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abundant life academy

kanab, ut

  Staff List, Background, and Survivor Statement(s)




HEAL has found multiple problems with Abundant Life Academy's enrollment agreement including apparent unconscionable terms and contradictory terms leaving us to believe that Abundant Life Academy is running a money-making scam on families in need of assistance.  We will be alternating between purple background and/or words for HEAL critiques and questions and a light pink with red words for the words of Abundant Life Academy in their enrollment agreement (as was updated by Abundant Life Academy on April 23rd, 2009).  HEAL will not repeatedly link to the enrollment agreement in full throughout this review, and, we advise readers to scroll back and/or open the enrollment agreement in a new window while reviewing our work for accuracy or if additional contextualization is preferred.  This is an independent review and if you are in need of legal assistance or advice, please consult with an attorney
Enrollment Agreement (Page 1)

"...Xtreme Faith Academy, Inc., dba Abundant Life Academy, Inc..."

"...for a period of not less then 9 months and not more then 18 months..."

"Leadership Training and accredited long distance learning educational curriculum..."

"The parent full acknowledges and realizes that the degree of the "Youth's" educational, emotional, and spiritual and growth is not the responsibility of the Academy..."

"The "Youth's" participation is all voluntary and by his/her choice."

"The main purpose of the Academy is to provide..."mentoring" (Christian values training: teaching the principles of Bible which include:..."learning the principles of 'submission to parental authority'", and development of character through training in "discipline, good work ethics, respect towards authority...)"

"The Academy introduces controlled and measured challenges to the Youth so as to help them learn to serve the needs of others."

To listen to audio of a lawsuit regarding abuses and removal of children from Xtreme Faith Academy Inc./Abundant Life Academy, click here.  This hearing was held on November 13th, 2009.  It states that the former judge's decision in the case was to shut down Abundant Life Academy.  HEAL wonders why Abundant Life Academy is still open.  It must be due to the nature of Utah laws that protect abusive programs at the expense of children's welfare and lives.

On page 3 of the agreement, the second statement above is contradicted.  It states that there are early graduations/completions and that the above stated term of 9 months, stated firmly as a requirement, is later shown to be not a true requirement of the agreement or the program.  These types of inconsistencies go to the heart of the problem with these amateurish contracts and programs.  (See discussion of page 3 below.)  In addition, if this agreement were written by a professional, he/she would likely have gotten the word "than" correct.  It is "less than" and "more than", not "less then" and "more then".  If this is the quality of language arts skills exhibited by those in charge of the business end of Abundant Life Academy, then it again suggests an environment not of a quality to insure the appropriate education of children and youth.

HEAL believes Abundant Life Academy should clearly state what they mean by "Leadership Training" and what methods are used to "train" children at their program.  What is Leadership Training?  What are the methods used by Abundant Life Academy? 

Abundant Life Academy claims that the Youth's participation is voluntary.  But, again, on page 3 of the agreement, it states that they will compel and/or ask the parents to assist and support the compelling of the Youth to participate fully in the program.  The definition of "compel" according to Merriam-Webster, is:

1: to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly <hunger compelled him to eat>
2: to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure <public opinion compelled her to sign the bill>

Here again we have a serious contradiction.  And, most religions, including Christianity, frown upon bearing false witness (lying) and hypocrisy. (Jesus particularly dislikes/disliked hypocrites.  A hypocrite, by Merriam-Webster's definition, is: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.)  By repeatedly contradicting itself, Abundant Life Academy is showing it's falsity as a Christian organization or program.  It is likely hiding behind religious freedom to avoid taxation or regulation.

Abundant Life Academy claims to train children to be submissive to parental authority.  What about when parents sexually abuse their children or abuse their power by neglecting or otherwise abusing their children?  Blind submission to parental or other authority is exactly what years of child advocacy has tried to stop.  Blind submission to the whims of those in perceived positions of authority put vulnerable children in harm's way.  Teaching reciprocity and give and take, treating others as you would be treated and leading by example are Christian values.  Requiring nearly or over $50,000 (as this contract requires--to be discussed in section covering page 5 of the agreement) and denying any responsibility or liability for one's own actions suggests the opposite of leading by example and a direct opposition to Christian values.

In addition, this focus on service as opposed to community and reciprocity is a serious concern.  HEAL asks: What do you mean by discipline?  What do you mean by "good work ethic"? (For example, do you mean to labor without consideration for the value of your efforts and a willingness to be a virtual slave with no desire for compensation for those efforts?  Are you suggesting that one's labor is only as valuable as those in an authority position or an unequal or advantageous position (generally achieved through unethical business practices including long-term enslavement of large populations to build said wealth that creates said advantageous position)?  Do you support slavery and/or believe laborers should be grateful for their being useful to those with resources generally stolen from those very laborers?  And, do you believe that respect to authority means never questioning authority?  Do you understand that historically and in modern times such blind following of those claiming authority has resulted in severe human rights abuses?

