Posted by: Aspiro Group | December 19, 2011

The Holidays at Aspiro

By: Billy Nicola

Needless to say, the holidays are a special time of year. Usually this time is spent with close friends and family. Aspiro recognizes that it’s a very tough decision to love your child enough to decide to place him in a program away from home, and that this decision can be even more difficult when your child is continuing to receive help over the holidays. As emotional as it is for parents to care from a distance, it likely is even more challenging for your child to be away from her home and family during this season. As a result, we intentionally and sincerely strive to make the holidays at Aspiro as fun, loving, happy, and memorable as possible.

The first and perhaps the easiest way we make this time of year special is simply with food. Usually the holidays make stomachs grumble as thoughts of delicious homemade meals and sweet treats flood the mind and the taste buds. Most people are surprised but with just fire, some aluminum foil, and a cast iron pot Aspiro can make a delicious feast that can easily compete with grandma’s traditional recipes.

For Thanksgiving in November we buy a raw turkey from the grocery store just like you would at home. The only difference is that we skewer it with a large stick that’s pounded into the ground, and then place a metal bucket over it with some hot coals. This makes a wilderness oven that in just a few hours produces a delicious, juicy cooked-to-perfection turkey. In addition to all the white and dark meat anyone could ask for, the students are provided with ingredients for making pumpkin pie, traditional cranberry sauce, rolls, stuffing, and salad. Just like home, usually everyone eats a little too much and gets to help the digestion process with some evening relaxation.

A similar meal is celebrated in December, although the menu changes a bit to include dishes like honey glazed ham, macaroni and cheese, and baked potatoes. On top of creating full stomachs, every student is involved with helping to cook these meals family style, where the sense of camaraderie and togetherness fills the emotional need of being with familiar loved ones. Often individual traditions and stories of past holidays are shared amongst the group, which brings feelings of reminiscence, appreciation, and love.

While we strive to make these days special and fun, we still do not forget our original goal and the reason that we are entrusted with the care of your sons and daughters. In addition to forming a family on trail and creating unique memories, we continue to have a very specific purpose in mind. We still complete weekly itineraries yet structure them in a way that is both impactful and hopefully enjoyable. We intentionally design these weeks around the weather and schedule the holiday times in our warmer temperature operating areas. It’s truly amazing the positive atmosphere that a little bit of sunshine can bring. Additionally we specifically plan these weeks to focus on what most students consider the really fun activities. Rock climbing and wearing a t-shirt in December is pretty cool, as well as hiking through a national park that is occupied by almost no one else.

Christmas Eve on trail is not only a day of celebratory eating, but also of festive activities. All the groups camp in a national park that has the luxury of running water. It seems trivial, but something as simple as flushing toilets really can mean a lot. With meaningfulness in mind, the holiday shouldn’t be celebrated without a Christmas tree. It’s one thing to bring a real tree into your house and cover it with tinsel and glass bulbs. It’s a whole other thing to decorate a tree still growing out of the ground with ornaments and battery operated lights, as the desert red rocks and snowcapped mountains backdrop further enhance the beauty of scene. Sleeping bags and pads are then laid out around the tree in what naturally forms the shape of a star, with every student’s head at the center.

As your child wakes up on Christmas morning expecting another day at Aspiro she quickly becomes delighted when she sees a tree that has long since lost its leaves. However what decorates the branches now are red, green, and blue stockings with a little frost on them, overflowing as they hang from notches on this natural mantelpiece. The stockings are filled with candy, games, toys, and most importantly letters. The buzzing excitement quickly fades to a calmed silence as your child begins reading heartfelt letters from you, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, and neighbors. These letters, cards, and pictures are his direct connection to those at home on a day where being in Utah means much more than a four hour plane ride away. These are the true gifts, often read multiple times in a day, and they are cherished.

There is absolutely no doubt that having your son or daughter at Aspiro during the holidays is difficult, even painful. Our hope and desire though, is that by allowing us to experience this season with your child for one year, you will then be able to share all of the holidays with them thereafter in a more meaningful, heartfelt, and loving way than ever before.

Happy holidays.

The Aspiro Group family of services is pleased to announce the addition of Ellwood “Woody” Crowell to our family. Woody brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and personal relationships across the industry to our Executive Management Team.

