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Posted: Aug 7, 2010 15:53


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Ward, Colorado
Joseph DeNucci
Founder/ Executive Director

Visit by Kristie Campbell, August 2010

I understand that Canyon Drive is a much more scenic route to go, however, driving up the "back way" was a peacefully scenic path to get to Insight Intensive at Gold Lake. Insight Intensive is a 90-day residential mentoring program for young adult men, age 18 and older. All the staff members have at least a bachelor degree and all senior mentors and therapists are Master's level or PhD.

Traversing the back and forth curves almost straight up a mountain range, through valleys and a hillside village, gave me a chance to talk with Co-owner/ Founder Joseph DeNucci. Joseph first explained his background; that he has over 25 years combined experience in the "therapeutic" network and literally worked his way up from the ground level. A couple programs in his past include Sierra Tucson (where he served as COO and Executive Director, AIM House and Miraval, Life in Balance Resort, and he served as the COO of the Duke Center for Living in Durham, NC, where he worked to create the Center for Duke Integrative Medicine.

During the rest of the ride up the mountain, Joseph described how the idea for Insight Intensive came about and the basic philosophy of the program. The property the Intensive operates on was once used as a personal growth yoga retreat for corporations, as well as a resort and spa. This serenity is apparent at every part of the 100-acre campus that I visited. The property was purchased by Joseph and his partners Bharat Mitra and Bhavani (founders of Organic India) and opened in June 2010 on the premise that many young men fail to launch into adulthood and many others often struggle with substance abuse and addictions as an escape or defense mechanism. To help them get back on track, Insight Intensive is a therapeutic community that uses a system of mentors to guide the young men. Each young man in the program has a peer mentor, a junior staff mentor and a senior staff mentor, and there are no more than five program participants per senior mentor, in addition to the two therapists who do evaluations, groups and individual therapy.

The first notable "landmark" of the campus we stopped at was the lake-front pavilion where the young men gather at times for campfires, drumming or other gatherings. The short path to stand inside it was well worth it. From the Pavilion looking back, it appeared that the 35-acre lake was on the edge of the mountain with nothing but sky beyond it. Lake trout were jumping everywhere.

Across the driveway from the pavilion was a large three level lake house where the guys have a workout room and an area for playing games. There is also a room where staff can stay and a large room upstairs that overlooks the lake with large screen TV. Group is sometimes held in this building. Being a flower gardener, I could picture that given time, the many flower beds surrounding the campus buildings could flourish like the young men this program works with. It was here that I met Jim Bailey, Director of Operations, who recently moved to the Boulder area. Jim participates strongly in every aspect of the program and teaches the young men healthy living skills as well as culinary cooking and organic gardening.

Continuing on, we went over to where the newly renovated organic greenhouse and vegetable garden were. Joseph explained how the staff and residents worked together to tear out the old decaying remnants and rebuild them new. They had also recently refurbished the wood for the stable area and fences, where there are five beautiful and well-kept horses. The guys have two equine sessions per week; one being a walking/ handling therapy session, the other provides an opportunity to ride after therapy.

Another interesting tidbit I picked up while at the campus was that there are several Native American relics around, meshed with much yoga symbolism. No matter what a person needs spiritually, Insight Intensive will help them find it. The teepees are all poled from wood from the property and the drums are all authentic.

We pulled up to the part of the campus where the majority of the buildings are located and began the tour of buildings. All of the buildings on campus were beautifully rustic cabin-style structures. The first building we walked into was the largest of all. The "Great Lodge" is used for a dining hall, group and just hanging out. It reminded me of the great fireplace area in the original lodge of RMA back in the mid-80s.

All the young men were seated at a table in the middle of the large dining hall when we walked in. Joseph introduced them to me and then introduced David Chiarito, MS, Program Director. I almost couldn't tell the difference between staff and resident as everyone sat around the main table after breakfast, before the daily schedule got busy. David is the senior mentor for the first five guys and then trains any additional senior mentors as they are needed.

The young men were all polite and appeared at ease, even laughing and joking with each other as they relaxed. I felt no tension and no underground while in their presence, only a sense of brother hood and camaraderie. We visited with the group for a short time and then continued on through the buildings.

Insight Intensive has a full, industrial kitchen, staff offices, a required massage/ acupuncture spa, study and computer lab building, residence cabins, a full yoga studio, four hot mineral pools and the administrative office, and other cabins currently being used for storage. The campus is fully wired with fiber-optics so the residents can continue school and necessary fully-supervised projects. The cabins were cozy with three participants per cabin. They were also surprisingly tidy, considering these are all approximately 20 year old males, and they did not feel sterile or scrubbed for my benefit.

As for cost, Joseph explained that every part of the program is included in the daily rate, except clinical evaluations and medication management. Other necessary information can be obtained by viewing the brochure and website or contacting Joseph for a more detailed description of the program.

After my visit at Insight Intensive, I feel the people involved have a solid plan, plenty of experience and education, in addition to the right location to successfully help young men launch into a sober adulthood.

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