Again, young adults need to learn to be independent and self-sufficient.  Focusing their attention on the needs of others is irresponsible to their natural stage of development and needs as they embark on adulthood.  Anyone with any training in child development could tell you that focusing a child on service as opposed to education and vocational training is counter-productive and detrimental to their growth and potential in modern business and society.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 2)

"The Parent fully understands that the premise or philosophy of the Academy is that the troubled teen is not "troubled", only that he/she is essentially "spoiled" (a term meant to describe an entitled teen who is emotionally immature with a sense of "entitlement") because he/she has been given too many resources (education, material wealth, etc.) ...Additionally, this Youth is acting self-centered, thinking only of him/herself, and refused to take responsibility for his/her self-centered actions...Moreover, the Parent recognizes that the Youth is acting irresponsibly...This Youth has not learned to persevere through tough and difficult...situations."

"...this Youth has ventured away from his/her Christian heritage and Christian values of his/her upbringing and is adopting the values of the "Godless" culture that has become predominate in the United States.  This Youth is also failing to invest him/herself for the future, acts lazy, and may not be contributing to the high level of personal wealth and comfort he/she enjoys through the provision of the Parent...This Youth believes...his/her life should not be controlled, monitored, or supervised by "Parents"."

"...the Youth is not currently able to make decisions that are in the best interest of the Youth."

The first paragraph is extremely subjective and denies the reality that holding children in a locked-down facility where they are "compelled" to submit to the program or risk being shipped to a likely abusive and/or deadly wilderness program/boot camp followed by additional time at Abundant Life Academy (discussed below under page 11), is arguably illegal and in violation of the civil rights of the child.  In Milonas and Rice et al v. Provo Canyon School, the court decided that it was a violation of the children's constitutional liberty interests to hold them against their will in a behavior modification or any other setting without due process.  Parents would do well to remember that such a biased view of children suggests a disdain for the charges left to the "care" of Abundant Life Academy and that their children will not be shown respect or consideration unless they "serve the needs" of the program.  This is a very dangerous attitude to instill in any human being that respects Free Will and the US Constitution.

Of course, in the second section quoted above we see an even greater disdain for cultural diversity and religious freedom.  HEAL takes an ecumenical approach to faith and we respect all faiths.  Whether someone is Baptist or Buddhist, Mormon or Methodist, Evangelical or Agnostic, or anything in-between or external, we respect everyone's right to find their path to spiritual and/or personal growth.  Abundant Life's attack on America as being predominantly "Godless" is insulting to the over 70% Christian population of the United States as well as the other faiths and beliefs held by Americans who share the belief that America is a great country with a sound basis for recognizing human and civil rights of all people.  Railing against America is unAmerican and denotes cult-like ulterior motives of the program.

Also, this section implies that a Youth's desire to not be controlled by his/her parents is problematic.  It is a very normal stage of human development in the teen years to begin establishing personal independence and autonomy.  It is wrong of Abundant Life Academy to imply that wanting more control over one's self in the teen years is abnormal or a sign of "bad" behavior. 

The last quote above is a concern because Abundant Life claims that the program is "voluntary".  Again, we discussed how this is contradicted throughout the contract and identifying someone as incompetent to make decisions for themselves in a contract suggests that such decision-making will be left to those in authority (i.e. Abundant Life Academy staff) as opposed to the child.  This again shows the involuntary nature of the program and the deception and hypocrisy used even in the enrollment agreement itself.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 3)

"The Parent acknowledges and declares that...the Youth is selfish, self-centered, and unwilling to live up to their academic/personal potential...the Academy purposely produces controlled adversity training..."

"The Parent promises to support the Academy in this endeavor.  The Parent promises to refrain from undermining the efforts of the Academy by promising to not provide Youth with material resources or emotional support that they have not earned.  Additionally, the Parent promises to support the Academy in its efforts to hold the student accountable for his/her negative actions, and the Parents promise to not "rescue" the Youth."

"The Academy offers no guarantee of success and emphatically declares that any level of success of the Youth completely falls upon the Youth's willingness to learn...and the Parent's willingness to insist the Youth finishes the entire program to full completion...participate of Youth is voluntary, the Youth will be encouraged and compelled by the Academy to fully participate and take full advantage of the training offered by the Academy.  The Academy fully expects the Parents to support the Academy's efforts to compel the Youth to fully participate in all program elements."

"The first trimester will be no shorter then 3 months and one day...Youth will not progress from one trimester to another trimester without fully completing the prescribed curriculum identified in each trimester...The Parent also acknowledges that from time-to-time (exceptional cases) Youth will be able to complete all three trimesters in less then 9 months."

