Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Evolving Women - Demonstrating Character and Competence

By Stephen C. Schultz

The breeze was cool and the sun was warm on my face. An occasional droplet of water and the swirling of mist created the illusion of sparkles floating through the air. The grass was green and so were the trees, even though autumn was fully entrenched. You see, I was sitting amongst some high desert pine trees and juniper bushes at Discovery Ranch for Girls.

I looked up and noticed Andrea Burgess walking towards me. Andrea is the Executive Director of DRG and has a long history of working in the mental health field.

As she got closer, I smiled and said; “Hey dove…how ya doing?”

The term Dove is an aspect of her Earth Name she received during the decade she was the Executive Director of RedCliff Ascent. A few years ago, she made the transition to DRG.

She simply responded; “Hey Schultzie!”

We exchanged some pleasantries and spoke about how things were going at DRG. She mentioned they were preparing for the next Parent Seminar and how they were expecting a good turnout. The parent seminar is when the parents come into town from around the country to spend time with their daughters, attend workshop presentations, parent teacher conferences and participate in experiential activities with the staff and students.

I asked how the non-profit organization she co-founded with Staci Bradley was doing. This particular organization, Evolving Women, was specifically established to recognize the contribution and leadership of women in the teen treatment industry.

She mentioned it was going great and the membership is consistently growing. In fact, she said there is a fundraiser activity at the next IECA conference being held in New Orleans that will benefit Liberty’s Kitchen!

I wrapped up my visit to DRG that day. It’s been about three or four days since my time there. Just today, I received a text from Andrea letting me know she had a 1970’s style Wig I can use at the conference fundraiser! That is a very scary image…an image that no one should have to be subjected to!

I’ve been thinking today about this particular cause. What a great opportunity for collaboration, networking, service and friendships to be fostered! What a great way to bring people together, have fun and share in a community who’s foundation is the development of personal character and the demonstration of a collective competence. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

One Proud Papa

By Stephen C. Schultz

The heat was radiating across my face. Small beads of sweat were building on my forehead. The sun reflected through the glass. Hot air swirled around me as though I was somehow stuck in the middle of one of those hot air popcorn poppers.

Such is the routine every time I get in my car while staying in St. George, Utah. Even with the windows cracked, it heats up like an oven. Then, when you turn on the air conditioning, it blows hot air for about twenty minutes. However, the fact that I was raised in the temperate climate of the Northwest United States and have yet to adjust to time spent in the desert, is not what this short muse is about. My purpose for writing this piece is actually quite different.

I recently had one of those parental experiences that don’t happen very often. It was an experience that took me by surprise…and since it happened, I have had to think a little bit more about it.

I was in St George for one of my daughters volleyball matches. She is on the team at Dixie State University. They are the defending champions of the PACWEST Conference. This is my daughter’s freshman year and there are obviously senior class mates on the team. So, needless to say, she doesn’t see much playing time in the matches.

As my wife, my youngest daughter and I were all walking into the gymnasium at Dixie State to watch one of her matches, I heard the announcer naming the starters. Standing at the ticket office, I heard him announce, “Amanda Schultz, starting at Outside!” I looked at my wife and we hurried into the gym and sat down.

I looked out on the court and there was Amanda, high fiving other girls, chattering the chatter and looking comfortable like she belonged there. My eyes started to blur a bit. Was I suffering from some unknown desert ailment? No…they were simply tears of joy for my daughter.

You see, others don’t know the commitment and time and determination she exhibited to get where she is. They don’t see the studying of film, the mental toughness, the time in the weight room and the 5:00am workouts with a Navy Seal trainer. She has worked hard. She has been patient. She has been supportive of her teammates. Whatever her success, she owns it! It’s her accomplishment. For that…I am tearfully happy for her. It’s the mastery of these skills and attitudes that she will take into life after volleyball. I have no doubt she will be successful in all of her life’s endeavors.

