Life Changing Grants and Scholarships for Wilderness Therapy: a Conversation With Sky’s the Limit Fund’s Rochelle Bochner and Lani Dorff

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Life Changing Grants and Scholarships for Wilderness Therapy: a Conversation With Sky's the Limit Fund's Rochelle Bochner and Lani Dorff
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ABOUT THE EPISODE:
Parents are often hit with sticker shock when they start researching treatment options for their adolescent or young adult children, especially if Wilderness Therapy is on that list. With costs reaching $500 per day, it can mean families have to forego treatment only because of financial constraints. 

When Rochelle Bochner's son was in a wilderness therapy program and she realized only families with strong financial means could access this life-changing experience she teamed up with her friend Lani to change the game. With a small pool of seed money from her 50th birthday and a plan sketched on a restaurant tablecloth, this dynamic duo has created a world-class non-profit that's helped over 700 families access therapy, after-care and family coaching. 

This is a must-listen episode for parents who know they need outside help for their child but aren't able to afford the steep price tag of wilderness therapy. You'll learn so much from Lani and Rochelle including:

  • how every grant provided by Sky's The Limit Fund is doubled in impact by the partnering wilderness therapy program
  • why they added aftercare and family coaching for each of their grant recipient families
  • the rigorous process they have to ensure the right families are receiving funds
  • the lengths parents will go to to get their teens and young adult kids into treatment
  • what COVID has done to their grant request pipeline
  • how one donor provided a quarter of a million dollars to ensure kids in treatment wouldn't get sent home due to COVID's impact
  • the typical scenario of a family reaching out to them for assistance
  • guidance for parents on what to do in the days and weeks leading up to requesting a grant
  • what they most want parents to know after working with families for over 10 years
  • their own personal self-care tips for parents
  • and lots more

EPISODE RESOURCES:

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SPEAKERS: Brenda Zane, Rochelle Bochner, Lani Dorff
Brenda  01:57
Welcome friends, I hope that you’ll grab your headphones and walking shoes or save this and listen to it on your commute or wherever you can be focused. Because today’s episode is so positive and hope inducing, I would say one of the biggest challenges that parents face when they decide that they need to get some help for their child, whether it’s substance use or emotional challenges is that of finances. treatment is incredibly expensive. And for many, many treatment options, insurance just doesn’t cover the expense. And so parents are forced to pay cash for some of these programs. And when you’re talking in the neighborhood of $500 a day, for some of these, it’s really, really easy to just get defeated and write those off, that they’re not even an option for you. It’s kind of like the hope that you have for your child’s health and and sometimes for their life is out of reach only because of money. And it’s a it’s just such a devastating position to be in. Well, my guests today, Rochelle Bochner and Lani Dorff saw this incredible gap in access to treatment, and they did something about it. So you are going to hear why and how they started a Sky’s the Limit Fund, which in the past 10 years has helped over 700 families afford wilderness therapy for their kids. These two are a force to be reckoned with, and we cover a lot of ground in this conversation. So I will let you listen in now to my very inspiring and very hopeful conversation with Rochelle and Lani of Sky’s the Limit Fund.
Brenda  04:02
Welcome Lani and Rochelle to hope stream. I’m thrilled to have you here today. This is a conversation I, it’s kind of, actually I don’t want to say bittersweet for me, but it’s really interesting that I am having this conversation because back in my years of searching for resources I did come across sky’s the limit a couple of times. And I was so impressed that there was an organization doing what you do. So it’s It’s such an honor to have you with me here today. So thank you for taking the time and joining me on the podcast.
Rochelle  04:32
Thanks, Brenda. It’s an absolute honor to be here to share our story.
Brenda  04:36
Wonderful. Before we get started into all kinds of interesting conversations, I like to let guests get to know you a little bit more just as people and so I have a fun question for both of you, Lani. We’ll start with you, and that is what did you have for breakfast this morning?
Lani  04:53
Oh, it was so good. I I told you I’m working on a tiny little luau tonight. So I have lots of pineapple around the house and I made a pineapple apple kale smoothie and it was an oatmeal day. So yeah, looking good. I’m glad you asked me today. 
Brenda  05:11
Wow, that’s good. That’s got all the health benefits init. Rochelle, what about you? What did you have for breakfast?
Rochelle  05:20
this morning? Well, I started with my typical cup of coffee. And then I added a second cup. And then I had an avocado toast with fresh tomatoes and nice egg and then I had to do the dishes. So
Brenda  05:36
wouldn’t it be nice if there was like a breakfast elf that just came and cleaned up after you?
Rochelle  05:40
Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh, I have one it’s called my husband but he was off golfing.
Brenda  05:48
Yeah, well those sound like really good breakfasts, I love that.
