818 NW 17th Avenue #2
Portland, OR 97209-2327
Michaele P Dunlap, PsyD
Christine Glenn, PhD
Katherine M Leonard, PhD
Michael G Conner, PsyD
J L Jones
501 c 3 Non-Profit Corp.
Tax Id# 91-1777183
is a non-profit educational and research organization with
a focus on mental health for youth and
families; homelessness, effective intervention, public and
SageWalk and Brat Camp
August 11, 2005
Mentor Research Institute has conducted
research and provided consumer protection information regarding
wilderness therapy programs for nearly 6 years. We have a data base
about programs and consumer feedback. We have been involved in
formative evaluation research on outdoor treatment for nearly four
years. We also develop and provide professional continuing education
in outdoor behavioral health.
We would like to provide people with
information regarding SageWalk and the ABC television program Brat
Camp. Our hope is to clear up some misinformation.
People need to know that SageWalk is
licensed to operate a wilderness therapy program. There are specific
Oregon State regulations regarding health, safety and operation.
SageWalk is in compliance with these regulations and is subject to
routine review. SageWalk has been reviewed by nearly 50 licensed
mental health professionals as well as officials in Oregons
Department of Health and Human Services.
SageWalk is actively involved in a
comprehensive and independent research program evaluating the
effectiveness of their program. This will be one of the first and most
thorough outcome studies ever conducted. Initial results indicate
significant improvements in a graduates behavior and emotional well
being including dramatic reductions in risk factors. This program has
a high success rate.
The public can be assured that SageWalks
field staff are thoroughly screened, trained and supervised by a
licensed mental health professional. The program has field staff
certified in search and rescue, wilderness first aid and emergency
evacuation. SageWalk staff is trained in strategies to manage,
de-escalate and restrain violent behavior. Dangerous and violent
children are discharged from the program. Therapists and counselors
are licensed or pursuing licensure as part of supervised residency in
mental health or counseling. SageWalk is one of a few programs that
have a psychologist as clinical director and a licensed
as its field/program director. The field/program director is a
respected former case worker in a local county mental health program
for youth and families. SageWalk has a registered nurse on staff and a
physician group on contract to deal with medical problems. All
students receive a through physical and medical screening. The program
does not admit children with medical conditions that present a serious
is NOT a boot camp. The overall program at SageWalk separates youth
from negative and dangerous influences where they live. Children are
placed in an outdoor environments that are safe in order to help them
discover what they have taken for granted, to create circumstances
that lead to self-examination, and to help them learn how to
communicate, cooperate, and contribute to the well-being of a group.
Therapists encourage and reinforce individual effort, personal growth
and positive changes that occur. This is an emotional growth program.
There is a significant body of literature in the field of outdoor
behavioral health. There are many articles and training programs
devoted to safety, ethics, standards of care and consumer protection.
Like many of you we have been
following the showing of ABCs Brat Camp. Remember that this is
television. The program is realistic and accurate but leaves out much
of what actually goes on at SageWalk. What isnt seen on TV is that
the program has a powerful foundation in behavioral science. If you
watch Brat Camp several times you will begin to see that there is a
great deal of therapy, counseling and positive regard for these
students. There is a lot more going on than the TV camera can possibly
The television show, Brat Camp, has strong emphasis on the physical
challenges of the program. SageWalk also spends much time and effort
providing parent education, high school education, therapy and career
counseling as well as alcohol and drug counseling. These aspects of
treatment are not reflected in the TV program. The physical
adversities are extremely difficult but they are not continuous.
Children are not merely thrown into the wilderness and made to suffer
hardships. Every activity is based on behavioral and psychological
principles that have been adapted to their field program.
Few children who enter SageWalk are like the ones you see on TV. The
majority of the children who attend SageWalk are at-risk not out of
control. The children who are out of control create the most drama.
Children who are at-risk adjust quickly and easily. Parents and
authorities need to know that many of these children would rather be
running loose, failing school, getting high, breaking the law or
disrespecting their parents. Some of these kids are just plain lost,
afraid and depressed. Others are anxious, afraid and lack
self-confidence. Every kid in a legitimate wilderness therapy program
will be encouraged, challenged, to face their emotional problems and
given every opportunity to succeed. Programs like SageWalk build
character. They do not destroy the spirit of a child.
SageWalk is open and responsive to professional review and
feedback. Parents are involved. Our preliminary research indicates
that SageWalk is among the safest and most effective emotional growth
and treatment programs in
For more information contact:
Mentor Research Institute