Woody’s primary roles at Aspiro will include working closely with our Vice President and Founding Partner, Brian Church, to strengthen our current relationships with Educational Consultants, Clinical Professionals, residential and traditional boarding programs, and hospitals through facilitating continued awareness around the clinical treatment process used in our Adventure Therapy Settings.  Developing new informational materials used to inform and strengthen the understanding and beliefs about clinical treatment and how it is intertwined into Adventure Therapy.

Woody will work closely with our Clinical Director, Dr. Gordon Day PhD to develop an Integrated Family Systems Alumni Program that will focus on a variety of clinical support networks, Clinically facilitated Workshops, Webinars facilitated with our Executive Director and Founder Randy Oakley, and Summer Leadership based expeditions for all Aspiro, Vantage Point, and Kairos alumni.

Woody will work with our Field Department in recruiting well educated, highly experienced, motivated Lead Field Guides with mastery skills in adventure based therapeutic settings such as rock climbing, rappelling, mountaineering, mountain biking, skiing, and back country Camping to work with our students and their families. Additionally, work will begin on the creation of a “Skills Camp” that is designed to offer additional mastery in primitive “hard skills” that will be used while on expedition and the compilation of clinical data through Artistic Therapeutic involvement.

Woody will work closely with our Admissions Director, Josh Watson LCSW to support his team during the process of informing and educating families through the process of making the difficult decision of seeking help and placement during their times of crisis. Woody will work with Josh to develop clear and concise clinical data regarding the clinical work facilitated during a student and families experience while at Aspiro and beyond.

Please join us in welcoming Woody to our family.

Posted by: Aspiro Group | November 8, 2011

A Few Lingering Perceptions about a not-so-new model

By Brian Church, Vice President, Founding Partner

While rapidly diminishing, industry perception (sometimes supported by our competition) is that Aspiro programs, including Aspiro, Kairos, and Vantage Point, are soft and “gimmicky.” A handful of consultants have indicated that some of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) thrown out by admission folks is that high adventure activities “distract from the important personal issues at-hand.” These comments are coming from folks who have not studied the research, those who have never visited our programs, and are simply misinformed.

The fact is that students in Aspiro Group programs experience all the benefits of wilderness living –they are always in the outdoors. When it snows on Second Nature kids, it snows on Aspiro Group kids. When it rains on Outback kids, it rains on Aspiro Group kids, when the sun is beating down on Open Sky kids, it is the same for Aspiro Group participants. The difference is that rather than hiking in relatively small circles, Aspiro students have hundreds of miles to spread their wings, gain perspective and explore their limits and abilities. Each new challenge provides fresh opportunities to engaged in clinically rich activities where serious growth occurs. Not only do our students have the benefit of the challenges of weather and hiking, they are also engaged in difficult adventure activities that consistently give us valuable information about how students handle novel environments and challenges. We believe these novel environments give us deeper information and a more accurate assessment about how the student may transfer into a new environment after wilderness [watch for a future article on the benefits of a “novel environment” in wilderness settings].

For some that are not as familiar with our programs, the perception might be that we simply do “recreational activities.” The truth of the matter is that our activities are implemented and centered around serious clinical objectives. Wilderness guides, who are experts in teaching and mentoring through powerful high adventure activities, drive the change process in incredible ways. A wealth of clinically rich information is communicated to therapists, who can process and plan for upcoming itineraries and individual and group counseling sessions.

One of the most glaring underlying characteristics in most of our clients is an unhealthy level of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the basic internal belief that one can overcome any challenge with sufficient effort and drive. Those who lack a healthy level of self-efficacy believe they are incapable of finding success in specific areas of their life, and often in EVERY area.

One of the primary goals of Aspiro Group programs, is to significantly change the perception of one’s personal abilities. We want students to understand just how capable they are, and to believe they can accomplish difficult tasks and overcome severe or even tragic life events. These challenges may be finding success in an algebra class, successfully graduating from a program or school, being able to communicate with a parent, or overcoming sadness as a result of grief and loss.

We know of no better way than to have students participate in activities that challenge one as they have never been challenged before. Participants in Aspiro Group programs will climb and summit high mountain peaks or hike to and prevail over a massive rappel –pushing the limits of one’s comfort zone, and so on. These climactic activities are referred to as Overwhelming Mastery Experiences (OME).

