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News & Views - Feb, 1996 Issue #38 

SOUTHERN UTAH PROGRAMS TOUR
Linda Shaffer, Educational Consultant
Sandpoint, Idaho
(208) 263-8394 

Six EMOTIONAL GROWTH program stops in southern Utah were covered by this writer in early October -- Cross Creek Manor in LaVerkin, Brightway Hospital in St. George, Red Cliff Ascent out of St. George, Sorenson's Ranch in Koosharem, Aspen Ranch in Loa, and Turnabout Ranch in Escalante, topped off by a great dinner and get together with consultant, Jody Tuttle

The 600 miles in the rental car between schools took me to some wonderful programs and people -- and through the awesome southern Utah country, including Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon

First, for anyone considering such a trip to enroll a child or visit a school, there is a very challenging, to say the least, section of NARROW, high wilderness road between Loa and Escalante called the Devil's backbone. The steep drop off, (no guard rails), into very deep canyon on both sides of the winding road for several hundred yards helped me immensely to be a VERY focused driver at 15 miles an hour, skipping the scenery for awhile, working at not feeling dizzy, looking ONLY at the black road directly in front of me, and consciously breathing slowly. I was reassured by locals that the blacktop road on which I drove is a major improvement over when it was a dirt road! 

The only other consideration for one flying into St. George for the first time is being prepared that the aircraft will not be landing down there somewhere just past the residential area, but on a not so terribly long runway atop a mesa that looks down over the city. The updrafts in the mountains shortly before landing were entertaining as well. One more know-in-the-stomach experience occurred when, upon landing, the aircraft made several strange noises and the airline employees traveling as passengers and sitting near me made two comments -- "Don't you hate it when it does that?" And "I'm glad it didn't do that while we were in the air!" Oh yes, one more thing. When I asked the ticket agent how much runway we had left on the mesa when we slowed and turned towards the terminal, she replied "Oh, at least a football field before you'd be off the mesa and into the air again." I hear Las Vegas has a nice airport. 

Finally, some OTHER observations about Utah. THE PROGRAMS - my reason for taking a week away from the office. 

CROSS CREEK MANOR'S parent child experiential emotional growth type seminar in which I participated somewhat was one of the highlights of my visit to the school. I was very impressed by the work and exchanges that occurred, the honesty, the directness, the support, the respect. The students certainly speak highly of the experience and are empowered and eager to assist in staffing a seminar for others after them. In the all girls school, I found it heartening to see the level of personal progress of some of "my" students - insights gained in less than a year from their group sessions, individual counseling, their friendships and the experiential seminars. 

TAMMY PRINCE, admissions and marketing for CROSS CREEK, was my terrific guide who also left her cell phone on so I could call if I couldn't remember directions between LaVerkin and St. George. Cross Creek has grown from a smaller school to an enrollment of 150 maintaining groups of 20, however, for day to day more intimate interactions. Recently opened is Cross Creek's new girls' program in CAN CUN, Mexico. Fifteen girls from CC in Utah will complete their programs in CAN CUN as the upper school positive peer culture. 

BRIGHTWAY HOSPITAL is certainly not reminiscent of the stereotyped 8 story, adolescent psychiatric wing facility. Small, one story, comfortable, secured, providing evaluations before girls enter Cross Creek. 

My visit out into the field of RED CLIFF ASCENT wilderness program with Darrell Lewis brought me to two groups of students. One group had two male students who, when I asked, said they would very much like to return one day as staff -- so many days on, so many days off instead of their 30 days (or more!) "On". (I found their sense of humor to be a good sign.) The other group had one female student who it turns out did an excellent job of tricking us into believing that her asthmatic breathing required seeing a doctor in town. Red Cliff took no chances, and we brought her to town with us. Diagnosis: wheezing that turned out to be only a well practiced, not real, but convincing demonstration of impaired breathing. She was GOOD! And Red Cliff put safety first. 

SORENSON'S RANCH in Koosharem had comfortable, smiling, friendly and warm interactions between students and staff -- and a new barn and academic building. Being about four hours from any airport, I think, helps most students quickly concentrate on other things besides running. SHANE and BURNELL and staff are running a rustic, caring, tight ship in magnificent, remote country. I personally like that it is a down to earth real, not dude, ranch, without blacktop driveways. 

ASPEN RANCH, the recently opened facility attached to Aspen Health Services, has a stunning new two-story log lodge that seems to spring up from the desert. LYNN THOMAS, Director, gave me the grand tour of the kids, cows, classrooms, and new horses. As time moves on, it appears there is tremendous educational and vocational potential for its students who will have opportunities to work at a fish hatchery, a dairy farm, a pheasant ranch, and at the Road Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast in Loa. They were all included on my tour, as well. 

And finally, TURNABOUT RANCH, coed, 24 students maximum, cozy feeling. Chris Fudge, admissions, and the Townsends, owners, showed me around. The actual TURNABOUT RANCH, after students impact at a campsite a few miles away, has a very warm, respectful feeling between students and staff. One can feel the deep sense of care and commitment to teenagers from the direct, caring, straight-talking staff. Some very good things seem to have a chance to happen in this two month working ranch program that can extend to six months. 

Copyright 1996, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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