Rochelle  05:51
What did you have?
Brenda  05:53
I had steel cut oatmeal. And I put some oat milk in it. And then I was thinking that’s fairly redundant to make oatmeal with oat milk. But I did that with blueberries and almonds.
Rochelle  06:06
sounds like a breakfast you’d have in wilderness.
Brenda  06:09
Right? Exactly. Yeah. No, it’s it’s kind of my standard breakfast and I love it. I got an Instant Pot this year. And so I’m learning to make all kinds of interesting things. So I figured out that when you make steel cut oatmeal, it takes a long time. But if you just throw in an instant pot, it’s super fast. So that’s my tip for everybody today. 
Rochelle  06:34
Good to know. 
Brenda  06:36
Yeah. Great. Well, why don’t we just talk a little bit about the history of Sky’s the Limit? I’d love to know, a little bit of background about both of you personally, and how this amazing organization was born. And, and just get a little bit of background on all of that.
Rochelle  06:55
How much time do we have two hours, three hours a week?
Rochelle  07:01
Well, I can this I can kind of elaborate on our journey. And Lani pine in here whenever you want. Lani and I go back, probably 20 plus years, we met. While in the Junior League of Palo Alto mid-Peninsula, we were both Junior League members and Lani had been in the league a couple of years longer than myself. And so we have the opportunity to work together there and get to know each other a little bit. We’re also raising our children in the same community. And our boys went to high school together and played on the same sports team. And, you know, kind of our journey, my journey began with the whole Sky’s the Limit Fund birth in 2009, my son went into crisis, he had gone off to college, and went into a pretty deep spiral. And prior to going away to college, we knew that he was, you know, dabbling in, you know, socially irresponsible drugs, potential, you know, basically marijuana. And, you know, it seemed like he was a good student, he was doing well, and, you know, he dabble in it, and we catch him and, you know, dear being parents of a high schooler about to go off to college, you know, we, we did the typical, this isn’t gonna work. Well, you know, you’re not 18 you get the picture. And off, he went to college. 
Rochelle  08:46
I would say the first semester of his freshman year, we started getting a lot of high warning. Call it my spidey senses were tingling. He was emotional in the mornings, and very engaged and outgoing and happy and competent in the evenings. And something wasn’t feeling right. And we, we knew nothing about really the, the depth of his spiral until we went to visit him at college. And, you know, the story gets darker and deeper. And, you know, I don’t want to bore you with it, but he ended up admitting to drugs and alcohol and went, we decided to pull him out of school. And he wanted to go out of the school and we had talked to an amazing woman out in Klamath Falls, her name was his Mona at Dragonfly. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. And she said, You know, I think you’ve got more of a problem. I think you’ve got a kiddo who’s not just smoking weed, there might be more going on. And she said, Have you thought about wilderness therapy? And I knew nothing about wilderness therapy and looked into it. And I thought, gosh, I can’t send off my city boy to the wilds of the country and the outdoors in the dead of winter. Right. 
Brenda  10:20
Right? Seems incomprehensible doesn’t it? 
10:22
And I think I’m going a lot in depth to the story, because I know you’re mostly interested in the Sky’s the Limit Fund. But what happened during this journey was, I went to a parent’s wellness weekend, he went out to Colorado. And I was shocked by the amount of wealth that sat in the room. And all I kept thinking was, what happens to the kiddos where the parents can’t afford this? I brought it up to the executive director. And he was, he’s like, you know, we’re a for profit business. We do try and scholarship as many kids as we can. But the reality is, we can’t help everybody. And I looked at him and said, I think I need to change that. And I came back home, and Lani, who had been supporting me through the crisis as a friend, a mom, just there to listen, she said, and I told her the story. She’s like, well, what can we do? And I said, Well, I’m thinking about starting a scholarship fund, want to do it together.
Brenda  11:34
Little did she know what, what she was getting into?
Rochelle  11:38
And she said, you know, she sat for a minute along. He’s very methodical. You know, I’m kind of this very big picture. Yeah, let’s throw the glitter into the sky and see where it lands. And Lani said, Well, let’s think this through. She said, I need to understand wilderness therapy a little bit better. And we started talking and we started strategizing. And Lani started doing a little bit of research. And literally, we went out to the wilderness therapy program that my son had gone to, so she could get an experience firsthand with wilderness therapy. And that was really the starting point for Sky’s the Limit Fund, we recognize there was a need to make wilderness therapy available and attainable for families who have minimal to no financial means we thought we would be supporting the working poor, that are really poverty level. And we really started to support more of the working poor. And we can talk a little bit more about that a little later. But with the help of the Colorado, we joined a small community foundation. And it was the Community Foundation serving southwest Colorado, we established our fun there while we were trying to get our own 501 C-3. And that was in 2010. A decade ago.
