This is a staff list for Explorations in Trout Creek, MT
(a.k.a. Crisis and Transitional Care )
(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)
We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at Explorations. For information on your rights and how to take action, visit www.heal-online.org/blowthewhistle.htm.† If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at Explorations, you have the right to take action.†
If you were harmed (family or survivor) by Explorations, please contact email@example.com if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.† This will help!† Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.
Please donít place your loved one in Explorations and rescue them if they are there now.
|Penny James||Co-Founder/Owner||James has been with Explorations since 1989 and is proud to have served the fraudulent accreditation agency, NATSAP. And, the Montana Government allows abusive programs such as WWASPS to self-regulate. How can we trust programs who are in-charge of licensing and regulating themselves without any outside oversight? We can't. Don't send your children to Montana! James is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Leona Gollen||Executive Assistant||HEAL does not perform professional licensing checks on office, maintenance, nor food service staff unless they have direct contact and authority over minors in the program.|
|Larry Culp||Treatment Team Coordinator||Founder of Loveland Farms, Inc.--another residential facility (free slave labor agricultural business). Culp is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Stephanie Bodden||Summer Therapist||Bodden is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Mark Clark||Counselor||Clark is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Matthew Geske||Summer Therapist||
License Type: Licensed Clin Professional Type: State License
Number: SWP-LCPC-LIC-1401 Name: MATTHEW D GESKE License State:
MT Title: Licensing Board: Social Worker City, State Zip:
KALISPELL MT 59901 Business Name: Phone: Eligible to Practice: Phone 2:
Business License Expiration Date: FAX: License Issue Date: 01/27/2009
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org License Expiration Date: 12/31/2010 Method:
Credentials License Status: Terminated
|Sarah Mack||Parent Coach||Mack is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Todd Corelli||Psychologist||Corelli works with many unnamed residential and wilderness "treatment" programs. Corelli is not a licensed psychologist, mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
Formerly worked for Outward Bound for 10 years. License Type: Licensed
Clin Professional Type: State License Number: SWP-LCPC-LIC-1300
Name: FRANCES E GRYL License State: MT Title: Licensing Board: Social
Worker City, State Zip: EUREKA MT 59917 Business Name: Phone: Eligible
to Practice: Phone 2: Business License Expiration Date: FAX: License
Issue Date: 01/08/2007 E-mail: email@example.com License Expiration
Date: 12/31/2015 Method: Exam License Status: Active
File Complaints About This Licensee at: http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/email_form.asp
License Type: Licensed Clin Social Worker Type: State License
Number: SWP-LCSW-LIC-627 Name: JESSICA LEIGH MURRAY License
State: MT Title: Licensing Board: Social Worker City, State Zip:
MISSOULA MT 59808 Business Name: Phone: Eligible to Practice: Phone 2:
Business License Expiration Date: FAX: License Issue Date: 06/25/2003
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org License Expiration Date: 12/31/2015
Method: Exam License Status: Active
File Complaints About This Licensee at: http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/email_form.asp
|Bob Helvey||Residential Staff||Helvey is not a licensed psychologist, mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Harvey Carlsmith||Residential Staff||Carlsmith is not a licensed psychologist, mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Emily Thelen||Instructor||Thelen has worked for cults/programs in Utah and Minnesota as well. Thelen is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Ron Dodge||Residential Counselor||Dodge is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Harlan Hayes||Instructor||Hayes is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
License Type: Licensed Addiction Counselor Type: State License
Number: LAC-LAC-LIC-1183 Name: MICHAEL STEMBORSKI License State:
MT Title: Licensing Board: Licensed Addiction Counselors City, State Zip:
COLUMBIA FALLS MT 59912 Business Name: Phone: Eligible to Practice:
Phone 2: Business License Expiration Date: FAX: License Issue Date:
01/18/2007 E-mail: email@example.com License Expiration Date:
06/30/2016 Method: Exam License Status: Active
License Type: Licensed Clin Professional Type: State License Number: SWP-LCPC-LIC-1103 Name: MICHAEL STEMBORSKI License State: MT Title: Licensing Board: Social Worker City, State Zip: COLUMBIA FALLS MT 59912 Business Name: Phone: Eligible to Practice: Phone 2: Business License Expiration Date: FAX: License Issue Date: 03/03/2003 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org License Expiration Date: 12/31/2015 Method: Exam License Status: Active
File Complaints About This Licensee at: http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/email_form.asp
|Lauren Veverka||Instructor||Veverka is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Kjerstin Gurda||Instructor||Gurda is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Daniel Doty||Instructor||Formerly worked for The Gateway School and programs in Utah. Doty is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Ryan Marchand||Instructor||Marchand is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Raizel Liebowitz||Instructor||Formerly worked for Spring Ridge Academy in AZ. Liebowitz is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Martin Knight||Instructor||Knight is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Shawn Helvey||Instructor||Helvey is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Rebecca Eldridge||Instructor||Eldridge is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Elana Brechner||Intern||Brechner is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional nor intern in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Reuben Cousins||Intern||Cousins is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional nor intern in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Tracey Dean||Admin. Asst.||HEAL does not perform professional licensing checks on office, maintenance, nor food service staff unless they have direct contact and authority over minors in the program.|
