"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

As spoken by Juliet, Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

You need not have studied Elizabethan Era literature to be familiar with the above phrase; Shakespeare seems to have (long ago) transcended areas of focus and study, and solidly established himself in popular culture. On this point, however, I must contest with the famous playwriter and his titular Capulet character.

So, "What's in a name," Miss Juliet?


Expanse is a wilderness therapy program, not simply because it is therapy in the wilderness, but because the wilderness is an essential part of the healing process for our students. More than a setting, the wilderness is an intentional and insightful container for reflection, introspection, and awakening. A catalyst for growth, and a healing soothing salve.

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."

-John Muir

The magic is found in the dynamic simplicity of the desert. The necessity and rigor of living in the wilderness inherently produces resiliency, quiet strength, and personal empowerment. There are profound lessons learned, and powerful results yielded in connecting with the environment. As our students tether to what is real, and directly in front of them; they simultaneously reconnect with what is authentic, and inside of them.

"You already possess everything necessary to become great."

-Crow Proverb

The resiliency of the desert is mirrored by our students. The metaphor is everywhere. A cactus, sage, juniper, red tail hawk, lizards, and deer not only live, but thrive in this environment. Our students learn to do the same. To value each aspect of life. Each sunrise, each sunset, the summer monsoon…it isn't just the beauty of the desert but the functional symbiosis and necessity of life that resonate with our students. They, in turn, learn about the functional symbiosis of communication, relationship building, the recovery of their true-self, and the necessity of their "best life."

"Most of what she knew, she'd learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would."

-Delia Owens

At Expanse, we are organic. Our collective experience and "wilderness therapy wisdom" informs us when to intervene, and when to let the wilderness be the teacher. We leave out the additives…no distractions, no gimmicks, no levels, no checkboxes. At Expanse we have come to understand what Edward Abbey meant when he wrote that, "wilderness in not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit…Real situations in a real environment, with real people, and real results." An Actual Wilderness Experience (A.W.E.™).

"We have no choice but wonder in the wilderness."

-Lailah Gifty Akita

About the Author:
Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Roots Director

Josh Nelson has a deep, and extensive background in...

Josh Nelson has a deep, and extensive background in wilderness therapy, having grown up around some of the very first wilderness...