Brenda  13:24
Wow. So you moved fast if your son was you know, if this kind of started, your story kind of started in 2009. With him, you You acted fast is this? Is this typical of you, when you see a problem? Like, let me just step up here.
Lani  13:47
I just want to jump in because it really did happen pretty rapidly, though, methodically, I think some of our junior league training was to be, you know, address issues and and tackle things in a in a professional, very thoughtful manner. So that truly I just knew Rachelle well enough to know that. If I was going to say yes to this, I know how she does dream big. And I wanted to make sure that I could dedicate you know, my personal resources to this and going out so so that’s why I said we let let’s go out I need to see this live. You described it so much. I think I have a sense of that. And I was so wonderfully surprised at the caring nature of it. The non militaristic sort of style, which is kind of a stereotype that’s not even close to being true. 
We literally saw a kiddo bust his first fire in the wilderness and all of the support and and congratulations that he got in. I think I turned to her within the second hour and said, yes, absolutely, let’s do this. So, we did move fast. And we began to establish some other people. We weren’t sure if they would be board members, but some other supportive some, you know, really, really great folks, and just began this as a small grassroots organization. But one, which, in hindsight now has really struck a chord with a lot of people and families in crisis. 
Rochelle  15:37
It what was amazing to us, Brenda, was that when we stepped our we dipped our toe into the pond, we were told by several people within the wilderness therapy industry, that several people have attempted it to create a foundation or a way to support families, but nobody was successful at it. And I’ll never forget, one of the good old boys in wilderness therapy said, you know what, we’re gonna we’re just gonna keep an eye on you and watch you girls, but good luck with that. And probably six or seven years ago, the same gentleman came up to me and he said, “Do you remember when I told you and Lani, that? Good luck with that? Wow, can I just jump on the ship with you guys? And can we start working together?” 
So you know, it has it’s been an interesting journey. And as you said, it’s a really squishy industry. And you know, what we initially thought Sky’s the Limit Fund would do would be one or two grants a year. And so what happened – let me just backtrack a little – It was my 50th birthday. And I decided to have a big party. And in lieu of gifts, I said to my friends, please don’t do gifts. But if you want to, we’ve established this fund for scholarships to wilderness therapy. And the response was overwhelming by our friends, and many of them are Lani’s friends as well. And we came away with some seed seed money that we were pretty, pretty excited about. We were able to give our first grant. Lani, wasn’t it 2010? Our first grant? Yes, yes. And I think we gave two grants our first year. So and, you know, we’re up to hundreds. 
Brenda  17:30
Wow. And so this is all going on, while your son is kind of going through his struggle in his treatment? What was his perspective on that? And how does kind of what was he thinking at the time? Or did he even really realize what mom was up to? And then what’s his What’s his thought on it now?
Rochelle  17:49
Oh, wow. That’s such a good question. So I actually asked his permission. Because I thought it was important, because, you know, we’ve raised our kids and and Lani, and Gary have done the same thing with their kids is, is giving back and philanthropy and community service has been part of their upbringing, they really don’t know any different. And when I told Matt, we were doing this, I said, I’m happy to keep your name out of it, your pictures, whatever you want to do, I can change the story. But this is what I feel I need to do to help other people, especially parents that go into crisis like this. And he said, mom do it, I will help any way I can. And he has been a, he’s spoken at events. He’s talked about his crisis. He’s talked about his recovery. He’s talked about his relapses. And you know, he’s recently become a father. And he and his lady are living a life of sobriety and health and wellness. They’re actually up in the Pacific Northwest, not far from you in Portland. And they actually, Sky’s the Limit Fund just reached out to him yesterday. It’s they’re doing we’re doing our annual report. And they’re going to feature Matt in the annual report, and he’s happy to do it. 
So I think that while there’s I believe, in many cases, these kiddos, Have some shame, have some embarrassment, but they have to live a life of sobriety, so could be coming for him becoming public with this. While he’s overcome the shame, he’s has to live with the scars of this. Right, you know, again, you know, as a parent, you know, I worry, I worry every time the phone rings at 10 o’clock at night. And, you know, to have a kiddo go through this crisis. Much like you I have experienced personally, it’s life altering. And did I think I’d spend the next 10 years being an advocate for mental health sobriety addiction? You know, teen suicide? No, I didn’t think I would. But am I glad I am now? Heck, yes.
