What is the Clan of the Hand?

The Clan of the Hand is an honor society of individuals who have made a significant contribution to working with youth in a wilderness setting. Those who are inducted into the Clan of the Hand are effectively members of a "Wilderness Hall of Fame".

The Clan of the Hands was established in 2003 with Larry Dean Olsen, Dave Wescott, Doug Nelson, Ezekiel C. Sanchez, and Larry Wells being the first honorees. Every few years after that new members are added with induction ceremonies being held in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2016. The next ceremony will be in the Fall of 2023.

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Current Honorees Are:

  • Larry Dean Olsen
  • Dave Wescott
  • Doug Nelson
  • Ezekiel C. Sanchez
  • Larry Wells
  • Keith Hooker
  • Kay Harris
  • Ken Stettler
  • George Church
  • Karen Wells
  • David Holladay
  • Scott Schill
  • Maddy Liebing

The Outpost: Purpose and Development

The Outpost is intended to provide some basic amenities for RedCliff students in the field, while at the same time give us a platform for teaching some of the core skills essential to our program.

The Kiva is the showpiece of the Outpost. It is replica of an ancient Southwest style Kiva. The Kiva was built with the hard labor of employees at RedCliff. Its purpose is primarily ceremonial in nature and is the location of the Clan of the Hand ceremony.

About Our Honorees

Larry D. Olsen was born in 1939, near Jerome, Idaho. He grew up interested in the great desert wastelands of the western United Stares, and the ancient Indian inhabitants of these deserts. As a boy, he trekked into remote canyon areas and roamed in the deserts, emulating the Anasazi or "Ancient Ones" and carefully replicating the lifestyle of the primitive Paiutes of the Great Basin Plateau areas.

Larry found a wife, Sherrel Eslinger, who was willing to join him in his often-primitive way of life. They have raised their ten children in the combined settings of caves, tipis, homesteading cabins, and modern homes with all the extras.

In the 1960's, while Larry was attending the Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, he began teaching classes in outdoor survival in the Division of Continuing Education sponsored by the Department of Youth Leadership. While there, he completed a bachelor's degree in education with graduate studies in English.

BYU received a national award for creativity in design for his youth leadership "480" course. These long expeditions opened up a new area in survival training by providing a vehicle for helping young men and women establish lasting values.

Larry wrote the first edition of Outdoor Survival Skills for his students in 1967. The book created an enthusiasm for outdoor education concepts. It has been on the best seller list for over thirty years.

In 1987, Larry and Ezekiel Sanchez, with the help of their families founded the ANASAZI Foundation, a non-profit, licensed, year­ around wilderness treatment program for Troubled Youth and Parents. Larry was also a founding member of the National Association of Therapeutic Wilderness Camps (NATWC), and a Member of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists.

Overall, Larry's desire to become one with those who walked here before has probably made a greater contribution than would have been possible a hundred years ago. Many lives have been changed for the better because of the bridge he has helped to construct between modern young people and their families and Mother Earth. He found a way to share the passion of his youth.

Ezekiel C. Sanchez, a Totonac Indian is the oldest of sixteen children. He spent his youth at a Texas ranch working and gathering wild edibles to help sustain his siblings and family. In his fourteenth year, Ezekiel's family joined a band of migrant farm workers. After several years of following the crops in the western states, his family finally settled in Moapa valley in Overton, Nevada.

At the age of 19, Ezekiel started high school at Moapa Valley High. His limited command of English challenged him. Nevertheless, three years later at the age of 22, he graduated. His art teacher recognized Ezekiel's artistic talents and without informing Ezekiel, he submitted a scholarship application to BYU and Ezekiel was presented with an art scholarship to the Brigham Young University in 1966.

After struggling through his first and second year at BYU, Ezekiel received an invitation from the college administration to participate in a wilderness survival course conducted by Larry D. Olsen. Three days later in the remote canyons of southeastern Utah, Larry recognized Ezekiel's obvious talents for the outdoors. Ezekiel joined Larry and became a full-time staff member at Brigham Young University in the Department of Youth Leadership in 1968.

