Which Model Works Best? Over the past few decades, Wilderness Therapy has grown from a fringe personal growth experience to a nationally recognized treatment modality. In the early days, it was provided by wilderness enthusiasts to develop character and self-esteem in their clientele. Now, licensed clinicians engage the prescriptive use of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Programs…

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Special Treats for Special Days   As a wilderness program for at-risk youth, celebration and ceremony are a big part of life at RedCliff Ascent (RCA). Staff members have flexibility in how they make sure that special days are kept special. However, over the more than two decades RCA has been helping troubled youth, RCA…

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Separating to Come to Together It seems counterintuitive. The thing you want most in the world is to bring your family together. Then why on Earth would you send away your troubled teen to the Utah desert? How could being away from your teen for weeks at a time help anything get better? However, sometimes…

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Changing Seasons at RedCliff Ascent It is impossible to predict when a teen is going to need help. That is why the RedCliff Ascent program runs year-round. Troubled teens can come to us whenever they are ready, and they can stay until they are prepared to make a transition back home, or to another program.…

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Learning to Live in the Real World   Walk into any restaurant, coffee shop, or anywhere that people gather and you will likely see someone bent over a screen. For most people technology can be a distraction. For other people, technology can be an addiction. In particular, for many troubled teens, screen addiction interferes with…

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Holiday Season at RedCliff Ascent Being away from family during the holiday season is hard for troubled teens and their families. RedCliff Ascent (RCA) works hard to make sure that the holiday season is a time of celebration. Thanksgiving On Thanksgiving Day, groups of students receive whole smoked turkeys. Then staff members warm the turkeys…

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How Does RedCliff Ascent Reveal Potential? By Kaitlyn Jones   Because you cannot become acquainted with what you cannot discover, revealing potential is important. Revealing potential opens the door to the possibility of change. At RedCliff Ascent, revealing potential allows troubled teens to find the person inside who they were always meant to be. Sometimes…

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How RedCliff Ascent Inspires Families to Put Hope into Action “We have to put hope into action,” said Clinical Director Jennifer Hedrick. “Hope is just a thought. So unless we put it into action, we aren’t really going to inspire much of anything.” Many parents of troubled teens who come wilderness attitude come with the…

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In the desert of southern Utah, a very excited young man yelled out to me as I walked into their camp.  “I got spooned!” I laughed and congratulated him. Somehow, that just didn’t sound right in the context of a wilderness therapy group.  But spooned he was, and it was a good thing. He proudly…

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When students first arrive at RedCliff Ascent, they are in a very vulnerable place. They learn and grow a great deal while they are here. When it is time for students to leave, the experience of having to separate from people who they have come to think of as friends and mentors can be extremely…

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When students arrive at RedCliff Ascent, they find themselves starting at the beginning–as in the Stone Age. New arrivals receive Stone Age tools and are taught how to use them. For example, students learn how to build fires by carving fire-boards out of stone tools and sharp rocks. As students advance through the program, they…

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Naming ceremonies have taken place on the summit of a peak at sunrise or in a meadow at sunset. Often, each person in the group helps to make the space, and the experience, sacred. Witness to a Sacred Experience I recall walking into a group surrounding a medicine wheel. The medicine wheel is a stone…

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