Aspen Education Group
||This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. (October 2011)|
|Aspen Education Group|
|Region served||14 U.S. states and the United Kingdom|
|Parent organization||CRC Health Group|
Aspen Education Group is an American company that provides therapeutic interventions for adolescents and young adults, including wilderness therapy programs, residential treatment centers, therapeutic boarding schools, and weight loss programs. Since November 2006, Aspen Education Group, with corporate offices located in Cerritos, California has been a division of Bain Capital's CRC Health Group, based in Cupertino, California.
Aspen Education Group, Inc. was formed in December 1997 as a spin-off of College Health Enterprises. In 1998, Aspen was reported to have annual revenues of $28 million. That same year, the Sprout Group and Frazier Healthcare Ventures of Seattle purchased major interests in the company. In 2002, Aspen obtained an investment of $15 million from Warburg Pincus and $48 million or more in loans from CapitalSource and Caltius Mezzanine. For 2006, it projected revenue of $150 million. In late 2006, Bain Capital acquired Aspen Education Group for $300 million. Private equity investors were attracted to the business because, unlike most educational companies, its revenue comes from payments by private individuals rather than from government sources. In 2005, the New York Times reported that analysts estimated that companies like Aspen had profits between 10 and 20 percent of their revenues.
In the 2009 timeframe Aspen closed six programs. In March 2011, Aspen announced its intention to close five programs and consolidate three others citing "reduced demand for therapeutic schools and programs in today's economy". The closed programs include Bromley Brook School, New Leaf Academy of Oregon, NorthStar Center, Aspen Ranch and SunHawk Adolescent Recovery Center. In addition the program at Aspen Achievement Academy merged into Outback Therapeutic Expeditions. Youth Care of Utah merged into Island View Residential Treatment Center, and Passages to Recovery moved to the SUWS Adolescent Program to expand the services offered there. In July 2013, Aspen announced that five of its programs (Academy at Swift River, Stone Mountain School, Talisman Academy, Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, and SUWS Adolescent & Youth Programs of Idaho) would close later that summer.
Active programs are listed in the table below, sortable by name, type or location. Most programs are members of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP); several have additional affiliations, such as the National Association of Therapeutic Wilderness Camping.
|Academy at Swift River||Boarding school||Massachusetts, Cummington||Co-educational college preparatory therapeutic boarding school for adolescents aged 14–17½.|
|Adirondack Leadership Expeditions||Wilderness therapy||New York, Near Saranac Lake||A "character-development wilderness program for troubled teens". An average stay of 45 days, using a dense forest environment for the hikes.|
|Aspen Institute for Behavioral Assessment||Residential treatment||Utah, Syracuse||Conducts assessments needed to develop intervention and treatment plans for troubled adolescents.|
|Camp Huntington||Residential treatment||New York, High Falls||Co-educational, residential, summer camps for children and young adults who have special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pervasive developmental disorder, and cognitive impairment.|
|Copper Canyon Academy||Boarding school||Arizona, Rimrock||Girls only boarding school with a structured therapeutic environment for ages 13–17, acquired by Aspen Education in 2002.|
|Four Circles Recovery Center||Wilderness therapy||North Carolina, Blue Ridge Mountains||A wilderness-based treatment program for older teens and young adults ages 18–28 with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders, combining traditional counseling, wilderness experiences and a 12-step program.|
|Island View||Residential treatment||Utah, Syracuse||Academic services and therapeutic programs for adolescents aged 13 to 18. The academic program at Island View is accredited with the Utah Department of Education, the California Department of Education and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. Must be admitted at least six months before 18th birthday.|