|Jeff Kenny||Logistics||HEAL does not perform professional licensing checks on office, maintenance, nor food service staff unless they have direct contact and authority over minors in the program.|
|Dan Ward||Summer Director||He owns Peak Experience (a wilderness program for teens) and is partner with Wild Rockies Tours. Ward no longer appears to be working for this program. Ward is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Terry McNamara||Summer Therapist||McNamara has worked at other unnamed "mental health" and wilderness programs.* McNamara no longer appears to be working for this program. McNamara is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Kevin Kram||Instructor||Kram no longer appears to be working for this program. Kram is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Adam Heidibridle||Instructor||Heidibridle is originally from Utah. He has worked at numerous unnamed programs from Florida to Montana. Heidibridle no longer appears to be working for this program. Heidibridle is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Adde Tetreault||Instructor||Tetreault has worked at Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, a confirmedly abusive Aspen Education Group program in New York. Tetreault no longer appears to be working for this program. Tetreault is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Jeremy Lizotte||Instructor||Lizotte has worked at at least one other unnamed wilderness program. Lizotte no longer appears to be working for this program. Lizotte is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Ryan Ebersberger||Instructor||Ebersberger has worked at a variety of unnamed programs in Colorado, Montana, California, Hawaii.* Ebersberger no longer appears to be working for this program. Ebersberger is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Tony Meidlejohn (or Meiklejohn)||Instructor||Tony worked at a program in Utah before coming to Montana. Meidlejohn/Meiklejohn no longer appears to be working for this program. Meidlejohn/Meiklejohn is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Gabe Krenza||Instructor||Krenza no longer appears to be working for this program. Krenza is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Heidi Hoff||Instructor||Hoff no longer appears to be working for this program. Hoff is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Erin Adcock||Instructor||Studied at the University of Utah. Adcock no longer appears to be working for this program. Adcock is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Christine Artmann||Instructor||Artmann has worked at unnamed programs in Utah, Minnesota, California, and Colorado.* Artmann no longer appears to be working for this program. Artmann is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Anna Dickey||Instructor||Anna is a "graduate" of an unnamed wilderness program and began college (hasn't finished). Dickey no longer appears to be working for this program. Dickey is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
License Type: Licensed Clin Professional Type: State License
Number: SWP-LCPC-LIC-7717 Name: LACEY AUTUMN HEINZELMAN License
State: MT Title: Licensing Board: Social Worker City, State Zip: TROUT
CREEK MT 59874 Business Name: Phone: Eligible to Practice: Phone 2:
Business License Expiration Date: FAX: License Issue Date:
03/06/2014 E-mail: License Expiration Date: 12/31/2015 Method:
Exam License Status: Active
License Type: Marriage and Family Therapist Type: State License Number: SWP-LMFT-LIC-8586 Name: LACEY AUTUMN HEINZELMAN License State: MT Title: Licensing Board: Social Worker City, State Zip: TROUT CREEK MT 59874 Business Name: Phone: Eligible to Practice: Phone 2: Business License Expiration Date: FAX: License Issue Date: 10/06/2014 E-mail: License Expiration Date: 12/31/2015 Method: Exam License Status: Active
File Complaints About This Licensee at: http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/email_form.asp
|Eric Reeves||Counselor||Reeves is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Dianne Hanna||Tutor||Hanna is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
|Marian Stonehocker||Tutor||Stonehocker is not a licensed educator in MT. Source: https://apps3.opi.mt.gov/MSEIS/NormalPages/Educators.aspx|
License Type: Licensed Practical Nurse Type: State License Number:
NUR-LPN-LIC-38651 Name: ALICIA ROSE SMITH License State: MT
Title: Licensing Board: Nursing City, State Zip: TROUT CREEK MT 59874
Business Name: Phone: Eligible to Practice: Phone 2: Business License
Expiration Date: FAX: License Issue Date: 10/01/2009 E-mail:
email@example.com License Expiration Date: 12/31/2016 Method: Exam License
File Complaints About This Licensee at: http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/email_form.asp
|Lars Hall||Lead Exped. Guide||Hall is not a licensed guide in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Todd McKibbin||Lead Exped. Guide||McKibbin is not a licensed guide in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Greg Fortin||Lead Exped. Guide||Fortin is not a licensed guide in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|Donna Carr||Exec. Asst.|
|Ramsay Riddell||Admissions Counselor||Riddell is not a licensed mental health nor medical professional in MT. Source: https://ebiz.mt.gov/pol/|
|NO OTHER NAMES||NO OTHER TITLES||There is no additional information on staff at this location at this time.*|
|*(Explorations, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices. Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience. Thank you for your help.)|
HEAL SPECIAL REPORT:
EXPLORATIONS' ENROLLMENT AND PROGRAM INFORMATION REVIEW
HEAL has some concerns regarding the Explorations' (Explorations/Explorations') enrollment and program information* including apparent unethical and/or contradictory terms. We will be alternating between "quoted text" from pages of Explorations' materials (as was downloaded from explorationsmt.com on October 6th, 2010) and HEAL's questions/concerns. HEAL will not repeatedly link to the enrollment materials in full throughout this review, and, we advise readers to scroll back and/or open the enrollment materials 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/Program Information, Includes: Application, Individual Expenses, Summer Program Enrollment, Contract, Parent Handbook, Summer Program Details, and Summer Program Clothing List.)