In 1989, Ezekiel and Larry established the ANASAZI Foundation, a non-profit, licensed Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program located in Arizona. By applying their many years of wilderness experiences, they developed the ANASAZI Way. Today the ANASAZI Way is recognized as a successful approach to heal young people's hearts and re-establish harmony with their families. Ezekiel is
married to Pauline Martin, a beautiful Navajo from The Gap, Arizona.

Today, Ezekiel’s knowledge of plants and ancient skills is unparalleled. He is known for his exceptional tracking skills (day or night). Stories of his ability to travel through the desert with little or no water and food are told and retold around the campfires throughout the West. Ezekiel is President and Co-founder of ANASAZI Foundation. He oversees fund­raising efforts and trains the Anasazi Trail Walkers and Staff in the Anasazi Way.

David has spent his entire life in the outdoors. Starting as a child growing up on a "wild" piece of property called Duncan Hill in Auburn, CA, he learned to love the outdoors and the challenges and lessons it has to offer.

Later, while attending BYU, he took a class in outdoor recreation. According to David, one day Larry Olsen pulled him into his office, sat him down, and told him this is the field he should go into. He participated as a student on his first 30-day course in the fall of 1971 and has literally been "in the field" ever since.

In 1986 he bought Boulder Outdoor Survival School from Doug Nelson, who had turned the old BYU 480 programs into a commercial business. David began leading the programs himself and gradually changed the experience from primarily hiking to a stronger emphasis on skills. In this position he has come to touch the lives of hundreds of instructors and students in a wide variety of programs by introducing them to the outdoors wi1h limited equipment and real hands-on training.

He also ran the first therapeutic wilderness camp for Aspen Health Services and helped develop the model being used by most youth wilderness programs today. However, David preferred to concentrate more on the training of the instructors so they would be competent to work in these programs.

He resurrected the Rabbit Stick gatherings that Larry Olsen and Dick Jamison had once offered, and they soon extended into Winter Count and other gatherings offered by others across the United States and abroad.

David was asked by Bill Broyles to teach him some primitive skills to aid in his writing of a script for a movie called "Castaway''. Along with his good friends Steve Watts and David Holladay, David provided Bill with a memorable survival experience that was instrumental to the success of the film. The creation of "Wilson" became almost as famous as Tom Hanks after the release of the movie.

Throughout his career, David has stayed current on the people, needs and trends in the outdoor business. He has remained committed to networking and promoting the skills and experiences associated with these programs and the positive changes they can make in a person's life. Throughout his own programs and his involvement with others David has helped in the training and, more importantly, the thinking of many leaders in the field today and for years to come.

Growing up in Ephraim, Utah, Doug lived in and loved the great outdoors, especially hiking, fishing and riding horses. Doug remained in Ephraim up until his junior year in high school, when his parents moved to Phoenix. He was there a year, came back to Ephraim and graduated from Manti High School. His family again moved back to Phoenix. He had a scholarship at Mesa Community College playing tennis, and after a year he went to BYU.

Doug got involved with the BYU 480 program in the fall of 1971, and in one form or another has been involved in the outdoors ever since. He has had many positive and life changing experiences while instructing and directing the programs for BYU. When BYU no longer offered the survival program, Doug ventured out on his own and started Boulder Outdoor Survival School in the spring of 1978. He successfully ran programs for about 8 years before selling the business to Dave Wescott.

He also started (along with a couple of dear friends and colleagues - Keith Hooker and Doug Cloward), a program known today as Aspen Achievement Academy. They added the therapeutic component, along with "youth at risk" (adjudicated). They later sold the business to College Enterprises in California, and Doug remained as a consultant conducting research and outcome studies for the programs operating in Utah, Colorado and Montana.

Doug has had many opportunities presenting workshops and giving lectures on "Wilderness/Survival Treatment Programs for Youth" across the United States and Canada. He was also involved in teaching a semester abroad in Nairobi, Africa, where he had a wonderful experience with BYU students in outdoor education experiences.