The first statement above again denotes a disdain for the children being enrolled in the Abundant Life Academy program.  We think it would be good for Abundant Life Academy to review the portions of the Holy Bible referring to "judge not lest ye be judged", "God is love", and the definition of love provided by the Holy Bible.

Here are some pertinent passages suggested for review:

Matthew 7:1-3 (KJV) "Judge not that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

1 John 4:8 (KJV) "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;b 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Now, the repeated judgments of children unknown to Abundant Life Academy at the time of its assumption of the "spoiled" nature of the children is both hypocritical and in direct opposition to Christian values.  Further on in Corinthians Chapter 13, we find a focus on charity.  Charity is the nature of tolerance, understanding, and forgiveness.  The attitude portrayed by Abundant Life Academy towards children in the program shows nothing but judgment, arrogance, a focus on wrongdoing, and a support of the resentment and irritability of the family that is struggling as opposed to a Christian support of patience, kindness, forgiveness, and humility.  Further on in the contract, Abundant Life Academy claims it uses "mainstream" Christian values in its "Leadership Training".  If judgment, hate, and abuse are "mainstream" Christian values, HEAL wants no part of it.  We have faith that legitimate persons of faith believe in truth and love, not hate and abuse or hypocrisy and lies.

What does Abundant Life Academy mean by "controlled adversity training"? 

Again, depriving a child of love and emotional support, and stating it is something that must be earned, further establishes the disdainful and cruel nature of the Abundant Life Academy program.  All children and people deserve the emotional support of their friends and family.  It is a parent's responsibility and even a legally required responsibility to provide for both the emotional and material needs of their children.  It is clearly obscene, arguably illegal, and downright un-Christian to suggest a child should be abandoned materially and emotionally by his/her parents. 

In the third statement from page 3 above, we have outright contradiction in the same paragraph.  Here we have Abundant Life Academy taking no responsibility for the efficacy (or lack thereof) of their program or methods and placing all the responsibility on the Youth and/or the family.  Abundant Life Academy again states that participation is voluntary, yet, that parents and the program "compel" (aka force or use overwhelming pressure/coercion) the child to "work the program".  This is hypocritical and not in line with Christian values or the teachings of Christ.  In this section, Abundant Life Academy claims to make no guarantees of success and this is contradicted on page 23 of the contract which refers to the ALA guarantee program under the After Care header (there are 2 page 23s in the contract, it is the second page 23).  No guarantee in the "four corners" of the written contract, but, oral "guarantees" that would arguably not be considered by a court and would turn into "he said/she said".  It is not professional and with so many contradictory terms suggests an illusory contract or void/voidable contract at best.

And, in contradiction to page 1 of the agreement, it states children from time-to-time complete the program in less than 9 months.  But, Abundant Life Academy wants you to pay for the full 9 months and is really concerned about the money they are raking in at your expense as opposed to helping families in crisis.  This is quite clear throughout the contract. 

Enrollment Agreement (Page 4)

"The Parent promises to inform the Academy any time the Youth attempts to discuss an early graduation date, or "deal"...the Academy will provide to the Family a mandatory Aftercare Program for the purpose of Continued Family Restoration...During the Youth's participation in the Academy program, the Youth will take part in an International Mercy Ministry Trip for the purpose of Participating in a Christian outreach project."

"The Parent fully understands that the Academy does not provide mental health services, therapy, or secular counseling of any kind.  The Academy is a Christian leadership program where students are mentored and coached by using the principals found in the teachings of Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament."

"It is the understanding of the Parent that this Enrollment Agreement will be in effect for at least (9) months, and thereafter will become a month-to-month agreement until terminated by the Parent...The Parent understands, acknowledges, and agrees and to keep their Youth enrolled at the Academy until Youth fully completes the entire program [program completion is at the sole discretion of the ALA staff]..." (cont. on to page 5)

In the first paragraph above Abundant Life Academy again poses parents against their children asking them to betray their child's confidence and further destroy any trust relationship or foundation remaining between child and parent.  Also, the focus is money.  The Aftercare Program is costly and amounts to not much more than e-mails between ALA staff and the family.  This is a rip-off and the exploitation of children and families for profit would definitely offend Christ who opposed the money-changers in houses of the Lord.  This is utter hypocrisy and greed-mongering.  Persons of faith do not exploit their fellows in this manner. 

Also, is the International Mercy Ministry trip associated with Mercy Ministries, Inc.?  If so, there are ample reports that Mercy Ministries, Inc. is fraudulent and abusive.  See:

Viewing children as spoiled and in need of strict discipline is of the "Old Testament".  So, again, hypocrisy.  And, in this section it should read "principles" not "principals".  This again shows the lack of basic writing skills exemplified throughout this so-called "agreement". 