Application (page 1)
"Please include an application fee of $200.00"
"Who referred you to us?"
"Exploration, is an independent, non denominational educational program and does not discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, religion, sex, color or ethnic origin."
HEAL has included reference to the application fee to establish that there is such a fee if/when mentioned later on in this review.
Parents should ask if Explorations has agreements with and/or compensates in any way for referrals to their program. The "referral" question may appear innocent enough, but, HEAL has found that many programs and "independent referrers" have arrangements including if a referrer represents themselves as a "non-profit", accepting "donations" of a percentage of the contract in exchange for referrals. It is a way to avoid a "direct connection" between the referrer and the compensation given. But, would still indicate kickbacks or other unethical practices.
It is a concern that Exploration [sic] implies that they may discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. If "reparative therapy" is practiced at this program, it is a serious concern as it has been denounced by the APA as harmful and ineffective.
Application (page 4)
"Describe applicant's relationship with each parent and/or step-parents, siblings and any other significant relationship(s):"
This portion of the application is way too subjective. It is only appropriate for an individual to describe how they feel their relationship is with another individual. Asking one individual to speak for all family members without their input is too subjective and will likely result in inaccurate information about the child. The child's input regarding their perception, perspective, and experience should always be taken into consideration. So, this is a mild concern.
Application (page 5)
"(Include behavior problems such as dishonesty, stealing, manipulation, conflict, etc."
This portion of the application is a concern because it is pitting the parent against the child. Instead of asking a general statement and allowing parents to explain the behaviors/issues their child is exhibiting with a range of positive and negative behaviors as examples of what "behaviors" are as defined by the program, the program chooses to focus on the negative. This does not imply an encouraging or respectful environment for children in the program. In addition, the reasons given for monitoring all phone and mail calls (discussed below) is to stop the child from writing "manipulative" letters or making "manipulative" statements such as being honest about the conditions at Explorations and requesting to be removed from the program. This is a serious concern.
Application (page 6)
"Sexual acting-out promiscuity, inappropriate sexual behavior, rape:"
"Name any significant family member(s) or friends who are deceased. Please describe the circumstances, including date of death and applicant's reaction."
HEAL is concerned that Explorations may find homosexuality to be "inappropriate sexual behavior". As mentioned above, Explorations does not include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy. This is a concern.
If a child is having difficulty with the loss of a loved one, then they shouldn't be shipped off and further abandoned by their family for their difficulty in processing their grief. Grieving people need the love and support of their friends and family. Imagine taking the death of someone you love hard and having it used against you to institutionalize you. This is not a healthy way to assist a child in the grieving process. If the purpose isn't to support the child, is this information to be used to traumatize them by bringing up detailed painful memories so they are forced and possibly severely psychologically harmed by such coercion in dealing with their feelings/grief. This is a serious concern. Other programs ask if a child has had a loss of someone that they took hard. But, they do not ask for so much detail about the death and don't word it so vaguely. This is a concern.
Application (page 7)
"How well does applicant get along with other children, adults, and authority figures?"
This question is way too subjective and the parent, again, is not in a position to determine the child's relationships with others to an extent that would effectively provide accurate information regarding relationships that do not involve the parent directly. This is a concern.
Application (page 8)
"I understand that Explorations, HomeBase, Wilderness Assessment, Experiential Learning, Summer adventure, and Custom Venture programs are physically and emotionally challenging..."
"I hereby release and discharge Explorations, its agents, employees, officers and directors from all claim, demands, actions, judgments and executions which the undersigned may have against Explorations, for all personal injuries known or unknown, and damage to property, personal or real, caused by or arising out of my child's or my family's participation in any program or activity."
"I hereby authorize Penny James or any staff member of Explorations to provide authorization/confirmation emergency and/or medical treatment for applicant, at any medical facility, should it be deemed necessary. I understand that this will be done on my behalf should Explorations be unable to contact me at the time of said emergency. I am ultimately responsible for payment of said treatment."
"I understand and agree that applicant's personal affects and also his/her person may be searched at the discretion of Explorations personnel...I understand and agree that applicant may be tested for drug use with urinalysis screen, administered by a licensed physician and/or medical staff, at the discretion of Explorations personnel."
"I □ do □ do not agree to have applicant photographed. I understand these photos may be used for presentation purposes."
Explorations uses the terms "physically and emotionally challenging" as opposed to the more appropriate terms of the inherent risks of physical and emotional harm described by the contracts of similar programs in the industry. This is fancy footwork that appears to be used for the purpose of hiding the actual risks of physical and/or psychological harm associated with the program and its methods. Survivors of this program, who have been in CEDU programs as well, claim this program uses the CEDU model. This is a serious concern.
It is a concern that the program seeks to be released from any and all claims of action regarding personal injury to the child or the family due to Explorations' actions/program methods. This release does not include absolution for death, but, such may be arguably implied by the language. This is a serious concern as survivors of Explorations have reported that there are fire-arms used at this program.
It is fair to require parents to pay for injuries to their child that are wholly accidental and are not due to negligence or intentional acts of Explorations' and/or its employees. It is not fair nor reasonable to ask families to cover injuries that are caused due to the negligence or intentional acts of Explorations. This is a concern as this portion of the form requires parents to acknowledge they are fully responsible for paying for any medical care the child requires regardless of actual legal culpability or responsibility.
