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Origins

The inception of Makana was in response to a dispiriting realization that many of our professional colleagues in wilderness therapy and adolescent therapy were having at the same time. This realization was that the wilderness was having a positive, meaningful effect on young people. Nevertheless, it was only the beginning stage of the transformation needed for teens to maintain "lasting" change. We struggled to find any follow-up program that we could confidently recommend to families with children coming out of a wilderness program. Unfortunately, the bar set for aftercare programs has been set too low; and we could no longer watch as our young wilderness graduates transitioned into programs that only failed them.

Our founding partners and the executive team came together to disrupt the industry of adolescent therapy schools. Jacob Pope and Sharon Clegg formed a nonprofit organization that quickly attracted others qualified with the common mission to create the best wilderness aftercare program in the world.

Our goal is "lasting outcomes." We answer to no investor or profit bottom-line. We are driven by our triple-bottom-line objective. Our mission is personal – to each person on our staff. Our promise and our gift to our struggling youth and their families is lasting change and a hopeful future.

Makana group of girls

The Gift

Makana is a Hawaiian term meaning “gift.” The gift we offer is hope. The suffering we all experience is a result of failing hope. We’re here to help the teen who has accepted the label of “hopeless” or “bad”, and the parent who is feeling despair and fear for the future. Relief comes from reframing the labels we’ve put on what we’ve done, who we are, and what’s possible. This takes time and practice but it can become habitual to think positively about what’s possible and even about the lessons of the past. When that happens, the intrinsic engine of aspiration is ignited and a young person becomes much more than recovered but thriving – a parent becomes more than relieved but proud and full of hope.

Rising Above the Status Quo

Behavioral Correction

Most programs facilitate a “levels system” that only results in behavior change while they’re in the system.

Immersive Therapy Model

Our modalities systematically and progressively develop a lasting, intrinsic desire to change, grow, and achieve.

Passive Learning Environment

Many long-term care programs struggle with apathetic staff and students—a disengaged mind doesn’t learn. This leaves their graduates prey to too many external influences too soon.

Engaged Learning Environment

We are here to serve youth who are experiencing hardship but who are most capable of change and come willingly (see Enrollment Process).

Perpetual “Therapizing”

Many youth go from program to program indefinitely. Children are left feeling abandoned and check out. Sadly, this leads to a prevailing attitude that some people cannot be helped, and lifelong therapy is to be expected.

Progressive Capacity Building

Our program is designed to transition gradually into independence and true leadership. We maintain the highest expectations of happiness and success. After graduation, support continues at home and alumni are not considered truly “Makana Leaders” until they are giving back as mentors.

“Frankencare” Syndrome

Youth frequently get transitioned from program to program with conflicting methods and mixed messages. Students who have experienced this often communicate abandonment trauma and a sense of worthlessness.

Continuum Of Care

We offer a “continuum of care” that moves from the most basic self-awareness, to self-actualization, to capable leadership skills. Our curriculum is designed to iteratively develop habits and skills that will lead to high-performing adults.

Little Training For Parents & Family

Parent and family support is either left out of the equation or offered as general support. Other positive home relationships are typically not even acknowledged.

Content With Status Quo

New learning and therapy models are slow to be adopted or dismissed as “unproven”, despite mounting evidence that so many traditional methods are not working.

Content With Status Quo

New learning and therapy models are slow to be adopted or dismissed as “unproven”, despite mounting evidence that so many traditional methods are not working.

Leading Edge Personal Development

Our curriculum is based on emerging science, progressive techniques, and a holistic approach to personal development. We focus on the “4 Dimensions of Wellness” that include mental, physical, social, and emotional growth.

The Bar Is Set Far Too Low

Most programs simply aim to keep youth out of trouble.

Hardship Is A Catalyst To Greatness

We know that greatness frequently comes out of life’s hardest challenges. Our expectation for each student is to become high-performing, world-class leaders.

The Makana Way

A Mission With Heart

Makana students playing on the courtMakana students playing on the court

Makana’s mission is to help struggling youth overcome resistance to help, gain a knowledge of their intrinsic value, establish healthy habits, and gain the skills and experience they need to find success as they define it for themselves. We are called to help the whole family with parent training and therapy. We promise to challenge the status quo and raise the bar for the help available to young people in crisis.

We believe that the trauma and difficulties our youth face can be the very reason they achieve greatness. We will always see our students as people regardless of their circumstances or behaviors, that they might see the greatness in themselves. We address the health of our students holistically with our 4 dimensions of wellbeing: physical, social, mental, and emotional.

