Water Drop tree branch

The Life Force

by Peter Mayfield, Founder/Executive Director

Reflecting on Gateway’s work, I’m very aware of the power of the life force. The force that drives toads to mate and lay their eggs in the most advantageous location, the force that makes flowers bloom even more abundantly with the stress of drought, the force that drives healing after injury, the force that allows joy to erupt, even in a youth who has been traumatized, the force that drives that youth to reach out to help the younger one in need.
Our work at Gateway is wide ranging. Some people find this range hard to grasp, but to us, it’s all one thread. We work as guides, teachers, and therapeutic mentors, to help youth connect to nature, to themselves and their own internal and external resources, and to community. Simply put, we facilitate access to the life force.
I’m SO grateful I get to do this work: collaborating with incredible people to provide the innovation, energy, and service that is so needed to improve education, wellness, and resiliency for today’s young people. We are honored to “be a part of the change” we need to see in eco-literacy, education, and preparing youth to be stewards of themselves, their families, and our world.
Gateway Mountain Center is where youth of all backgrounds learn, heal, and thrive.

The Gateway Method Reference Materials

by Peter Mayfield, Founder/Executive Director

Root Number 1 – Authentic Relationship

Center for Adolescent Studies

Building Authentic Relationships BARS Online

The Building Authentic Relationships (BARS) online (video-based) training is a 6-skill, self-paced training on how to build authentic relationships with adolescents. This course spans disciplines and is applicable to those in the mental health, health, probation, and education professions and more! This training overviews how to develop genuine relationships; how to use self-disclosure skillfully, how to deal with resistance and set health boundaries, and presents time-tested techniques that bring adults and adolescents closer.

Trauma-Informed Care for Professionals Working with Youth

This semi-self-paced course is for anyone working with youth struggling with or affected by trauma; therapists, educators, coaches, mentors, etc. Every week presentations are accessible to review basic principles of being trauma-informed.

Book: Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents – Sam Himelstein

A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working With High-Risk Adolescents is an accessible introduction to a new model of therapy that combines the Buddhist concept of mindfulness with modern trends in psychotherapy. Drawing on years of experience working with at-risk adolescents, the chapters explore ways to develop authentic connections with patients: building relationships, working with resistance, and ways to approach change using mindfulness-based techniques.

Root number 2 – Nature


Forest Bathing

Shinrin-yoku is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. Researchers primarily in Japan and South Korea have established a robust body of scientific literature on the health benefits of spending time under the canopy of a living forest. Now their research is helping to establish shinrin-yoku and forest therapy throughout the world.

Greater Good Science Center

Greater Good Science Magazine

How Nature Makes Your Kids Happier

A compendium of information. They hosted the conference on The Art & Science of Awe. They hosted a study on the improvements in stress reduction bio-markers from time in nature.

National Geographic

This is Your Brain on Nature

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA

Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation

Root Number 3 – Embodied Peak Experience


Self-Efficacy – Albert Bandura

Flow State

The Optimized Brain: A Workshop on Flow-States with Steven Kotler

The Flow Genome Project

Book: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness called flow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow: TED Talk

Root Number 4 – Helping Others

Psychology Today

3 Specific Ways That Helping Others Benefits Your Brain


The Secret to Happiness Is Helping Others

Greater Good Science Center

The Compassionate Instinct

Other General and Useful Resources

Future of Psychiatry

Helpful ideas on medication Interview with Sami Timimi, MD

Book: “A Prescription for Psychiatry
Peter Kinderman MD Psychology Today
Childhood Made Crazy – New Options for Parents of “Diagnosed” Children

Self Determination Theory
Book: Self Determination Theory:  Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness
Richard Ryan and Edward Deci

Book: Helping Children Succeed
Paul Tough

In Helping Children Succeed, Tough takes on a new set of pressing questions: What does growing up in poverty do to children’s mental and physical development? How does adversity at home affect their success in the classroom, from preschool to high school? And what practical steps can the adults who are responsible for them—from parents and teachers to policy makers and philanthropists—take to improve their chances for a positive future?