These targeted, specific activities are life-changing events that require a great deal of time, training, effort, and naturally lead to confidence in overcoming of fears and doubts. OME’s are critical to changing one’s belief system about one’s abilities to succeed in specific environments. With the proper guidance from our skilled therapists and field staff, our students find repeated success in these challenging activities which results greater confidence and self-efficacy. Students begin to believe in themselves. Thoughts within a student’s psyche change from “I can’t,” to “If I can summit a 12,000 foot mountain peak, I can plan and work hard… I am capable of passing my geometry class.”

Without the influence of a clinically sophisticated team processing activities, the connections back home most likely, would not take place. Aspiro Group programs have committed, professional therapists who are the best of the best in our industry. Our field teams are second to none in facilitating safe, exciting, clinically rich itineraries that provide students with the best possible opportunity for long-term change. You simply cannot find a better, more committed group of people with a sincere desire to help facilitate change and improvement in students and families. “My experience of Aspiro vs. other programs, is that the field leaders are very compassionate and relationship based. The guides deeply care about the students,” said Clinical Wilderness Therapist, David Hillstead, Ph.D., “I think the combination of deep care and connection by the guides, and discerning, experienced therapists are the perfect combination. Too much of one over the other can get a program out of balance. I guess it’s the old parenting themes of relationship and boundaries. The guides have great relationships.”

We believe strongly in our ability to reach kids and young adults. We believe in our powerful, unique model. Aspiro Group offers a fresh, healthy alternative to virtually all other programs in the country. Our success with students and their families have been consistent and strong. Our advanced family systems approach is second to none. Our family workshops, mid-program, are cutting edge and extremely effective. Our workshops consistently draw rave reviews from parents. Aspiro Group Programs have grown into one of the premiere organizations in the country. One might say that our company “self-efficacy” is high!

We invite you to experience our model for your clients.

Posted by: Aspiro Group | April 5, 2011

Aspiro Celebrates 5 Year Anniversary


Time has moved by so quickly, we nearly forgot about hitting the five-year mark in our history. Aspiro (Aspiro, Kairos and Vantage Point) opened its doors in April of 2006. It is our honor to have worked with over 900 families and scores of educational consultants and professionals over the years. We believe strongly in a “treatment team” approach (including the family, referring professional, Aspiro group clinician and field guides). This approach has  contributed heavily to amazing results with students and their families.

Thank you to our referring professionals –and to loving parents who have entrusted your children and young adults to our care. To be able to witness miracles in your lives just simply makes us feel good. To our Aspiro Group family of employees, or “life-changers,” we appreciate your hard work and dedication –you are nothing short of spectacular. The world of wilderness therapy –with an emphasis on high adventure activities, is changing the industry, and we believe it will continue to set the standard in wilderness programming well into the future. Cheers to the next five years!     http://www.aspiroprograms.com

 

Posted by: Aspiro Group | February 22, 2011

Aspiro Group Charitable Donations

The Aspiro Group of programs have always been involved in charitable giving to worthwhile organizations. As we continue to grow, Aspiro ownership feels it is important to give back and support those who are doing good things in the world. Charitable donations don’t necessarily come in the form of cash donations, but often come in the form of time, such as volunteering at various charitable organizations.

Aspiro joined many other organizations and educational consultants and made a sizable donation recently to Saving Teens in Crisis Collaborative (STICC). STICC is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed in April of 2004 to assist troubled teens and their families struggling with substance abuse and other emotional issues. STICC works with health organizations, educational consultants, boarding schools, rehabilitation centers and educational lawyers to fund and support these families as they complete the comprehensive therapeutic programs that they desperately need, but did not know about and could not afford.  This is another organization we are proud to support. http://www.savingteens.org

Last year Jessi Wacker, LPC (not a runner), decided to go all out and do something she was not accustomed to –she decided to train extensively to participate in an endurance event (marathon) as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. All individuals on the team were raising funds to help stop Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hodgkin Lymphoma and Myeloma from taking more lives. Jessi participated in this grueling event in honor of all those who are battling blood cancers. “These people are the real heroes on our team, said Wacker, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line –A CURE!! Jessi made a goal to raise $1,700. She managed to crush her goal and raised nearly $2,300 through the generous donations from The Aspiro Group and many other organizations and individuals. Congratulations Jessi –great work.

