Oakley Therapeutic Boarding School for Troubled Teens Offers Sober Spring Break Options

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At Oakley School, struggling teens spend spring break engaged in sober activities, such as community service projects and outdoor adventure trips.

The social norm is that spring break is a time to drink, party and get crazy, but we want our students to realize that’s not the best way to have fun

Once intended as a vacation from school, an escape from blustery winter weather and a respite from the responsibilities of daily life, spring break has evolved into much more than a relaxing break. Every year, teens all over the world descend on Florida, Mexico and other famous party spots for a week fueled by parties, underage drinking and drug use – and the wilder and crazier, the better.

Although these excesses are widely publicized in the media, not every adolescent uses spring break as an excuse to lose control. Many young people pass up a week of binge drinking, drug use and risky sexual behavior to enjoy a week of traveling, making lifelong friends and helping people in need.

Oakley School, a therapeutic boarding school for teens ages 14 to 19 in Utah, offers a sober alternative to a drug- and alcohol-fueled spring break, as well as rigorous college-prep academics, intensive therapy, and enriching social and recreational activities year-round. At Oakley School, spring break is a time for teenagers to give back to others and have fun without drugs or alcohol.

During spring break this year, Oakley students will work in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management to help build and maintain trails in the beautiful red rock parks of Moab, Utah. As part of their four-day expedition, the students will also swim, hike and learn about the stunning desert landscapes.

“The social norm is that spring break is a time to drink, party and get crazy, but we want our students to realize that’s not the best way to have fun,” said Todd Coleman, the director of experiential education at the Oakley School. “Service projects and adventure trips remind our students that there are much healthier ways to spend their free time. They always have a great experience – and they’re sober the whole time.”

Oakley teens participate in community service and chaperoned adventure trips at least seven or eight times a year. In past years, they have worked with the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to care for abandoned animals, the Utah Food Bank to deliver food on Native-American reservations and Design Build Bluff to build houses on a Navajo reservation.

Later this year, some Oakley students will enjoy a four-day cross-country skiing and yoga trip, and another group will go bouldering in central Utah. The teens also have opportunities to take trips that combine outdoor activities and community service, such as a week-long rafting adventure down the San Juan River that accompanies a river clean-up project.

“Community service is a big part of everything we do at Oakley,” said Coleman. “Our students not only enjoy it, but there is also a tremendous therapeutic benefit to spending time together as a group, learning new skills and processing the experiences with guidance from a staff of professionals.”

Although some projects seem daunting at first, students are able to build on small successes and gain the satisfaction of completing a task, while helping others in the process. The professional instructors who accompany the teens challenge them to press on even when they want to quit. They return to school refreshed, having explored new places and feeling that they did something worthwhile.

“Giving back helps our students understand what other people are going through,” said Coleman. “These experiences build compassion, a sense of gratitude and the chance to discover the rewards of helping someone in need.”

Many students at Oakley School had interests and passions that they gave up in favor of drug or alcohol use or to fit in with a certain peer group. Through volunteering and adventure trips, the teens are able to find healthy outlets to have fun and express their emotions. In fact, students come back to Oakley years later talking about their experiences and the connections they made with students and staff.

About Oakley School

Oakley School is a co-ed college preparatory therapeutic boarding school for teens ages 14 to 19, located near Salt Lake City, Utah. Oakley leads the country in providing sophisticated clinical support and a rigorous education for students preparing for a four-year college experience.

Oakley School is a program of Aspen Education Group, the nation’s leading provider of therapeutic education programs for struggling or underachieving young people. Aspen’s services range from short-term intervention programs to residential treatment, and include a variety of therapeutic settings such as boarding schools, outdoor behavioral health programs and special needs summer camps, allowing professionals and families the opportunity to choose the best setting to meet a student’s unique academic and emotional needs.

Aspen Education Group is a member of CRC Health Group, the most comprehensive network of specialized behavioral care services in the nation. For over two decades, CRC Health has been achieving successful outcomes for individuals and families.

For more information, please call (866) 515-5202 or visit Oakley School.

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Arwynn Harris Jensen
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