Students are mentored by experienced, caring outdoor instructors and each small group is supported by a therapist. At Explorations, we prioritize students emotional and physical safety and allow them to explore self-imposed limitations hands-on through adventure activities and individual and group therapy.
Penny James, BS, CPC
Director and Co-Founder
Certified Parent Coach
Penny co-founded Explorations in 1989 with a vision that one size does not fit all.
Different than programs which provide the same curriculum for every student, Penny is committed to the idea of creating unique learning and growing experiences tailored to each student's distinctive needs. Trained as an educator, Penny believes that students want to learn and feel competent when they 'get it'. It is her belief that placing teens in challenging environments - while simultaneously providing side-by-side adult support - allows the student to learn by doing and restores lost confidence. Penny uses this experiential model at Explorations to provide opportunities for teens to embrace their successes and learn from their mistakes in hands-on, real life ways. An innovator in the field of non-traditional, therapeutic, learning environments, Penny brings tremendous passion, creativity and commitment to her work with teens and families.
With over 30 years direct care experience, Penny's perspective is rare. Having lived in residence with hundreds of students, Penny brings a realistic, firsthand knowledge of teens and how and when they make choices that shift their lives. Penny is involved in all aspects of program development and offerings thus, committed to put her signature on the work done every day at Explorations. Penny believes that her students continue to be the best teachers in her life -- both personally and professionally. She has also come to learn that life's classrooms exist any place in which individuals choose to open their hearts and minds to learn.
Penny currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) for a second time, having served previously for 8 years (2000 -- 2008). While serving the NATSAP Board, Penny championed a committee that established Best Practice Standards for small programs, served on the Executive Committee, and chaired both the Public Relations and Conference committees. Penny also serves on the Governor-appointed Montana Board of Private Alternative Adolescent Residential or Outdoor Programs (PAARP). She was appointed in 2008, following her involvement in legislative advocacy to create licensure standards for therapeutic programs in Montana. Additionally, Penny is an elected Trustee for her local school district and has served in that role for 16 years.
Penny is the mother of three adult children, ages 18, 21 and 25, and enjoys watching them grow as young adults. Often traveling to visit her two 'launched' children, she is now enjoying the final year at home with her youngest. Penny enjoys travel, live music, landscaping, decorating, and spending time in wild and beautiful places with her family. She holds a B.S. in Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University and is a Certified Parent Coach.
Larry Culp, MS
Family Systems Specialist
Since the early 1980's Larry has cultivated the use of nature as a restorative tool to facilitate emotional growth. He uses the outdoors as a therapeutic milieu that allows him to access an array of resources to examine and assist in the clarification and resolution of persons in distress.
Larry has an MS in Correctional Rehabilitation Counseling from Southern Illinois University. Following graduate school, Larry taught Sociology and Crime and Delinquency at the University of Montana. In 1982, Larry left UM and began working with troubled youth in various capacities. In 1988 he was one of the founders of Loveland Farms Inc., a residential facility working primarily with adolescent females and their families. He also operated wilderness trips for both adults and adolescents. Larry has spent countless hours in the wilderness, supporting the emotions and emerging changes that inevitably occur within teens when they live with nature. Larry is an authentic and sensitive facilitator in his work with students and families.
Larry is a firm believer in the out-of-doors as a change agent. Larry is available to work individually with families in need, helping them identify and resolve behaviors that have contributed to a breakdown in the family structure. Larry's approach to assisting people in understanding the dynamics of their behavior comes from an educative perspective in the hopes that dysfunctional behaviors can be replaced with learned responses that have a positive outcome.
Bruce Boudousquie, MS
Parent Coach, Transition Specialist
Sarah Mack has worked in the adolescent treatment realm for more than 16 years. She is the founder of Oregon Transition Homes, and worked in one of the country's premier clinical wilderness treatment programs for more than a decade. She also has provided in-home mental health and case management services to high-risk families and has experience working with families dealing with substance abuse issues. Sarah is certified as a Parent Coach and graduated with honors from Linfield College with a degree in Psychology and Sociology. She has advanced training in substance abuse treatment.
Sarah's coaching empowers parents to shift family dynamics, which often are strained after years of dealing with a struggling adolescent, and to create long-term change. Her coaching helps parents set systems in place that restore harmony to the family. Sarah has vast experience working with families challenged with a teenager who is pushing boundaries, making poor choices, and creating chaos in the family. One of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of Sarah's work with families is to help them prepare for their child's successful transition back home from a treatment program, as well as supporting them while their child is in treatment. Her approach to coaching puts parents at ease, and her insight and expertise allow her quickly to assess family dynamics and assist parents in setting and obtaining goals that will restore balance in the family.
Sarah's greatest passion is being a parent to two sons, ages 3 and 17. Sarah is active on the public relations and conference planning committees for the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, spending time on the coast with her family, and working in her garden.
Ron is a Daily Living Counselor and has worked professionally with adolescents for nearly 10 years. He is a third-generation Montanan and enjoys the beautiful outdoors and simplistic smalltown ideals. Ron resides with his wife in the town he was raised in, occasionally visiting one of his two children in Hawaii and enjoying the change of scenery. He spends much of his spare time fishing, hunting and cooking/preparing original, tasty dishes.
A do-it-yourself-er at heart, with a healthy respect for the value of a dollar, he takes great pleasure spending time with youngsters shopping for groceries or doing minor maintenance on vehicles. Young at heart, Ron believes that everyone deserves to be loved and treated with the great respect despite their circumstances. He displays a positive attitude in his daily life and considers it a privilege to share in the lives of others.
