The program is designed to be a 90-110 day experience. Most youth are able to complete the requirements of the program and be eligible for a successful graduation from the program within this time frame. Ultimately, the length of time a student spends in the program is completely contingent upon their progress in completing program requirements. Students are provided a workbook and all the assignments needed to complete the program on the first day they arrive. Each day, students are provided guidance and counsel from their instructors and therapists in completing the requirements. Students that are motivated to change their behaviors and to take accountability for their problems tend to move through the program more rapidly than those student who are resistant to the therapy and unmotivated to change their behaviors.
Most of your communication with your student will occur through written letters. Students are provided a notebook and pen and are allowed to write letters whenever they want. All letters written by the student are sent by the program to their parents.
Parents are encouraged to work closely with their therapist in determining the content and frequency of letters sent to the student. As the student progresses and when the therapist deems it appropriate , family therapy sessions occur via satellite phone. Upon completion of the program, parents are invited to travel to Utah to participate in an overnight experience in the field with their student and to participate in a final face to face family therapy session.
Students are busy from the moment they wake up in the morning to the time they crawl into their sleeping bag after dark. Students learn to take responsibility for every aspect of their well-being while in the field. Each student learns to ration their own food, plan their own menu, cook each meal for themselves, clean their own pot after each meal, care for their own gear, set up their own shelter each night, complete their daily group chores and organize their time to complete the program assignments. Whether it is digging a latrine, collecting firewood or hiking to a water source to collect water, students literally are engaged in positive, meaningful activity every waking second of their day. Students go to bed tired from a rigorous day of activity and rarely do we encounter students who have trouble sleeping because the demands of the program are so intense.
Our groups hike to new campsites almost every day. These hikes can range from 2 to 8 miles per day. Hiking is an important aspect of the program because it provides students with the chance to push themselves physically and mentally. Learning to exercise and exert themselves physically allows youth to experience a “natural high” from the endorphins and neuro-chemicals the brain produces from physical exercise. Under the influence of this “natural high”, students learn to enjoy hiking as it provides them the opportunity to think and reflect on their situation. It also provides students the opportunity to explore the beautiful high desert and experience the beauty of nature.
Students are required to consume a minimum of 3000 calories per day. The menu has been designed by a registered dietician and approved by the Utah State of Office of Licensing. The diet consists of rice, lentils, farina, oats, dried vegetables, dried beans, powdered milk, cheese, peanut butter, trail mix, canned tuna, chicken, turkey, fresh fruits and vegetables twice weekly. Students are provided new supplies of food on Mondays and Thursdays. They are trained on how to plan a menu for themselves, how to ration their food supplies between food drop days and how to cook meals with their food supplies on a camp fire. Students learn to become master chefs using their food supplies, a stainless steel cooking pot and a camp fire. It is amazing the tasty food they learn to cook from these basic staples. Students are able to earn spices and honey to add flavor to their food as they progress through the program.
On clear nights, students sleep under the bright stars of the Utah Desert. Unphased by city lights, the stars are truly magnificent. Many students who have not previously experienced the night sky away from the city are taken back by the beauty of the night sky in the desert. One of the program assignments include students learning to identify a series of constellations. On nights with inclimate weather, the groups set up a shelter using large tarps and cordage. Traditional tents are far too heavy for backpacking in the remote wilderness, so we use light-wight tarps. These tarps create a tent-like structure that serves as a protector from the elements allowing the students to remain dry and warm.
Students meet with their therapist in individual therapy sessions twice per week. Our therapists are in the field with students on Mondays and Thursdays. All of the therapy occurs in the wilderness seated around a fire or under the juniper and pine trees of the desert. This setting has a far greater capacity than office “couch” therapy for allowing students to students to “open up” and “get real” about their problems and issues. This is why students can accomplish so much more in wilderness setting than in an outpatient office or residential treatment setting. There is something about being in nature, unplugged from all technology and the amenities of modern society, that allows students to truly explore who they are. Students also participate in daily group sessions where they process together with their instructors and fellow group members the issues that are imminent in the group setting and work on problem solving and conflict resolution skills.
Our students are equipped with the highest quality outdoor gear to protect them from the elements and to assure their safety and comfort in the field. We issue gear based on the season and the conditions that our students encounter in the wilderness. Winter gear includes wind and moisture protection parkas, gloves, boots and layers of fleece to ensure protection from the cold. Our summer gear includes light clothing to allow for comfort and protection in the heat of the summer.
Regardless of the weather, students remain in the wilderness and learn to manage the challenges that accompany the weather. We believe there are important life lessons from dealing with weather-related problems that students face. Similar to the challenges faced in life, we can’t always control our environment, but we can control how we choose to respond to the environment and we can learn to approach all challenges with a positive attitude.