The Academy requires Parents to agree that they will keep their child at Abundant Life Academy until Abundant Life Academy decides the child has completed the program.  Again, it contradicts stating a minimum of 9 months when in the previous page early graduation/completion is noted.  Regardless, Abundant Life Academy wants to make sure they get their money and make that quite clear, even though the rest of the contract is illusory, contradictory, and generally and/or arguably unenforceable.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 5)

"Enrollment Fee of $__________, totaling $41,250.00 plus the first prorated month."

"$750 per sport"

"$350 month Horsemanship"

"$1,450 After Care Coaching"

"$2500 Mercy Ministry Trip"

"Any Youth that has completed the entire program will only be able to graduate and leave the program on the last day of each month...the Parent acknowledges that they are still responsible to pay for the Youth's total program and no refund of tuition will be provided." (finishes on page 6)

Basically, you are looking at over $50,000 for unprofessional care, inadequate educational services, and "Christian Leadership Training" by people who are representative of something other than Christian values.  The enrollment fee is included on page 9 and is $3,000 and non-refundable.  The high cost of the Mercy Ministry Trip in which your child would be forced to labor is absurd and suggests it is the "bad" Mercy Ministries, Inc., and not the Mercy Ministries of America that is involved. 

And, they certainly want that full fee.  Even if your child completes early they may hold your child up to a month to insure that they get their money.  This is not Christian and not respectful or conducive to family unity.  Later on, Abundant Life Academy repeats how everything is at the sole discretion of Abundant Life Academy and this too suggests an unconscionable contract as it is weighted to solely benefit Abundant Life Academy and provides no legitimate service or provision warranting the expenditures made by families to the program. 

Enrollment Agreement (Page 6)

"The Parent understands and fully acknowledges that Parent will be responsible for paying all tuition and unpaid fees for the duration of this enrollment period [9 months] whether or not Youth completes the entire program."

"These students are extremely mature and are a major part of helping the new incoming students to make the same changes.  The students preparing to return home (program graduates) are required to "give back" what they have received to the new incoming students, helping the entering students to make major changes in their lives."

Apparently, Abundant Life Academy is ill-equipped to succeed in a legitimate business and intends to make sure they get every dime regardless of the fact that they offer no guarantees and take no responsibility for the outcome of their "training".

The second segment above refers to the use of graduates as lower level staff.  This is uncompensated labor and insures that Abundant Life Academy maximizes their profits while the children do most, if not all, of the work.  It appears that Abundant Life Academy is nothing more than a scam and/or cult and it should be avoided.  Positive Peer Culture, which is suggested by the second segment, is confirmedly abusive, ineffective, and harmful. 

Enrollment Agreement (Page 7)

"The hope of the Academy is that upon the Youth's return home the Youth will appreciate the resources (good education, nice home, warm bed, good meals, fine clothes, autos, etc.) that were lost upon Youth's enrollment..."

"...the Academy does not place the academic performance of the Youth as the number one priority.  They typical new student is not usually academically motivated, and therefore in the first trimester the Academy is more focused on redirecting the Youth's attitude toward education...The Parent fully acknowledges and understands that the priority of trimester one is to redirect the Youth and is focused mainly on emotional maturity."

"Weekly phone contact from Youth to Parent (with the exception of the first four weeks of enrollment where there may be a voluntary communication blackout period where the Youth is getting acclimated to the Academy)."

"life coaching in accordance with the Student Manual;"

"Christian Leadership Training (See Student Manual)"

It is disturbing to think that by enrolling your child in Abundant Life Academy you have agreed to their losing the resources of a good education and good meals.  It seems an admission that Abundant Life Academy does not provide good education and good meals as those were lost to the child upon enrollment.  What loving parent would subject a child to such an environment?  This suggests an illegal agreement that requires abandonment and neglect of the child and the child's needs.  See for information on child abuse laws in Utah and across the United States.  It is highly likely that Abundant Life Academy and parents contracting with them are in violation of the law by signing and implementing the conditions of this agreement.

What does Abundant Life Academy mean by "emotional maturity"?  How are they trained or educated to determine what is the appropriate level of emotional maturity for the children they claim to "train"?

The fact that there is a "communication blackout period" is a serious concern and one of the primary warning signs of an abusive program.  See for more information and additional questions to ask/points of inquiry.

What does Abundant Life Academy mean by "life coaching"?  Why isn't the Student Manual available to the public for review?  What are they hiding about their practices? 

What does Abundant Life Academy mean by "Christian Leadership Training"?  Does Abundant Life Academy understand that the primary method of leadership in Christianity is to lead by example?  What example is Abundant Life Academy setting by being controlling and showing that blind following of those claiming authority is good or Godly? 

Enrollment Agreement (Page 8)

"A Student Manual, which sets forth, the details by which the Academy will conduct its daily operations...Said Student Manual may be revised, updated, and improved from time to time, at the sole discretion of the Academy."

