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ANASAZI Foundation

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Program

ANASAZI Foundation Program Information

Gender: Coeducational
Ages: youth (13-17), young adults (18-25)
Grades: 8-12
Estimated Enrollment: 40
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 1988
Accreditations: Affiliations:

ANASAZI Foundation Contact Information

1424 S. Stapley Drive
Mesa, AZ 85204
Phone: (800) 678-3445
Fax: (480) 892-6701
School Contact: Virginia Robinson
Alternative Contact: Michael J. Merchant
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

The mission of ANASAZI Foundation is to prepare parents and children to turn their hearts to one another and walk in harmony in the wilderness of the world.

Within every child is a seed of greatness...
Recognized internationally for its caring and effective approach, ANASAZI Foundation is a non-profit (501c3) intervention resource that helps to restore and strengthen parent-child relationships.

ANASAZI's licensed and Joint Commission-accredited, outdoor behavioral healthcare services are ideal for adolescents (13-17) and young adults (18-25) struggling with lack of motivation, defiance, mild mood disorders, drug and alcohol experimentation, entitlement issues, and other self-defeating behaviors. We offer a 42-day, wilderness-based, residential treatment program and outpatient services rooted in the belief that all young people—regardless of their struggles or at-risk choices—possess an inherent "seed of greatness." This idea permeates our philosophy and our evidence-based therapeutic approach, which addresses the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of a child's life.

Parental involvement is the key...
ANASAZI considers its work with parents and caregivers to be as important as its work with their children. Our renowned parenting program and aftercare services help committed parents create a home environment that enhances family unity and promotes a lasting change in family behavior.

A unique approach...
Our non-punitive ANASAZI Way philosophy focuses on one's strengths and good deeds—it relies on natural consequences rather than on contrived experiences or punishment. This approach promotes a change of heart that often results in a lasting change in behavior. The young people who participate in ANASAZI programs discover a profound sense of self worth which enables them to begin anew and assume responsibility for the choices that govern the course of their lives.

-Individualized care provided by experienced, independently licensed clinicians
-Non-punitive and based in respect for individual choice
-Addresses the biological, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of one's life
-An invitation to consider one's family values and belief systems
-Facilitates a change of heart that promotes a lasting change in behavior
-Healing and strengthening family relationships
-Opportunity for a new beginning

The ANASAZI Way was developed over the past 40 years by Larry Dean Olsen and Ezekiel Sanchez, who are widely considered to be pioneers of the field generally known as wilderness therapy. Together in 1988 they formed ANASAZI Foundation to make this experience available to all families, regardless of their financial circumstances.

The Program
The ANASAZI Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Program is designed for youth 13-17 years old who are struggling with substance abuse, emotional, or behavioral concerns. Participants (YoungWalkers) spend a minimum of 42 days in the wilderness of Arizona hiking and camping with little manufactured gear. They live a primitive lifestyle and learn the skills and technologies of the "ancient ones."

The wilderness gives YoungWalkers an opportunity to be in an environment free from clutter and distraction--to ponder their lives, take responsibility for past choices and prepare to begin anew. YoungWalkers learn to cook their own meals (food packs are replenished weekly) and build shelters to protect themselves from the elements. They may hike up to 10 miles in a day and seldom camp in the same place more than two nights.

Treatment Philosophy
ANASAZI is not a boot camp. There is no force, manipulation or confrontation. Caring staff walk the trail with the same food and gear as the YoungWalkers and patiently wait for opportunities to teach. When the time is right they will teach skills and the principles of unconditional love, agency, repentance, forgiveness, and restitution.

Each child is assigned a Shadow (counselor) who works closely with the parents and their child on the concerns that brought the YoungWalker to the trail. Shadows have at least a masters degree and are supervised by the program's psychologists and clinical director. Shadows meet weekly with the YoungWalkers on the trail and keep parents informed as to the progress the child is making.

Parent Involvement
Parent involvement is an essential element to the success of the program and sustaining changes made on the trail. Parents attend an orientation and a 12-hour Arbinger Seminar on Relationships shortly after admission. At the end of the program, parents have the opportunity to spend the last two nights and three days on the trail with their son or daughter. This is a time to build relationships of trust and make commitments to walk forward together.

The safety of each YoungWalker is of the highest priority at ANASAZI. Group sizes range between three and eight in size with at least one staff for every three YoungWalkers. Trail staff have radio contact with back-up personnel 24 hours per day. Young Walkers are evaluated weekly by a registered nurse for any health concerns.

ANASAZI High School is a private program that blends outdoor educational instruction with a traditional curriculum for students worldwide. Currently serving students in ninth through twelfth grade participating in ANASAZI Foundation's outdoor programs and other students interested the unique outdoor curriculum to enhance their high school academic experience. ANASAZI High School has selected Blueprint Education as its curriculum provider.

ANASAZI High School covers the following disciplines:
Physical Education –Backpacking (1.0 Credit)
English –Writing and Communications (0.5 Credit)
Art –Skills for Utility and Expression (0.5 Credit)
Science –Biology, Earth Science, Environmental Science (0.5 Credit)
Single Survival –Anthropology, Native American Culture, Interpersonal Relationships (0.5 Credit)
Each area is treated experientially and evaluated through verbal and written exercises. The experiential vehicle of living and walking on the land helps enhance the student’s ability to retain the information learned for use in subsequent academic settings.

College Credits
Young people participating in ANASAZI's 42-day program have the option of receiving up to seven college credits for coursework completed during their time on the ANASAZI trail. The credits are provided through Feather River College, a California institution fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Credits are offered for the following courses:
Principles of Outdoor Recreation (three credit hours)
Outdoor Recreation Leadership (three credit hours)
Intermediate Backpacking (One credit hour)
Teenage students (YoungWalkers) may receive the college credits concurrently as they earn up to four high-school credits available through the program. Members of ANASAZI's direct-care staff may also receive college hours while working as program instructors (TrailWalkers).

There are many benefits to our unique learning model, including a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum based on the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA) North Central Association – Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA-CASI) and NAEP (National Advancement for the Progress of Education), the flexibility of learning anywhere anytime, the support of qualified professional educators, and an individualized and self-paced learning program that adapts to your child's unique needs.

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