While this piece recognizes the hard work of my daughter, it is also about all of us...myself included. How many of us hope for "things" to turn out well, but don't take the necessary steps to see it through? How many of us wish for "things" to be different, but don't demonstrate the discipline needed to make it happen? Are there "things" we could be doing right now that will improve our own situation in life or the situation of loved ones?

What do you think?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

College Prep for Struggling Teens!

By Stephen C. Schultz

I received a call while at the grocery store just this last Saturday. It was a mother who was at her wits’ end. It was only the second week of school and she had already received a call from her son’s school stating he had shown up “High” and had “Hash Oil” in his possession.

For some families, the start of a new school year only brings up bad memories of years past. Often they are memories of calls with principals; discussions with teachers and worrying if their son or daughter even made it to the school each day.

With summer winding down and many schools across the country having already started, now is a good time to assess the academic preparedness of your son or daughter. Are they on track or are you afraid it will simply be another year of falling behind? Have they struggled with some emotional concerns or faced a few social setbacks?

Discovery Academy may be a valuable solution for getting a student back on track!
You can learn more from this previous article of mine. It also has a fast paced, short yet entertaining video embedded with the article. Check it out!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The importance of life perspective in the teenage years

By Stephen C. Schultz

The chalk dust was scratching my throat as I spontaneously coughed. It's one of those things that inevitably happens when using chalk and an eraser. It was Sunday and I was preparing to teach a Sunday School lesson on Faith.

I was writing a few things on the chalk board when my 15 year old daughter walked in the classroom. As with most teenagers, she strolled over to where I was and said;

"I have a hard time seeing you as a teacher."

In her fifteen year old way of communicating, she was basically saying;

"Teachers are revered fountains of knowledge and understanding...I live with you and you are not that!"

I just smiled and said;

"Your old man just might surprise you."

She went on to sigh under her breath and roll her eyes. We were standing at the edge of a piano and as she leaned across the top, she started to laugh a bit. I asked what she was thinking and she mentioned with a qualifying tone;

"I don't mean this to be mean or anything...but I was thinking...and you know...sometimes I feel pretty old, but then I'm around you and grandma and grandpa and I realize I'm not that old."

With an uncomfortable smile, she continues;

"I'm sorry...I really don't mean this to be mean...not that you're that old or anything, but I realize I have a lot of years left to live."

At this point I just smiled at her. I mentioned she was right and had a good life ahead of her. I also mentioned that yes, I was no spring chicken anymore.

People started walking into the classroom and she said goodbye and went to the class with her age group.

Later in the day I was thinking about this father-daughter exchange. It made me smile as I thought about those awkward teenage years. I was also pleased at her thought process and the fact she was not caught up in the standard "Center of the Universe" mentality that plagues so many youth today. She was gaining a perspective of life and how her relationship to others mattered.

As her father, I recognize she is in a constant battle with media messaging on everything from fashion to body type to music to teen relationships. Things certainly aren't perfect...for me or her. At least we're headed in the right direction.

Here are a few other experiences I have had with my daughter Emma:

A diagnosis is not a label. Building resilience!

The Pizza Caper

Connecting Generations

Bob The Worm

Sugar and Spice

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

An Open Letter to Parents Researching RedCliff Ascent

By Stephen C. Schultz

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave."

Having been raised in Oregon, I spent the majority of my childhood and teenage year’s steelhead fishing the coastal waters, climbing the Middle Sister in the Cascade Mountain Range, drifting the McKenzie River and hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. 

I have mentioned to friends, family and colleagues on many occasions;  

“From a therapeutic standpoint, there is no better place to have a student’s issues manifested quickly than in a wilderness setting.”

The question then becomes, “Why do therapeutic issues rise to the surface in an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program like RedCliff Ascent?”

Throughout the years of teenage development, most teens spend a lot of time with friends. These friends think the same, dress the same, act the same, listen to the same music and sometimes get into the same types of trouble. Some teens also develop patterns of communication and manipulation while simultaneously avoiding the tasks of adolescent development. They are engaged in an effort to gain and maintain as much influence as possible with their parents…many times interacting with them more as a peer than as their parent.  As a parent, if you are looking into RedCliff Ascent, you are probably dealing with some of this now.