It is a serious concern that this program requires authorization for likely illegal searches and seizures. The Supreme Court ruled recently that such searches are a violation of a minor's civil rights. It is not in line with American law and/or values to violate the rights of children or adults in the US. And, this is a serious concern. In addition, Explorations' claims they will perform drug screens at their discretion. If parents are being charged for these screenings, parents should require proof that such screening was conducted and verify it with the physician/medical professional administering the screenings. Other programs in this industry have charged families from drug screens that were never administered. And, this is a serious concern.
The authorization for photographing the child is another concern. What does Explorations' mean by "presentation purposes"? Many programs in this industry ask for a release to use the child's photographs online, in brochures, and other "promotional" materials. This would be done prior to the family knowing whether or not they would wish to endorse the program after participation. This is somewhat unethical and worded indefinitely. It is also a concern that the child's photo could be used for promotional purposes or published to third-parties without the child's consent and is likely a violation of the child's privacy rights. According to court precedent, parents can waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children and this is a serious concern.
Application (page 9)
"I hereby grant Explorations, at its sole discretion, to place my child on public carrier (i.e. airplane, train, bus, and school bus), private or corporate vehicle for the purpose of transporting him/her to such location as communicated by the undersigned to Explorations for all program needs and events."
"I hereby release and discharge Explorations, its agents, employees, office and directors from all claims, demands, actions, judgments and executions the undersigned may have against Explorations for all personal injuries, known or unknown, and injuries to property, personal or real, caused by or arising out of the removal and transportation of my child from Explorations as set forth above."
Explorations should carry adequate insurance to cover any injuries caused by their negligence or intentional misconduct in driving or transporting the child. This is a serious concern as it shows irresponsible leadership on the part of Explorations which does not suggest they are in a position to teach personal responsibility to anyone else.
Application (page 12)
"Has the student experiences any of the following? If so, at what age?....Nightmares..."
"Please list any fears the student has had (darkness, thunder, death, etc.) and at what age:"
Many people, if not all, have nightmares from time to time. If this were an appropriate assessment form, it may read "night terrors" which would indicate a severe nightmare that results in physical affects such as "night sweats" or other symptoms. What is the purpose of asking this question?
In addition, other programs in this industry have asked about the fears of children in order to traumatize the child with those fears to provoke a violent/"out-of-control" reaction in order to justify some form of severe punishment such as physical abuse (often explained away as "restraint") and isolation. This is a serious concern and the reasons for asking such questions should be explained in detail. Also, fears are a "touchy" subject and are best left between licensed mental health professionals and the clients who have those fears.
Application (page 13)
"Has the student had any of the following diseases, illnesses, medical problems or disorders? If so, please give dates:"
"Sexually Transmitted Disease"
HEAL has never seen an application that asks whether or not a child has had an abortion. This is extremely invasive and unnecessarily violative of the child's privacy rights. Parents should not betray their children by exposing them to ridicule for difficult decisions.
Other programs require a pregnancy test prior to admission to the program, but, do not ask if the child has ever been pregnant. These questions are invasive and suggest the answers given will be used to possibly humiliate or ridicule the child. This is a serious concern and such practices are reportedly common at CEDU-method programs.
Has this program experienced issues of sexual abuse, rape, or other sexual activity between clients and/or between clients and/or authority figures (whether employed by program or not)? What is the purpose of learning whether a child has an STD? This is a concern and may suggest problems with supervision among other issues.
Application (page 16)
"He/She may, on occasion, hike 5-20 miles per day at elevations of 2,500 to 7,000 feet."
"Please make specific entries regarding any abnormal/positive physical findings. Otherwise indicate normal physical findings with a checkmark."
"Pelvic and/or Breast Exam"
How often do children hike 20 miles per day in this program? A healthy person can comfortably walk up to 10 miles per day. What is the purpose of making children hike excessively? In many coercive thought reform programs, excessive exercise is used to exhaust the body and make the exhausted individual more suggestible. This is a serious concern given the complete control this program exerts over children in its care.
HEAL has never seen an application or an enrollment agreement that requires a pelvic and breast exam of a child. Such exams, if done without consent, can cause trauma and this is a serious concern. What is the purpose of requiring a pelvic and/or breast exam?
Application (page 17)
"Required laboratory tests (please attach results):"
Since Explorations requires a pregnancy test, it would seem they would not need to inquire about a child's history of possible pregnancy. Current information should adequately cover any "need to know" on the part of the program. In addition, if a child has not been sexually active and/or has not used intravenous drugs, these tests may be traumatic, unnecessary, and dehumanizing if done without the minor's informed consent to the procedures and tests. Parents should guard their children from exploitation by insuring that they are not forced to comply with inappropriate demands made by those in supposed positions of authority. This will result in children being conditioned to accept abuse and/or other violations and should not be endorsed or encouraged by families who care about their children.
Application (page 18)
"Permission Granted to release School Records"
"In order to implement the most appropriate educational plan for the student, transcripts of all previous Junior High School and High School work are required."
"This student is applying for enrollment in Explorations programs. Permission is hereby granted for the release of the following school records to: Explorations..."
