What Parents Have To Say About Moonridge Academy

"I was thinking yesterday about all the women at Moonridge who stepped in to care for *** during the months that she was away from home. I wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for sharing love and caring to my daughter on Mother's Days when I was not able to hold her and hug her. Please thank all the staff who fell in live with *** and kept her safe until she wad able to come home. Especially Karolyn.  *** is doing great. She has a BFF at school, is getting mostly A's & B's in her classes (mostly), is as close to her brother as ever, smiles and laughs a lot, talks on the phone with *** at least a couple of times a month and writes, draws and sings all the time. From a grateful mother, thank you."   - SL

"Moonridge Academy saved our daughter's life. Our family was in crisis and for months had been on an emotional roller coaster with our daughter. Most of the ride was heading straight downhill. We experienced everything: threats of suicide, depression, poor grades, increasing stress over not knowing about her birth mother, sexual acting out, drug and alcohol abuse, attempted running away and an "I just don't care" attitude towards life. Needless to say, my wife and I were at our wits end.

Nothing we had experienced, read or heard about being a parent had prepared us for the ride we were on with our daughter. She was in trouble, she was in pain and we knew we could no longer try to deal with this situation alone. Our daughter was literally dying a little bit more with each passing day right in front of our eyes. We did not have the training, we did not have the skills and we were running out of time. We felt helpless and desperate.

We decided that the first step was to send our daughter to a wilderness course. She was there for 11 weeks and during this time, her mother and I were very hopeful she would be able to come directly home. What we discovered was that while wilderness helped her appreciate some of the things she had in regular life, it did very little to work on the inside stuff that was leading to her low self-esteem and self-destructive behavior. It became very evident that she did not have the skills even after wilderness to make it.

Our Ed. Consultant highly recommended Kolob Canyon. While talking with the Director about our daughter and Kolob Canyon, he suggested that due to our daughter's age, Moonridge Academy might be a better fit. My wife and I visited Moonridge and after an hour, we were absolutely convinced we did not need to visit any other treatment centers. The structure of the program combined with the intelligence and caring nature of the staff convinced us that our daughter could learn new skills and receive the best care in a safe, structured environment.

The day we enrolled our daughter in Moonridge and dropped her off, we missed her tremendously but knew she was safe and we hoped she was going to get the help she needed. What we loved about Moonridge is that the girl is required to explore herself from the inside out while completing an 8 Level program in a very structured, no-nonsense yet loving environment. The individual and group therapy are key components to helping the girl understand herself and her motivations. The 12 Step work helped her deal with her abuses of drugs and alcohol. The special group sessions focused on adoption-related issues were especially helpful to our daughter.

We also appreciated the fact that we were required to work too. It was made very clear to us from the beginning that what we were involved with at Moonridge was a family program, not a "send the girl away to get fixed" program. While the level work is incredibly time consuming, it is also very valuable to ensure that the three of us learned together and stayed on the same page. As the three of us progressed in the program, my wife and I came to realize that we needed to change certain parenting approaches and methods we were using. We experienced many ups and downs, starts, stops and stalls during our daughter's Moonridge experience, but the resulting change in our family made it all worthwhile.

We are very proud to write that our daughter graduated from Moonridge in February and today, she is home and has a maturity and ability to handle life's little and not so little stresses in a way that we could only dream of 2 years ago. She is fully reengaged with our family, doing well in school, working a part-time job, performing some volunteer work and is fun to be around. She has also chosen to remain in contact with the other Moonridge girls. She will always be an at-risk girl, but day-by-day we see her getting stronger as she uses the tools and skills she learned at Moonridge.

Thank you Moonridge for all that you have done for our daughter and our family."    R. and V. M., California

"Prior to finding Moonridge Academy, I had tried every service available in my local area to help my 13 year-old daughter with the issues created by her depression. She did individual therapy, group therapy, family based services, medication and an intensive partial program. Although these programs helped for short periods of time, none of them made a lasting effect on turning around her depressed state until she attended the program at Moonridge Academy.

At the time I found Moonridge, my daughter had totally withdrawn from all forms of social interactions. She had quit school although she had been evaluated as an academically gifted student. However, the depression interfered so much with her life that she could not get out of bed each day. Her days and nights were mixed up. She slept all day and was up most of the night in her bedroom. She would not participate in any interactions with her immediate or extended family except for me. And those interactions were very limited and difficult. Life was becoming a nightmare.

