“He saw potential in me, and that gave me a different perspective.” That’s what Nathan says about the field staff the guided him almost a dozen years ago when he was a student at RedCliff.

            Today, at 24, he says he still uses the skills he learned in the Southern Utah wilderness in his career as a successful freelance graphic designer in the northwest.

            “I was 14 years old when I went to RedCliff,” he recalls.  “I was a delinquent. I wasn’t going to school. I was getting in fights and running away.”

            Nate says his first weeks at RedCliff were “tortuous.” “I hated it at first. The whole time I was acting out. I didn’t know why I felt so miserable. I had no respect for authority. I didn’t want to hike. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was the annoying kid everybody hates.”

            Field staff and his therapist didn’t give up. After more than three weeks Nate busted his first fire. “That gave me the drive to work together with the team,” he says.

            His group did a 3 Peak Week and as his physical condition improved so did his outlook. Anger and defiance gave way to a new spirit of cooperation and his group responded

            “When the kids started not hating me that was also good,” he recalls with a laugh. “You had to work for the team.”

            “To me, it was really about learning self discipline and perseverance, as well as having a respect for the things that you can actually do, that you have control over.”

            He can still bow a fire and for a while he says he ate beans and rice – even at home. Now he uses his RedCliff skills in his business.

            “The technical side of printing and design can be monotonous. But you have a deadline and you have to meet it. You can’t give up.”

            He continues, “The lessons that I learned at RedCliff are if you work hard enough, even though it’s going to be tough, you get through it and it’s totally worth it.”