Brenda  20:17
Yeah. Wow, that’s so powerful good for him too. And, and congratulations on the grand baby! Well, can one of you can just sort of give us I know, we just dove in, because I’m so excited about all this. But just kind of a quick overview of actually, what does Sky’s the Limit Fund fund? What are the services that you offer to families,
Lani  20:42
essentially, our mission is to transform the lives of youth in crisis through wilderness therapy. We did this in a couple of ways we provide financial resources in terms of scholarships to help families access care. And, as Rochelle mentioned, we learned very quickly that these wouldn’t be people at the lowest poverty level, these are, these are families in many cases who are working a couple of jobs each to make ends meet, we serve a number of single families who are really struggling to, you know, to to provide for their children, and they might be able to afford a little bit of, of wilderness therapy, but certainly not all of it, that’s too prohibitive for them. So, again, sort of the term working for is is some is somewhat appropriate. Um, the other thing is, so we provide the scholarships. And the other thing that we do is probably about halfway through about five years into it, we realized that we wanted to see if we could provide some direct service, obviously, we aren’t the wilderness therapy program. But we did bring on and establish a family coaching program. So this helps with transition with the student coming back home. And it’s done on a sliding scale. So we are now providing some direct services as well, but primarily helping to offset the very high cost of wilderness therapy.  
Just just sort of say I, I’m not sure how much of your audience knows. But in very broad terms, wilderness therapy can be as high as $500 a night, it’s pretty typical that most students go from about eight weeks to 10 weeks, can be longer. And you know, so this is a significant chunk of change. I think a lot of parents probably go okay, boy, there’s our college tuition rate, right there. It’s it’s very effective therapy, but it’s it’s very expensive therapy as well. So our primary position is to help offset that cost. I would like to mention something that is very important to us, and I think has been a big factor in our success. And our ability to raise money is that we partner with a number of wilderness therapy programs throughout the states, I think we’re at 11, or 12 count right now. And one of our agreements with these wilderness therapy programs is that they will meet the scholarships that we give to a family. So as an example, if we provide a $10,000 scholarship, the enrolling program would take another $10,000 off of tuition. So our donor base really likes this because their gift is double, automatically, every donation is matched by our partner programs. So I always need to put in that plug because I think it’s a pretty unique business model.
Rochelle  24:10
Yeah, many times the wilderness therapy programs not only match our grant 100%, but they match it plus plus, we found that it’s really important for families to have some skin in the game. And it’s amazing for us that parents, you know, suddenly they’re 30 to 40 to $50,000 nut could be cut by, you know, anywhere from $20 to $30,000. And then they look at that as being a much much more attainable goal. I mean, parents have been we’ve known parents who have sold their cars, they’ve sold their their bicycle their only transportation to their jobs. They’ve mortgaged parents of wood family members have taken loans against life insurance. I mean, it’s been amazing. We do a really good job about vetting our families to. And I think it’s really important because everybody has a different pain threshold for financial need. Right? And Lani, and I have in the beginning, our board members did interview the family, we interview every single applicant. If it’s a young adult, we interview them, but we interview the parents and we look at financial documents, very in depth financial documents, we will Google homes. And I can’t tell you how many times Lani, I think having a grant she was looking at and there was a jetski and a speedboat in the driveway.
Brenda  25:43
Oh, boy.
Rochelle  25:46
And so you know, again, we are we have to be good stewards of our of our donors money. But what is important to us, is the skin in the game and I will tell you that we are now 10 years later, receiving donations from families we helped 10 years ago.
Brenda  26:06
Oh wow, that’s amazing.
Rochelle  26:09
We had one wonderful story where a young woman was in the field with my son actually, and when she graduated from the wilderness therapy program went to an aftercare program upon graduation, they give each kiddo leaving the treatment program $100 to go get a haircut or buy some jeans or get a manicure pedicure, whatever they use it for. And she turned around and donated that money to Sky’s the Limit Fund.
Brenda  26:41
Wow, that is incredible, that’s incredible. Wow, that just gave me goosebumps. Yeah, gosh, that’s so incredible. And it’s great to hear that you are great stewards of that money, because it is a lot of money. I am painfully aware of how much that costs. And so I think that’s great. And I’m just curious. Was it was it mainly because you had the experience with wilderness? Or why the focus on wilderness and funding that versus other kinds of therapies, just there’s so much out there? How did you sort of land on wilderness?
Rochelle  27:21
That’s a really good question. And Lani weigh in here anytime you want. Initially, wilderness therapy was what we were exposed to. And it was life changing for not only our son, but our family. And as such, because of the expense. We really did focus primarily in that area. And when Lani and I started Sky’s the Limit Fund we knew and talked in depth about the continuum of care, and that a lot of our donors early on, the first thing they said is, well, this is great. But what happens afterwards and and Lani often refers to, you know, wilderness therapy is the sprint and aftercare is the marathon. We we recognize that our dollar went our grant dollars went much further with wilderness therapy than it did with aftercare. So, we also realize that many of our families could not afford aftercare. Right. So what we wanted to do is create some sort of a transition program home for these kiddos. Now, I will preface that some of our families during that, you know, 8,10,12 weeks stay in wilderness, the parents miraculously come up with additional funding to help get their kiddo into another program. As you know, many kids I think it’s as high, Lani, what would you say, about 90%, Maybe a little lower now go on to aftercare programs. So the reality is for our kiddos, the parents, many of them just can’t afford it. So we put into place this family coaching program, where we require all of our grant recipients to go through the program. And the program. We have two family coaches on staff, both of which have been in the wilderness therapy industry for probably, I think one of them over 15 years, the other one over 20 and they start to work with the kiddos and when they’re in the field kind of looking at what’s home gonna look like and then work with the family as to what it’s going to look like when they come home. 