It took my daughter about 3 months after arriving at Moonridge to really let the MRA team know her true self before she could begin her recovery. As she worked through the levels of the program, I watched as she went through a transformation of self. The girl who had entered Moonridge with so many bad feelings about her self had grown more confident, actually liked her physical appearance and was more comfortable with her being. It was remarkable! I must say, as with all girls of the ages of 13 - 18, we still have moments of teenage angst. However, my daughter now has the skills to work through these times with a much healthier outcome than prior to her attending Moonridge Academy. And she has remained medication free since her graduation at Moonridge Academy. That is a great accomplishment for her and our family as well as a tribute to the successful treatment she received at Moonridge.

I am so thankful to the staff of Moonridge for their work in the program. Without it, my family would probably still be living our nightmare and my daughter's future would be grim. Gratefully, my daughter's future is much brighter and our quality of family life is much improved!"  C.M., Pennsylvania

"We write this letter to help other parents who may want to hear about our family's Moonridge Academy experience before making their own difficult decision.....

It's very hard to think back to the time earlier this year when our family was torn apart by the pain that our daughter was experiencing - and thus all of us were experiencing. She was desperate to find some peace. We didn't approve of the kids she was hanging out with, her grades were dropping, she was cutting, she was becoming sexually active, she was lying to us, and she was manipulating us. She was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and OCD. She was miserable.

Her therapist suggested Moonridge Academy. We went into shock. We were surprised and a little hurt that our daughter wanted to go (go...far away from where her problems were, or so she thought.) The more we checked into Moonridge and Kolob Canyon the more it sounded not like the summer camp we originally thought it was, but like boot camp, or "tough love" camp. How could we let our 14 year old baby go half way across the country and leave her with people we'd never met? Living with rules the likes of which she'd never imagined! How in the world could we trust these people we didn't know? How could we even trust ourselves to make this decision?

In one way, our decision may have been more difficult, in that our daughter was not at what we thought was "rock bottom". Did we need to consider such a drastic step? She was in terrible mental pain, but because there were no drugs or suicide attempts involved, we felt it was not life threatening. We may have been wrong in that assessment, as our daughter now credits Moonridge for "saving my life". In another way, our decision may have been easier because our daughter wanted to go to Moonridge and felt it was her decision.

After many phone conversations with the Admissions Director, we did a very careful business-like decision analysis and then made the very personal, gut-wrenching decision that we would try Moonridge. As we didn't make a preliminary visit, the Admissions Director said if it didn't feel right when we arrived, we could just all walk away. Our daughter never asked to come back home with us. Honestly, we're divided on what we would have done if she'd asked. (Mom probably would have said, give it a try; Dad probably would have gladly taken her back home.) But fortunately for all of us, our daughter was totally motivated to stay and "get better".

Leaving our daughter and Moonridge that day was the hardest thing we've ever done or ever hope to have to do. We prayed she was in good hands and we'd done the right thing. While the staff we met when we dropped her off did a good job of creating trust and confidence, the separation and not knowing what was happening created a high level of anxiety for us. Then came several weeks of no contact with her. This was not a pretty picture. Mom was angry. She wanted to talk to her daughter. It is a miracle that we survived those first few weeks.

The first 10 minute phone call we got from our daughter seemed like 2 seconds. It was torture. Our first family therapy was cut short because our daughter wasn't "cooperating". More torture. But more "secrets" kept being revealed. Some really heavy duty stuff was being exposed. It was very tough. Family therapy sessions were draining. Very draining. And thought provoking.

The level work is also very demanding of the parents. Parental commitment to do the level work is a critical success factor. Do NOT underestimate the time, effort and challenging thinking that is required. Your daughter must know that you do it. (Send it to her so she sees it.) You could spend full time on the assignments if you were so inclined. We often spent entire weekends and evenings on it. We were very dedicated about these assignments and we believe you really do get out of the program what you put into it. We weren't about to mess this up. We always had our level work completed before our daughter, so as not to hold her back from level advancement. (We were probably way too literal on this.)

The weekly phone call to the program director was our lifeline to our daughter. We would keep her on the phone for as long as possible - it was the next best thing to talking to our daughter. Just to hear little day-to-day details of life at Moonridge. Not all parents were interested in this. The parent support group can be very helpful if you take the initiative. There was no formal interaction. True, sometimes we parents just needed to complain, but sharing stories was also very helpful.

As you might be imagining, there is a happy ending to this story. But we must be honest and say that it was not all smooth sailing, there were many bumps along the road. We still do not always believe in all the rules and regulations, but we did follow them. We didn't always feel like we had been adequately advised of the details of all rules and the impact of them on the parents. But someone was always available to listen to our complaints and suggestions. Communication was not always what we wanted or expected. Mom focused on all the details that were not as she expected, Dad tried much harder to look at the bigger picture, to imagine the end results. Moonridge is not perfect, but all the people we met were concerned and caring and seemed genuinely open to making continued improvements.

