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New Perspectives - Nov, 2000 Issue #75 

Red Top Meadows
Bruce Burkland/Mark Ames
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Red Top Meadows, a division of Teton Youth & Family Services, operates both a residential treatment center and a therapeutic wilderness program to address the educational, emotional, spiritual and physical needs of the adolescent boys.

The Red Top Meadows Residential Treatment Center provides a structured community living environment for up to 14 boys ranging from 12 to 17 years of age. Founded in 1980, it is located in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and operates on 20 acres bordering Bridger- Teton National Forest, just south of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The treatment center has an on-site school accredited by the State of Wyoming and supervised by a teacher certified in special education, assisted by a secondary teacher and two aides. The center provides a therapeutic milieu supervised by both the program director and a therapist, which focuses on group community living skills and activities and effective staff/student relationships. They also have a gardening program and a "Adopt a Trail" community service program run with the U.S. Forest service which enables students to learn responsibility and community values while improving natural resources.

The residential program includes in-depth group, individual and family therapy supervised both by the director who is a master's level licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and the program therapist, who has over eighteen years of experience with adolescents in individual, group, wilderness and family settings. Specialized sexual offender treatment is available if needed.

Another aspect of Red Top Meadow's services is intensive, experiential Wilderness Therapy programs designed to accelerate the therapeutic process and help students reach their treatment goals. These programs take place throughout the year for students who need help: resolving family conflict; recovering from trauma; developing peer relationships; learning to deal with attention issues (ADD, ADHD); developing appropriate coping skills and social skills; improving school performance; over coming depression, coping with sexual issues; and enhancing decision- making skills.

These programs range in length from one to six weeks. The six- week wilderness expedition trips incorporate backpacking treks, an educational curriculum and individual and group therapy with other various adventure activities. The shorter, two-week trips are of a motivational nature, and work well for students who are in need of a brief intervention or a boost in motivation or confidence. The one-week trips are designed to serve local Jackson students.

The wilderness staff members are trained with 60+ hours of specific wilderness experience including Wilderness First Aid/First Responder and CPR training. They are stable, well- educated, mature individuals who live in the community, and are trained to provide a safe therapeutic environment and healthy relationships with the students.

The Program Director, Bruce Burkland has worked with Teton Youth and Family Services since 1979, directing the Red Top Meadows programs since 1985. He received his M.A. from the University of Connecticut in 1976 and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Mark Ames, CMHW, the Wilderness Program Director, has 18 years of experience instructing, supervising and directing therapeutic wilderness programs with adolescents and has a degree from the University of Oregon in Outdoor Education. He has been involved with NOLS, Outward Bound, Project Adventure and AEE.

Red Top Meadows strives to help young people make changes necessary to improve the quality of their lives and increase the likelihood that they will be respectful members of their community. The program staff believes that young people's happiness and success are connected to the quality of relationships in their lives, and that change is possible when provided with a safe physical and emotional environment. The program is based on the assumption that when young people live in an environment that encourages responsibility, honesty and respect and can engage in experiences that give meaning to their thoughts, concepts and goals, then they can practice the lessons that they have learned and can generalize them to other situations or environments.

Copyright 2000, 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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