"...the Academy in every way to insist that High School graduates will immediately begin taking college courses."

"The parent fully acknowledges that the monthly fee for students earning more than five credits will be $560 per month."

"The Parent shall be responsible to provide the following for the Youth while in the care of the Academy...ALA Uniform...All specialized Hygiene or Medicinal Products...Recreational Equipment an Vocational Tools...Bible and other approved reading materials..." (continues on page 9)

Are the discretionary changes to the daily operations and practices of the Academy changed regularly by the Academy without notice and with the purpose of creating instability and confusion in the child and/or the family?

What college does the Academy require children enroll in and is it legitimate or an online scam from which they derive any financial benefit?

And, yet additional costs for education that are not covered with the very steep "tuition" costs already applied.  This is a serious issue and suggests a profit-motive over any desire to help Christian families in need of support.  Why do they require parents to supply and purchase from them ALA uniforms, hygiene products, recreational and vocational equipment, and reading materials?  What exactly are you getting for your $50,000, just additional expenses?  How much money do these people need to make off of their enrollees?

Enrollment Agreement (Page 9)

"These personal items are not covered items under any insurance policy of the Academy and the Academy assumes no liability or responsibility for a Youth's personal item that is traded, sold, lost, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of..."

"Academy Leadership Curriculum, Trainings, Materials, and Conferences;"

"Non-Specialized hygiene products and supplies"

"Bedding, Linen, Towels"

"Incidental transportation while enrolled in the school."

Again, we have Abundant Life Academy taking absolutely no responsibility for the care of the very belongings they require families to provide for their children while in the program.  And, later in the review, (see page 28 of enrollment agreement) we see that they assume the right to dispose of any property at their whim if they think it is not conducive to the ALA environment.  This puts Abundant Life Academy and their staff in a prime position to steal from you and your family and claim you agreed to it by signing this ridiculous contract.  Programs often steal or "misplace" items of both financial and sentimental value.  These include religious-emblem necklaces (i.e. a crucifix) and other items that they can pawn or re-gift.  And, if you sign the agreement, they will claim you agreed to allow the disappearance of heirloom items including precious Bibles that delineate family histories.  And, they will blame you for sending items of value with your child knowing they were likely to disappear. 

The other items listed above are stated to be covered by the $3,000 enrollment fee.  However, in later pages, parents must agree to a $75 incidental transportation fee (see page 30 of agreement) for children while enrolled in the program.  Make no mistake, this is not a school and does not provide an education.  This is also deceptive language in the contract.  This is not a school.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 10)

"Liability Wavier"

"If Parent allows Youth to participate, they hereby acknowledge that such activities may be at locations other than the Academy and under the supervision of other adults not employed by the Academy."

"If in fact the Academy expels a Youth for the reasons described in number 12, at the Academy's discretion, all or a portion of any unused tuition may be returned to the Parent...This document may be revised at the Academy's discretion...The most recent version of the Expulsion Policies is expressly incorporated in full into this Enrollment Agreement by this reference."

"In the event of an actual breach of the agreement has occurred by the Academy any past due tuition MUST be paid by the Parent prior to the approval of the termination; Parent MUST pay fees and past due tuition fees prior to the termination of this Enrollment Agreement."

Wavier is not a legal term.  And, it is the word that is used repeatedly throughout this contract.  The word they likely intended was waiver.  But, "wavier" is a variation of wavy as in "wavy lines or wavy hair".  It in no way is a legal term.  This again goes to show the unprofessional and amateurish nature of the agreement authors and further suggests the lack of skill and education of the author(s) and the Academy itself.  An intelligent person would know the difference between wavier and waiver.

Abundant Life Academy has a fiduciary responsibility in acting in place of the parents to insure that the children are not left alone with child predators or adults that are not screened or monitored by the Academy.  Here again, we have Abundant Life Academy worrying about their own interests and not the interests of the families they claim to serve. 

It is unconscionable and symptomatic of an illusory promise to state that portions of the agreement can be changed at any time by Abundant Life Academy and that the agreeing families are or would agree to unknown terms and be held to those unknown terms.  A court would likely not uphold this contract and would likely find it void on a number of grounds including being adverse to public policy.

And, the kicker...Abundant Life Academy claims, that in the event they have breached the contract, that they still demand, and the family must agree to still pay for, the entire enrollment package prior to terminating the contract even though Abundant Life has breached it.  This is obscene and does not show someone who respects the laws of man or of God.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 11)

"...the Parent agrees to pay any and all property damage, or damage to a person, or "business related" injuries (i.e. the Academy's reputation within the community) caused by or incurred by the Youth while enrolled with the Academy."

