John Winton: Director
John is an engaging and devoted leader who brings over 20 years of experience in wilderness therapy to Echo Springs. John studied therapeutic recreation in college before spending many years as a wilderness guide and lead instructor. Eventually, John and a business partner created Breakwater Expeditions, a company that offers therapeutic wilderness expeditions to young adults and their parents. John is proud to be the director of Echo Springs where he tirelessly inspires the faculty and interacts with the students on a regular basis. John is also a talented musician and passionate athlete.
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At Echo Springs
John is the big kahuna on campus, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see him leading student trips and attending group therapy sessions with Echo Springs students. John is a hands-on kind of guy and is passionate about meeting every student and understanding their story. John oversees the entire staff and all the students at Echo Springs. He also keeps in close contact with parents and works closely with his senior staff to constantly refine programming and the goals of the organization.
John considers himself to be a conductor who helps bring out the best in the incredibly talented Echo Springs staff and faculty. His long career working with at-risk youth and his experience in running a successful wilderness expedition company have given him the perspective and tools he needs to inject new energy into Echo Springs and to maintain its reputation as the leading young adult transitional program in the country.
“Echo Springs has such a strong foundation in quality programming. The real-life experience of our faculty members is absolutely unmatched, and our students really get the full benefit of their hard-earned wisdom. This team represents a ton of energy, a ton of care, and a ton of experience. Echo Springs is already at an amazing level, but I’m really excited to see just how much farther we can go.”
John earned his Bachelors of Science in Therapeutic Recreation from Radford University in Virginia. Since 1995, he has been working closely with at-risk teens and adults, first as a wilderness guide and then as a lead instructor. Along the way, he started to realize the integral role parents could play if they also participated in the transitional process. Eventually, John teamed up with Lars Hall to found Breakwater Expeditions, a company that offered wilderness excursions for teens, families, and school groups. One of Breakwater’s clients was Echo Springs. When Doug Kim-Brown decided it was time to hand over the reins of Echo Springs, he contacted John, and the rest is history.
John is a consummate athlete who loves climbing, wild surfing, biking, tennis, golf, basketball, soccer and more. If it’s a sport, John has probably played it at some time. He also comes from an artistic family and enjoys photography and building his own furniture.
John plays the guitar, mandolin, and banjo.
David C. Barth LPC, MS: Clinical Advisor
David brings a unique clinical perspective to the Echo Springs programming. He uses honesty, humor, and trust to build strong rapport with students and to guide them in breaking through negative assumptions and beliefs. He also ensures that our programming is founded in the latest clinical research.
David brings over 25 years of experience in a therapeutic setting to Echo Springs, including a background in wilderness programming. He is deeply attuned to the young adult population and is able to meet every student where they are. His son, who has special needs, serves as a constant inspiration that every perspective is valid and valuable.
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At Echo Springs
David helps infuse the Echo Springs program with a more clinical perspective in order to better understand and meet the unique needs of each student. David works directly with the students at Echo Springs, using his strong intuition, compassion, and relational skills to help students break through their perceived limits. David also advises the Echo Springs staff on ways to best support each student.
David is a master of building relationships and teaching on a level of deep honesty, understanding, and openness. Students appreciate David’s humor and his commitment to modeling trust and vulnerability.
“I never write a student off. Instead, I see them where they are and understand them by seeing myself through them. The best part of my job is seeing the light turn on when a student pushes through their perceived limits.”
David grew up in Maryland but has lived with his wife and son in Sandpoint, Idaho for over 20 years. He brings over 25 years of experience in the therapeutic field to Echo Springs, first as an instructor at wilderness programs in central Pennsylvania and Idaho, and then in various positions in therapeutic boarding schools in Idaho and Montana. After accruing many years of hands-on clinical experience, David went back to school in order to earn his master’s degree in counseling from Prescott College and is a licensed counselor in Idaho. In addition, he has taken Level I and Level II training in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).
He was attracted to Echo Springs for its commitment to relationship-based teaching and the ownership that each staff member takes in the program.
David considers his autistic son to be his greatest teacher and influencer.
When he isn’t guiding students to important personal breakthroughs, David enjoys back country skiing, mountain biking, and getting his hands dirty in the garden. He is also committed to his wife and teenage son.
David loves music and plays the guitar and mandolin.