She’s completing Wilderness… Now What!?

Why Makana Leadership Academy is Perfect for Wilderness Therapy Graduates

“As parents, we felt like what we had learned while our child was in wilderness opened our eyes to an entirely new world! It was truly amazing. The problem was we had no idea what to do next.”

Families who have had students graduate from Anasazi Foundation, WinGate Wilderness Therapy, Outback, New Visions, Red Cliff, Open Sky and other great programs are left with a daunting question: “She’s completing wilderness, now what?!”

Makana Leadership Academy offers an answer to this critical question. Makana Leadership Academy was created specifically for wilderness graduates who are natural leaders. The programing is designed to build on the foundation of self-awareness and confidence that comes from time spent in the desert.

After observing thousands of wilderness graduates, the following points are worth considering as families, therapist and consultants work with Makana to transform crisis into leadership:


The seed of deep change is planted in wilderness therapy. Makana believes there is no better starting point for helping with depression, attachment disorder, anxiety, addiction, and rebuilding relationships.

Wilderness graduates have experienced a hard reset from technology, social media, toxic relationships and substances. Makana believes this reset supports the physiological process of healing from trauma and reactive/benevolent attachment.

Wilderness is the first building block to transformation. 

Life Mastery

The immediate challenge for wilderness graduates is reintegration. Many self-sabotaging patterns do not have the opportunity to surface or be resolved there. The wilderness provides an amazing pause, allowing for self-reflection and most importantly free from direct triggers that hinder healing.

Makana provides a Life Mastery course to address physical, emotional, mental and social patterns and triggers. Students build on all they have learned in the wilderness and start to refine their daily interactions and habits.

Life Mastery is the second building block to transformation. 


Overcoming specific patterns (depression or addiction) is necessary but not sufficient. Without a clear vision of ones own value and skills to act on that vision, relapse (recidivism) is highly probable due to an individual’s lack of movement and motivation.

Makana provides an intensive, interactive Leadership course to build an essential skillset for overcoming any challenge that emerges in life. Makana’s highly effective course teaches critical thinking, persuasive writing, win-win negotiation, project management, effective influence, career planning, personal branding, SMART planning. Each skillset is framed in experiential and project-based learning (see the students’ recent “12 Lifechanging Days of Christmas” project) to bring essential leadership concepts to life.

Leadership is the third building block to transformation. 

Master Mind (aftercare)

There is nothing quite as empowering and liberating as knowing where to start. Makana offers our graduates a Master Mind program that builds on their personalized life plan. This 6-month aftercare initiative works to locate internships, help with the school enrolment process, job location and interviewing, opening any possible doors and allowing Makana graduates the chance to practice and apply their new skills.

What cannot happen is to allow all the work in Wilderness, Life Mastery and Leadership to lay dormant. We work to ensure the right connections and invested stakeholders for each of our graduates. Learning how to unlock opportunities through building a network is one of the most powerful skills or rights of passage into a successful adulthood.

Master Mind is the fourth building block to transformation.

Turnaround Parent

Children thrive best when they are surrounded by a supportive family who productively express high expectations of greatness. Wilderness therapy often gives children the realization just how much their parents have done for them. However, intergenerational patterns of conflict and day-to-day family struggles are not overcome by simple realizations alone. Reprogramming ingrained patterns takes conscious effort on both sides of the conflict equation.

Makana provides a 24-week parent program that teaches parents all of the things we know and understand about boundaries, modeling secure attachment, encouragement and inspiring greatness. This course is an essential element of The Makana Way.

Turnaround Parenting is the fifth building block to transformation.

The Makana family is something we aim to develop. Makana literally means “gift” in Hawaiian. Paying it forward is the Makana. We are passing the Makana on to each graduating student with the clear expectation that their success becomes a Makana all relationships in their current and future lives.


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Utah Department of Human Services
Utah State Board of Education
California Department of Education
Post Adoption Service
Greenwood Associates