Nathan Mitchell, who is best known for his role as Joseph Smith in the LDS film “The Restoration,” and his wife, Amy, visited BYU-Hawaii’s campus to open the doors for BYUH students to be a part of the Anasazi program, a licensed and nationally accredited outdoor behavioral healthcare provider for troubled teens located in Mesa, Arizona.
Nathan Mitchell, the co-executive director for Anasazi, said Anasazi’s mission is to help prepare parents and children to turn their hearts towards one another and to walk in harmony in the wilderness of the world. He said, “Anasazi is like my ministry. I don’t preach any religion, but I do teach people principles of truth, so the program is a spiritual walking.”
Mitchell explained phrases and names used within the program. Mentors are called “TrailWalkers” and the young people ages 13-17 involved in the program are referred to as “Young Walkers.” He and his wife also explained why they’re seeking out BYUH students as trailwalkers within the program.
“BYU-Hawaii is unique in their peacebuilding program and I feel like that’s an ability to resolve conflict,” said Amy Mitchell. “That’s a huge strength and they do trainings with their staff at the Polynesian Cultural Center. So, we just keep finding more and more connections while we’re here.”
TrailWalkers must be at least 21 years old, single, and are asked to commit to the program for at least four months at a time. Three letters of recommendation are also required.
Gabriela Corbett, a junior from Washington, D.C., studying intercultural peacebuilding, has worked as a TrailWalker and said, “I will compare the Anasazi program as a mission because it was really hard but very rewarding at the same time. You can see the impact, people’s hearts changing. You feel so much love. I made really good friends there.”
The Mitchells explained how BYUH students are ideal for the roles as mentors in the program because of their high moral standards and adherence to the Honor Code.
“The folks who come to work in Anasazi are going places in their lives,” Nathan Mitchell said. “They just graduated from college or they’re in between semesters so they have some direction and some ambition in their life, and we want that energy to be infused into the Young Walkers. All of the participants, the Young Walkers, are going to be looking up to the TrailWalkers. They’re going to be mentors to them.”
Amy Mitchell added, “It does feel like what we call ‘a belonging place.’ So it is a place that they come home to very often.”
Réka Bordás-Simon, a senior from Hungary majoring in peacebuilding and psychology, said, “I really liked the internship forum about Anasazi. I think this is one of the best internships psychology, peacebuilding or social work majors can do. Wilderness therapy is an amazing thing. You can change lives with it and it will change your life too. I recommend everyone to check out what Anasazi does and apply to be a TrailWalker.”
Nathan Mitchell advised students interested in the program to become more familiar with the foundation and read “The Anatomy of Peace” by The Arbinger Institute.
“That book was written about our program,” he said. “The names have been changed and everything, but all of the stories in there are Anasazi stories, and so, if you’re familiar with that book and if you’ve read it, then you’ll be a step ahead.”
NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because it was featured in the Nov. 2017 print issue.