Dianne is passionate about learning and academic success! She has worked for Explorations as a Tutor/Educational Specialist since 1994 and is a graduate of Washington State University.
Dianne has a wealth of experience working with non-traditional learners both in the classroom and in individualized learning environments. She has spent many years working with at-risk students, encouraging them to become better students by making good choices and planning for a future that requires continual learning. Dianne has extensive history in Title-1 programs (founding one of the first programs in the United States) and Upward Bound, and helped to pilot one of the oldest and most successful Alternative Learning Centers in Montana.
She, and her husband Jim, are the proud parents of a son who earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Montana State University with honors. Dianne is a master quilter, an artist and a soon-to-be grandma!
(Bio coming soon!)
Megan Campbell, BS
Outdoor Recreation Counselor
Interventionist & Mentor
Explorations collaborates with professional outdoor guides for all expeditions. This season, we are partnering with Breakwater Expeditions for our Missouri Canoe Trip and Alaska Sea Kayaking Expedition. For our sixth year, Explorations with partner with Glacier Adventure Guides for rock-climbing, backpacking and biking. Professionals chosen to partner with Explorations meet the highest safety and training standards and are experienced working with youth in the outdoor classroom!
Lead Expedition Guide
Lars has honed his skills as an outdoor leader and guide in some of the world's most awe-inspiring classrooms. For 18 years, he has developed, facilitated and guided therapeutic experiences in a variety of setting ranging from the mountains to the sea and has logged more than 1500 days in the field working with adolescents, adults and families. Lars is a Wilderness First Responder and maintains certifications in swift water rescue, avalanche training, rope rescue, is an RCABC canoe instructor and a professional ski instructor.
He is the co-founder of Breakwater Expeditions, a company devoted to customizing the use of wilderness settings to create powerful adventure experiences for participants. During the winter months, he can be found on the slopes of Schweitzer Mountain in northern Idaho and during the warm weather, he paddles as much whitewater as he can find! Partnering with Explorations, Lars will lead both the Missouri River canoe expedition and the Alaska sea-kayaking expedition. He is excited to work with Explorations students in two of his favorite work areas in the United States this summer.
Lead Expedition Guide
Todd has spent over 1700 days in the field over the last 18 years, working with a diverse number of populations as a wilderness guide, mentor and program developer. Todd relates well with students, parents, and young adult clients and has guided many groups in beautiful and pristine areas. Most recently, Todd worked directly with the fathers and Explorations students in our annual Dad•s Weekend.
Todd received his degree in Environmental Science from Indiana University and is a co-founder and Expeditions Director for Breakwater Expeditions, a collaborative of outdoor professionals who customize adventure experiences for a wide variety of clientele. Todd is an ACA Sea Kayak Instructor, a RCABC Canoe Instructor, a Wilderness First Responder and is certified in swift water rescue, avalanche, and is an American Red Cross lifeguard.
Todd is the proud father of two beautiful boys, who accompany him and his wife on their own expeditions into wild and magnificent places.
Lead Expedition & Climbing Guide
Greg Fortin, Owner & Founder of Glacier Adventure Guides, has worked with Explorations since 2009 as our professional rock-climbing guide with parents and students along the Koocanusa River, near the Canadian border.
Five years ago, Greg said 'yes' to the opportunity to work with our students and it has been a wonderful experience for Explorations' staff and students alike. Students appreciate Greg's positivity and encouragement and cite him as a 'favorite' every summer.
Residential & Outdoor Counselor
Residential Program Coordinator
Eric, a native Texan, is passionate about his work with young people and moved to Montana after a 15 year career in the entertainment industry. He has an AA degree in Acting and a BA in Psychology from the University of North Texas. Increasingly dissatisfied with the superficial expectations of entertainment, Eric looked to find fulfillment in a field where he could help others and make a difference in their lives. Eric also can be seen in a small, but integral role in an Oscar-winning movie – a terrific swansong before leaving a career in acting!
Prior to coming to Explorations, Eric was a program manager for nearly five years at a residential boys' program and also worked as an after-school teacher for elementary students and as an in-home child care provider for young children.
Eric enjoys the outdoors and spends as much time as he can pursuing his favorite activities such as rock-climbing, kayaking, and hiking with his dog, Dexter.
Assistant Admissions Counselor
Ramsay knows the ins and outs of Explorations like few others. She has been an integral part of a family-owned, family-loved, and family-operated program for young people and their families since its inception. Ramsay has witnessed the growth and change of hundreds of individuals at Explorations and shared residence with students for 19 years. She has worked directly with students and parents in various roles and is committed to helping families through that difficult first call when they reach out for help.
Ramsay attended the University of Montana, worked and volunteered for a progressive non-partisan political advocacy group, has participated in AmeriCorps and has personally taken part in state legislation promoting health, wellness and education issues. She also has served as a Residential Counselor at Explorations, incorporating years of hands on experience and her knowledge about how the Explorations process works.
Ramsay currently is attending Seattle Central Community College where she is completing her AA degree and works at an art exhibition gallery for a nationally known artist. While away at college, she serves as an Alumni Liaison and Assistant Admissions Counselor for Explorations. Ramsay enjoys international travel, sailing, cooking, spending time with family and friends and beating her Dad in a game of cribbage.