29:37
And then the program, our transition program, Lani is it six weeks, 12 weeks, do you know, well, 12 weeks, so they work with them and they have the option to apply for more time. We are we’ve been very successful with this and we have families that have come to us who have not been grant recipients that we put on a sliding scale based on a form, you know what their their income status is, we can offer them the same skills. You know, early on, we had talked about ,you know, when we sat down and drew out the business plan on a paper napkin, actually, a paper tablecloth at one of our favorite breakfast joints, we talked about education, impact, and then helping aftercare and helping -what do we do afterwards? And so we’ve not quite where we’re starting to work more on our education piece. But what super-duper cool yesterday on our board meeting, and I don’t think I’m overstepping here, our new executive director, his name is Mike Ferguson. He’s been in the he’s been in the field now, for many, many years. He and the staff are talking about, do we want to extend our reach to other types of treatment?  And so Sky’s the Limit Fund is stepping into our second decade, you know, things are evolving and changing a bit. I can’t guarantee that’s going to happen. But it’s something that we’re looking at as an organization, we are considered really the I’m going to toot our horn here, Lani, we are leaders in this industry now. People come to us and ask about our model. other nonprofits are starting to develop in this arena that we have spoken with that we are much like you, we want to share what we’re doing, because charity should have no boundaries. But we have done millions of dollars in grants in the last 10 years.
Brenda  31:52
I was just gonna ask that – to just to give the parents listening some idea of scope. You know, how many families are you able to help in a typical year? Get into to a program?
Lani  32:07
Yeah, I think the timing is funny because, again, yes, yesterday was Mike’s first formal board meeting, and he shared a slide that just showed exponential growth in and requests for scholarship applications in the last six months since COVID.  Our growth has been, I would dare to say meteoric most years, we’ve had tremendous growth, we’ve served over 700 families at this point, over $3 million in scholarships. And remember now that with the partner program matching, that’s over $6 million to families in crisis, so we’re enjoying very, very rapid growth. And I think, I think to one of the real important features, Brenda, you touched on this earlier, was just that we’re all so much stronger when we collaborate. And I think we were taught that lesson by our partner programs, because, you know, they’re for profit businesses, they’re competing for students, and under the OBH umbrella, the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare umbrella, they work so collaboratively together. And I think they helped guide us to wanting to make more collaborations, and I absolutely see that in the future of Sky’s the Limit Fund.
Brenda  33:47
Hmm. That’s, that’s amazing. I just think when you when you talk about 700 families, I think about what would have happened to those kids if they didn’t get in with you guys, right. And unfortunately, I do see that so closely with the moms, some of the moms in The Stream community are still in that struggle. They’re trying to find a place for their kids. And so you just think if these kids didn’t have access to this, what would happen to them? Right? They would just sort of be out roaming the streets or maybe their mom or dad can get them into, you know, something. But this is life changing. I think that’s that’s just so incredible.
Rochelle  34:29
Yeah, it certainly can be and you know, it also can be for many families. It is not only is it life changing, it becomes a way of life. We see families that are still doing you know, fire circles and they’re still doing you know, positivity statements and you know it they’re still breathing and living the wilderness. The wilderness high, I guess is what I call it. But you’re right, these kiddos without this form of treatment, you know, we, they’ll they’re either in the judicial system, they’re on the streets, or sadly deceased. And we heard a really scary statistic with COVID going on right now. We’ve the suicide rate has jumped exponentially. And you know, we support families with kiddos with a myriad of issues. It’s not just substance abuse, it’s you know, behavioral, emotional, you know, sexual identity, it’s across the board. But what we did that what we had this year, and in response to the COVID, the pandemic is we had a donor who donated, Lani was it a quarter of a million dollars,
Lani  35:49
yes. I think that’s it,
Rochelle  35:51
a quarter of a million dollars, and it was to be used for COVID response.  So what we did as an organization in was we reached out to not just our partner programs, but every single wilderness therapy program in the United States and said, if you have a family in treatment right now, that is feeling they need to pull out due to the financial crisis caused by the pandemic, let us know.
