Steve began working at RedCliff Ascent as a field guide in 2000. While he worked at RedCliff Ascent, he completed his education. Steve eventually earned a doctorate degree in Counselor Education and Supervision. As Steve progressed through his education and gained more experience, his career advanced. In addition to working as a field guide, Steve has also worked as a clinician, administrator, and Research Director.
As of last summer, Steve began working as the Executive Director of RedCliff Ascent. Steve advanced so consistently throughout his time at RedCliff Ascent that it would be easy to believe that his career path was well-planned from the beginning. However, that is not the case. When Steve first applied to work at RedCliff Ascent, he had never worked in a helping profession before. Instead, Steve's love of wilderness drew him to working at RedCliff Ascent.
Steve still remembers his first time working with teens at RedCliff Ascent. In particular, he remembers working with a young woman from New York.
“She saw herself as being very incapable and incompetent,” Dr. DeMille said. “She genuinely did not believe that she could manage her emotions and she had no belief in her ability to do things that were being asked of her. I remember that I was with her when she made her first bow drill fire. The excitement that she felt was compounded by the realization that she had around her actual capacity.”
This experience shifted Dr. DeMille’s perspective. Originally, Dr. DeMille wanted to work at RedCliff Ascent because he was interested in working outdoors. However, Dr. DeMille saw more and more teens transform their lives. Witnessing those transformations, and the relationships that were built with teens meant more to Dr. DeMille than working in the wilderness.
During his 18 years at RedCliff Ascent, Dr. DeMille has seen many young people transform their lives. As with the young woman from New York, Dr. DeMille saw that these transformations happened when teens were challenged to do more than they thought they would be able to do. Dr. DeMille encourages parents to challenge their teens and to look for a wilderness program that does the same.
“In wilderness therapy, the biggest predictor of growth is the level of challenge of the program, so the more challenge that a program provides, the greater the potential for improvement,” said Dr. DeMille. “So, don’t shy away from challenging them. If you do, you are going to minimize the potential that you are going to get out of the program.”
Dr. DeMille’s conviction that challenging teens helps them to learn is based on years of experience working for RedCliff Ascent and research which confirms the success of the RedCliff Ascent program.