Our Outdoor Education Team

Outdoor education at Gateway extends far beyond recreation. It is a critical element of our therapeutic approach.

Eric Bonin, B.S.

Eric Bonin, B.S.

Outdoor Experiential Education Manager

“At Gateway, I have the opportunity to help young men grow and gain greater confidence. When students are provided a safe and supportive place to be challenged, they develop skills to face and overcome obstacles in their life. It is through these challenges that they learn to face doubt, adversity, and failure with a renewed sense of self, ability, and awareness--qualities essential for life-long success.”

 


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CREDENTIALS

  • Bachelor of Science, Adventure Recreation From Green Mountain College
  • Experience in outdoor recreation leadership and programming since 2001
  • Experience in wilderness and residential therapeutic programs since 2007
  • Certified Wilderness First Responder
  • American Mountain Guides Association Certified Single Pitch Instructor


PHILOSOPHY

Eric believes that physically and mentally challenging outdoor experiences can empower students to develop their strength of character to pursue other aspects of their life with a greater sense of confidence and integrity. Eric understands that through role modeling, practice, and reflection, students can expand their notions of what is possible; translate challenging life experiences into positive personal achievements; and emerge as confident and compassionate individuals. Through his work with the young men at Gateway Academy, Eric is personally inspired to push himself to act with excellence and integrity.


PROFESSIONAL

Eric has been involved with outdoor recreational leadership and programming since 1998. He has years of work experience in wilderness and residential therapeutic programs. Eric has worked as a professional instructor in rock climbing, paddling, and skiing, and is a certified Wilderness First Responder.


PERSONAL

In his personal time, Eric enjoys backcountry skiing, climbing, time with his family and walks with his dogs. Eric especially likes to discover the world through his toddler’s eyes.


CREATING STUDENT SUCCESS

Eric recalls a young man’s reluctance to rappel from the top of a cliff. After weeks of anxiety and multiple false starts, the student was able to face the fear of rappelling and overcome it. While this was a feat in itself, the real learning was the young man’s realization that difficult situations do not always equate to bad situations. And by transferring his experience of rappelling to other components of his life, this young man was able to more confidently and comfortably address his relationship with his family.

Eric recalls the first time he climbed with a child with a disability. This child’s awe and ambition when he entered a climbing gym for the first time was contagious. With his trust and eagerness he and Eric were able to work together and find the perfect system for him to reach the top of the climb. This is nothing new in the adaptive world. The accomplishment is not getting to the top, or even climbing with a disability; the accomplishment is the willingness to try something you never thought was in your scope of ability. 

 

 

Jason Funk, M.A.

Jason Funk, M.A.

Outdoor Experiential Education Supervisor

"The best part of my job is having the privilege to share with students awesome adventures and the amazing beauty that I have discovered in the outdoors of Utah and beyond. At Gateway, it is inspiring to see boys with limiting views of themselves, and their potential, make strides towards becoming happier, more confident young men. Outdoor experiences are a small part of this, yet powerful in challenging and expanding their sense of self, personal story, and place in the world."


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Credentials 
  • M.A. International & Environmental Studies
  • B.A Anthropology 
  • Experience in Outdoor Education since 2007 
  • American Mountain Guides Association Certified Single Pitch and Mountain Guide Instructor
  • Certified Wilderness First Responder
  • Utah State Licensed Boat Crew Captain  
Philosophy 
Jason has been with the Outdoor Experiential Education (OEE) Program at Gateway Academy since 2014. He brings a wealth of knowledge and outdoor skill to the team. Jason takes a relational approach to challenge, empower and connect Gateway students to the transformative nature of the outdoors. Jason is dedicated to building a safe, calm and stable environment for student living and growth. As a mentor to both employees and students, He is an approachable and thoughtful team member who supports the learning process through listening and being actively involved. Jason is therapeutically intentional by integrating the students' treatment goals into their outdoor adventures and by helping each young man to develop his own tools to be healthier and happier. 

Professional 
Since 2008, Jason has served both youth and young-adults in a variety of capacities. As a Graduate instructor at the University of Wyoming, Jason mentored undergraduate students in Global Area Studies and helped them develop critical thinking, communication, and writing skills. After receiving his Master's Degree in Environmental Studies, Jason continued his career as an Outdoor Educator working with The Peace Corps, North Star Camp, SPLORE, and Momentum Climbing Gym. Jason has been with the Outdoor Experiential Education Program at Gateway Academy since 2014 and brings a wealth of knowledge and outdoor skill to the team. 

Personal
In his free time, Jason enjoys spending time with his niece, family, and friends. He is passionate about guiding in the mountains and sharing his passions with others. When out on his own Adventures Jason can be found rock climbing in Northern and Southern Utah and backcountry Skiing in the Wasatch Mountains.

Creating Student Success
A  student success story that really stands out to me during my time at Gateway is a student that came into the program struggling with self defeating behavior. Initially that looked like him focusing on his limitations and expecting pity and attention from those around him. Through support from the entire team at Gateway, and him doing the hard work, he was able to look deeper at his relationships and how he viewed himself. As a result, he was able to literally stop crying and moping when things went wrong for him, and instead laugh about his situation and take responsibility in building back trust with his family and friends.  

 

Richie Withycombe, B.A.

Richie Withycombe, B.A.

Outdoor Experiential Education Supervisor

"I love the outdoors. One of my favorite things about this job is seeing the small success with our students." 

“The song of the river ends not at her banks, but in the hearts of those who have loved her.” – Buffalo Joe

 

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Credentials 
  • B.A. Recreation, University of Idaho
  • PSIA Level 2 Ski instructor 
  • AASI level 1 Snowboard Instructor  
  • Idaho Whitewater Guide Lead-boatmen Salmon River, Snake River 
  • Leave No Trace Instructor   
Philosophy 
Richie follows Gateway's relationship-based approach when working with the boys. Through trust and experience Richie is able to coach and mentor students as they work through their individual therapy. He typically finds ways to challenge students and to implement personalized therapeutic interventions. But it is through relationship that Richie is able support positive behavior changes in our students. Richie takes the time to slow things down with students and give them a chance to talk through the situations.

Professional 
Richie has been working with youth for over 10 years. Starting with summer camp he knew he had a passion for connecting youth with the outdoors. Richie furthered this pursuit by receiving his B.S. in Recreation from the University of Idaho.  Richie has also been a member of the professional ski instructors of America for 8 years holding several certifications. Richie also has a lead guide license on many of Idaho's world class whitewater sections after guiding many season during college. Richie brings a unique skill set to the gateway team and helps provide leadership and training in the whitewater and wintertime modules. 

Personal
In his free time Richie is busy raising and taking care of new baby boy. He also enjoys opportunities to ski and hike with his wife, Audrey. In the winter Richie can typically be found up Big Cottonwood Canyon teaching lessons at Brighton or taking cross country ski laps with his Son. In the summer Richie enjoys whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, National Parks, and boating.  At home Richie has a dog, Bonnie, cat, Cleo-catra, and 6 egg laying chickens 

Creating Student Success
One of my favorite things about this job is seeing the small success with our students. I like to take a situation in which a students reacted poorly and help them re-frame it, consider a different perspective, and apply that feedback in future situations. Through coaching and role-modeling the students build healthy relationships with each other and practice the skill needed for them to have successful relationships in the future. It is rewarding to see students connect and build healthy friendships and master social skills.