Book: Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents’ Guide for Instilling Confidence Joy and Resilience,
Peter A. Levine Ph.D.

The number of anxious, depressed, hyperactive and withdrawn children is staggering—and still growing! Millions have experienced bullying, violence (real or in the media), abuse or sexual molestation. Many other kids have been traumatized from more “ordinary” ordeals such as terrifying medical procedures, accidents, loss and divorce. Trauma-Proofing Your Kids sends a lifeline to parents who wonder how they can help their worried and troubled children now. It offers simple but powerful tools to keep children safe from danger and to help them “bounce back” after feeling scared and overwhelmed.

Book: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – the Process and Practice of Mindful Change
Steven Hayes, Kirk Storsahl, Kelly Wilson

Since the original publication of this seminal work, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has come into its own as a widely practiced approach to helping people change. This book provides the definitive statement of ACT–from conceptual and empirical foundations to clinical techniques–written by its originators. ACT is based on the idea that psychological rigidity is a root cause of a wide range of clinical problems. The authors describe effective, innovative ways to cultivate psychological flexibility by detecting and targeting six key processes: defusion, acceptance, attention to the present moment, self-awareness, values, and committed action. Sample therapeutic exercises and patient-therapist dialogues are integrated throughout.

We Do One Thing

by Nancy Minges, M.A., Wellness Program Director

We help youth learn, heal and thrive.

We do this in a number of ways, across all our programs. Our method of change, and our principles, in many ways are inter-changeable.

We connect youth more deeply to themselves, to nature, and to community. We see disconnection as the root of most, if not all issues: disconnection from one’s body, emotions, needs, values, how their mind works, how nature works, community, and nature itself as a living system.

We believe there are 4 relational roots for growing a human: authentic relationship, embodied peak experience, nature, and connecting to community.

We are constantly striving to support youth, and ourselves to gain self-awareness, and capacity. Capacity to feel, be with, gain understanding, and to become empowered stewards of their lives, and our planet.

In all of our programs we teach mindfulness, play games for fun, get our hands dirty, push our limits, learn directly or indirectly about brain science, and about sparking more happy chemicals. We learn inquiry, both internally and externally, and we learn how to be in relationship with all of the non-human beings of nature. In our field science programs, we learn this through the scientific method of inquiry. We then apply that to ourselves. We learn about bugs, and rivers, and streams, and what meadows do. We learn how we are like meadows too. We learn about animals, and we identify our spirit animals. We learn how to use their qualities when we get stuck.

We learn how to wonder, have awe, and develop curiosity. We gain self confidence, learn to step into what makes us uncomfortable, how to ask for help, how to make group agreements, and how to support one another. We make art, and theater, and we have campfires. We make moccasins, and dream catchers, we make customized aromatherapy sprays for our stress. We challenge ourselves past our limits–and we grow. We make hot chocolate, and we sit by the fire. We let go of what is out of balance, and we come into a larger understanding of who we are, and what our place in this world is.

We get scared. We overcome fear. We climb. We rappel. We ski. We get wet, and cold. We hike mountains that seem too big. We traverse in snow that seems too deep. We ride killer single track. We leave our houses for the first time in months, to take a tentative walk out into the field. We tell our stories. We laugh about most everything; and, sometimes we cry. We learn how to listen. We “meadow-tate”. We discover our passions. We develop a relationship with joy. We learn how to see through a systems lens, as John Muir says, “When we look at one thing, we find it is hitched to all things”.

We write poetry, we draw, we set goals, and find new ways to keep “me time” in our schedules. We discover what our growth edge(s) are, and we find ways to support what is trying to emerge. We do this in all of our programs. It looks a little differently in each of them, but if you know what our principles are, you see them everywhere.