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Stories from the Field: Mental Health and the Outdoors

Feb 3, 2020

Madhurii Barefoot, Co-founder, and Co-owner of True North Wilderness in Vermont. Mod was born and raised in Vermont and went to boarding school, where she was first exposed to wilderness expeditions. Mod would pursue the path of wilderness via a gap year at NOLS. She shares her story of meeting her future husband, Ty Maves, at a SUWS of Idaho field staff orientation. They both left SUWS to pursue Masters's degrees. Mod and Ty helped start SUWS of the Carolinas and then began True North in her hometown.

From the True North Website:

Madhurii Barefoot was born and raised in the Mad River Valley. She attended boarding school in Connecticut, and the Mountain School of Milton Academy, a Semester program in Vermont focused on experiential education, community building, and outdoor recreation. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Smith College and went on to participate in several experiential and outdoor educational programs; including a NOLS semester in Patagonia, Chile.

Mod pursued her love of outdoor education and experiential learning by becoming a field instructor at a Wilderness Therapy Program in Idaho.  She went on to earn her Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.  She helped to establish and develop a non-profit organization supporting the health, welfare, and education of girls, as well as working with adolescent girls and their families in a variety of outpatient settings before returning to the program in Idaho as a wilderness therapist specializing in working with adolescent girls.

Mod continued to work exclusively with adolescent girls as a licensed Clinical Social Worker at True North and as Clinical Director until 2018.  She currently works closely with the administrative team to maintain our very high program standards, provides additional support to the clinical team as well as the admissions and outreach team, and is available as a resource to referral sources. Mod continues to participate in program development and alumni programming.

Mod has traveled extensively, lived in Switzerland and Chile, and enjoys cooking, traveling, and skiing. She lives in North Fayston, Vermont with her husband (and True North co-owner and Executive Director Ty Maves) and their three children.