Through all his outdoor survival experiences, Doug has been involved teaching at BYU since 1972. First as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, then part-time and in 1976 started teaching as a full-time faculty member.

Some of Doug's fondest memories and dearest friends have come from his experiences in the BYU 480 program. Life has been and is still good. Many lives have been and are continuing to change for the good. Doug has had a positive influence and impact in the lives of many individuals, and will continue to do so.

Larry's earliest memories are of growing up in the Lost River Range of Idaho. At age 12, his family moved to Idaho Falls and his life began to fall apart. Over the next several years Larry found himself in and out of juvenile detention. At age 21, and after two years in the Idaho State Prison, he decided it was time to change his life.

Larry always wanted to work in the outdoors, but because of his colorful past, many of those doors seemed closed. In 1969, Larry received a full pardon from the state of Idaho. That year he helped a 6th grade teacher in challis work with problem readers. Using Larry Olsen's book, "Outdoor Survival Skills", they read a section, then on Saturday practiced the skills. The kids were excited to read because they wanted to do the outdoor activity. Larry contacted Larry Olsen through BYU and told him about this desire to help others in the outdoors. On May 16th, 1971, Larry's dream came true as he headed out with his first "Hoods in the Woods".

In the fall of 1975, he was contacted by Richard Peacock and asked to be field director for a new program run by BYU Special Courses. He easily won the hearts of students and staff alike, especially Karen McVey. They were married in December of 1977.

Larry continued to do contract survival programs and staff training while working as a parole officer and drug/alcohol counselor for the Idaho Department of Corrections. In 1981- 83 he conducted the early programs for SUWS. He has run programs in Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Nevada, Mexico, New Mexico and Arizona.

In 1988 Larry reincorporated as Wilderness Conquest, working with his wife and daughter Anngela. This same year he was asked by Doug Nelson to train Challenger staff and Larry got his first expedition out in November. Since those early years, Wilderness Quest has served thousands of people and their families. In 1990, Larry assisted drafting the State of Utah Department of Licensing regulations for wilderness-based treatment.

Larry has been a consistent staple in the wilderness therapy industry since Wilderness Quest began. Larry says, "We feel blessed and honored that God has put us in a position to be of service to others and in the process, help ourselves along our individual paths."

Keith became involved in the 30-day wilderness survival program at BYU in the early 70’s. He first participated as a student and was later invited to join the staff as a field instructor and also the course physician. Since that time, he has always had an association with the industry mostly as a medical consultant. He was one of the principal partners in the formation of the Achievement Academy, later known as Aspen Health Services, which was the first licensed wilderness therapy program in the state of Utah and at one point, the largest adolescent health care system in the United States that uses wilderness therapy as one of their treatment modalities.

He is recognized in the industry as the medical authority in wilderness therapy programs as well as a sought-after expert witness, speaker and medical consultant for the various states licensing wilderness therapy programs.

His personal background and life adventures span the continuum from mountaineering as a principal team member on the Utah expedition to Everest, to a bush doctor in Alaska, to being nicknamed the "Wilderness Doc", holding the record for surviving the number of airplane crashes, as well as a marathon and endurance runner. His life is one that has touched and benefitted many individuals all over the world in many circumstances.

Keith Hooker, MD is an individual that has made numerous contributions to the wilderness therapy industry and is well deserving in joining those from the past and those being honored as an inductee into the "Clan of the Hand".

Kay Harris is a bit of sage, sand, river, wind and rock, worn and weathered by thirty years of navigating rivers, hiking canyons, and climbing sandstone cliffs in Southern Utah. His connection to the earth begins from his roots in Idaho where he was born and where he worked harvesting potatoes, skiing, and exploring the hills near his home.

Kay lives in Cedar City with his wife, Sue, and their two youngest children, Seri and Ryken. Their three older daughters are married, and Kay and Sue now carry the impressive title of "grandparents". Kay has lived his life with ingenuity, passion and vision. His work has ranged from carpentry to hand crafting hardwood flutes; working with troubled youth on extended wilderness and river trips, and now making simple pine caskets for those whose journey on earth has ended. Sustenance comes from the love and understanding of his family, friends, and the knowledge that he is trying to make a difference in the lives of people.

