Please know that we think of all of you at RCA often and remain in awe of your work and extremely thankful for what you taught our daughter and all the other teenagers who found themselves in difficult circumstances. You are all remembered in our prayers.
— RedCliff Ascent Alumni Family, 2016
When students come to RedCliff Ascent, their families are in chaos. Almost everyone in the family is angry or hurt or scared. Usually, the family has been in that situation for a long time. Often, parents feel desperate.
“Parents are desperate because parents feel like they are losing their child. Kids are desperate because they feel like they can never do anything right,” said Admissions Counselor Darcy Holt. “Families reach out to us because they feel that there has got to be a different way to all this.”
RedCliff Ascent shows people a different way.
“We interrupt that chaos. We interrupt the cycle the family is stuck in.” Darcy said. “When we bring the kids out here to RedCliff, we introduce them to structure. We also work with them on how to communicate how they feel and what they need.”
When teens come to RedCliff Ascent, the chaos that they have experienced in their lives is replaced by structure. The structure is not only provided the program but by nature itself. Teens learn that there are natural consequences for their actions. For example, if students do not want to build a fire while they are in the field, then they will not have warm food to eat.
While out in nature, students find other interests and concerns besides whatever is happening on Snapchat or Instagram. They learn new ways of coping, including practicing mindfulness.
During this time, they work through the problems that brought them to RedCliff Ascent with the help of a therapist and mentors. They also exchange letters with their parents and begin rebuilding the family relationships.
There is a Way Out
RedCliff Ascent also provides support to parents. They have the opportunity to attend weekly online meetings with other parents and a therapist.
“Even if you are the best parent and you have the best intentions, there is always something that we can learn,” said Darcy.
Typically, one of the most important lessons that parents learn is that they are not alone. Often parents of troubled teens blame themselves. They believe that they have done something wrong and that no one else is experiencing the same struggles that they are experiencing.
“Two of the most powerful words parents hear in this process are me too. We hope by having the parents talk to each other we can eliminate some of the desperation that families feel when they come to us.,” said Darcy. Families find reassurance. Most of the time, parents new to the program meet other parents who are further along. The more experienced parents are often eager to provide guidance, in addition to the guidance that the program provides.
Darcy is confident that the program can guide teens and their families toward healthier lives. One of the many reasons for her confidence is that she receives many messages from families each year, such as this message from 2017:
Our son… graduated in July 2007… He got his undergraduate degree in special education at Westminster in Salt Lake City, in 2012. He moved back to Massachusetts in 2012 and got a teaching job immediately…
A long and bumpy road, but well worth it. We would be happy to talk to anyone about our experience. I know [our son] would not be here without RedCliff.
RedCliff Ascent helps families to heal.