Once we got past a few family therapy sessions, we felt a little more at ease with the whole program. Talking to our daughter twice a week made a huge difference - it was a real comfort, even if she may have been struggling with some issues or homesick. We just wanted to hear her voice.

There was great anticipation for the first Parent Weekend. All the things Moonridge said to expect were true - the bittersweet aspect of it especially. It was wonderful to see our daughter. She did look great. She was happy to see us. Because of her self-motivation, she did not bombard us with the usual requests to return home. We really worked on the issues. Every minute was productive. At last we got to meet the all the staff and the other girls and see how they all interacted with each other. That was very helpful. Meeting the other parents was also helpful. It was hard to leave, but we finally had a real level of comfort in leaving our daughter at Moonridge. Now we'd had some progress and could see some light at the end of the tunnel. But not for long...

Now starts the anxiety of parents wanting to plan and prepare for graduation and homecoming. Way too early. But that's what we're good at. Planning so that we miss the fewest milestones possible. We'd already missed many milestones (as will everyone who attends Moonridge.) We missed Confirmation, 8th Grade Graduation and a trip to Paris to mention a few of the highlights. Now we wanted her to start school on time. All the things that Moonridge cautions you against. Trying to plan home visits around our schedule, not our daughter's or Moonridge's. This last minute stuff is not how we usually operate. It's expensive too! We needed to concentrate more on the level work and less on graduation. It was a difficult time. And it caused anxiety for our daughter knowing we were pushing her - before she was ready. Her reluctance to move ahead caused us additional stress. But still, her progress, slow as it seemed to us, kept us all moving forward.

The first home visit was wonderful, but way too short and tiring (immediately after a Parent Weekend - which is emotionally draining itself). Once again, motivated our daughter followed all the rules - never asked to stay home. She was determined to graduate even though several girls had already left the program without graduating.

We just hung in there. Just kept doing the work. Just kept on supporting our daughter. One more Parent Weekend, one more home visit. Just kept on learning so much. The books were wonderful. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and Families, Parenting Teens, Reviving Ophelia - all wonderful. Of course, we'd read 7 Habits/Families years before and got nowhere with it. You really have to live it to, well.....live it. This time around, we're living it!

In addition to the one-on-one and group therapy, the experiential therapy (equine, ropes, hikes, etc.) the girls get is awesome. We're not always sure it sinks in at the time, but hopefully when it's needed they can retrieve it. Some of the special therapy Kent provides was especially helpful for our daughter and Dad. Getting that second 10 minute phone call each week was also wonderful.

Home contract. We started early with Home Rules and used it as a guideline for the home contract. We learned that each girl/family is different. What worked for us may not work for you. We were told that contracts were long and detailed. That didn't work for us. You will find what works for you. This applies to the entire program. It is very different for each family.

Graduation was a very exciting and nervous time for us - we desperately wanted our daughter home. (And we were still not happy about, but resigned to the fact that she missed the first 2 weeks of school.) But would we be able to live everything we learned? Would there be serious set-backs, relapses? Dad was more worried than Mom, but then Mom would think: maybe she wasn't worried enough. Our daughter too was very excited and nervous and sad. She would be leaving all her friends and support staff. People she lived with 24/7. It would be scary, not to mention pretty boring and lonely at home after what Dad called living at the sorority house.

It was the longest six months of our lives. But ultimately it was the most productive six months.

Four months at home now...our daughter is at the local school, making good friends who share her principles and values. She is having fun and acting like a 14 year old. She's joined several clubs at school. She quit her dance class, but still loves yoga. She begins volunteering at the hospital next month. While we still do not share her taste in clothing styles, we have learned to let go of some our controlling ways. We are trying to let our daughter make her own choices and live with the consequences, and she is doing an excellent job.

Our daughter's had a few meltdowns, but nothing too bad, that she hasn't been able to handle. Her biggest adjustment was missing the girls and staff terribly. She still calls weekly to talk to staff and she writes to the girls too. No relapses of cutting or hanging out with "non-working" friends. Only a few short "pity parties". This, despite the additional stress of starting a new "High" school, not being selected for Orchesis and not having a date for Homecoming.

Our daughter continues individual therapy that was just reduced from once a week to every other week. She has gone out with groups of friends but has not dated boys and has taken excellent care of her plant (in lieu of a boyfriend). She is following the home contract willingly (well...with the exception of keeping her room clean - it continues to be a disaster that we are overlooking in the scheme of things.)