Recently, Brian Church, Aspiro Group Vice President, led a large youth group volunteering at the Family Support & Treatment Center in Orem, UT (A United Way organization). This agency is committed to improving the community by providing therapeutic treatment for children, adults, and families whose lives have been effected by abuse and neglect, prevention programs which teach children how to prevent their own abuse, and parenting classes that provide overwhelmed parents new techniques in successfully raising strong, healthy, happy children. There is also a 24-hour Crisis Respite Nursery available for free to parents in need of a time-out to regroup and take care of other pressing issues that affect the family. By the time we left the facility, said Church, all of the boys in the youth group left with painted fingernails, and some wild hairdo’s that the little girls in the program wanted to create. The little kids quickly warmed up to the boys and everyone had a really great evening. We played games, did puzzles, lots of piggy back rides and read many books. We hope our visit brought some sunshine into their lives.” This is a great organization committed to healing families. http://www.utahvallyfamilysupport.org

Aspiro Group and its employees individually have been involved in many other causes over the years –too many to mention here. We are proud of our employees and the selfless service they give to quality organizations.

Posted by: Aspiro Group | December 9, 2010

A great new day

By Brian Church, Vice President

It is a beautiful sunny day here in Utah, and it is a great day to be alive. We are fortunate to have such fulfilling jobs. We are lucky to be able to work daily with America’s youth, often referred to as “troubled teens,” who have made a few wrong turns along the way. I am honored to be able to do what I do and I know that Aspiro Group employees feel the same. I saw a quote this morning that I really enjoyed –a good reminder of making good use of today: “Every morning you are handed 24 golden hours. They are one of the few things in this world that you get free of charge. If you had all the money in the world, you couldn’t buy an extra hour. What will you do with this priceless treasure? Remember, you must use it, as it is given only once. Once wasted you cannot get it back.” I can’t give credit because the source is unknown.

I had an uncle pass away this week. He was a giant of a man. We had two employees here at Aspiro get in a pretty nasty automobile accident last week where one was thrown from the vehicle. It is an absolute miracle that this gentleman is with us today –very banged up, but recovering. I am re-committing myself to making better use of my time –focussing on what matters: family, education, the life-saving work we are involved in, bettering relationships and helping those who are in need and/or less fortunate. We just don’t know how many of these seemingly endless days we have –treasure them!      www.aspiroprograms.com

Posted by: Aspiro Group | December 3, 2010

Girls Group Thrives at Aspiro

Jessi Irvin Wacker M.S., LPC

Ava Crump, CRT, Team Lead

The Aspiro girls’ group is a thriving, proud group of young women, dedicated field guides and a committed therapist. The intent of this writing is to spread the word about the wonderful work we are doing within this group.  We are proud of our consistent efforts to improve our work with our students.  Additionally, we are in consistent collaboration to improve our quality programming and offer each other honest feedback regarding room for growth in our respective roles. 

 Aspiro’s model is unlike any other in the wilderness therapy industry.  We are a high adventure program, which incorporates activities such as rock climbing, repelling, skiing, canyoneering and backpacking.  Students are exposed to a variety of challenges that serve as effective metaphors.  As we offer a model that is unique within this industry, people have often errantly assumed or described Aspiro as “soft”.  This could not be further from the truth.  We work with standard “wilderness” students presenting with eating disorders, substance abuse, family conflict, learning differences, depression, anxiety, mood disorders and attention problems.  Students consistently respond very well to this model, which is characterized by family therapy, high adventure activities, relationship building, consistent boundaries and expectations and a direct, honest approach. 

 We strive to support our students’ increased confidence and self-efficacy, which is the belief in one’s ability to successfully accomplish their goals.  We facilitate related improvements while offering consistent, direct feedback and challenging our girls’ accountability.  We are effective in our efforts in this area.  Our students are graduating having improved family relationships, increased accountability, commitments to sustaining their changed, improved behaviors and significantly increasing their confidence.

 Aspiro’s girls are completing this program with a significantly improved sense of empowerment.  The variety of activities offered ensures that students will experience significant physical challenges.  The girls consistently express pride in their accomplishments and frequently parallel their ability to overcome physical challenge on-trail with their lives at home. 