The primary issue here is that Explorations is not a school (discussed later) and places children in the local public school when the children have "earned the privilege" of going to school (discussed later). These practices suggest, if anything, that school records should be supplied directly to the local school with which Explorations cooperates.
Explorations is not licensed as a "Therapeutic Group Home" in Montana. Explorations is not licensed as a "Youth Group Home" in Montana. Explorations is not licensed as a "Residential Treatment Facility" in Montana. Explorations is not licensed as an "Outdoor Behavioral Program" in Montana. Explorations is not licensed as a "Chemical Dependency Transitional Living Center" in Montana. Explorations is not licensed as a "child care provider" in Montana. Explorations is not licensed as a "Youth Shelter Care" provider. Explorations is not a school and is not a licensed treatment facility of any kind in Montana. This is a serious concern and a warning sign of an abusive program.
Application (pages 19-21)
"Explorations Notice of Release of Health Information Practices"
HEAL is choosing not to address the "Notice of Release of Health Information" because Explorations is not licensed or regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services for the types of services they claim to provide or any other related service. Due to this, enforcement of your privacy rights would be quite difficult given that there appears to be no regulatory agency charged with insuring compliance in regards to your privacy and the Explorations' programs. This is a serious concern.
Application (pages 22-24)
"Complaints...If you believe your privacy rights have been violated, you may contact or file a complaint with the Executive Director, 119 South Hill Rd., Trout Creek MT 59874."
"To protect your child's health information, however, we require the business associate to appropriately safeguard your information."
"Research: We may disclose information to researchers when their research has been approved by an institutional review board that has reviewed the research proposal and established protocols to ensure the privacy of your health information."
"Food and Drug Administration (FDA): We may disclose to the FDA health information relative to adverse effects/events with respect to food, drugs, supplements, product or product defects, or post marketing surveillance information to enable product recalls, repairs, or replacement."
"This form is an agreement between you and Explorations. When we use the word "you" or "your" below, it can mean the parent(s) or the student."
"By signing this form you are agreeing to let us use your information here."
"In the future we may change how we use and share your information and so may change our Notice of Privacy Practices. If we do change it, you may get a copy by calling us at (406)827-3863."
"After you have signed this consent, you have the right to evoke it (by writing a letter to our Privacy officer telling us you no longer consent) and we will comply with your wishes about using or sharing your information from that time on but we may have already used or shared some of your information and cannot change that."
Explorations limits complaints regarding violations to itself. This is a serious concern and confirms they are not regulated by outside agencies.
It is "nice" that they require third-parties to "safeguard" your private information. But, what guarantees are there and what repercussions if the information is shared in an inappropriate manner?
It is a concern that children in the program may be subjects of research. Parents should really consider whether they want their children at programs that will be using their children for research. This includes drug and/or pesticide/chemical reaction experiments that may be reported to the FDA.
Most programs in the industry at least claim they will notify you in the even their privacy practices are changed. Explorations puts that responsibility on the families to call and/or request a copy of any new practices. This is a concern.
HEAL believes Explorations meant to write "revoke" instead of "evoke" in the final segment above. And, by writing "evoke" which would mean to approve of the sharing as opposed to "revoke" which is to stop the sharing/dispersing of protected health information, Explorations may be committing a "Freudian Slip".
Individual Expenses (pages 1-2)
"Airport Transportation Fee..............................................................................$250"
"Airport Transportation Fee..............................................................................$125"
"Sandpoint, ID or other destination 50+ miles one-way-Round trip fee............$150"
"Kalispell, MT or other destination 100+miles one-way-Round trip fee............$250"
"Sports Transportation Fee per week...............................................................$50"
"Daily Intervention Fee......................................................................................$450"
"Individual Tutoring per hour.............................................................................$35"
"Mid-Year Extended Weekend Trips.................................................................$300-$400"
"Student Clothing and Personal Items...............................................................$200"
School: Extra-Curricular Sports Fee (per sport)................................................$100"
"International Excursion....During the summer, we offer an International Cultural Immersion Trip to our residential students, based upon therapeutic recommendation...These fees are in addition to the monthly residential tuition and will be published in advance of any trip."
Below, HEAL provides a detailed account of the tuition and other fees associated with this program. This program is unlicensed and no one at HEAL would trust an unlicensed, unregulated program in the middle of nowhere to take our children outside of the country. Parents should be very cautious about with whom they leave their children. The above fees seem as if they should be covered, at least in part, by the extraordinary "tuition" costs for this "foster home" that educates children through the local public school (free) and is not licensed to provide therapeutic services. What exactly are parents paying for with this "tuition"?
Summer Program Enrollment (page 1)
"Application Fee (Non-Refundable)............................................................$200"
"Pre Enrollment (starts May 17th, 2010)....................................................$375 per day"
"Any clothing and wilderness gear not provided by the sponsor will be purchased by Explorations and billed to the sponsor including a minimum handing fee of $100.00 and will increase based on the gear needs of the participant."
"Tuition includes charges for room, board, group gear and equipment, travel costs, and other program needs and events."
"All necessary course clothing, gear, and equipment will be provided by Sponsor."
"A participant who requires this type of intervention may be demonstrating negative attention-seeking behaviors to the point of disrupting others in the program, may be relying on self-destructive types of behavior, and/or may be endangering self or others. Other conditions may warrant a special intervention. Parent/Guardian(s) will be notified in advance of the need for a wilderness or special intervention. The cost for the special type of intervention is $430.00 per day."
