The news of OpenSky’s closure came to my knowledge late. While this article would’ve been sent out earlier, I wanted to ensure my understanding was right. Before reading this one, I highly recommend reading my other article, OpenSky and The Horrors of Wilderness Therapy, as it goes over my own experience.
Officially, they claim the cause of death to be simply a smaller amount of students. However, that doesn’t check out. When I was there, they had around 5 or so groups, my group ranging from about 4-7 people at once. They said they only had 22 students, which feels only slightly below the average.
Additionally, OpenSky wants to close everything down by February 14th. That only gives a month to go through the entire closing process. It feels like they are in a rush to leave the business, which leaves some, including me, to speculate why they are closing.
A Note about the Durango Herald
The Durango Herald wrote an article following the closure announcement by OpenSky. Although it’s abundantly pro-OpenSky, many of the article’s contents are quotes by Emily Fernandes, one of the founders. I still recommend reading. It can be found here.
The article points out how much they claim OpenSky helped with the economy of Durango, a fairly small town. However, besides employment statistics, I would dispute those claims. Many, if not most, of the guides during my stay at OpenSky came from out of state. I knew people who would commute by plane from far away places like Ohio and California to work a one-to-two-week shift.
Moreover, during my stay, my wife had to call the Durango police because I had received threats from another student, and OpenSky staff failed to respond to emails. When the police were called, they had no idea what OpenSky was and even asked for an address.
OpenSky Closure Theory 1:
The most obvious, and preferred theory is historically backed up in the Troubled Teen Industry. When facilities face bad legal reports, they often close down and reopen under a different name. This prevents them from losing their license, which could make reopening impossible or possibly facing criminal charges.
The State of Colorado received a special version of my previous article that included even more information than what was given to the public. It included very damaging information that could have been levied as a criminal charge.
OpenSky Closure Theory 2:
While I have far more evidence for the first theory, that’s only because I am the one who reported it, and there could be far more things going on outside of my view.
While there’s no way to trust the identity of this source, I have received an anonymous report that OpenSky closed because they lost their General Liability coverage, which would make doing business so risky it would be nearly impossible.
General Liability insurance protects businesses from injuries that may happen under their watch and a host of other factors. It is much easier for Insurers to insure a bakery from someone slipping and falling through the door than a three-month program where teenagers spend the entire time exposed to the wild and the elements.
Losing insurance coverage could spell death for any wilderness therapy program. Moreover, insurers don’t want to insure such a dangerous industry. Nearly everyone there gets some sort of boo-boo in the wild, and they can’t handle that liability.
OpenSky will be the fifth private pay Wilderness Therapy program to close this year. While many lament the closure of OpenSky, many others who were survivors of the program are celebrating. However, it’s a bittersweet victory, as the suffering and trauma they caused those who survived the program will continue long past their demise.
It’s never the right option for parents to send their children into someone else’s hands during times of crisis. What those children need is love and attention from their own families. Nobody but the parents can handle their kids properly.