 Aspiro’s students are diligently supported to improve their family dynamic.  We work to accomplish this task through wilderness therapy standards, including weekly letters and therapist calls with parents.  Aspiro is unique in our offering of a 2-day Parent Seminar for all families involved in our program.  We host this seminar approximately once every 5 weeks and families attend once during their child’s stay.  This is an opportunity for families to reunite and practice their improved communication and conflict resolution skills.  The seminar also inadvertently provides diagnostic information regarding a family’s progress and existing needs.  Students typically return to the field after the seminar and graduate at a later date.  The guides and therapist have observed students with their families and can continue to challenge them in their respective areas of need. 

 We have created a strong culture of community amongst the Aspiro girls.  We recognize that adolescent girls are frequently prone to negative talk about one another, typically doing so in an indirect, backbiting manner.  Many of our girls enter Aspiro complaining about being in an all girls’ group, as they neither like nor trust other girls.  We have noticed that, despite their complaints about “other girls”, each girl tends to perpetuate this pattern of negative talk and failure to effectively resolve conflict.  In the Aspiro girls’ group, we have created a culture characterized by consistent feedback.  We challenge our girls to alter this negative pattern of backbiting and replace this with a willingness to offer constructive feedback.  Of course, we must teach them how to both give and receive such input.  We have established a daily powwow to meet this need and practice this skill.   In addition, the girls are receiving ongoing feedback from their guides and therapist.  This challenges their prior defensiveness and encourages openness and accountability.  We recognize there is an intimacy that develops when individuals are able to be honest and direct with each other.  Our students are forming relationships with their guides, therapist and one another characterized by authenticity, humility and courage to give and receive difficult input.  We have recognized that our students are hungry for such feedback.  They look forward to the end of the week when they sit down with their guides from each shift and their peers to engage in a collective review of their completed week and lay out expectations and challenges for their coming week. 

 We recently collaborated to create a “Progress Book”, which is intended to hold students accountable for their work on-trail.  This was created in response to repeatedly fielding questions from students, including, “When will I graduate?” and “How do you think I’m doing out here?”  We collectively recognized the necessity of creating a means for supporting students’ independent ability to assess their progress, as well as creating a system of feedback with their guides and therapist.  We are currently piloting this book, which has been well received by the students thus far. 

We are proud of the work we are doing with our female students here at Aspiro and are engaged in ongoing efforts to improve and grow.  We welcome you visiting our program and are happy to answer any questions you may have to facilitate you better understanding the unique and effective work we are doing within this program.   www.aspiroprograms.com

Posted by: Aspiro Group | November 22, 2010

Aspiro Family

Trevor Allen, LPC, Clinical Wilderness Therapist

By Trevor Allen, LPC

I recently had a grand opportunity to attend a “Plan of Action” meeting with Aspiro.  All of the teams were present including marketing, therapists, field leadership and team leads.  We engaged in various activities including four wheeling and rappelling off of Corona Arch.  I have to admit I had a fair amount of anxiety building up to rappelling the arch.

 The hike up to the arch is a steep slanting ramp. The exposure is guarded by safety rope and prussic system.  The arch has a reputation of being an intense rappell, but students talked about the “sketchy” nature of the approach being much more intense.  I was okay the first part of the approach.  Near the end I became very nervous.  I found myself making up excuses as to why I could not complete the activity.  I started to share my concerns with Sally, Kairos Team Lead, and she made sure the system was secure.  She talked about having platinum quality safety and that she would make sure that the approach was platinum quality safe.  I am a grown man and I had to rely heavily upon Sally to get to the top of the arch and to the rappel zone.  The rappel was awesome.  I enjoyed dropping the some 160 foot rappel with my supportive guide.  Sally and I debriefed the experience which lead to discussing overcoming some other challenges we have had in our lives.

 The plan for later that day was to go foue wheeling and Aspiro offered to have a spot for my seven-year old son.  We first went out to eat.  The therapists, guides, marketing, and owners of Aspiro all made it a point to visit with my son.  The highlight of the lunch was having Jessi, female group therapist, teach my son the language of “ong.”  This is a made up language that sounds hilarious when executed. Or should I say “e xong e cong u tong e dong.”    I enjoyed watching this clinically savvy therapist exhibit playful child like laughter.