"If proof of insurance is not provided, a $3,000.00 medical emergency deposit will be required before the student can be enrolled."
"In the event of such termination by Explorations, the Financial Sponsor(s) shall not be entitled to a refund in tuition or fees."
What is meant by "program needs and events"? Are these needs and events primarily for the benefit of Explorations or the benefit of the children in the program? This is a concern given the expense of $375 for what amounts to free labor to the program.
What is a "special intervention"? What normally happens to a child during such "intervention"? Do these "interventions" include humiliation, isolation, physical abuse (improper "restraint"), or deprivation of necessities such as food and water? This is a serious concern. Parents should inquire as to what exactly their child will be experiencing in such an "intervention". However, if you have read everything up to this point, and are still considering Explorations, there is probably something seriously wrong with you and your ability to take responsibility or act responsibly in regards to your child and your family. Also, why do these "interventions" cost more? Aren't such interventions likely given the nature of the program?
The requirement of $3000.00 in the event of uninsured medical emergency contradictions the $2000.00 mentioned elsewhere in Explorations materials. Explorations should be clear on the fees they charge families. This is an additional concern. No refunds coming from an unlicensed facility? That's ridiculous.
Contract (page 1)
"Application Processing Fee..........................................................................................$200.00 non-refundable"
"Application Processing Fee (International)...................................................................$400.00 non-refundable"
"Individual Expense Account..........................................................................................$200.00"
"Intervention Fee (as necessary)....................................................................................$450.00 per day additional"
"Escort/Travel Fee (as necessary).................................................................................$200.00 per day + expense"
"Extra-curricular sports fee.............................................................................................$100.00 per sport"
"Downhill skiing, special transportation costs, and tutoring are not included in the monthly tuition....Days spent away from HomeBase during home or holiday visits will not be deducted from monthly tuition."
"Parent/Guardian(s) will be notified in advance of the need for an intervention. Intervention may include a wilderness component, a portion or for entire intervention."
"It might be necessary for a student to travel to home or other destination as recommended by therapist or as indicated by family...In the event this is recommended, the Financial Sponsor will be billed an additional $200 per day plus any incurred travel expenses (such as airline tickets, lodging, car rental, etc.) for such necessary travel."
"Students enrolling after the first date of any month will be charged at a rate of $1,200.00 per week and/or $170 per day."
The total minimum expense for this program for one year is $68,000 (12 months of tuition, deposit, application, and expense account). This is more than a year of tuition at Harvard University, including room and board. And, this cost is for a program that does not provide education/tutoring without additional fees, enrolls children in the local public school when they have "earned the privilege" (discussed below), and is not licensed to provide mental health, behavioral health, therapeutic, or residential services in Montana. "Harvard University will increase tuition next school year by 3.8 percent, the school announced yesterday, bringing the annual cost of a Harvard education, including room and board, to $50,724." (Source: boston.com, March 19th, 2010) Please do not spoil your child's college fund by paying people to warehouse your children.
Contract (pages 2, 3 & 4)
"Late charges will be incurred at the periodic rate of 1 1/2% monthly or 18% annually."
"Explorations will provide 30 days written notice of any increase in monthly tuition."
"If proof of insurance is not provided, a $2000.00 medical emergency deposit will be required before the student can be enrolled."
"In the event that there is personal property loss due to hazards including but not limited to fire, water damage, and natural disasters. All personal belonging of student will be covered under parent/guardian personal home owners insurances."
"Withdrawal by sponsor: In the event "Sponsor(s) withdraws the participant prior to the end of the HomeBase residential program, or special intervention, or fails to give 60 days notice, (received in writing by Explorations 60 days before withdrawal) Sponsor(s) shall not be entitled to a refund of tuition or deposit fees and will be held accountable for all fees incurred until 60 day written notice is received by Explorations."
"HomeBase Clothing & Equipment List"
"Items Participants Should Not Bring"
"Inappropriate Musical Groups or Obscenities"
"Excessive Black Clothing"
Explorations has no business charging interest rates or increasing "tuition". This appears to be a scam.
There is a discrepancy between the $2000.00 fee required by the contract and the $3000.00 fee required by earlier forms. This is a minor concern.
Explorations should acquire efficient insurance coverage to protect the children and their property while in the care of the program. This seems to be an unethical term and is not included in most program contracts HEAL has reviewed.
60 days is a ridiculous notification regarding withdrawing a child from any program. Most programs require a 2 week notification, and that seems excessive to HEAL because if a parent decides the program is a "scam" and Explorations appears to be, this puts both the child and the family at risk of further loss. It is a serious concern.
HEAL was happy to see that children can have watches. Are the watches allowed on early "phases" of the program? If not, this indicates a serious problem. Having no access to calendars or clocks can cause psychological harm when being held in captivity. This is a serious concern.
What is meant by "inappropriate musical groups"? What is meant by "excessive black clothing"? In the parent handbook (discussed below), children's calls are referenced as being made with a calling card provided by parents. Why does the contract state "no calling card" when the parent handbook requires parents give children calling cards?
