Visit Reports
Visit Reports

Jan 30, 2008, 11:26

Stow, Maine
Adam Tsapis, Admissions

Visit by: Robert Kantar, December 2007

(Robert Kantar has visited Summit Achievement many times. This report is a compilation of his numerous visits.)

Summit Achievement is in Stow, ME, quite close to the New Hampshire border, on the eastern side of the White Mountains looking up at Bald Face and down the road from a beautiful federal park and Evans Notch. This land of mountains, ponds and notches is not only remarkably scenic, but prime space for young people to work out their troubles. The program is located near Fryburg, ME, and North Conway, NH. It is a reasonable ride from airports in Portland, ME, Manchester, NH, and Boston, MA.

No transports are allowed for this program, which combines a lot of experience, excellent therapists and a strong educational component into an excellent program for male or female adolescents needing structure, direction and a few months away from families, negative friend influence, cleaning up the less dramatic substance abuse issues and other problems on the softer side of the adolescent spectrum.

Operated by co-founders Chris Mays, Executive Director, Adam Tsapis, Admissions Director and Will White, LCSW, Clinical Director, this program has matured over the past ten plus years, offering loyal staff, experienced leadership, local ownership and intense carefully planned work with adolescent children. The main lodge provides dining facilities with a first class chef to serve the students on the three days they stay at the school campus. The staff is able to conduct individual therapy sessions at the lodge, group process meetings and implementation of a strong academic focus continuing work on high school courses and learning the necessary study habits to return home or continue on to a long term program.

I have been able to arrange independent testing for some of my placements over the years. As I often visit my clients in programs, I have an opportunity to meet with staff, meet with my students and develop a good understanding of the needs of each child.

There are several relatively new cabins for students to stay on campus and several outreach cabins for additional space.

The students are friendly, busy and engaged in meaningful work, learning a great deal in the wilderness over the four days a week they are out in the field. They trek through some challenging mountain terrain and engage in group sessions to work on the dynamics of working as a team. They also address the personal issues that are identified from both intake information and field experience. This program is ideal for youngsters open to learning about themselves and working on strategies to solve their problems.

The equipment students' use is appropriate for the range of temperatures and conditions they must face in the White Mountains. The mountains have deer, moose and bear with a lot of challenging and beautiful wilderness to trek. The structure is natural given the program of navigating the mountains, working with therapists and continuing their education. It is not a program for severely handicapped learning issues, but it is a place where lots of individual and small class instruction can pay off.

The staff is very successful working to shift the attitudes of moderately oppositional children and substance abusers using experimentally or as an avoidance mechanism. It is NOT a program for children who are physically acting out, are truly delinquent, or who would not benefit from a peer support model. The program is approved by the State of Maine and takes pride in its concern for student safety, its orientation toward nurturing young people and its attention to the details of their program. More recently Summit Achievement has opened a door for students that need to stay beyond the short term program and invited some students who may have completed a short term program, but because of the timing and the wait for a long term program, might need an extended stay in order to improve their academics.

The female staff members, who include Ms. Tracy Tryder (Admissions) and Margie Lannon (Program Director), are also very experienced. Check their website for specific staff backgrounds, application and quality information that can be trusted for its accuracy and is realized in its execution in the field.

While not a program for hard core students, this program uses experienced staff at the field and therapeutic levels, with a management team which is dedicated to the quality of their facilities, program and personnel. The staff genuinely enjoys children and treats children with respect, kindness and safety. Children readjust their sleep patterns, eating patterns, exercise vigorously, stay away from negative influences, clean out their systems from the effects of inappropriate substances and gain insights into accepting responsibility for their behavior and actions.

Through my frequent visits and track record of close to a dozen placements over the years at Summit Achievement, I am impressed with the care and professionalism of the program. They provide consistent quality feedback and assistance to parents and they communicate effectively with consultants.

About the Author:
Robert Kantar is an IECA member in Vermont, who based this report on first hand experience with a dozen placements over the years. He writes only unsolicited reports on programs he has found concentrate their energies on the young people with whom they work. He receives no compensation for the reports from the programs. Extensive evaluation of many factors are taken into account as to whether this is an appropriate placement recommendation, as each child is unique. For more information, visit, or call 802-626-4620.

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