 Therapists, guides and others were very involved with my son talking to him about life, school, and friends.  I greatly appreciated that my Aspiro family was speaking to my personal family with complete respect and not talking down to my son.  Another highlight of the evening occurred when “uncle Brad”, boys group therapist, took my son on his four wheeler so that I could let loose on the trail.  I appreciated Brad offering to help out and provide a safe ride for my son.  I can remember my son giggling on the back of the four wheeler and having a smile from ear to ear.

 That evening I ate dinner with my son, Christina, wife of Randy Oakley (Executive Director), two of their children and Liz (field leadership).  We ate pizza and enjoyed each other’s company.  After, we got a ride with Ava, female group team lead, to our camping site.

 I love the Aspiro family.  I greatly appreciated the care and attention that was paid to me in dealing with my anxiety on Corona Arch.  More so, I appreciate the love, playfulness, attention, and respect that was paid to my son. As I thought about the parents of students who entrust their children to the care of the Aspiro team, it reconfirmed to me that I would fully trust my own children with these amazing people.  www.aspiroprograms.com

Posted by: Aspiro Group | November 21, 2010

The Role of a Wilderness Guide

By Brian Church, Vice President (adapted from writings by Michael Escalante, COO in the Aspiro Group Guide Manual)

The ultimate purpose of a guide, in our Outdoor Behavior Health program(s), is to invite and facilitate positive intrinsic change in ourselves and others. Intrinsic change refers to a change in our thoughts, desires, and feelings, not just speech or behavior. Behavioral change can be manipulated or forced; intrinsic change cannot. It must come through our agency. Aspiro guides should consistently identify and address areas in their own lives and way of being for improvement. The guides willingness to confront their own self-betrayals and weaknesses creates the primary invitation for intrinsic change within our students. Such a guide becomes a role model, teacher, friend, and even student, to the student. As a relationship of trust is formed between guide and student, the student often becomes more open to the principles and invitations shared by the guide. It is this relationship between the guide and the student that is the beginning of seeing and applying new, healthier ways to exercise our agency.

A guide is also responsible for the safety of their group. Furthermore, a guide is responsible for creating an environment that invites change. The following principles and characteristics describe key responsibilities of a guide (In a future blog post, I will break down each of the points below):

A guide lives an exemplary life

A guide genuinely cares about  his or her students despite their shortcomings

A guide cares more about the students’ experience than his or her own employment

A guide does not take offense and sustains patience and focus

A guide steps-up when things get hard

A guide exercises proper judgement in preventing and dealing with emergencies

This excerpt from our guide manual, as outlined above, is one page out of 187. The Aspiro Group has extremely high standards for its guides and other employees. Prior to being hired, Aspiro guides participate in a three-day tryout, where they go through an immense amount of testing and training by dynamic and experienced trainers including our Program Director, Dan Lemaire. Along with the Aspiro reputation, this comprehensive, tough, fun, exhausting, satisfying experience  has resulted in a waitlist of well over  500 applicants. This level of interest allows Aspiro to hire only the cream of the crop. If you have the opportunity to work with Michael Escalante, Dan Lemaire or any one of our guides, you will quickly see, and feel, their passion and dedication to a job well done. It is no wonder Aspiro, Kairos and Vantage Point students (and families) are finding success in our programs –and I haven’t even begun to discuss our outstanding clinical team!

What a blessing it is for myself, our students, and families to work with such talented and committed group of professionals!

Posted by: Aspiro Group | October 21, 2010

Educational Consultants Mastery Tour

By Brian Church, Business Development Director

Last week, the Aspiro Group had the opportunity to spend two days with four amazing consultants down in Moab, where they were able to experience “a day in the life of an Aspiro student,” including an overnight in the field. Our visitors were able to experience many facets of the program we think are pivotal to understanding our unique model and how powerful it is for students and families. Our visitors participated in some mountain biking as well as an epic rappel off the Corona Arch (170′ free rappel). We had an amazing time with this group: John Huie (Ashville, NC), Vania Matheus (San Francisco Bay Area), Janet Palmer (Baltimore, MD) and Jeremy McGeorge (Shelbourne Falls, MA). We thank them for making the time on short notice (and some crazy layovers!). We had a wonderful time –what a great group! We will be planning an experiential tour in the Winter, Spring and Fall each year –stay tuned for upcoming dates.  Also, stay tuned for a more in-depth report of the trip, it is worth the discussion (with photos, etc).  ASPIRO GROUP

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