Our daughter is now a delight to be around. We thoroughly enjoy her company. And she even enjoys, well... ok, maybe tolerates our company. She makes us laugh and we can even make her laugh. She occasionally reminds us of some of the many lessons she's learned at Moonridge. And we all end up laughing! We have all changed immensely. There are no regrets- only joy in our new-found happiness and peace.

While the Moonridge program is demanding and challenging, the results are rewarding and life changing. The range of emotions that you may experience throughout your journey will be greater than you could ever have imagined. However there is great hope ahead if our experience is any indication of the potential for success.

We credit Moonridge as the catalyst for our daughter and our entire family to have experienced such positive growth. We anticipate and look forward to a Very Happy New Year in 2005. We wish you the same.

We hope we have adequately expressed our appreciation for all that everyone at Moonridge has done for our family. "Thank you" doesn't seem adequate, but then what would? So, THANK YOU Moonridge."


The "R" Family, IL

"Things had become unmanageable in my life with my 13 year old. They had been deteriorating for a year when I sent her, at her request to live with her father. I hoped that he would be able to do what I hadn't. She left my home in Florida in June a year ago.

It was apparent to me from nearly the beginning that there was less control with her dad than there had been with me. The phone calls that I received were distressing at best. A series of out of control scenarios came in the form of late night calls and discussions between her dad and I about what our options were.

Finally at 2AM on a late November night, I got a call stating that my daughter had taken 2 bottles of over-the-counter pain medicine and she and my ex-husband were headed for the local emergency room. The next day I was on a plane to NYC, and at the beginning of the destination of what ended up being Kolob Canyon Residential Treatment Center.

When I got to the hospital, my daughter had gotten out of intensive care and was on the pediatric ward with a 24-hour companion as she was in danger of suicide and running. She was wild by any standards, unwilling to talk and unrealistic about the seriousness of her situation. She said she wanted to go out that weekend and party with her friends! There was little getting through to her and her father and I were totally unprepared to take her home, knowing that she had no intention of modifying her behavior. Her use of alcohol and dabbling with drugs, sex and defiant behavior had become her norm, and we were helplessly watching as our daughter descended into a dark world. I called a friend who is a therapist and got referrals of places that she had successfully sent other teenagers who were troubled and began the search for where to place our child.

Kolob was the place that caught my eye first and then agreed upon by my ex-husband and our family who helped with the financial arrangements. We liked the use of equine therapy in addition to daily regular therapy and the non-denominational spiritual focus. We felt we needed at least 6 months for both our daughter to look at her life and make changes and for us as parents to do our own work. We realized that she hadn't gotten into this situation alone. It was definitely all of us who found ourselves here through misdirection and the mishandling of many years of her life, and we all needed to work to get her back.

Sending her was a very hard decision to make and our daughter was very opposed initially. She was devastated for the first month or so and so was I. She was angry with me primarily and I wondered if I would ever have a relationship with my daughter again.

As time went by and we began visiting on the parents' weekends, the changes in her were astounding. She began communicating and thinking in a new way.

She came home in June. She is still the same girl she was, a teenager with difficulties and life challenges abounding, but she has shown an integrity and sweetness that I had forgotten she possessed. I am indebted to Kolob and the staff there for giving me an opportunity to know my child and with the possibility of seeing her grow up into the amazing adult that I know she can be."

--Y. W., Florida

"She is much more rational and has learned self-control and self-awareness at Kolob Canyon...She can interact with her parents and her siblings on a much more mature level. Thanks for the help. God Bless."

--S. R., California


"It was difficult to acknowledge that my daughter needed help with life coping skills that I had been unable to give her. When life's choices and challenges lead our daughters to make decisions that are not healthy and positive it is necessary to get help. Kolob Canyon has been an extraordinary experience for my daughter. She has amazed herself with the understanding and perceptions that have evolved. The atmosphere is one of nurturing and care without the escapes and pretenses our teens use to avoid life.

My concerns that my daughter was not motivated, confident, or optimistic about her future and her self-harm led us to this program. The changes that she feels and the self-knowledge that she now has are very exciting for us both. I truly believe that this experience and the lessons my daughter has learned not only saved her life but also taught her skills and insights that will help her to lead a happier and more productive life. I can't imagine a better program for my daughter and our family- her future is open to great possibilities. I have not felt that way in a long time."

--K.F., California

"Just a long overdue note to let you know that our daughter is doing ever-so-well. I am amazed that I am actually enjoying my daughter's company for maybe the first time in many a year...She has met a nice young man who neither drinks or smokes and she has been very responsible in her dealing with me about him and everything. She told me yesterday that she was in to building trust!!! What a concept! I am so very grateful. Thank you so very much. Whatever happened there was indeed a blessing."

--Y. W., Florida