Woodbury Reports

The Miracle of Wilderness Therapy

Sanchez and Olsen talk about their pioneering experience in developing the basic concepts of wilderness therapy in a BYU program in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their work is usually credited as the original work developing wilderness therapy programs.


Bonners Ferry, ID -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/17/2012 -- Today’s guests on Parent Choices for Struggling Teens with Lon Woodbury were two of the “pioneers” of wilderness therapy: Larry Dean Olsen and Ezekiel Sanchez, Founders of Anasazi Foundation, located in Mesa, Arizona. Larry, who started this adventure back in the late 60’s, was taking groups out to learn to live off the land and found that positive patterns were emerging, as grade point averages went up and the students were having positive attitudes at home. Soon after, Larry was hired as an instructor for groups of students who were flunking out of college at BYU. He would take a group of students on a semester long expedition to learn survival skills out in the desert and if they completed the course, they were welcomed back to school.

Ezekiel, who also studied survival skills as a young man, was one of Larry’s first “guinea pigs” as he puts it and soon admired the skills Larry had to offer. “Larry looked like Clark Kent but was more like Superman out there” Ezekiel laughingly shared. And at the end of the first group trip, Larry asked Ezekiel to be his assistant. After six years and 10,000 participants in the program later (many of which by then had been court ordered juvenile delinquents in addition to failing students and others who just wanted the survival experience) Larry and Ezekiel parted ways, Each going on their own church mission. Larry went private and worked with many organizations within the wilderness field including serving as the Board of Directors for the National Association of Therapeutic Wilderness Camps (NATWC). Ezekiel came back from his mission, got married and taught on the Navajo reservation. Later, the two joined forces again after much praying, “The sacred wind brought the answers they were looking for” and Anasazi Foundation was started in 1988.

As it was then and is still now: “the children come first at Anasazi. The mission is to prepare the parents and the children to turn their hearts to one another, begin anew and walk in harmony in the wilderness of the world”. The program follows the 10 Guiding Principles and the Anasazi Way, which were created by Larry, Ezekiel and his wife Pauline, who is fluent in Navajo. There are three sequential “walkings” that the YoungWalkers (students) participate in: the RabbitStick Walking, the BadgerStone Walking and the DawnStar Walking. These walks, added to the series of ceremonies, are all created to start a new beginning, awaken the heart and to celebrate the “seed of Greatness” inside each of them.

In response to Lon’s question to both Larry and Ezekiel about “how do parents choose the right program (or Anasazi) for their child?” both guests had some great answers: Is it a punitive experience or a loving one? Will my child be treated with dignity and respect? How safe is the program? What is the philosophy being taught? And what kind of people “walk” with the children? Can they be trusted? As Larry adamantly put it…Parents need to question every aspect of the program”.

“Larry and Ezekiel are often referred to as the grandfathers of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry.”

To listen to the full interview go to http://www.latalkradio.com/Players/Lon-040912.shtml on LATalkRadio at http://www.latalkradio.com to listen to The Miracle of Wilderness Therapy.

Lon Woodbury as an Independent Educational Consultant is the owner/founder of Woodbury Reports Inc. and www.strugglingteens.com. He has worked with families and struggling teens since 1984 and is the host of Parent choices for Struggling Teens on LATalkRadio Mondays at 12:00 Noon, Pacific Time, Channel One.

Larry D. Olsen founded ANASAZI Foundation with his long-time friend and partner Ezekiel Sanchez, which was the first program of its kind to be licensed and later nationally accredited as a behavioral healthcare provider. Larry completed a bachelor's degree in Education at BYU with graduate studies in English. He is a Wood Badge trained "Scouter" and has written instructional manuals for the Boy Scouts of America. Larry is married to Sherrel Eslinger of Twin Falls, Idaho, and they are the parents of ten children.

Ezekiel Sanchez, a Totonac Indian from Mexico, is the second oldest of sixteen children, and co-founder of the ANASAZI Foundation, Today, Ezekiel's knowledge of plants and ancient skills is unparalleled, and is known for his exceptional skill to track (even at night). Ezekiel is married to Pauline Martin, a beautiful Navajo from The Gap, Arizona. They are the parents of seven children and were honored as the 2001 Arizona's Parents of the Year and in 2002 received the Excellence in Parenting 2002 National Award from The National Parents' Day Council, A Project of the American Family Coalition and The Washington Times Foundation.

Woodbury Reports was founded in November 1989, by Lon Woodbury, MA, IECA, CEP, as an Independent Educational Consulting firm to help parents of teens making poor decisions select a private, parent choice program that would help return the family to normalcy. Through interviews with parents, communication with professionals who know your child well, and then thoroughly researching viable options, we can help parents make the right choices that will help your child get back on the right path. For more information about Woodbury Reports Inc., call 208-267-5550, or email to lon@woodbury.com, or visit the web site www.strugglingteens.com.