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Schools & Program Visits - May, 2002 Issue #93 

Summit Achievement
Fryeburg, ME 04037
Adam Tsapis, Admissions
800-997-8664

Visit by Steve Bozak CEP
Educational Consultant
Albany, NY
518-373-8069
May 5, 2002

While visiting Summit Achievement, I saw twenty-four kids from 13 to 17 years old working on the academics and behavioral issues that got them placed there. These kids may have been asked to leave their current school due to behavioral problems but may be on their way back to the same school they left. Some parents use Summit as a bridge program to get their son or daughter out of the public school and accepted at a boarding school. Problem behavior at school or home can land the child out in the wilderness with the folks at Summit. If the child needs to be escorted then maybe Summit is not the place for him. They can deal with some ODD but the child needs to be somewhat agreeable to work on improvements at Summit. Choices of behavior are limited at Summit and that keeps the students out of trouble. Monday to Wednesday the kids work on academics at the base camp. Dormitories and classroom buildings are better at Summit than some traditional boarding schools. The beautifully kept classrooms and dorms make the child feel much more comfortable than a more traditional wilderness program.

From Thursday to Sunday the kids go out on expeditions, hiking and sleeping out in the wilderness with 3 counselors, in single gender teams. There in the wilderness they continue therapy as they learn about themselves and build working relations with others. Summit is both a Therapeutic wilderness program and school. The average length of stay is 6 to 8 weeks and individuals start anytime they have room in a group. The length of stay is flexible so the child can stay longer if more goals need to be met.

In the cafeteria, all the students sit in the lunchroom with staff members to eat together. Boys and girls don't sit with each other to avoid problems. A normal buzz of conversation continued during my lunch there. Lunch was a choice of a few items so anybody could have found something they liked. The kids told me a myriad of reasons why they where at Summit. Most were finishing up some academic goals. Others were there to be away from a negative peer group that would hinder them in their endeavors.

I sat with five students just after lunch as they told me how their daily life was at Summit. Up at 6:15, breakfast at 7am, then on to class at 7:55 am. They all had some minor chores to do each day. They all looked forward to the expedition portion of the program and agreed it was the favorite part of the program.

All of the staff at Summit seemed to be very sophisticated and able to care for the needs of the kids. A nurse is there to hand out meds, a physician visits weekly to check on the kids. A psychiatrist nearby is available as needed. Master level, licensed therapists are in group meetings with the kids regularly and individual counseling is provided once weekly or as needed. Academics and strong counseling are both a part of Summit's program for the kids. Parents are contacted weekly to give them an update on how their child is doing. Seven days after arrival at Summit the kids may call home to parents weekly.

For a child who needs both academics and wilderness, Summit would be my first choice. It will take care of both the behavior and keep the student up with schooling.

PO Box 1671 | Bonners Ferry, ID 83805 | 208-267-5550
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