SUWS Teen Wilderness Program Celebrates 30 Years of Service to Teens & Their Families

Posted at June 12, 2011 | Categories : Aspen Education Group,Sobriety,Wilderness Outdoor | 0 Comment

Author: Staff Writer
Date: 5/2/2011

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CRC Health Group is proud to acknowledge a momentous accomplishment by one of our therapeutic wilderness programs for teens.

SUWS Wilderness Programs, which first opened in 1981, will be hosting a number of events to celebrate 30 consecutive years of superior service to young people in crisis and their families.

SUWS will be hosting gatherings in Philadelphia, Dallas and Los Angeles, and will also be holding a celebration for staff members and program alumni on the SUWS campus in Shoshone, Idaho.


“We’ve had a lot of changes over the years,” said SUWS Executive Director Kathy Rex, “but our underlying philosophies and our dedication to helping children and families get their lives back on track has been a constant through the decades.”

Rex, who has been with SUWS for more than 17 years, said the program’s core values have provided the ideal foundation upon which to build a dynamic program that continues to evolve and improve.

“SUWS has definitely evolved,” she said. “For example, in our earlier days, we worked primarily with the child in crisis. Today, we identify the entire family’s struggle, not just the child’s struggle.”


In addition to ongoing dialogue between parents and SUWS staff members throughout the student’s time at SUWS, the centerpiece of the SUWS family outreach effort is a weeklong Family Camp that parents attend near the halfway point of their child’s enrollment period.

“The Family Camp has been unbelievably successful,” Rex said. “The parents come out to Idaho & spend five days immersed in the program. It’s a life-changing experience for the families.”

In addition to providing services for parents as well as students, SUWS has also been a leader in the effort to promote licensure and regulation throughout the therapeutic wilderness industry.


“In the mid-1990s, SUWS became the first youth wilderness program in Idaho to be licensed,” Rex said. “We have always emphasized the benefits of establishing standards and regulations for programs throughout the United States.”

Since receiving that initial license, SUWS has earned a number of additional accreditations, including CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and AdvancED (an academic accreditation organization that serves more than 27,000 schools in 69 countries).


While the anniversary events will certainly involve some reflection the program’s past successes, the SUWS staff won’t spend much time resting on their laurels.

Rex said that she and her colleagues remain focused on ensuring that SUWS continues to evolve — both to meet the changing needs of students and families, and to remain one of the nation’s premier providers of therapeutic wilderness services.

“We’re all on a mission to help others,” she said. “We are always looking to the future and exploring how we can make SUWS an even better place for children and their families.”


SUWS offers therapeutic wilderness programs for boys and girls ages 11 to 17 with a focus on clinical intervention and assessment. Based in southern Idaho, the programs use the outdoors as an alternative to conventional treatment environments, while engaging students using traditional therapeutic methods.

Since 1981, SUWS programs have provided guidance and support to thousands of misdirected and at-risk teens experiencing low self-esteem, defiant behavior, attention deficit, depression, substance abuse, and other emotional and behavioral issues.

SUWS is a program of Aspen Education Group, the nation’s leading provider of therapeutic education programs for struggling or underachieving young people. Aspen’s services range from short-term intervention programs to residential treatment, and include a variety of therapeutic settings such as boarding schools, outdoor behavioral health programs and special needs summer camps, allowing professionals and families the opportunity to choose the best setting to meet a student’s unique academic and emotional needs.

Aspen Education Group is a member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. For over two decades, CRC Health has been achieving successful outcomes for individuals and families.


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