Brenda  36:21
Hmm.
Rochelle  36:23
And it’s been remarkable. The response.
Brenda  36:27
Yeah, I hadn’t thought about that. But there’s probably a lot of families who you’re four weeks in, and you’re looking at another, you know, 10 grand, and you’re thinking, 
Lani  36:37
Can you imagine, having to bring that child home on the brink of their personal breakthroughs. And, and, I mean, it would be like the waste of the first half of the money spent on it, and terrifying to family. So I don’t know the number. But it was, it was really exciting to see the response. And just to know, that we could keep a student there for a little bit longer is, you know, was really, really gratifying. And it also exposed us to other partner program, potential partner programs or other wilderness therapy programs who may not know about us, and can, you know, their admissions, people could point the way to organizations, and it’s, it’s just, it was really gratifying. We moved quickly on that one, too.
Brenda  37:31
Right. Well, and that that kind of leads into something that I wanted to ask about is what I’ve been talking about moving quickly is what kind of a typical scenario is when a family comes to you? Because having been there I can, I can sympathize with the chaos that’s going on, usually in your home. And the the kind of brain fog, at least, that a lot of parents are wandering around with not knowing what end is up because their kids been, you know, in whatever situation they’re in some obviously more dire than others. But what is what is it kind of look like when a family finds you and decides, wow, this might actually be something that could work for us? I can imagine it must be a little chaotic. And you’re under some time constraints?
Rochelle  38:19
Yeah, we are. We’ve always prided ourselves in being able to, in many cases react because we’re a small yet mighty organization, we can react pretty quickly, and in many cases, get a kiddo into a program within days, one or two days, we’ve gotten calls from parents en-route to programs. But our typical, the typical scenario is, you know, parents are starting to look on the internet to figure out what what can they do. And you know, they type in discounts, scholarships, grants, I mean, we all have done it. In our situation. Our we do not refer wilderness therapy programs. So what we tell our parents is when they call us and many of them call us before, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve handled, taking calls while on vacation in the early days. We you know, Lani can tell you a story about a young woman who survived a horrible experience and and you literally hear these stories and you become all consumed with them. And sometimes all these parents need is just a voice on the other end saying take a breath. Hug yourself. You’re, you know, you’re doing the right thing. You have no longer have the control to help your child. It’s time to let the professionals do that. So don’t flog yourself. Let’s see what we can do. And oftentimes, just hearing you’re a good parent, you’re doing the right thing is all a parent needs and Lani, think of the tears that we’ve heard on the phone.
Brenda  40:04
Yeah. buckets.
Rochelle  40:06
Right, right. And so what we do then is we, you know, we kind of get them to our process of telling them to go to our website, these are the programs, reach out to them, tell them you have spoken with us. And you’re in the process of applying for grant. And then they get they have to get their kiddos accepted in the program. But again, because we have so many partner programs, we don’t want to promote one over the others. So we tell and many of our families are coming to us, they can’t afford an educational consultants, and an educational consultant, in case people don’t know, is a professional in the industry that can help families find services or programs for their kiddos. It’s a squishy industry, I’m going to be really honest with you. It’s expensive. Yeah, there’s many different people taking money from the pot. And by the time they get to treatment, they’ve already paid a bunch of professionals. And I’m not saying – I think educational consultants are worth their weight in gold, if you can afford it.
Brenda  41:11
if you have the gold
Rochelle  41:13
right, and as such, you know, these families and find the program and you know, that kind of starts the ball rolling, but in many cases, we can get kiddos to treatment in days.
Brenda  41:26
That is incredible. Because I know that is super important. Sometimes it’s it’s not as urgent, but I know it sometimes it is because the kids are are in actual danger if they stay where they are. And just kind of knowing that that process, is there anything – Let’s say I’m a mom, and I’m kind of leaning in this direction. Like I think this is the way I need to go. Are there some things that I should be doing or thinking or, like, physically doing? In maybe the weeks or two as I’m noodling on this and sort of coming to grips with what I need to do is there kind of like secret insider tips that you would give to say, if you’re in that mode, here are a few things you’re going to want to be doing.
Rochelle  42:11
I think, you know, again, like I said earlier, if your spidey senses are tingling, they’re tingling for a reason. I’ve always said trust your intuition mothers and fathers intuitions are strong. And if you’re feeling that way, now, start to get all the ducks in a row. Identify what your what what are your resources, are you what is the problem your kiddos having? Is it you know, behavioral or emotional trauma, you know, have consulting with a local therapist, consult with your child’s therapist, if in fact, they think that you know, you’re thinking of pulling the trigger on wilderness therapy. But I would, I would talk to as many people that have been in your that are in your shoes that have walked your journey. 