Yes. Students are required to maintained good hygiene. Twice weekly, students take a “full body” shower by using water heated from the fire, placing the water in a portable water bladder and going off into the trees privately and using shampoo and soap to wash their hair and their bodies. On a daily basis, students are required to brush their teeth, brush their hair, wash their face and hands and feet with soap and water. Students change their clothes twice weekly as well.
Upon entering the program, students are assigned to a therapist who oversees their treatment. This therapist functions as the parents’ liason with their child while in the program. Parents have direct access to their therapist and can visit with him/her at any point. Parents participate in a weekly parent phone therapy session with the therapist and work closely with him/her in staying involving in the assessment and treatment process. Parents also receive weekly photos of their student in the field and receive written communication from their child.
When your child has completed the requirements of the program, then you as parents are invited to travel to Utah to participate together with your child and the therapist in a family expedition. This two-day event allows the parents to experience wilderness living for themselves, to witness first hand the progress that their child has made while in the program and allows for important process of family issues to occur in a therapeutic setting in the wilderness. Parents spend two days and one night in the wilderness. We provide all of the needed camping equipment and gear the parents need for this experience.
Yes. All students are required to receive a comprehensive medical assessment prior to full participation in the program to assure they have the capacity to manage the demands of the program. Students are then seen every two weeks by a medical professional to assure their safety and physical well-being while in the program. Students who are on medications continue to receive their medications as prescribed by the physician.
To achieve a successful completion of the program, students are required to complete each of the assignments in the three phases of the program. These assignments consist of a combination of therapeutic tasks and wilderness skills. Therapy tasks include writing and sharing of an autobiography, compiling a sexual history, participating and leading group therapy sessions, establishing written correspondence and family work with parents and accountability groups. Wilderness skills include learning to build a bow drill, constellation identification, rolling survival packs, building shelters, learning knots, building traps, cooking on a fire, hiking, etc.
Yes. We work closely with courts and probation departments for youth who are facing legal problems. We have worked with courts and probation departments from many parts of the country. Often times, the court or probation department will request regular updates on students progress in the program. Our therapists can provide weekly written or verbal updates to third parties involved in the case. Often times, courts request that youth submit to a psycho-sexual evaluation. Youth at STAR Guides can complete this assessment while they are in the program and this report can be provided to the court. STAR Guides serves as a great alternative to government run sexual offense treatment programs.
Coming to STAR Guides and submitting to a psycho-sexual assessment can be helpful to the legal process as it allows the parties involved to receive and review the assessment report which can assist in determining the treatment and supervision needs of the youth.
Yes. STAR Guides is licensed and registered as an outdoor youth treatment program by the State of Utah Department of Human Services Office of Licensing. The wilderness treatment industry is highly regulated by the state and STAR Guides strictly adheres to all rules and regulations outlined by the State of Utah. Each of the STAR Guides clinicians are Utah licensed psychotherapists and maintain active licenses with the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.
STAR Guides operates on lands managed by the Federal Government and holds a special recreation permit issued from the Bureau of Land Management. STAR Guides adheres to strict regulations set forth by the federal government as well for maintaining this permit.
Yes. STAR Guides offers a treatment group for young adults who are seeking professional intervention for sexual addiction issues including pornography, cyber-sex addiction and sexual offending behaviors. Utah law does not allow youth who are 18 or older to participate in treatment with youth under the age of of 18, so young adult age clients have a separate treatment group setting from the adolescent groups. However, young adult clients have the same access to the STAR Guides curriculum and treatment approach. Young adult clients must voluntarily agree to participate in treatment services and can legally choose to leave the program at any time. Young adult clients are made aware of this prior to enrolling in the program and are asked to commit to completing the program prior to arriving. Young adult clients who are not willing to make this commitment are not enrolled in the program.
Our treatment groups are all same gender. We don’t ever run co-ed groups at STAR Guides. We have a treatment group for adolescent boys and a separate treatment group for adolescent girls. This is the same arrangement for our young adult treatment groups as well. Our treatment groups function as a micro community completely independent of one another and our groups don’t ever interact or meet together. A typical treatment group ranges between 3 and 6 students at a time. Our groups are always staffed with a 1 to 3 ratio with a minimum of two field instructors in each group. Because we keep our group sizes small, students receive highly individualized attention and supervision. Students get to know their field instructors well and benefit from the mentoring and coaching provided by their field instructors. Both male and female field instructors spend time working in the boys groups and the girls groups so our students have the opportunity to learn from and interact with field instructors from both genders throughout their time in the program.Free Consultation Now Get Help Today! Call 800.584.4629