small country town in central Utah with a family who had a small farm. I was adopted by Outback Therapeutic Expeditions in March 2019 to be a part of the wilderness curriculum called Leaning Into Full Empowerment (L.I.F.E.) for students assigned female at birth who are enrolled in our program. I get so excited when I see my backpack being loaded up into the truck because I know I’m going to see some of my favorite people in the Cassowaries group. The students take really good care of me by giving me food and water, brushing my hair, working on teaching me commands, and playing games with me every day! I’m a snuggle bug kind of dog, so the girls make sure I get to snuggle with them in their sleeping bags at night. Because of my playful personality, I have been given the Trail Name Quirky Lightning Bolt. My hobbies include hiking, playing fetch, and riding in the car with my head out the window.

Tracy Hopkins, MSW, LCSWA
DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT | INCLUSION & BELONGING SPECIALIST

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

My love and appreciation for the power of wilderness began in 1998 during my first backpacking course through the Wilderness Education Association. The stillness and calming effects of time spent outside and working with a group of humans who relied and encouraged one another made a lasting impression that ultimately led me to where I am today. My opportunities as a direct care staff in wilderness and residential settings, coupled with leadership roles in human resources, programming, marketing, and admissions departments in private pay and non-profit sectors, have allowed me to gain a wealth of experience and enhanced my pursuit for interconnection.

Throughout my career, my personal approach has been shaped by my fascination of human behavior, the extraordinary capacity of human connections, and the courageous journeys individuals embark upon to dig deep, lean in, and tap into their full potential. My hope is to create platforms and opportunities that invite people to identify their own values in order to discover their purpose and meaning, acknowledge their authentic self, and become agents of change.

PERSONAL INTERESTS

I hold a vested interest in the support and advocacy of individuals who fall within marginalized and vulnerable populations. What rests within my core is an insatiable passion for the advocacy of female empowerment and multicultural awareness initiatives, which has led me to facilitating workshops, presentations, panel discussions, and process groups centering on such issues. I am a lover of arts, specifically of musicals and poetry slams, given the incredible way it can take us out of our day-to-day routines and foster the wonders of unlimited possibilities through imagination and play. My favorite personal interest would have to be my loved ones. No matter the distance, age, or length of relationship, they continue to push me to grow, to think critically and challenge status quo, and to celebrate all the parts of me that make me who I am.

Theresa Wardle, MSW, LCSW
ADMISSIONS DIRECTOR

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

I am honored and humbled to be able to assist parents at the beginning of their wilderness therapy journey. While I personally have witnessed the amazing “gift” of outdoor programs in my twenty-plus years as an adolescent therapist, I still can only imagine the task parents face in determining how best to help their child. (Thus, I tend to look at each child’s unique challenges and strengths through the lens of a clinician and a parent myself.) For this reason, I want to share as much information about Outback as possible so that families feel confident in choosing our wonderful program and staff. I love instilling hope in the future and providing a glimpse of all that will be gained in the areas of their child’s self-worth and self-awareness, the healing of family relationships and education/training for parents, understanding and practicing healthy friendships, learning positive coping skills, and most importantly developing a plan for the future and motivating teens to continue their progress long after Outback. Though the child is the one benefiting from their direct experiences in the field, I believe the support, education and training for the family (or parents) is equally as important – starting with understanding all the aspects to Outback. I appreciate being able to use my life experiences, parenting experiences and professional experiences to support parents as they make possibly one of the most challenging decisions to help their child.

PERSONAL INTEREST

Growing up in a tight-knit family as the third oldest of nine children, I tend to thrive on personal connections and relationships. My husband and I with our three children (12-year-old twins and a 17-year-old), live on a little bit of acreage with three dogs, two cats, two pygmy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits, doves and quails. Amidst our busy schedules, we enjoy spending time in the beautiful outdoors in all four seasons. I have loved downhill skiing, photography and most importantly visiting with family and friends. Though I’ve given up my “thrill-seeking” activities like bungee jumping and sky diving as I’ve grown older, I still seem to meet my need for excitement by balancing a very busy life and fitting everything into only 24 hours in a day.  My goals are to return to carving out time for my own personal fitness so I may stay healthy for many years to come.

Aries M. McGinnis, MA, CMHC
ADMISSIONS COUNSELOR

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH

I have had the privilege of being in a family structure that loves unconditionally, holds strong boundaries, teaches work ethic and integrity, and embraces the uniqueness of each person.  As I began looking at wilderness programs, the family component at Outback immediately spoke to my heart.  A fundamental belief at Outback is that the success of the student is intricately and deeply connected to the health of the family system. While working with students as a Primary Therapist at Outback, I helped them work through the process of engagement, healing, reconnecting, and growing. My initial approach was to see the student for who they were: what was great about them. Our students all have greatness and I worked to help them see that their behaviors did not define them. As we pulled apart maladaptive behaviors from the individual, I helped students become actively engaged in their own therapeutic process. When students are engaged, we can begin the work of healing for them and their family as they review past experiences and begin to learn a healthy manner of handling their clinical challenges. As the healing continues, reconnection of the family begins. I firmly believe that my experience as a Primary Therapist, Program Director and Family Therapist have all provided me with a unique and well-rounded understanding of how to serve as a grounding support system for parents and family members throughout the admissions process.