Rochelle  43:03
And if you don’t have that, call Sky’s the Limit Fund because our our program coordinators, the we have three amazing team members who have walked the journey and have have had kiddos go through wilderness therapy. So they’re compassionate, they’re they’re very, very knowledgeable. They’re a great resource. And that’s what Sky’s the Limit Fund has done a lot of you know, there are many families that we have talked to who don’t need our services. I mean, top names in Silicon Valley have called and said I’ve got a kiddo is doing a, b, and c. And we spent a lot of time with them, sharing, you know, what resources and knowledge we have. There’s an amazing resource. And I believe you’ve had the an interview with Jenny Wilder, she has a great website, all kinds of therapy. And you know, again, a great resource, right? So there are resources out there for families, but and all of the wilderness therapy programs have great admissions people, all they have to do is call and talk to them. They’ll give you your their air for as long as you need it.
Brenda  44:12
Right. And don’t be intimidated to do that. I think that’s another factor is sometimes just embarking on this journey can feel really intimidating when you’re a parent because this is all of a sudden you’re in a world that you never even knew existed until maybe an hour ago. So all of a sudden, you’re like speaking a new language. And there’s acronyms and there’s, you know, there’s just stuff that you never knew about. And you know, it can feel intimidating. So that’s so good to know that you Sky’s the Limit has people that you can call wilderness therapy and it really is they’re there to help you. And at least in my experience, I found them to be very great about saying, ooh, you know, your kid doesn’t sound like a good match for us, but try X, Y and Z because there are very different programs for different kinds of needs. So that’s that’s a really great tip. 
Brenda  45:03
Is there something that you either either of you or both of you kind of run into again and again? And again, there’s that scenario that you see, or there’s a question that you get asked all the time. But if I could give you a billboard in, let’s say, downtown San Jose, or San Francisco or somewhere in the bay area that you could just answer this one question. What would what would you guys say? What would you put on that billboard?
Rochelle  45:28
Lani, I’ll let you answer that and then I’ll answer.
Lani  45:31
I mean, I think in the early days, many people were having the perception of sort of wilderness therapy, as militaristic and by that I mean, punitive them. And it I think the industry has made great strides, there was better awareness of the fact that that’s just not even true. So I don’t even hear that. I don’t hear that one that much anymore. I think maybe just the one thing that I would kind of want to convey is that not this isn’t exclusive to parents who have been struggling and I, with children who have and I just use myself as an example, because I get asked often the question about why have I been doing this for 10 plus years on? My kids went through teenage years relatively unscathed. Because they’re perfect. Right? So I mean,
Brenda  46:33
You got the perfect ones!
Lani  46:38
Now they’re a wreck. But you know, teenagers, no problem. No, no, no, not not even close. But my point is that not all of our donors were parents with kids, the way I always look at it is, but for the grace of God, go I, you know, this could have been my son, this could have been my daughter, and I think we all humbly have to sort of, you know, sort of realize that, again, it’s not a billboard sign I, I’m coming up a little short on, on what I’m asked of all the time. So if you have an idea, Rochelle throw it in, but I just want everybody to know that this isn’t a mutually exclusive sort of organization. 
Rochelle  47:23
Yeah, I would say that I, I think with outdoor behavioral healthcare, is a hospital without walls. And healing begins in the outdoors. And I don’t want parents to be afraid of sending their child off in the dead of winter to the wilds of Utah or Colorado, these kids are well cared for. It’s intuitive, it’s caring. And these kiddos are going to get the tools they need to deal with the demons that are inside. But again, it’s not the final fix. It’s what they do afterwards. So healing begins in the outdoors. And I think we all see that, you know, as I sit here, you know, looking out my window at the trees and the blue sky. I’m, I’m grateful for life and air and the air that we breathe. And these kiddos for the first time out in wilderness are getting, most likely you touched on this, a balanced diet, you’re getting sleep. They’re getting therapy, and they’re with their peers, and they’re being embraced, but also called out. That’s cathartic. That’s recovery. And that’s healing.
Brenda  48:52
Yeah, that’s great. Such a great, such a great statement. And so true. I believe that and I think a lot of people are starting to find that with the past few months with COVID is you know, the only thing I can do is go outside and walk in the woods or walk in my neighborhood and it is so healing right but you know, if you look for the silver lining and and what we’ve been going through I think that is that a lot of people are starting to realize the healing nature of just being outside. Yeah, for a kid who’s been going through a rough time it’s even more so. So
Lani  49:26
Brenda, can I share my favorite quote over the years. Just in light of what we’re talking about. It’s by Og Mandino who says, “I will love the light for it shows me the way yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” That’s just to me of what wilderness therapy is and, and the work that we do, that that’s kind of what keeps me going.
Rochelle  50:01
It’s been a remarkable 10 years.