We seek to be thought leaders as science unveils a new understanding of the human brain, body, emotional health. We are eager to implement any new modality that proves to be beneficial to the lasting progress of our students and their families. Our emerging generation deserves better. We are here to answer the call.

We Answer to Outcomes

Triple Bottom Line Nonprofit

Even in an industry where the promise is to help people, most programs are ultimately striving for a profitable bottom line in the traditional sense. We’ve been witness to the reality that when money and financially-driven decision-makers are the top of the hierarchy of an organization, it is nearly impossible to create an organization the acts first in the interest of the customer or client – even harder to act in the interest of the wider community and planet (regardless of inspiring mission statements).

We created our program as a non-profit to keep ourselves honest. We don’t answer to any investor or shareholder that wants to see increasing profits. We measure success first by the positive outcomes of the families we serve, then to our global community, our mother earth, and our financial health so we can keep doing the work.

Makana family enjoying each other's company

Social
Bottom Line(People)

Our primary objective is to create measurable outcomes for our clients. Some examples of how we do this is tracking physical gains and sleep quality, daily academic progress tracking, and data-driven psychological testing. We continually innovate ways to help our students and their families feel more joy and positivity for their future. This creates a profound rippling effect through the network effect. Each student reaches thousands of lives on many levels. Our outcomes are measured in the number of qualified leaders we introduce to the world.

Beautiful lake house and green trees

Environmental
Bottom Line(The Planet)

We believe that all things are connected. Our students come from wilderness therapy programs where they’ve experienced a profound connection to nature and its impact on their wellbeing. As an institution, we aim to be an example to our students, other educational institutions, and the business world at large. We measure our success on environmental bottom line indicators such as our carbon footprint, the care of our 100+ acre property, and service to public lands that serve as teachers to our rising generation.

Contractors on a job site

Financial
Bottom Line(Profit)

While we are a licensed nonprofit organization, we aim to create economic yields with our business model. We are not a charity that requires donations in order to continue doing our work. What we do with our economic yields is where we differ from for-profit educational institutions. We are committed to putting our proceeds to work for the benefit of our students and families through facility upgrades, attracting the best staff, learning opportunities, and the expansion of our mission to serve more families.

A Dream Team Of Caring Pros

Mark Nelson

CFO, Board Member

Mark Nelson

CFO, Board Member

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Currently, Mark Nelson has not published any biographical information. Check back later for any updates.
Kristina Paider

Board Member

Kristina Paider

Board Member

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Justin Kaaiakamanu

Board Memeber

Justin Kaaiakamanu

Board Memeber

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Sharon Clegg

Curriculum, Compliance Director, Board Member

Sharon Clegg

Curriculum, Compliance Director, Board Member

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Jacob Pope

Executive Director

Jacob Pope

Executive Director

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Matt Blodgett

Strategic Dev. Director

Matt Blodgett

Strategic Dev. Director

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Audrey Waterman

Operation, Leadership Development

Audrey Waterman

Operation, Leadership Development

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Gheen Hillman

Marketing Director

Gheen Hillman

Marketing Director

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Josh Steadman

Curriculum Advisor

Josh Steadman

Curriculum Advisor

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Loreto Di Cesare

Film/Media Director

Loreto Di Cesare

Film/Media Director

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Garry Waterman

Clinical Director

Garry Waterman

Clinical Director

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Lara Kravet

Therapist

Lara Kravet

Therapist

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Beth Hillman

Parent Program Director, Board Memeber

Beth Hillman

Parent Program Director, Board Memeber

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Michelle Anderson

Special Ed. Teacher

Michelle Anderson

Special Ed. Teacher

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Ryan Dittmar

Mathematics, Engineering Teacher

Ryan Dittmar

Mathematics, Engineering Teacher

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Miles Spiker

Experiential Learning

Miles Spiker

Experiential Learning

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Sunshine Bellon

Literature, Health Teacher

Sunshine Bellon

Literature, Health Teacher

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Camryn Bowers

Residential Mentor

Camryn Bowers

Residential Mentor

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Sarah Komisar

Home Manager

Sarah Komisar

Home Manager

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Mike Goodman

Residential Mentor

Mike Goodman

Residential Mentor

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Megan Pope

Leadership Ambassador

Megan Pope

Leadership Ambassador

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Esther Tsumba

Residential Mentor

Esther Tsumba

Residential Mentor

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“The secret to finding the deeper level in the other is finding the deeper level in yourself. Withouth finding it in youself, you cannot see it in the other.”

— Eckhart Tolle

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