PERSONAL INTEREST

I am an East Coast native and will always cherish my roots. I make it back to Philly multiple times a year and I have yet to lose my accent even after being in Utah for years. While my roots are my family back east, my soul is in the mountains. I came to Utah for two reasons: wilderness therapy and the mountains. There is a peace that fills my heart as I look to the mountains each morning. I am an outdoor enthusiast with skiing, mountain biking, and hiking as some of my favorite activities. I would rather be camping in a remote area than wander in the city. I also enjoy adrenaline sports and have enjoyed such adventures as sky-diving, hang-gliding, white water rapids, and bungee jumping. Along with a sense of adventure, I have a deep need to explore the world and love to travel. I have made my way to Europe, Asia, and all over the USA. I have found that my sense of adventure, my love of the outdoors, and my deep connection with my family and roots has helped me form strong connections with my students.

Daniel Hazen
PROGRAM DIRECTOR

Bio Coming Soon

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Jessica Smith
FIELD GUIDE RECRUITER

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH
Having worked in the field closely with students, I understand what it takes to mentor and guide youth into unfamiliar emotional and mental territories. I look for staff who will add to our incredible list of Field Guides. I find those who are engaged and invested in the wilderness experience which will ultimately invite our students to find ways of healthy healing. I focus on making clear, the philosophy of Outback and the deep interconnection of the field department, clinical department, and the families we serve so that students can have that one-of-a-kind adventure in growth and empowerment.

PERSONAL INTEREST
I am the mother of three fantastic kids, one of which has brought us officially into the teenage years. I still love to hike and camp and be outdoors. I enjoy trying anything creative and hands-on. I love working with wood and making furniture and wooden pendants. I also enjoy reading classic novels and continuing to add to my personal library as well as writing and telling stories. I have lived and traveled all over the country and have been to over 40 US states! I hope to someday finish writing my own book and share my stories with others.

Pete Allerd
ACADEMIC COORDINATOR

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH
I love education more than I love schooling and that is one of the best things about being a part of the Outback team. At Outback, I have noticed that students learn in a natural, curious way surrounded by the beauty of nature rather than being cooped up in a classroom surrounded by distractions and schedules. It is my sincere wish that every young person could experience the transformative power of nature the way participants at Outback do. I love watching youths come alive and develop the attributes needed to become productive adults, such as confidence, resilience, and improved communication and relationships.

PERSONAL INTEREST
I love adventures of all kinds, especially in the great outdoors! I have been to the top of some of the highest mountains and to the bottom of some of the deepest caves. I have taken my mountain bike over iconic trails and my packraft over iconic waterways. I am an enthusiastic ping-pong player. I love playing strategy board games. I am unabashedly ingrained in “nerd culture”, with a special affinity for Lord of the Rings and Avatar the Last Airbender. I love solving clues and puzzles, especially in escape rooms and with treasure hunts. I love reading books and discussing important ideas. I conscientiously strive to “be the change” I hope to see in the world.

Rich Rice
LOGISTICS DIRECTOR

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

I have been with Outback since 2004 starting as a part-time transporter doing the intakes for new students into the program. That was my introduction into Wilderness Therapy. Seeing the progress of thousands of young people has had a lasting impression in my life and made a difference in the way I helped in the raising of my four children.

I am an avid scuba diver and have spent thousands of hours underwater enjoying the splendor of the seas. I enjoy big game hunting for deer and elk in Utah’s wonderful mountains. I very much enjoy learning the process of and building anything. Ranging from learning to rub sticks together to make fire, to installing 10 kilowatts of solar panels on my house, or building a wood-fired pizza oven in my back yard and perfecting the pizza.

Farrah Holt, NREMT
MEDICAL COORDINATOR

Bio Coming Soon

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Dale Christenson, MD
MEDICAL DIRECTOR

MEDICAL DIRECTOR

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Emily Rowe, APHR
HR GENERALIST | OFFICE MANAGER

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

 

PERSONAL APPROACH
I made the decision to work in Human Resources because I love learning about people, organizational communication, and being able to problem-solve on a daily basis. While every company has an HR department, I find it very meaningful to work in an environment where lives are changed and families are brought together. I strive to make valuable ‘human’ connections and to use my ‘resources’ to help serve both our employees and students. I believe that it’s the small changes that make a world of difference and as a team, we can move mountains!

PERSONAL INTEREST
I am a bookworm at heart with a spirit for adventure. I actively participate in a book club whose members can opt in to travel places where the books’ setting takes place. My most recent venture took me abroad to Italy and Spain with plans to pursue India next year. During the summer months, I enjoy spending my time at the pool where I teach private swim lessons to youth of all ages. I currently serve as Treasurer on my Home Owners Association Board to remain involved with my community. I like to spend quality time with neighbors, friends, and family.