Summit Achievement

69 Deer Hill Road 
Stow, ME 04037


13 to 17

Boys and Girls

Call admissions department for current tuition.

6-8 weeks

Summit Achievement is a fully licensed outdoor residential treatment center located in the White Mountains region of Maine. Through the process of engaging therapy, classroom academics and challenging wilderness expeditions, students learn to accept responsibility for personal decisions and past behaviors, address individual and family issues, and become invested in their future. Summit's innovative program provides treatment options to adolescent boys and girls ages 13 to 17.

Students are required to progress through six program levels. During this process, they learn to be accountable for their behavior and build the self-confidence and skills they need to lead healthy, productive lives. Students graduate with a new attitude, the ability to accept limits, and the resolve to avoid past behaviors and poor choices.

As you explore our web site, you will learn about our unique program and activities designed to help young people make positive decisions that will enable them to reach their true potential.

Summit Achievement serves boys and girls ages 13 to 17 who are experiencing difficulty within their family, school and/or personal lives. (Summit can work with an 18 year old only if they turn 18 while enrolled in the program) The typical student may exhibit any number of the following characteristics:
Low self-esteem
Low motivation
Poor decision making
Susceptibility to negative peer pressure
Defiance of authority
Refusal to take responsibility for behavior
Academic underachievement
School refusal
Suspension or expulsion from school
Confrontational behavior
Drug or alcohol experimentation or abuse
Unresolved grief resulting from inadequate coping skills
Adoption issues
Social alienation
Depression or hopelessness
The clinical team understands that there are teens whose problems require forms of treatment different than that provided by Summit Achievement, either due to the nature or severity of the students' problems, their resistance to seeking help with those problems, or because they present a danger to themselves or others. For this reason Summit's application process requires that detailed information regarding the applicant be reviewed by the clinical team.

Academic Services

Licensed by the State of Maine as a non-traditional private school, Summit Achievement places a strong emphasis on education. Students participate in formal classroom academic instruction three days per week and have full access to reference materials and computers. The Summit Achievement curriculum emphasizes educational content, as well as the development of academic and social skills necessary for continued success in school. The objective of the academic program is to help students:
Enhance academic standing to facilitate a smooth transition into the next school setting following completion of Summit Achievement.

Learn new study skills and strategies that will increase the student’s academic independence and their opportunities for further study.

Improve attitude towards academics and take responsibility for academic progress

Upon enrollment, students participate in an academic assessment and an individualized academic program is then designed to target subject areas and skills that require improvement or are essential for success in rigorous academic environments. Summit will also work with the student’s school to accommodate the individual educational plan (IEP) of students with learning differences. Upon completion of the program, students receive a comprehensive academic transcript documenting transferable credits earned while in the program.

Students attend school on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On school days the daily routine is not unlike that any student may experience at home or boarding school except for the integration of therapeutic services, clear boundaries and the support and supervision of program Guides (direct care staff). Students wake-up at 6:00 a.m. and, after eating breakfast and completing morning chores, they attend classes all morning. Lunch is served at 12:30 p.m., followed by more classes until mid-afternoon. At 3:00 students have a snack and then engage in a variety of activities, either recreational or in preparation for the weekly expedition. Following dinner and evening chores, students have study hall and then participate in group counseling with their peers. Students then prepare for bed with lights-out at 10:00 p.m.

On Thursday all students depart on expedition. There are usually three teams of students, each departing for a different expedition designed to meet the emotional and physical needs of the students on each team. Thursday morning is devoted to final preparations and packing for expedition. Teams depart campus around 10:30 for their expedition. The schedule for the remainder of the day is determined by the location and type of activities planned for each expedition (hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, rock or ice climbing, solo experience, etc.).

The expedition continues through Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with the team working together to reach their scheduled destination each night, make camp and prepare meals.

On Sunday the teams return to campus between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m., unpack and clean their equipment, and then debrief their expedition experience. The remainder of the afternoon is spent relaxing or in leisure activities. After dinner students have study hall followed by a group session with their peers. Students are in bed with lights out by 10:00 p.m.

Every aspect of the student's experience at Summit Achievement centers around his/her individual treatment needs and an experienced master's level psychotherapist guides and coordinates the treatment services offered by different aspects of the program to ensure that they meet those needs.

Treatment Planning

During the first week the therapist collaborates with the parents and student to design a comprehensive individualized treatment plan that documents the problem areas to be addressed, the goals targeted for achievement, the incremental objectives the student is expected to complete, and the method for evaluating the student's progress. Each week the treatment team meets to review the plan and make adjustments as required to ensure the student's progress toward treatment goals and successful completion of the program.

Towards the middle of the student's enrollment, the therapist makes recommendations regarding the type of environment and clinical support the student will need following discharge from the program. Though these recommendations typically include the type of program, degree of structure, and other services that the student may require, parents are encouraged to work with an educational consultant who can help them identify specific schools or programs to meet the student's needs.

Group Counseling

Group sessions are facilitated by program Guides every day of the week, usually in the evening. Guided group discussion is used to settle problems, to give individuals feedback, and to evaluate performances. When a student has a problem, it is dealt with in the immediate context and with the help of the group. All the group members are affected and therefore have a stake in the resolution of the problem. It is through the repeated use of this group process that adolescents develop the greatest insight into their own behavior.

In addition to the daily group processing sessions, there is one group therapy session per week facilitated by the primary therapist. This therapy session focuses on a variety of topics each week. It may focus on the dynamics of the group or a specific issue that several members of the group are struggling with, such as anger management, conflict resolution, negotiation skills, substance abuse, dealing with loss or grief, etc.