"The Academy may offer the Parent the opportunity to have the Academy temporarily suspend the Youth's enrollment, if the Parent enrolls the Youth into a short-term Wilderness Program/Boot Camp...the Academy will assist the Parent in finding an educational consultant who will work with the Parent in recommending a Wilderness Program/Boot Camp to fit the Youth's needs.  The Academy recommend Zion Educational Systems ("ZES") as educational consultants and as the transportation agents...At the Academy's discretion, the Academy may provide limited tuition credits to the Parent for the amounts the Parent paid to other educational consultants and/or transportation agents.  The Parent understands that the Academy is not affiliated with any shortterm Wilderness Program/Boot Camp with which the Parent or Youth has dealings or enters into an enrollment or tuition agreement."

"The Parent understands and acknowledges that it is the general policy of Abundant Life Academy to expect the Parent to refrain from visiting the child during the first 91 days of enrollment...visits prior to completion of trimester one have caused harm..."

"...the Parent agrees to refrain from contacting any other Parent or family member of any Academy Youth for any reason without the full knowledge and written permission of the Academy."

In regards to the first segment in the above cell, shouldn't Abundant Life Academy be responsible for any damages to its reputation that may occur due to its own mismanagement?  It is outrageous to suggest families be responsible for any "harm" to the reputation of a business that was closed by Mexican authorities for child abuse.  Any "harm" to Abundant Life Academy's reputation is due to its own incompetence and they should hold themselves accountable for any damage that is incurred due to that incompetence.

Zion Educational Systems (ZES) is a marketing agency for the "troubled teen" industry based out of St. George, UT.  St. George, UT is the home-base for the confirmedly abusive and fraudulent WWASPS chain of programs, among others (i.e. Eagle Ranch Academy).  ZES' clients include Abundant Life Academy, Ascend Recovery, Cherokee Creek School, and Clarity at Seven Ponds. (Source:  Obviously, there is a fiduciary relationship between Abundant Life Academy and ZES and Abundant Life's statement that they are not affiliated with the outside programs or referrers is misleading.  The people behind ZES are Craig Rogers, Cliff Painter, and Franko Mandato.  In addition, there are online articles stating that Craig Rogers is the founder and CEO of Abundant Life Academy.  Rogers was reported to have worked for WWASPS.  Rogers and Abundant Life Academy refer to WWASPS through their own website.  Painter claims to have worked for Abundant Life Academy from 2005-2007.  And, Mandato claims to have worked for Abundant Life Academy since 2003. appears to be a subsidiary of ZES.  People running this kidnap-for-hire service include Russell Welch.  They recommend parents use to locate wilderness programs and other services.  They refer specifically to Melissa Waters at and state they work closely with her. claims to be currently under construction and offers no information regarding their business or services.  The same number and information for Melissa Waters (an "educational consultant") shows up in searches in relation to  This brings up a site for North Rim Leadership Academy, co-founded by Craig Rogers of ZES and Abundant Life Academy.  The same phone number for North Rim Leadership Academy is associated with  And, this site refers to a number of abusive programs including Sorenson's Ranch School, Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, Discovery Academy, Diamond Ranch Academy, and Provo Canyon School.  If these are the programs that ZES refers to, it is likely good to avoid them and anyone associated with them (i.e. Abundant Life Academy).  Can you say "conflict of interest"?

Keeping a child isolated from family and cutting off communication for months at a time is cruel and not conducive to a healthy model or the reunification of families in crisis.  It does not harm a child to visit with their parents and suggesting it does is absurd.

In the final segment of page 11 mentioned above, we again see the controlling and overbearing nature of Abundant Life Academy.  It suggests they have something to hide and do not want any parents or families discussing problems or the program without their full knowledge and consent.  Parents enrolling a child are adults and should be respected as such and not have demands made of them regarding with whom they communicate.  This is an overbearing system of control that suggests more of a cult than an academy.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 12)

"...the Academy expects the full support of the Parent in all endeavors."

"Doing so will help the Youth to fully commit to the program, which will help the Youth experience an internal heart change.  The Parent acknowledges that excessive or unreasonable complaints to the Academy about the program, the Academy, or the staff can distract from and hinder the progress the Academy is attempting to make with the Youth.  The Parent agrees not to complain about or criticize the Academy, the program, or the Academy's staff directly to or in front of the Youth or to any current student of the Academy or the parents of any current student...the Parent agrees to state their concerns or complaints in writing, by emailing the Academy at  ...Failure to abide by the provisions of this paragraph could lead to the immediate expulsion of the Youth without refund."

"Good faith and fair dealing"

"If any terms, covenant or condition of this "Enrollment Agreement" shall, to any extent, be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder...shall be valid and be enforced..."


In the first two segments above, we have a demand of full and unquestioning support of Abundant Life Academy.  This is followed by a ridiculously unprofessional complaint resolution service that requires all complaints be made via e-mail and not in front of the child.  What if a child mentions having been harmed in a telephone conference and the parent wants an immediate explanation from the program staff?  Are they to send an e-mail instead of question the fact that their child has been abused?  It is absurd and over-reaching.  An intelligent parent would avoid Abundant Life Academy. 