Kay's life has been one of passion and service. Generosity is his trademark, excellence and education have been his pursuits. He is firmly grounded to his family and has extended his love of family to include love for all people. He describes our journey through life as one of struggle and learning and says, "It is hoped that before we reach the "sky'' we move closer to center, having found harmony with all of life."

Ken is a native of Utah where he has strong family ties, having grown up on the family farm in Northern Utah. He and his wife of over 30 years have four children, two sons and two daughters.

Ken possess a Bachelors degree in Recreation Therapy and a Masters degree in Rec Management and Youth Leadership, both from BYU. As an avid outdoorsman, Ken knew the therapeutic value of nature. Ken has over 30 years experience with the State of Utah Department of Human Services.

In July 1981 Ken began a special assignment developing guidelines for investigators to use when determining the level of care and treatment of children in wilderness therapy programs. He debated with the many state officials and lawmakers who were determined that the only answer to the problem of "abuse" in the industry was to outlaw wilderness therapy altogether. Ken was able to influence officials that the answer was not to close them down, but rather to pass legislation requiring the licensure and regulation of the outdoor youth programs that specifically address the care and treatment of the youth.

The law was passed; unfortunately, before it took effect, two female participants in different wilderness programs lost their lives. It was a horrific time. The debate was once again spurred to close all outdoor programs.

Parents and media were demanding the state take immediate action. All avenues of resolution were carefully examined. Further determined to his commitment, Ken elected to work closely with the top experts in the industry, including Doug Nelson, Larry Wells, Dave Wescott, and Dr. Keith Hooker. The goal was soon realized and these new rules and regulations were recognized throughout the nation as a model for governing outdoor youth programs.

Since this time, Ken has also been called upon by NV, ID, AZ, OR, ND, CO and MT to provide consultation services and technical assistance as they tackle some of the same problems that Utah has faced.
Ken hopes to continue to be instrumental in the care and treatment of children in all types of therapeutic programs throughout the country. However, he will always have a special place in his heart for what he knows to be one of the most powerful and effective treatment modalities available for troubled youth... properly and safely operated wilderness therapy programming.

George D. Church was born and raised in Erie Co, PA. His initiation into the Great Outdoors and Wilderness Survival came after graduation from Brigham Young University in 1954, with a BS degree in Political Science, and a minor in History. He was also commissioned as a 2nd Lt. through the AFROTC.
He was scheduled to begin pilot training in August 1954 in Marana, AZ. He was married to Darlene Lott when he was a senior and she was in her first year at BYU from Elsinore, Utah.
About 1979, a man and his young family moved to Redmond WA where we lived. L. Jay Mitchell came from Twin Falls, ID. Over time we became better acquainted. He began to tell me about Larry Olsen and his outdoor skills. He began to share the thought that nature along with quality wilderness instructors could change people's lives, specifically troubled adolescents.

We asked Larry Olsen to come over to Redmond so I could evaluate the man, his thoughts, experience and get his opinion on where we might go with this conceptual idea. He stayed in our home.
Practical and financial realities of starting a "weird" and unknown business of helping troubled teens arose. I took out a $10,000 loan against our home which we had only recently paid off. It was hard to justify, because at that time we had so many unanswered questions. We contacted friends, issued stock and raised money.

It took five years in learning the business as we went along. Marketing to have parents enroll kids in a 21-day survival program was tough. With difficulty and assistance from colleagues, George Church became the founders of the SUWS program in Idaho. George also is known for paving the way for the year-round program.

As a student at BYU, Karen saw a flyer for a fireside with Hartman Rector and Zeke Sanchez speaking on BYU's survival program. She signed up immediately!