|Oakley School||Boarding school||Utah, Oakley||Co-educational college preparatory therapeutic boarding school.|
|Outback Therapeutic Expeditions||Wilderness therapy||Utah, Lehi||For ages 13–17 with academic credit available. Aspen Achievement Academy merged into Outback Therapeutic Expeditions March 2011.|
|Stone Mountain School||Boarding School||North Carolina, Black Mountain||Therapeutic boarding school for boys aged 11–16, specializing in ADHD. Program website makes reference to finding a cure by going back to the Tom Sawyer era.|
|SUWS Adolescent Programs||Wilderness therapy||Idaho, Shoshone||Two programs are offered. One is for children aged 11–13 and the other is for children aged 14–17. A stay may last from 4–9 weeks. Passages to Recovery merged into the SUWS program March 2011.|
|SUWS of the Carolinas||Wilderness therapy||North Carolina||A "therapeutic wilderness program with a focus on clinical intervention and assessment" ages 13–17 and a wilderness treatment program for younger children, ages 10–13.|
|Talisman Academy||Boarding School||North Carolina||An academic program for grades 7-12 for students with Asperger syndrome, nonverbal learning disorder, high-functioning autism and similar autism spectrum disorders.|
|Talisman Camps||Wilderness therapy||North Carolina||Summer Camps for Teens with asperger syndrome, nonverbal learning disorder, high-functioning autism and similar autism spectrum disorders.|
|Talisman Transitions||Independent living||North Carolina||An independent living program for young adults ages 18 to 24 with asperger syndrome, nonverbal learning disorder, high-functioning autism and similar autism spectrum disorders.|
|Turn-About Ranch||Residential treatment||Utah, Escalante||Short-term coeducational therapy program, with a Christian-based philosophy, licensed as a residential treatment center and located on a working cattle ranch. Enrolls ages 13 to 18.|
|Youth Care of Utah||Residential treatment||Utah, Draper||Residential treatment center with enrollment limited to 45 students ages 12–18. Provides mental health and chemical dependency diagnosis. Academic services include the opportunity to do online classes with BYU if qualified. Must enter at least 90 days before 18th birthday.|
|Wellspring Academies (formerly Academy of the Sierras)||Weight Loss Boarding School||California, Reedley||Year-round boarding schools for overweight or obese teens.|
|Wellspring Academies||Weight Loss Boarding School||North Carolina, Brevard||Year-round boarding schools for overweight or obese teens.|
|Wellspring New York||Weight Loss Camp||New York, Adirondack Mountains||Weight loss program for women ages 12–24.|
|Wellspring Adventure Camp North Carolina||Weight Loss Camp||North Carolina, Canton, Blue Ridge Mountains||Co-ed program for ages 11–17.|
|Wellspring Camp La Jolla||Weight Loss Camp||California, La Jolla||Co-ed outdoor program for ages 10–24 and for families.|
|Wellspring Adventure Lake Tahoe||Weight Loss Camp||Nevada, Incline Village, Campus of Sierra Nevada College||Co-ed outdoor program for ages 11–18.|
|Wellspring Texas||Weight Loss Camp||Texas, San Marcos||Co-ed weight loss program for teens aged 12–17.|
|Wellspring Wisconsin||Weight Loss Camp||Wisconsin, Platteville||Co-ed weight loss program for teens aged 11–17.|
|Wellspring Oregon||Weight Loss Camp||Oregon, Corvallis, Campus of Oregon State University||Co-ed weight loss program for teens aged 11–18.|
|Wellspring Georgia||Weight Loss Camp||Georgia, Rome, Campus of Berry College||Co-ed weight loss program for teens aged 11–17.|
|Wellspring DC||Weight Loss Camp||DC, Washington, Campus of Foxcroft School||Co-ed weight loss program for teens aged 11–24.|
|Wellspring Pennsylvania||Weight Loss Camp||Pennsylvania, Poconos||Weight loss program for ages 11–24.|
|Wellspring UK||Weight Loss Camp||United Kingdom, Devon, England, Campus of Exeter University||-|
|Aspen Achievement Academy||Utah, Southern||For adolescents 13-17. Minimum stay is 35 days.||In March 2011, Aspen announced that this program would be consolidated into Outback Therapeutic Expeditions.|
|Aspen Ranch||Utah, Loa||For adolescents aged 13–17½; utilized an equine therapy program. Length of stay ranged from 6–12 months.||Closure plans announced in March 2011.|
|Bromley Brook School||Vermont, Manchester Center||Boarding school for girls ages 14–18.||Closure announced in March 2011.|