What does Abundant Life Academy mean by an "internal heart change"?  And, how is this "change" measured?

This entire contract is illusory and likely void/voidable as a matter of public policy or arguably due to illegality and/or unconscionability.  And, Abundant Life Academy should be forced to refund all the money they have ever taken from families in need.  That is HEAL's opinion.  Including or suggesting any of this "agreement" amounts to a good faith and fair dealing arrangement is absolutely absurd and a qualified attorney would likely agree.

The whole contract is likely unenforceable due to the reasons mentioned above.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 13)

"The Parent agrees to resolve any and all disputes of this Enrollment Agreement in the State of Utah."

By contracting and advertising outside of the state of Utah and taking international and/or interstate clients, it is unfair and imbalanced to require that all disputes be resolved in Utah.  If you do not wish to be held to interstate standards or federal standards, leave the rest of the US alone and only torment the locals, Abundant Life Academy!
Enrollment Agreement (Page 14)

"Parent acknowledges that the Academy is not obligated to inform parent by phone, email, or letter, as to every upcoming planned or unplanned recreational and social activities.  Therefore, unless otherwise specified in writing, the Academy understands that Youth is given permission by Parent to participate in all Academy recreational and social activities."

Here they have snuck something in... Parents have to pay additional fees for every social and recreational activity that the Academy engages in and this is beyond the almost $50,000 tuition and enrollment costs.  This is discussed in the pricing of these additional activities on pages 16, 23, and 30 of the contract.  They rake in the dough, but, what are they doing for you and your family?
Enrollment Agreement (Page 14)

"Permission to Participate and Wavier of Liability Agreement"

Again, there is no such legal term as "wavier" and these repeated spelling and grammatical errors really shine the light on the lack of intelligence and professionalism of Abundant Life Academy and their founders.  The misspelling and error are repeated on the same page and therefore, HEAL would imagine, the agreement would be unenforceable.  This is a permission slip only and is not written as a proper waiver of liability.  So, if your child was harmed by Abundant Life Academy, don't let the contract scare you.  Let it scare them. 
Enrollment Agreement (Page 17)

"As stated in our web site Abundant Life Academy at Kanab, Inc., serves gifted students who might be academically unmotivated and possibly need to address and overcome Learning Disabilities...More specifically, entitlement is a term meant to describe a child who is selfish, selfcentered, lazy, unappreciative, ungrateful, and "spoiled"...The students that we serve are basically good kids from good Christian families."

Now, referring back to page 4 of the agreement, we see that they are not qualified and do not offer help or appropriate help for children with learning disabilities.  In the above statement, they suggest or imply that their purpose is to assist children in overcoming learning disabilities.  This is a blatant contradiction.  They admit to being unqualified to provide professional assistance to those diagnosed with Learning Disabilities and then claim it is the primary purpose of their program.  Hypocrisy?  Yes.  Deception?  Yes.  Christian? Probably not.

Of course, this is also followed by more misspellings and poor grammar.  The notion of "spoiling a child" is Old Testament and not in line with the professed "New Testament" focus of Abundant Life Academy.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 20)

"While the Academy expects some degree of resistance initially from a student in regards to the rules of the Academy..."

"If a student is expelled or chooses to leave the Academy, in consultation with the student's parent(s), the Academy will assist in arranging the immediate transportation of the student to a more suitable environment.  This may mean transportation to the student's home or to another program."

If a child does not wish to be at the Academy and resists being there, they are by definition not there voluntarily.  This is discussed in detail above, but, we wanted to be sure you see the ongoing pattern of deceptive language and manipulation of language common in this "agreement". 

It is a concern that Abundant Life Academy is so quick to help get children placed in confirmedly abusive programs such as Provo Canyon School and/or Aspen Education Group programs.  Abundant Life Academy should be avoided.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 21)

"We agree to be bound by the most recent version of these Expulsion Policies, provided that a copy of the revised Expulsion Policies is provided to us or notice is given to us that a revised version of the Expulsion Policies is available to be viewed on the Academy's website."

This is a tricky section as earlier in the agreement (page 10), it is stated, and thereby notice has been given, that the policy is subject to change at the whim and sole discretion of the program.  And, it is likely that no notice other than that which is given in the "agreement" itself will be forthcoming in the event of any whimsical or discretionary changes made to those policies.  It is unreasonable and against public policy for anyone to agree to terms they have not first read and reviewed.  It is arguably an unconscionable provision and likely void.
Enrollment Agreement (Page 22)

"Parents agree to refrain from informing their child of the impending departure from the school while the child is still enrolled.  Upon receipt of the enrollment termination letter ALA will retain all payments made in advance, and continue to bill the "Parents" for the amount owed for the duration of the 9month enrollment agreement."

