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Summit Achievement

Wilderness Program

Summit Achievement Program Information

Gender: Coeducational
Ages: 13 to 19
Grades: 8 to 12
Estimated Enrollment: 4 groups of 8
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 1996
Accreditations: Affiliations:

Summit Achievement Contact Information

69 Deer Hill Road
Black Mountain, NC 28711
Phone: (207) 697-2020
Fax: (207) 697-2021
School Contact: Adam Tsapis
Alternative Contact: Will White, L.C.S.W.
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

Summit Achievement is a licensed residential facility, operated continuously by the same founders since 1996. Students from throughout the United States and abroad are working on changing unproductive patterns and behaviors. Summit Achievement students are boys and girls ages 13 to 19 who may exhibit any of the following: low self-esteem, low motivation, poor school performance, school refusal, drug or alcohol abuse, impulsive behavior, depression, anxiety, poor decision-making, poor or inaccurate self-image, adoption issues, susceptibility to negative peer pressure, and refusal to take responsibility for actions.

Summit Achievement is a fully licensed outdoor residential treatment center located in the White Mountains region of Maine. Through the process of engaging therapy, classroom academics and challenging wilderness expeditions, students learn to accept responsibility for personal decisions and past behaviors, address individual and family issues, and become invested in their future. Summit's innovative program provides treatment options to adolescent boys and girls ages 13 to 19.

Students are required to progress through six program levels. During this process, they learn to be accountable for their behavior and build the self-confidence and skills they need to lead healthy, productive lives. Students graduate with a new attitude, the ability to accept limits, and the resolve to avoid past behaviors and poor choices.

As you explore our web site, you will learn about our unique program and activities designed to help young people make positive decisions that will enable them to reach their true potential.
Program Design The program has four basic components: (1) therapy that includes weekly individual therapy sessions, weekly facilitated telephone conferences between the student and family, and daily group counseling; (2) traditional classroom academics, provided three days per week, allow students to earn transferable credits; (3) wilderness expeditions foster personal achievement, increased self-esteem and confidence; and (4) a residential setting provides a transition from the wilderness to a setting more like home or private boarding school.

Students are grouped into "teams" consisting of 8-9 students. The team shares a cabin on campus, eats together, studies together, participates in group sessions together and goes on expedition together. Assigned to each student team are six direct care staff (referred to as "Guides") who work in teams of three, with one team working while the other is off duty. The guides supervise students during all program activities, developing a therapeutic rapport, providing instruction in skills development, monitoring goal setting and individual growth, and providing a liaison with the clinical team.

Students are required to progress through six program levels. Common to each level are a rich array of program activities designed to empower teens to take responsibility for their decisions, actions and emotions. In the first few levels, many of the expectations center on the student's willingness to express and meet their basic needs and to engage in the therapeutic process. As students progress into the upper levels of the program, teaching skills to newer students, providing appropriate peer support, and practicing leadership skills play an increasingly important part of the process.

With consistent effort, students can complete the entire program in six-weeks, one level per week. However, as each teen is unique and the process of change is an individual one, a successful stay may extend to eight weeks or more depending on the needs of the student and the family. Under certain circumstances a shorter stay is possible.

Program Activities and Weekly Schedule

Students attend school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On school days the daily routine is not unlike that any student may experience at home or boarding school except for the integration of therapeutic services, clear boundaries and the support and supervision of program Guides (direct care staff). Students wake-up at 6:00 a.m. and, after eating breakfast and completing morning chores, they attend classes all morning. Lunch is served at 12:30 p.m., followed by more classes until mid-afternoon. At 3:00 students have a snack and then engage in a variety of activities, either recreational or in preparation for the weekly expedition. Following dinner and evening chores, students have study hall and then participate in group counseling with their peers. Students then prepare for bed with lights-out at 10:00 p.m.

On Thursday all students depart on expedition. There are usually three teams of students, each departing for a different expedition designed to meet the emotional and physical needs of the students on each team. Thursday morning is devoted to final preparations and packing for expedition. Teams depart campus around 10:30 for their expedition. The schedule for the remainder of the day is determined by the location and type of activities planned for each expedition (hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, rock or ice climbing, solo experience, etc.).

The expedition continues through Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with the team working together to reach their scheduled destination each night, make camp and prepare meals.

On Sunday the teams return to campus between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., unpack and clean their equipment, and then debrief their expedition experience. The remainder of the afternoon is spent relaxing or in leisure activities. After dinner students have study hall followed by a group session with their peers. Students are in bed with lights out by 10:00 p.m.

Therapeutic Approach

Summit Achievement's therapeutic approach combines a structured environment and caring, supportive role models with academic classes and challenging adventure activities that promote personal achievement and encourage social skills development.

At Summit Achievement the therapeutic environment is designed to be simple, uncluttered and free from many of the pressures, distractions and unhealthy aspects of the larger society. Among the things that are not present in the Summit community are tobacco products, drugs, alcohol, junk food, and electronic devices such as television, personal computers (other than those in the Academic Center), electronic games, stereos, CD or MP3 players, etc.

Summit Achievement's treatment utilizes the Stages of Change Model, as well as a strengths based approach to Reality Therapy which focuses on the importance of establishing a connection with each student. Through ally-based counseling, the caring and respectful individuals who make up the Summit Achievement community approach each student in an affirming and supportive way. This approach promotes ownership of behavior and enhances the process of change.

Adventure experiences take students out of familiar environments and immerse them in situations that present students with opportunities to focus on their abilities rather than on their dysfunctional behavior. Consequences in a wilderness setting are administered by nature rather than by adult authority figures, negating the tendency of many teenagers to project blame onto authority figures by accusing them of being unfair or unreasonable.

Location and Facilities

The campus is located along the western border of Maine (near New Hampshire) adjacent to the spectacular White Mountains National Forest. The scenic beauty of the rushing streams, wide-open fields and secluded woodlands of the White Mountains creates an ideal setting for program activities.

The Cold River Lodge is the hub of the Summit Achievement campus. Built in 1981 and completely remodeled in 1996, the 5,500 square foot lodge contains a commercial kitchen, community dining room, living room and spaces for administrative and counseling services. This classic New England dwelling provides a rustic, yet comfortable setting for both staff and students. The 2,500 square foot Academic Center contains four classrooms and is the site of all academic instruction. In addition, it provides office space for medical services.

A short walk from the Lodge are several modern cabins utilized as dormitories or staff offices. Each cabin typically houses eight students, with two students sharing each of four bedrooms. A common area in each cabin serves as a gathering place where students may socialize, play games, learn or practice skills, etc.

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