Parent Handbook (page 1)
"Many Explorations students attend the local public high school and are enrolled only if the student meets the criteria for admission per district policy....Other educational opportunities are present, but only if warranted by the student's individual needs and supported by the student's treatment plan and ability of Explorations staff to provide appropriate staffing. Alternative curriculum options are present in the public high school through the Alternative Learning Center and through independent coursework."
"A supervised study hall occurs 2-3 nights per week. A tutor supervises the study time, provides study skill education, tracks student performance and provides individual tutoring as needed."
"It is confusing for the local school and for us to have calls made by parents directly to the school without first discussing with Explorations staff."
"Students with addiction issues are encouraged to attend local AA and/or NA meetings on a regular basis."
HEAL provides the above to show that the kids at Explorations, when permitted to attend, go to public school. What is with the tuition greater than a year at Harvard University? And, why is tutoring extra when schooling isn't even provided by the program? This is ridiculous.
Explorations probably doesn't want parents calling the school in the event that they haven't quite enrolled the child in the school yet because they haven't "earned the privilege" of school. This is implied throughout the materials by stating that enrollment in school and/or other "privileges" are determined by the advancement through the program. What are parents getting for their money?
Are AA/NA the only chemical dependency services available "through" Explorations? They are not licensed as chemical dependency treatment center. So, how can they help anyone with their addictions, should such addictions exist?
Parent Handbook (page 2)
"Family members are welcome to call on birthdays."
"Please check with us to determine whether or not your child's request is a need or a want prior to sending something out of the ordinary."
"We have found this dynamic to often be unproductive and may recommend gifts or care packages not be sent until later in the child's stay."
"If you send food treats, please remember to send enough that it can be shared with the entire household."
"A package every few months is plenty! Save up some of the bigger items for birthday, Christmas or Hanukkah gifts."
"Every student is asked to participate in a minimum of 40 hours of community service volunteer work or projects during their stay at Explorations."
"Students are encouraged to begin correspondence with family and appropriate others via mail initially. Students are not permitted to maintain a personal email account during the initial stages of their stay...If you receive email from your child from any other email address, please notify us immediately."
Family members and parents should be welcome to call whenever there is no scheduled activities. And, children should be allowed free time every day in which such calls could occur.
Parents are generally adults and able to decide for themselves whether a gift or care package is appropriate. To suggest a parent would send an inappropriate item to their own child is offensive and disrespectful to the authority of the parent.
HEAL has received reports that even when "food treats" are sent in quantity for the entire "household", these items are still not distributed to the children and are often eaten by staff. Such reports have been in regards to other, but similar, programs.
Again, the program shouldn't be dictating to parents what they can and cannot send to their children unless the parent sends something unexpectedly offensive (i.e. Parental Advisory Music CD). Such items would likely never be sent by a parent anyway, and this is not indicative of a mutually respectful relationship between parents and program staff. This is a concern.
What do these community service/volunteer projects typically include? Many survivors of other programs have reported being forced to build additions to the program facilities. This clearly benefits the program. And, the programs have reportedly not compensated the children for their labor. This is a serious child labor concern and should be clearly addressed by the program.
HEAL will address the mail rules below. All mail is monitored. And, this is a serious concern as children cannot report abuse in the event abuse is occurring. HEAL would recommend that if your child manages to send you an e-mail from an "unapproved" account, that you keep the message to yourself and really consider the contents before taking action.
Parent Handbook (page 3)
"As students progress through the program, she/he may earn the opportunity to establish their own personal [email] account."
"We strongly support home visits for students when the family and the student are both prepared."
"The spring visit period is often very short and generally only recommended for students if there is a need for a visit home...The students are well aware that visits home are not a 'given'. It is communicated to them that they must be pursuing emotional, family and academic goals to ensure the best chance of a productive home visit."
"When purchasing student airline tickets, we recommend parents purchase the type of airline ticket that may be changed for a nominal fee ($100) if, for any reason, the ticket needs to be reissued with a different date. We know from experience that the 'best laid plans' can be disrupted by last minute unhealthy and/or sabotaging choices on the part of the child, in which case he/she may not be recommended to travel home for a visit-even when those things occur at the 'last minute'."
Above we see mention of "stages" of the program and "progress through the program" in which children "may earn" opportunities to communicate privately. This suggests a level system and is another warning sign of an abusive program.
What exactly does Explorations mean by a "shower house"?
Parents should be in control of when they see their children, especially if their is a scheduled break. Children should be loved and welcomed by their families and it is inappropriate to give them the hope of a home visit just to rip it away. This is cruel and inhumane. And, it may even be considered emotional abuse depending on state laws.
Parent Handbook (page 4)
"We ask that, during the first few months of a student's stay with us, correspondence be limited to immediate family members."
"Your child's mail to hope will initially be monitored...If you receive mail from your child that appears to have been mailed from somewhere other than our office, please notify us immediately."
"Please do not allow students to bring or purchase any music with parental advisory or music that is offensive."
"Students may attempt to engage parents or staff at Explorations into secretive or exclusive conversations. It is important for all involved that communications between all adults involved with a student be honest and forthright."
"We strongly encourage visits and like to schedule them in accordance with the steps your child takes in his/her emotional growth."
"We recommend that first year parents spend one full weekend on campus with the entire Explorations family, integrating into the events on our calendar. We recognize that time spent away from Explorations with one's family can also be very fulfilling and is generally recommended as part of a parent visit at later stages in the program. We encourage at least one visit to Explorations during the course of the school year."