Brenda  50:05
Sounds like it!
Rochelle  50:07
And learning a lot about ourselves a lot about our peers. We’ve got a remarkable staff now and Lani and I are really, it feels like we’re watching our baby in college.  Yeah, you don’t really have any say anymore because they’re adults, right?
Brenda  50:28
 it’s becoming its own thing.
Rochelle  50:31
Right. And we’re incredibly proud of this organization, and those that have built it and supported it, continue to drive it. They say that all boats rise with the tides. And we are really in a great place as an organization, especially in a very difficult time. But we are supported. And we are we we are able to do what we do because of the help of individuals. And you know, we’re a nonprofit. So in order to continue what we’re doing, we have to continue to fundraise. And in a in an environment like this with COVID would where most of our fundraising was done via events, we’re now forced to do it electronically. So it’s been an interesting transition for us, but we’re doing ok.
Brenda  51:24
That’s good to hear. And I know from a just a pure logistic standpoint, if somebody is interested, you’ve got a really great – because I’ve gone through it – really great step by step on your website. So I won’t, I won’t take the time with you to go through that. But if somebody is interested, and I’ll put this in the show notes as well, exactly how to get in touch with you and how to start the process of an application for for a grant. And then the I guess the last question I’d have for you both is this this is a really stressful kind of thing to do as a, quote unquote, business, even though you’re a nonprofit, what are what is the self care tip that you would give to a parent who’s in this situation? What are some things that you do for yourselves to take care of yourselves in stressful times?
Rochelle  52:11
Well, I’ll start with me, then Lani can end this. I, you know, learned early on that being able to talk to people is really important. So having a really good source of support, not to feel any…don’t brush this under the carpet and hide from it. You know, there’s embarrassment there shame. But you know what, once you get over that, you start getting, you know, support, get, get a good support system. And then take the time, a really smart woman told me once she said, Ro, you’ve got to attend your own garden while your kids in treatment and struggling. And by that I mean, you need to feed your heart, you need to feed your soul, you need to meditate, you need to read, you need to be healthy, because if you’re not healthy, your kiddos not healthy. So I think I pocket a lot of that. I should do more. All right, we’re not perfect, but you know, I try and really stay present. And stay out of the past and try not to jump into the future.
Brenda  53:27
Hmm. So good. Lani, what about you? What are your secret tips for us?
Lani  53:32
Well, I’m I never thought of myself as much of a road trip kind of gal. I like to hop on a plane and go to interesting places. But this summer, my husband and I have done have done some road trips, we’ve gone up to Southern Oregon, and next week, we’re gonna head out to Idaho and Wyoming and just in search of some wide open spaces. Not everybody can drop everything to do that. But I do think it speaks to getting out and taking a nice hike or getting over to the coast when you can the restorative power of nature is not to be denied. So getting out for a little hike or a little drive, I think can be tremendously therapeutic. 
Rochelle  54:26
You’re, she’s also underplaying the fact that she’s an amazing gardener. 
Lani  54:30
That helps too,  digging dirt, you know, no one needs to no one sees my nails anymore anyway. I mean, so go dig and dig in the dirt feels it feels productive and, and a real connection to I think any connection to nature is we’ve seen time and time again. the transformative power that it has.
Brenda  54:54
Yeah. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for taking your time and giving this information and all this insight to the parents who are going to listen, I think, if there’s one message of hope, you know, you kind of get to that place of despair of like, I can’t do anything. I can’t afford this. You know, there’s nobody here to help me. And I think this just kind of blew the doors off of all of that to say, wait a minute, there is some there is some hope. And there is some help here. So thank you for what you do. And thank you to everybody who donates to the fund. I wish I could, you know, go out and hug each one of them as I’m sure you guys do. Someday we’ll be back to events and hugging.
Lani  55:38
Yeah, thank you for this marvelous opportunity Brenda, it means the world to us to be able to, to share the work that our our our staff does. So thank you for this great opportunity.
Brenda  55:52
I absolutely love meeting people like Lani and Rochelle because they see a situation and they do something about it. And this fund has just grown into such a gigantic blessing to so many families so all hands up to these two and everybody that works at Sky’s the Limit Fund and especially for those donors who are making it all happen. 
If you’re a mom who would like to meet other moms who are facing similar challenges to you, with their kids, please do check out my website www.BrendaZane.com you will find information about The Stream, which is our private, non-Facebook based online group for moms to get together and share and draw strength from each other. And you can also find a free ebook there that I wrote called HINDSIGHT, 3 things I wish I knew when my son was addicted to drugs. You can download that, read through it, it might help you in your journey. So get some support, get some help and that you are not alone if this is a challenge in your family. I look forward to meeting you back here next week. And thank you so much for listening.

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