|Cedars Academy||Delaware, Bridgeville||Boarding school for boys and girls ages 11–18 specializing in Asperger syndrome and Nonverbal Learning Disorder. There are also 18 to 21 year-olds living off campus in a young adult transitional program.||Closed August 2009.|
|Excel Academy||Texas, Conroe||Coeducational boarding school for grades 9 to 12.||Closed November 2008.|
|Lone Star Expeditions||Texas, Davy Crockett National Forest||Wilderness intervention for youth ages 13–17 and their families.||Closed April 6, 2009 |
|Mount Bachelor Academy||Oregon, Prineville||Co-educational, ages 13–18 experiencing emotional and behavioral disorders including: Minor Depressive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Substance Abuse, and ADHD as well families struggling with adoption issues. Founded in 1987 by College Health Enterprises; around 1998 they spun off MBA and a handful of other facilities into the company that became Aspen Education Group.||Following actions by the Oregon Department of Human Services, closure of the school was announced Monday, November 9, 2009. In October 2010, the state of Oregon withdrew its orders and actions against MBA in return for recognition that DHS had a "reasonable" basis to investigate the charges.|
|New Leaf Academy||North Carolina, Hendersonville||Private boarding school for girls ages 10 to 14 upon admission.||North Carolina location closed June 2010. Aspen announced that The Talisman School would open on its site in August 2010 to enroll youth with Asperger's and other autism spectrum disorders. Twenty-seven students remaining at New Leaf North Carolina were to be sent to New Leaf Oregon and to the Bromley Brook School.|
|New Leaf Academy||Oregon, Bend||Private boarding school for girls ages 10 to 14 upon admission.||In March 2011, Aspen announced plans to close the Oregon location at the end of the 2010-2011 academic year.|
|NorthStar Center||Oregon, Bend||Young-adult transitional-living program for ages 17½ to 24 for treatment of substance abuse and addiction. Established in 1991, NorthStar operated independently until 1998, when it was acquired by the Aspen Education Group.||Closure announced in March 2011.|
|Passages to Recovery||Utah, Southern||A 35- to 50-day intensive outdoor drug and alcohol treatment program for young adults ages 18 and over.||In March 2011, Aspen announced that it was consolidating this program into its SUWS program in Idaho.|
|Pine Ridge Academy||Utah, Draper||Therapeutic boarding school and residential treatment center enrolling ages of 11 to 18.||Closed June 2009|
|SageWalk||Oregon, Redmond||For boys and girls ages 13–17 with emotional and behavioral problems. The minimum stay was 30 days, after which participants often transferred to a therapeutic boarding school or other long-term facility. The average was 60 days for the "Family Reunification Plan".||Operations suspended on public land pending the investigation of the August 2009 death of Sergey Blashchishena.|
|SunHawk Academy of Utah||Utah||Residential treatment program and boarding school for teens aged 13–17||Closure plans announced in March 2011.|
|Wellspring Hawaii||Hawaii, Big Island||Co-ed weight loss program for teens aged 13–18.||unknown|
|Wellspring Vancouver||Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia||Co-ed weight loss program for teens aged 12–18.||unknown|
Companies in the business of offering therapeutic intervention to the parents of teenagers have been the target of criticism related to the lack of government regulation of the industry, the large revenues the programs generate, and the charge that they take advantage of parents in a desperate situation. Educational consultant Tom Croke has criticized Aspen for its marketing practices and for closing programs without sufficient regard for the harm done to students whose promised services were being disrupted. In a blog posting first published in May 2010, he expressed "grave reservations" about referring clients to Aspen programs in view of the company's loss of key staff and its record of abruptly closing programs. He noted, however, that in its 2011 program closures, Aspen had "been somewhat more careful about transitioning the affected residents of the facilities being closed," and that he was continuing to consider Aspen programs for some clients.
