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Schools & Program Visits - Mar, 2001 Issue #79 

Birdseye Boys Ranch
Spanish Fork, Utah
Lynn Loftin, Admissions

Visit report on Feb 2, 01
By Steve Bozak, CEP, Educational Consultant

Heritage Youth Services, in Spanish Fork, Utah has been helping at-risk youth for more than 20 years. Birdseye Boys Ranch (BBR), one Heritage’s programs, helps boys who have demonstrated harmful sexual behaviors. The 12 boys at the ranch welcomed me, telling me they had room for a total of 18 boys on the ranch’s 50 acres. The ranch is located about 75 miles south east of Salt Lake City. 

Late in the afternoon the boys and I sat in the large living room at the ranch and discussed how they were improving. This was one of the group therapy meetings in which the boys participate for 12 hours each week with Jill Smart L.C.S.W. and Brian Allred M. Ed., L.P.C. In addition, the boys have individual therapy for one hour each week. The boys said they are held accountable for controlling impulses and behavior and that BBR emphasizes their need for treatment. The program offers these boys the opportunity to develop a new perspective on relationships and achieve comprehensive rehabilitation. Dr. Gary Weaver, Ph.D. and Ted Davies, M. Ed. teach social responsibility and anger management for three hours each week. Youth who are transitioning out of the program are taught independent living classes. 

The 4 clinicians and the 15 other support staff keep careful watch over the boys 24 hours a day. The boys said they were well taken care of and they all told how they are being helped so they could go on with their lives. These students live outside of the mainstream community but have some access to community resources for medical, dental, and recreational services. 

All academics at the Birds Eye Ranch are taught by fully accredited teachers. The two teachers in the classroom next door keep the kids on track to graduate from high school at the ranch if they stay there that long. The BBR also offers vocational courses and independent college study for those students needing to be challenged. Normally the students stay between one and two years, attending the program 12 months per year. The term is flexible so that if a student shows rapid improvement, he may leave when he’s ready. Parents are contacted weekly by phone and are welcomed to come for meetings at the ranch every other week if possible. The staff to youth ratio during the day is 1:3. 

The ranch owns a 22-foot sailboat, which the youth can sail on lakes that are close by. Each year the students take a 6- day camping trip and a 3-day river-rafting trip that the kids said they look forward too. Utah’s grand outdoors offers great enjoyment from exploring ghost towns, hiking in the deserts and mountains, riding horses, and fishing in lakes and streams. The program calls this “Therapeutic recreation” and finds that it builds self-confidence, encourages problem solving, develops physical fitness and fosters a community spirit. 

Aftercare is available when a boy has finished the ranch program. This reduces the cost and gives the boy a chance at more independent living at a mentor’s home where the boy may be finishing school or working at a job near by. Several of the kids said they were looking forward to living at the mentor’s house.

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