June 1974 came quickly, and Karen met her new trail-mates ... all 39 of them. After orientation they headed to Green River. On the way they were told to drink lots of fluids, have a final soda... and
keep the can. It would be their canteen and pot to eat from. The initial three-day impact proved too much. Karen told the staff she had gotten what she came for and now was ready to go home. They said she was welcome to leave but would have to walk! Well, it was easier to stay than it was to leave, so 30 days later, with an orange crush can hanging from her 4 notch shorter belt... she graduated! Not only that, but she was hooked. After college graduation, she returned in 1975 as a full-fledged staff.

1976 introduced Karen to a new field director, Larry Wells. In 1977 they were married and that's when Karen says the real adventure began! They had three children and Larry continued to run outdoor programs. When able, Karen provided support, dragging babies along. In 1989 they ran their first big groups as Wilderness Conquest.

They ran a combination of impacts, night hikes, and solos from BYU's 480, agreements and circles from RMA, 12 step from Alcoholics Anonymous and a modified family program similar to the Walker Center. In the early 90's Karen served in a group to help Ken Stettler write state regulations for the growing wilderness industry in the state of Utah. She loves the planning and programming aspect and created forms to meet regulations and to document work.

Family traditions became WQ (Wilderness Quest now) traditions. Thanksgiving was spent in the field preparing a steam pit turkey, which eventually evolved to grilled pork chops. Christmas or Christmas Eve was spent fixing dinner, then taking it to each group and leaving Christmas presents.

Karen says, "It has been a wonderful experience to personally share in the growth and change of so many in such a beautiful landscape. Now, when I visit the same places we took the students for so many years, I see many faces as I sit in front of a fire - faces whose eyes shine and whose spirits have come alive again. I hear their pain and hear their laughter. I only have good memories. The wilderness not only worked on them, it worked on me. I feel much gratitude for the experiences I've had and the people whose lives have touched mine."

David Holladay brings more than thirty-five years of teaching experience to his role as an outdoor educator and is widely regarded as one of the foremost specialist in Stone Age living skills. David is a lecturer, author and consultant of primitive technologies, edible and medicinal plants, pre- Columbia culture and environmental awareness arts. He served eighteen years as head instructor at Boulder Outdoor Survival School and enjoyed five years as a K-12 environmental educator with Tucson Unified School District.

David notes that 'three of the events that most shaped his life during his young years came in the form of family adventures. The first was a three-month camp-out and road trip from Nogales, Mexico to the Arctic Circle. The next was a family trip to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Last was a family move to Guatemala where he worked in the midst of the Maya of the Quiche highlands and experienced firsthand the grace and beauty of the people there.

While in Guatemala, David found a book catalog that an American nurse brought to the clinic in his village. That catalog opened up the world of reading. It was in that catalog that he found Larry Dean Olsen's book titled Outdoor Survival Skills. It was the line drawing of a hand with an antler pressure flaker pressing on an arrow head which grabbed his attention; it helped him stop looking at pictures in the mid­ midwifery section and start reading. It was that drawing in Larry's book that brought him to this gathering today, and things have not been the same since.

David is known to be an accomplished artist, musician, storyteller, hitchhiker, fence builder, ditch digger, wood cutter, Hogan builder, mountain guide, rock collector, wanderer, and cloud watcher. He is also known to dance and rant around fires from dusk till dawn. David and his works have been featured in Castaway, Survivor man, Man Verses Wild, Road Rules, Zigzag, Brat Camp, Tribal Wives, and numerous other documentary productions which have been aired on HBO, MTV, BBC, CNN, and CBS, as well as other networks around the world.

He has been part of Anasazi for more than twenty years. He is the proud father of ten children and husband to Jill who was also a long time Anasazi and BOSS instructor. David is still in love with everyone he has ever loved and loved back by most of those same people.

Scott's first introduction to the wilderness treatment program was working for Wilderness Academy as an intern in the spring and summer of 1990. At that time Scott was a student at Brigham Young University in Provo. He asked one of his professors, Doug Nelson, if he had any suggestions on an internship possibility. Doug set Scott up as an intern with Wilderness Academy and Scott loved every minute of it. Scott worked as a field staff having three weeks on and one week off. Scott enjoyed it so much that he would have worked for three months on and one week off if they had asked him to.

