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Elk Mountain Academy

Therapeutic Boarding School

Elk Mountain Academy Program Information

Gender: Boys Only
Ages: 14 to 18
Grades: 7 to 12
Estimated Enrollment: 25
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 1994
Accreditations: Affiliations:

Elk Mountain Academy Contact Information

PO Box 330
Heron, MT 59844
Phone: (406) 847-4400
Fax: (406) 847-0034
School Contact: Loretta Olding
Alternative Contact: Sharon Terry
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

Elk Mountain Academy is a program based on the family-model. Our mission is to give all students the tools necessary to lead fulfilling and productive lives. We provide them with an opportunity to achieve academic success, develop spiritual awareness, overcome social and emotional obstacles, and conquer addictive behaviors.

Our mission is to give our students the tools necessary for them to lead fulfilling and productive lives. We provide them with an opportunity to:

· Achieve academic success
· Develop spiritual awareness
· Overcome emotional obstacles
· Conquer addictive behaviors

Elk Mountain Academy is a 12-Step based therapeutic boarding school with an average completion time of one year. Our program utilizes the 12-Step approach developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Most of our students have displayed undesirable behavior or decreased academic performance, often as a result of drug or alcohol abuse. Our strong therapeutic program provides students with the tools to manage a sober lifestyle and to establish goals that will bring them success in a changing world.


In 1994, Carl and Loretta founded Elk Mountain Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for boys experiencing issues with alcohol and chemical dependency. They both possess a compassion for young people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or exhibit the behaviors of an alcoholic or addict. This desire to help youth-at-risk originates from their personal experiences. Carl is a recovering alcoholic, who has been clean and sober for nearly 30 years. He has maintained his sobriety by working the 12-Steps. Carl has received a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology.

Campus Life

Our program revolves around 5 core aspects of a student’s life:

· Recovery—12-Steps
· Academics
· Therapeutics
· Activities and Physical Well-being
· Community Service

We believe that the 12-Step program is a tried and proven method for people to overcome substance abuse and addiction. Because it has been instrumental in Carl’s life to help him initiate and maintain his recovery, we have implemented it here at Elk Mountain Academy, using it to teach and direct young men onto the path towards recovery. Students work all of the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous while they are at EMA. Each week, they meet with their 12-Step mentor, who reviews and directs their stepwork progress, which is explored and tracked through printed packets that they work through. During the week, students attend recovery meetings, daily “day-by-day” groups, and they receive weekly group instruction regarding the effects of substance abuse and the application of the 12-Steps to their issues from Doug Richardson, a licensed addictions counselor.

We strive to provide a family-model environment for our students. As in most homes, students are responsible for maintaining their personal living space and performing household chores. Each week, students are required to attend at least four recovery meetings, including Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. They are also responsible for completing five community service work hours per week, meeting with their therapist, reviewing and receiving guidance on their stepwork with their 12-Step mentor, and achieving a specific amount of academic progress. Students who complete their weekly responsibilities earn the privilege of off-campus recreation (referred to as “Rec”) and other extracurricular activities during the week. These may include dinner & a movie, wakeboarding, snowboarding, paint balling, camping, fishing, going to a fun-plex, golfing, rock climbing, attending a play or concert, etc. By doing well, students may earn these and other privileges.

Outdoor activities and involvement are another key aspect of our program.

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