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Posted: Mar 29, 2010 10:16


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Panguitch, Utah
Denise Westman
Director of Admissions/Development
435 690 9185

Visited by Larry Stednitz 3-01-10

Silverado Academy for boys opened in November of 2006, and the Girl's Academy was developed in 2009. This writer wrote an "Extended Insight" on the Boy's Ranch in 2007. From their beginning, there was little doubt as to the success of the Boy's Ranch.

The Boy's Ranch ownership/management team brought with them some of the most experienced leadership in the industry. With in one year, Silverado Boy's Ranch earned a listing in Woodbury Reports' "Parent Empowerment Handbook."

All of the founders and owners have been at the program since its beginning. Dr. Kreg Gillman, is the Executive Director, Dr. Crist, Medical Director, Eric Fawson, clinical director, Nick Pakidko, head of education, and Denise Westman,development/admissions director. In addition, Silverado has several coaching staff who have been able to "seed" the new girl's program with staff who are experienced in their model of treatment. The girl's program director is Randy Hatton.

The Girl's Academy is located one a five hundred acre ranch outside of Panguitch, Utah. The Ranch is at the end of a five mile dirt road. Spectacular is not an exaggeration. This is a working ranch with the accoutrements of a dude ranch. Three large and well developed structures are attractive and professionally appointed. Two of the structures accommodate the girls' living quarters, with twelve girls to each home. The other structure serves as an academic and in-door recreational facilities and administrative services.

The main house has two floors, the top floor is over 4,000 square feet, six bedrooms, each are well decorated and come with a fireplace and a large private bathroom. The second floor is 6,000 sq feet and is used for groups, recreation, PE and the Life Fitness program. The academic area is 3,500 sq feet.

Interestingly, they have the "greenest" building in the County. The entire ranch is heated through a fuel-efficient massive wood burning stove, which the students have cleared from the forest. They utilize solar, water recycling for animals and landscaping.

The girls represent a wide range of emotional, social and academic challenges. These issues have led to deteriorating family functioning and other negative behaviors. I met with two of the six girls who are enrolled at the Academy. The two girls said they were happy to be at Silverado. Both girls had been enrolled at a program that is now closed, and felt that their previous school was rigid and too structured. They told me that the variety of experiential activities gave Silverado a much more pleasant environment. They also told me that they liked the more balanced motto of work, love and play. They reported to me that they had several groups in the past week as well as a family workshop. The girls are involved in individual therapy, group and weekly family therapy. Treatment team meetings, processing groups, addictions groups, and Big Group are also offered. I asked the girls who they thought should enroll into the Academy. They said, "The right kind of girl is that girl who does not need supervision 24/7. A girl who enrolls into the Academy is that girl who is capable of gaining independence and not need to be "over structured". They should be motivated to improve their lives.

Like the Boy's Academy, the Girl's Academy operates on three pillars; work, love and play. The Academy teaches young girls how to care for oneself, understand and experience the importance of genuine relationships, and the importance of "paying back to society.

The program monitors progress through a well designed level system based on trust. These levels are entitled:

  • Truthful

  • Responsibility

  • Understanding

  • Serving, and

  • Tenacious

  • Transition/Independence

The girls learn important skills through this structured and instructive level system as important life skills are taught at each level. For those who attended a wilderness program, they will automatically make their first level when they arrive.

The Girl's Academy relies heavily on experiential activities. The Academy offers almost unlimited outdoor activities. Some of these are, outdoor work projects, planting gardens, working in the green house, trail rides, over-night camping, snow boarding, fishing, boating, and four-wheeling. The girls also spend eight hours on Friday, while engaged in all day experiential therapy outing where they also do community service and work projects. Silverado has a holistic approach which combines mind, body and spirit. Yoga, Dance and Meditation are also incorporated.

While the Academy is well structured through its level system, the administration does not utilize an authoritarian approach. The rules are minimal and the program is clearly based upon relationship based treatment. These basic rules are honesty, responsibility, and self-control. All rules, mottos, and specific level concepts are carried out through experiential activities, and all are in the service of building healthy and genuine relationships.

Although on a separate campus, the Academy plans to reap the benefits of single gender programming and in the future, those boys and girls who have gained trust and are at the highest levels, will have opportunities of socially and therapeutically interacting with the opposite sex.

Silverado is licensed as a therapeutic boarding school through the State of Utah. SEVIS approved.

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