Scott returned to school in the fall of 1990 and received a Bachelor's degree in Outdoor Recreation and Youth Leadership in 1991 along with a minor in Spanish. While he finished school, Scott worked as a staff at Birds Eye Boys Ranch in the evenings and at the Juvenile Detention Center in Provo.

After graduation, Scott continued working at the Detention Center and became the supervisor of their Detox program. After funding for the Detox program was discontinued, Scott began work as a Probation officer for the Juvenile Court System in Provo. While he was working as a probation officer, Tim Marshal contacted Scott about starting up a program with Aspen Academy for State kids. Of course, Scott accepted immediately and traveled to Wayne County to help start up Aspen Youth Alternatives as a Team Leader in April of 1994.

Scott became Field Director of AYA and continued working there for three years. In a letter Scott wrote before leaving AYA, Scott wrote, "I have had a wonderful experience working here and have grown tremendously both personally and professionally. Like the students who come into our program, I have been cared for, loved, fought with, cried with, laughed with (and at), bandaged, sat on (in PCS), and sometimes expected to do things that were no fun at all. It has all been a wonderful part of my journey."
Scott went to work for Brown Schools in Mason Texas in April of 1997. He set up the On Track program and served as their program director for one year. In April of 1998, Scott began working as the Field Director at Radcliff Ascent. Having previously worked as a wilderness staff in another program, Scott made it his priority to be both a resource and an advocate of staff. During his 14 years as Redcliff's field director,

Scott has taught wilderness "hard skills", has developed specialized trainings such as tracking and cold and warm weather preparation, and has created an effective culture of therapeutic "soft skills" among Radcliff employees. Scott is a master at utilizing the power of the wilderness in addressing both the therapeutic needs of the students and in refining the
skills of his staff.

Scott fills his days visiting students in the field, getting "down in the dirt" with them, and working by each student's side in creating fire, building traps, and figuring out who they are and whom they can become. He has a remarkable ability to establish caring and healing relationships, as his humility, compassion, and empathy are unfailing.

Scott's vision of a primitive skills learning center resulted in what is now the Radcliff Ascent Outpost. His vision for this amazing site has evolved over the years, and the Outpost currently serves as a cornerstone of Redcliffs field logistics, student activities, and ceremonial events. The Outpost's crowning jewel is known as the "Kiva", a replica of the Mesa Verde Kiva in the four corners area. With the help of students and staff, and based only on a photograph, Scott spent months designing and creating this. beautiful structure.

Maddy Liebing has had a profound influence on the development of wilderness therapy in both the evolution of an effective therapeutic component and in the implementation of standards and best practices. She brought a professional, sophisticated psycho­ therapy component to wilderness therapy as one of the founders and the first clinical director of the Wilderness Academy in 1988. This was a quantum improvement in the level of formal psychotherapy that had been incorporated into wilderness therapy before.

As a licensed psychologist, she developed the basic model for doing therapy in a wilderness program, including getting accurate assessments of the mental issues that needed to be addressed therapeutically, and developing treatment plans specific to the wilderness experience.
This approach and level of professionalism has had a significant influence on the entire field due to the vast number of therapists who learned how to do wilderness therapy by being trained to this basic model, and due to the many other programs which adopted the high level of psychotherapy she established as the norm for quality wilderness therapy programs.

In the early days of wilderness therapy, Maddy saw the need to establishing standards around managing risk and providing quality care. She made the case with the State of Utah to develop a licensing process for wilderness programs, and was at the table when those first standards were written. More recently, Maddy has been involved in developing the OBH Accreditation standards.

Maddy exemplifies a conviction in the healing power of the wilderness, and has always tapped into it whenever she could. When she was working as a guidance counselor in a public school, she conducted six day "survival" treks out into the wilderness with thirty students at a time. Her five daughters have experienced extensive mother-daughter treks, and all completed a wilderness solo prior to graduating high school. She is the founder and clinical director of The Journey Wilderness Program, where she continues to work with the wilderness to maximize the effectiveness of the therapy.