When a son or daughter has patterns of behavior that become emotionally or physically dangerous, parents step in and seek treatment. However, for treatment to be most effective, these unhealthy patterns must be disrupted. I cannot over emphasize the importance of disrupting the harmful thought, behavior and relationship patterns these teens are developing. The patterns and skills we are talking about will not serve them well in adulthood. These are the very patterns that caused the parents to reach out for an intervention in the first place.

When a student finds them-self at RedCliff, they will try to maintain some sense of control over their surroundings. They are in an unfamiliar setting and are fully focused on maintaining control. However, the only skills they have are the same skills of manipulation and avoidance that got them to RedCliff in the first place. For example, when a student writes a “Pull Me” letter, the student has thought very carefully about what to say to their parents. If they know that mom is always concerned about cleanliness, they will be sure and mention how they sleep on the ground at RedCliff. If dad likes his meals prepared a certain way, the rice and lentils will certainly be mentioned, even though the diet has been prepared and reviewed by a dietitian and the students are required to have a 3000 calorie per day diet. If mom hates bugs, or mice or snakes, they will all be used in the letter. If the student has a pattern of avoidance at home, that same pattern may manifest itself in the wilderness. Students may refuse to hike. On very rare occasions, RedCliff works with a student that may refuse to eat or drink. They may leave camp unaccompanied or collude with others to “Run Away”. The point being, students will continue to use the same coping skills they used at home…because it’s all they know.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"Anytime" Is The Best Time For A Family Intervention

By Stephen C. Schultz

The smoke was swirling skyward and the unmistakable smell of burning cedar drifted in my direction. There was the happy fireside chatter that happens when groups of teens gather around the fire. This particular time of year was the beginning of summer. Families around the world recognized that summer was a great time for a family intervention.

You see, these teens had a history of mild mental health concerns or behavioral problems that were beyond their parents ability to help in the home. Many struggled with depression or anxiety. Some were flunking school or falling into the trap of substance abuse.

The first time I entered a group of teens attending RedCliff Ascent, I was surprised just how happy they were. I expected a bunch of mad, angry teenagers who were trying desperately to leave. Not so with this group. They consisted of a boy from Russia, one from Singapore, another from France and the rest from across the USA.

I was amazed at what I saw. Below is a brief video that shows exactly the types of students you will find enrolled in a wilderness treatment program and explanations of why it works so well! Take a look at this very cool video called;

The Basics

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

When work is an adventure!

By Stephen C. Schultz

The sky was overcast and there was a crisp chill in the air. The roof tops of the neighboring houses all had the unmistakable white fluffy stuff so affectionately called snow. This would normally not be of any consequence at the foot of the 10,000 foot mountains. However, flowers were springing up, grass was turning green and we had already gotten used to warmer temperatures. Weather in these parts of the country can be a roller coaster at best.

So, I stepped out of my car and into the wind. I made my way to the door of my office. I walked past the reception desk and Andrea caught my eye and motioned me over. She said there was someone on the phone line that wanted more information about our Wilderness Therapy Program. She asked if I would be willing to speak with this person.

Andrea transferred the call to my cell phone and I introduced myself. The lady calling mentioned she was from Arizona and had watched some of the video’s about RedCliff Acsent on YouTube. This type of therapeutic intervention intrigued her and she decided to call. She had a number of questions that she was asking me. There were questions about length of stay, how much it costs and what the therapy was like. There were some questions about family involvement and the food the kids eat. We talked about weekend camping and how powerful that can be and the differences between RedCliff Ascent and an adventure weekend experience.

As I was thinking about this conversation, there is a specific aspect I thought I would share. Part of our conversation grew out of the question;

“What kind of training does your staff have?”

I shared with her some answers that can be found on the employment website for RedCliff Ascent called Wilderness Work.  If you have an interest in working with teens and helping families improve their relationships, then this career may be of interest to you. Check it out!