The Wellspring diet has been criticized by some lay observers.
In news and popular culture
Several Aspen Educational Group programs have been featured in the media:
- An article in the UK Sunday Mirror described the experiences of a teenage girl from England who attended Aspen Achievement Academy.
- The British television series "I Know What You Ate Last Summer" featured six obese teenagers attending Wellspring in California.
- The British TV documentary Britain's Youngest Boozers, broadcast October 25, 2005 featured the Aspen program SUWS of the Carolinas.
- Aspen Achievement Academy was featured in the third episode (February 8, 2006) and SUWS in the fourth episode (October 4, 2006) of the UK reality TV show Brat Camp.
- SageWalk (not yet owned by Aspen when aired) was featured in the American version of Brat Camp.
- Aspen Education programs have been featured multiple times on the Dr. Phil show in the United States.
- Passages to Recovery and NorthStar Center were featured on A&E Television Network's documentary series "Intervention".
- Ted Jackson, Special Reports: Therapeutic Schools, Treatment Magazine, July 2007
- Ted Jackson, In Another Mega Deal, CRC Acquires Aspen Education, Treatment Magazine, October 2006
- Louise Story (August 17, 2005). "A Business Built on the Troubles of Teenagers". The New York Times.
- Aspen Education Group To Restructure Programs, Aspen Education Group press release, published on Woodbury Reports website, March 24, 2011.
- Affiliations Adirondack Leadership website, accessed March 3, 2012
- Affiliations, Four Circles Recovery Center, accessed March 3, 2012
- Certifications and Affiliations, SUWS of the Carolinas, accessed April 25, 2012
- Aspen Education Group - Residential schools , accessed March 3, 2012
- Aspen Education Group - Wilderness Programs , accessed March 3, 2012
- RANGERS RESCUE CLIENTS FROM TROUBLED TEEN PROGRAM, WNBZ local news, April 2007
- Cedars Academy Closes, press release on strugglingteens.com
- Aspen Education Group - Returns To Its Roots, press release on strugglingteens.com
- Gordon Oliver (November 09, 2009). "Mount Bachelor Academy in Prineville to close by Dec. 9". The Oregonian.
- Lerten, Barney (October 2, 2010). "DHS, Mount Bachelor Academy Settle Case". KTVZ. Retrieved 2010-10-02.
- FamilyLight, Leaf Academy -- North Carolina, Family Light blog, accessed July 14, 2010
- FamilyLight, Enough, Already!-- Aspen Again, Family Light blog, May 2010. Accessed July 14, 2010
- Conversion, Will Open Talisman School in August 2010, Aspen Education Group press release, May 17, 2010
- Keith Chu,Ever unconventional, long controversial, Bend Bulletin, November 15, 2009
- SageWalk Wilderness Programs
- Teen Dies At Wilderness Camp, KPTV.com, Fox12 Oregon, September 1, 2009
- "Aspen Marketing". FamilyLight. June 1, 2010.
- "Aspen Education Group Wellspring Weight Loss Programming". FamilyLight.
- Tom Croke, Enough, Already! -- Aspen Again, FamilyLight website (Thomas J. Croke & Associates), May 2010, amended December 14, 2011, and January 2, 2012
- Jimmi Moore, Extreme Low-Fat Farm Abusing Obese Kids and Chicago Tribune, Losing weight in a boarding-school setting
- Saved by Brat Camp, Sunday Mirror (UK), February 19, 2006.
- http://www.tvthrong.co.uk/i-know-what-you-ate-last-summer retrieved 3/15/10
- http://www.suwscarolinas.com/press-release.html retrieved 3/15/10
- These kids face harsh reality (The Boston Globe)
- http://drphil.com/shows/page/treatmentprograms/ Dr. Phil's list of treatment programs
- http://drphil.com/search/results/aspen%20education/ results of search for Aspen Education on Dr. Phil's site
- Aspen Education Group official website