Jack & Sherry
Our daughter has been at Cross Creek Manor since March
2001. She has been part of the same program as the
grandmother who wrote the letter of September 8, 2002.
She has been in the same groups, in the same classes,
and interacted with the same staff and therapists. We
have a dramatically different perspective.
Our daughter was placed at Cross Creek
for drug addiction, defiance, and similar issues. For
the first several months she had few privileges, having
to demonstrate that she was ready to be trusted first.
During this time, like all the girls, she stayed
predominately with the group. Like many girls, she
didn't want to be there. Privacy was almost
non-existent, and that makes sense. The intention is to
keep them safe from themselves and others. In our
experience the school is very careful with security,
making sure the kids are never alone with one other
person; staff or student. We appreciate this precaution,
considering where these kids are emotionally and
mentally when they have been pulled off the streets, are
drying out from drugs, or finding out they have to
follow rules, for the first time in a long time.
It was many months before we talked to
our daughter on the phone. We could visit the facility
at any time and see her. That doesn't mean we would sit
face-to-face and talk to her though. It would be
observational. That was a choice we made when we put her
in the program. The intent was to keep her working on
We wrote many, many letters, as did she.
Now, a year and a half later, as we talk with her, we
have verified that her letters were never censored. Nor
were ours. The program is based on a concept of letting
the kids work on themselves, without the opportunity to
manipulate the parents into rescuing them. When she had
advanced far enough for us to visit her, we met without
anyone else around. We were not observed and were free
to talk about whatever we wanted. Later we visited and
took her away from the facility for several days. At no
time have we ever seen any indication that she was told
what to say, or what not to say, with one exception. She
won't talk about the problems of other girls and their
families - that would be a violation of confidentiality.
Sometimes the whole family isn't in
agreement about placing a child in a program like this.
A surprising number of families end up with conflict
between spouse and step-spouse or between parents and
grand-parents. These conflicts sometimes escalate into
the court system. We know, because these kinds of family
conflicts affect some of the students at Cross Creek
and, in turn, affected our daughter. Our kids are some
of the best manipulators you will ever find. They will
seize an opportunity to play a parent off against
another, or to play a grandparent off against parents.
Our daughter played this game well, when she was at
After placing our daughter in the
program, we choose to be united, both parents working
together. In the program, she saw other kids playing
this manipulation game, gaining special privileges from
the other parent, or waiting to be taken home. These
kids learn that the more they exaggerate, the more they
lie, and the more they claim abuse, the more their
program opposing parent, or grandparent, tries to come
to their rescue. So, before our daughter could really
work on herself, she had to try their tactics too. That
didn't work with us, but it's scary how often they do
work on split families.
Cross Creek Manor has been a blessing to
our family. Our daughter is near the end of the program.
We've been to the facility many times, and actively
participated with the facilitators and therapists. They
are skilled, dedicated professionals. When you walk into
the foyer of Cross Creek, you can see the state license
yourself; they are registered as a Residential Facility.
All the therapists are formally educated in counseling.
The state of Utah did change their law last year and it
caused our daughter's therapist to need another college
class to be licensed as an therapist, even though he had
his degree. His degree had an emphasis on administration
and, until last year, met the requirements for
counseling. After the new law passed, he was short a
semester class. He could still be licensed in almost all
states in the US. When the state made this
determination, based on the new law, Cross Creek Manor
removed him from counseling. That was appropriate, given
the change in law. But, it was also a shame. He was an
extraordinarily gifted counselor who led our daughter
through fundamental, constructive changes.
When hearing stories about Cross Creek,
it helps to have the entire story, not just a
snippet. Our daughter has learned to stop playing this
game of exaggeration and lying by omission. Other girls
haven't, especially those who are in their first months
in the program.
Some negative stories are told about
Cross Creek schooling. The truth is, it's not an easy
school. It's not a school where the kids are > lectured
to, take tests, and if they get 60% correct, they pass.
This is a school that focuses on independent learning.
There are teachers, there are text books, and there are
tests. The difference between most schools and Browning
Academy is that the kids have to read the entire book,
work all the problems, and pass the tests at greater
than 80%, or they don't pass the Academy class.
Originally, our daughter really didn't like this and it
took her forever to pass a class. She would have been
really happy to go back to her old school and its
methods. In time, she learned new study habits, learned
how to learn, and started passing. When we've talked to
her about her classes, it's quite apparent that she has
learned - her vocabulary is drastically improved, she
can engage in much more educated discussions, and she
actually knows how to apply math!
When our daughter went to Cross Creek,
she had barely enough credits to be a sophomore, even
though she was in the middle of her Junior year. Over
the last year and a half, she has learned how to apply
herself, even with their tough rules, and will graduate
from high school next month. She's learned something
that she never learned in public high school - how to
study and really learn something.
"Parents Beware" is an appropriate
phrase. Beware of how easily we can be manipulated by
those we love. Beware of how easy we can be led to take
action, to rescue them, even when rescuing means letting
them go back to destructive lifestyles.
We've been with the Cross Creek program
for a year and a half now. We have met with a huge
number of people who have had kids in this program, some
who were involved years ago, some who are new. We hear
the same thing that we have learned. Kids manipulate
tremendously over the first many months and will say
anything, claim anything, to go back to their previous
lifestyle. Those kids that complete the program have
learned so much about themselves and how to work
constructively in this world, that they are often in a
better place than their own parents and grandparents.
We've met many graduates who are stable
kids, making their own way in this world - safely,
independently, and happily. We know of some graduates
who fell back into old patterns, but it's amazing how
many of those pull themselves back into a healthy
lifestyle. They have learned the skills to do it by
Cross Creek Manor is not perfect, but
we've seen them listen, learn, and improve the program.
We've seen our daughter slowly, but surely, change.
She's gained confidence, found how to hold onto her
self-esteem, and how to deal with the fact that she is,
and always be, a drug addict. It's a program that works.