How to Live Wilderness By Scott Schill   At 6:30 a.m. on the day of this writing, I was paddling my canoe on the Newcastle Reservoir. The breeze was light and cool and the sun still beyond the mountain. The only sounds were the gentle rhythmic swish of the paddle and soft droplets hitting the…

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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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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…

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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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A Personal Experience with the Spoon Ceremony By Scott Schill, Development Director   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…

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Goodbye Ceremonies By Contributor   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…

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The Knife Ceremony By Contributor   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.  …

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Naming Ceremony By Scott Schill, Development Director   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…

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Earth Names By Scott Schill, Development Director   At RedCliff Ascent, we transform lives. When people show signs of transformation, they earn an Earth Name. The Earth Name represents what we are inside. In addition, it also references what we could potentially become.  Earth Names celebrate the changes that people make in their lives. Also,…

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Welcoming Through Ceremony By Contributor   When new students arrive at RedCliff Ascent, they are in a vulnerable place. Many students are scared, uncertain, or angry. Within the first two days that students arrive, staff and other students welcome the newcomers with a ritual called the Spoon Ceremony. The Ceremony During the Welcome Ceremony, RedCliff…

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Ceremony Matters By Contributor “This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down.” — Elizabeth Gilbert   The…

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  My Story By Justin Swensen, AKA Black Wolf, Field Director   I first came to RedCliff Ascent in the Spring of 1997. One of the things that really drew me to working in the wilderness when I first started was just that it was an outdoor job where I had six days off. I…

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