For ALA, it is all about the "benjamins".  Money.  This is not a Christian ethic and flies in the face of the teachings of Christ.  These are scoundrels and hypocrites who should be run out of business for doing this to struggling families.

Also, it is wrong to ask the parents to deceive their children or to avoid discussing the child's own future with him/her.  This is disrespectful to the child and the child's right to know plans being made regarding his/her life.  It also further creates a trust issue between parents and children and this is not conducive to effective family unity.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 23/24)

"Without aftercare coaching from ALA we do not claim or promise that there will be any success of the student upon their return."

"[the ALA guarantee program states that if a child fails at home within the first three month of their return home, ALA will reenroll the child back into ALA at the cost of 30% of the current month's tuition]"

"The decision to reenroll will be made between the ALA Aftercare coach and the parents of the child."

"Additionally, if the ALA Graduate, in the 4th to 6th month after graduation, begins to return to the old behaviors that led to his/her being placed in ALA, he/she can return to ALA at the price of 50% of the current year's tuition."

Again, there is no claim or promise of success thereby no guarantee.  Yet, this is followed by a statement regarding an elusive "ALA guarantee program".  This is followed by stating that the determination will be made solely by subjective and interested parties (financial incentive for the program to say that the child should return to ALA) and will not include the child or an independent party who may be better able to objectively review the needs of and what is in the best interest of the child and his/her family.  This type of secret negotiation again creates an environment of distrust between the child and the parents and is not conducive to family unity.
Enrollment Agreement (Page 26)

"Returning students shall not be permitted to stay longer than six months."

Does Abundant Life Academy ever keep children enrolled for more than 18 months or more than 6 months if he/she is a returning student?  We imagine that the answer to this is "yes".  If you know, please enlighten us.
Enrollment Agreement (Page 27)

"RUNAWAY EXPENSES...the Parent who agrees to accept full responsibility for any and all such costs and expenses, and to pay the same within seven (7) days of the Parents receipt of said accounting."

So, if a child escapes Abundant Life Academy due to their lax supervision or to their creating an environment intolerable for human habitation, they will require the family to pay any and all expenses in recovering the child.  Again, more money.  What exactly are parents paying such a steep $50,000+ amount for?  Does Abundant Life Academy take any responsibility at all for their program or the resulting issues that occur as a result of their practices?  It appears they do not. 
Enrollment Agreement (Page 28)

"AUTHORIZATION FOR SEARCH AND SEIZURE.  Parents hereby authorizes Abundant Life Academy personnel to search the person and personal effects of..."

"Abundant Life Academy is further authorized to confiscate any and all items deemed by Abundant Life Academy to be contraband or counterproductive to the Student's successful completion of the program.  The disposition of all items confiscated by Abundant Life Academy shall be left to the sole discretion of Abundant Life Academy."

Good children who are just suffering from being slightly "spoiled" do not warrant a search of body or personal effects.  ALA claims they do not treat anyone with mental health or substance abuse problems and that they do not accept children with these problems.  This would eliminate any "probable cause" they may have for conducting such a search and such a search is violative of the child's civil rights.  Yes, children have recognized civil rights and this type of illegal search and seizure is a violation of those rights.  Again, this is not legal advice, please consult an attorney and discuss any legal questions with an attorney.

And, here we have Abundant Life Academy admitting to arbitrary decision-making regarding the confiscation and disposal of the personal property of the child and/or his/her family that is sent with the child or to the child while at Abundant Life Academy.  It creates an environment where theft would be common-place and allows for ALA to steal from students without any repercussions.  This is unacceptable.

Enrollment Agreement (Page 29)

"AUTHORIZATION FOR RESTRAINT...the Parent hereby authorizes Abundant Life Academy personnel to physically restrain, control, and detain the student...when deemed necessary by Abundant Life Academy, for the purposes including but not limited to transport the student to and from the Program's location, returning the Student to the Program's Location, returning the Student to the Program if the Student runs away, or preventing the Student from jeopardizing the Student's own safety or the safety of others."

Benjamin Donahue reported that he was choked by ALA staff in one of their "restraint holds".  These people admit to not having the proper training to even administer restraint when necessary and claim to only accept children who do not have a history of violence or criminal activity.  There is absolutely no good reason why any parent should permit such an unqualified program to restrain or detain their child or exert extreme physical control over their child.  It is unhealthy for children to be controlled or abused by those who wish to keep them in conditions that are not legally permissible outside of those who have been convicted or adjudicated to a program or prison.  This environment conditions children to believe that they are subject to the controls and abuses of those in authority positions without question.  That is a very dangerous lesson to impart to any human being. 

We hope you have found this review helpful.  Good luck and please don't place your children in Abundant Life Academy.  For parenting suggestions and resources, see and