Individual Therapy

Students meet weekly with their assigned therapists for a one-hour individual therapy session. These sessions may focus on individual treatment issues, assistance with improving communication with family members, difficulties in interactions with peer team members, problem behaviors within the program, or other topics. As the teen progresses to upper program levels, these sessions may be utilized to explore potential discharge and educational directions.

Peer Teaching and Support

Summit Achievement's rolling admissions policy ensures that students within each group are at different phases of the program level system, with some students in their first weeks, others in the middle of the continuum, and others preparing to graduate from the program. This mixture of students at different progress levels empowers students to pass along skills, program expectations and knowledge in a perpetuating cycle of peer teaching and peer support. As indicated above, there are also daily guided group discussions that afford students an opportunity to offer observations and constructive feedback to their peers. These sessions are important because students will often hear feedback from peers that they have difficulty accepting from adults.

Substance Abuse Counseling

Some students have been involved in drug and alcohol use to the point that their use became a problem, impacting school performance, relationships with family, and, at times, resulting in contact with legal authorities. For these students, Summit Achievement offers drug and alcohol education, strong recovery support and opportunities to attend AA meetings in our local community. Counseling focuses on providing the student with a working knowledge of the symptoms, cause, effect and healing of chemical dependency. Students explore the definition of addiction, alcoholism as a disease, triggers for drug and alcohol use, steps to recovery and other topics.

Clinical Supervision on Expedition

Approximately every three weeks the therapist accompanies students on expedition for a 48-hour period. Participating as part of the group on expeditions allows the therapist to interact with the students in a less formal setting and further develops the connection between each student and the therapist. This experience also affords the therapist an opportunity to observe each student's functioning within the peer group including demonstration of problem solving and negotiation skills, communication patterns, and his or her role in group dynamics. These observations are helpful to the therapist in providing the student with constructive feedback during individual and group therapy sessions.

Psychiatric Services and Medication Management

A psychiatrist is available locally should any student require psychiatric assessment or evaluation of psychotropic medication. In most cases, students who are already taking psychotropic medication at the time of enrollment are maintained at the previously prescribed dosages. The medical and program staff are trained to administer medication to students and to recognize adverse or allergic reaction. Program policies do not allow any student to self administer any medication. Summit’s physician, who is on site each Tuesday, reviews each student’s medication. Should there be any recommendations or concerns regarding a students medication or dosage, the medical staff will contact the parents immediately. Summit is required to have its physician review each child’s medication every 30 days.

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Summit’s leadership and administrative team is composed of dedicated individuals who bring more than 100 years of combined experience to the operation of the program. Most of this experience has been in outdoor programs specifically designed for struggling teenagers. This team includes:
Christopher Mays, Executive Director – Chris co-founded Summit Achievement after 26 years experience in adventure-based programs with a variety of organizations. Coupled with his experience as Captain of sail training ships, years of managing Outward Bound programs and his tenure as director of innovative programs for the most challenging court-referred teen cases, his background provides him with unique insight into results-oriented programs.

Will White, Clinical Director – Co-founder of Summit Achievement, Will supervises and trains faculty as well as providing counseling to students in the program. He has spent the last 20 years working in clinical settings, as well as consulting to boarding schools. Will holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker and as a drug and alcohol counselor.

Adam Tsapis, Admissions Director – Co-founder of Summit Achievement, Adam works closely with the applicant families, handling program inquiries and scheduling of students. Adam holds a Bachelors degree from the University of California at Berkeley, is a former captain of tall sailing ships, and has 18 years experience working with adolescents.

Margie Lannon, Program Director – Margie directs program operations and has worked with youth for the last 20 years in therapeutic wilderness programs. Her experience includes working with youth in such diverse programs as wagon trains and tall sailing ships. She holds a Bachelors degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Chris Hayward, Program Coordinator – Chris plans and supervises the expedition activities. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from St. Joseph College and has over 9 years experience in outdoor therapy. As a registered guide in the State of Maine, Chris maintains a high level of technical skills including a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician certification. In addition, he is certified by the American Mountain Guides Association in top-rope climbing site management.

Rob Feeney, Academic Director – Rob graduated from the University of Maine – Orono. He is currently working on obtaining his Master degree in Science Teaching from Lyndon State College. Rob has been teaching teens for 12 years and is also certified by the American Mountain Guides Association in top-rope climbing site management.

Professional and Direct Care Staff

An extraordinarily talented and experienced group of direct-care staff, therapists, teachers, medical doctor, nurse and service providers work alongside the administrative team in shaping and delivering the Summit program.

Our clinicians hold a minimum of a master’s degree in Counseling, Social Work or a related field and have expertise in substance abuse counseling, family systems, adoption issues, disruptive behaviors, and the issues of adolescence.

Academic staff have a degree in Education and/or extensive teaching experience, along with a wealth of experience working with students from a variety of backgrounds. Focused on viewing students from a strengths-based perspective, our teaching staff is skilled in working with students who have learning disabilities or different learning styles.

The guides (direct care staff) all have a minimum of a Bachelor degree typically in a field related to the program, i.e., Psychology, Sociology, Outdoor Education and Leadership, Recreation, Education, Communication Studies, Outdoor Recreation, etc. In addition to their college education, most of these staff also have extensive personal experience or professional training in adventure activities. The guides/direct care staff are required to hold an approved first aid/medical certification, including either First Aid and CPR, Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder (WFR), Outdoor Emergency Care, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), or Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT).

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Some of the services we offer:

  • Admissions Counseling
  • Crisis Placement Services
  • free advice on programs
  • Interim short, 3-5 day crisis placements awaiting long term placements
  • Pre-screened Places for Children, Adolescents, Teens and Young Adults
  • Recommendation of preferred schools and programs
  • Teen Transportation Services

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