It is a violation of a child's rights to monitor/censor incoming/outgoing mail. This was clearly decided in the case of Milonas and Rice, et al v. Provo Canyon School. This is a serious concern.
Parents should speak with their children privately if the children need that intimacy. It is inappropriate for the program to dictate when and if a parent can speak privately with his/her child.
Again, as shown above, visits are determined by the program and the staff. The language is unclear. Do parents control when they can visit their child, or does the program? This is a serious concern.
It is also a serious concern that the program tries to keep children from having private time with their parents until the program has effectively placed them in subservient positions where questioning any authority is no longer an option. This is a serious concern and suggests a "cult-like" environment.
Parent Handbook (pages 5 & 6)
"Students may travel outside the country. If your student does not have a current passport we suggest you obtain one as soon as possible."
"During the initial part of a child's stay with us, we encourage phone calls to family every two weeks. We ask students make these calls either collect or with a call-home type calling card only...Often these calls will be monitored with an adult present in the room while the student is on the telephone. We recommend parents check-in with an Explorations staff member to answer any questions or verify any information at the end of the phone call with their child."
"We do not provide students with an end-date and request parents make a one year minimum commitment for their child's stay with us."
"For students who are accustomed to regular church attendance and desire to continue while here, we will strive to make arrangements for your child to attend church services as much as possible. There are no synagogues in our immediate area."
"Parents and Explorations staff work together to determine when and/or if a visit home during the summer would be beneficial for the student's growth...It is rarely recommended that students--even those who are graduating from high school--return to home for the entirety of a summer."
"We reserve at least one night per week for group."
Please don't send your child to an unregulated, unlicensed program that provides no educational services and no recognized therapeutic services and requires a passport so they can transport your child out of the country.
As will be shown below, Explorations monitors all phone calls, not just some as implied by the language above. Also, we included this portion to show how the child cannot call emergency services or report abuse or other crimes that may be occurring at the facility. This is a serious concern.
Explorations "requests" a commitment minimum of one year. And, that will cost more than a year of tuition with room and board at Harvard University, simply to attend public school and serve the interests of the program. This is no bargain and not a fair deal from any perspective.
We provide the above to show that they welcome Jewish students by referencing Hanukkah, yet, provide now religious services for Jewish clients.
If a child has graduated high school, certainly they have "earned" the right to go home. This is absurd and just a way to keep raking in your money.
What occurs in "group"? If it is "positive peer culture" or "confrontational therapy" it is evidently ineffective and harmful. This is a serious concern.
Summer Program Details (page 1)
"Because of the variety of outdoor activities, expeditions and the travel schedule that comprise the Big Sky Adventure Programs, it is not possible for students to work on academics as a part of the curriculum."
"There is a large log home where the students share many meals and is also living quarters for our residential students and the site for the business office."
"Calls regarding your child's progress are scheduled...Please keep in mind that office personnel do not have direct contact with the students and therefore, will not be able to answer questions about student participation."
"During the course of the summer, all students take part in a community service project. Students will generally assist with highway clean-up along our designated section of highway and will also take part in trail maintenance or work project in one of the various areas in which we conduct our trips."
It is inappropriate to call children "students" if there is no academic component to the alleged "curriculum".
Since the business office is located in the large log home where students eat and live, how is it that they never have direct contact with office personnel?
What types of "work projects" are generally required and do they financially or otherwise benefit the program and/or the program owners? This is a serious concern as it may indicate child labor law violations.
Summer Program Details (page 2)
"Our therapist or director will share observations surrounding your child's emotional work, communication skills, current issues, behaviors, social presence, group effort, and attitude."
"Due to the nature of this short program, students do not visit home during the course of the program. Instead, we set aside two days for family conferences at the end of the program."
"Written correspondence is an important part of the summer program. Students will be allowed to receive mail only from family members during the summer. We ask that you do not give the address out to friends as we believe any correspondence from those other than family provides significant interruption with your child's progress in the program."
"All students' outgoing mail will be monitored. We ask the students to leave their mail unsealed and reserve the option of reviewing it before it is mailed. If a student is unwilling to write an appropriate letter home, be advised that the letter will not be sent."
"Students are not allowed to have personal music and/or I-pods, walkmans or discmans while in the summer program."
HEAL includes the first segment because we believe parents should ask what the qualifications are of the "therapist" or director in making determinations regarding the mental/behavioral/emotional health of a child.
The family conferences are likely sales tools to persuade families to enroll their children in the longer term "residential" program. This is a concern.
It is a violation of the child's rights to deny them uncensored/unmonitored mail communications. This is also a warning sign of an abusive program.
Why are students not allowed to have personal music?
Summer Program Details (pages 3-4)
"Final recommendations will be made regarding this visit during the final phone call during the summer. We suggest that if you choose to purchase airline tickets prior to the recommendation, you should purchase changeable or refundable tickets in the event that your child sabotages the visit through his/her behavior."
"Calls will be collect from the student to the parent's home phone number unless otherwise specified. For the first 10-15 minutes, a member of our staff will update you about your child's progress. Staff will comment on your child's emotional work, communication skills, current issues, behaviors, social presence, group effort and attitude. Afterwards, your child will speak with you for approximately 20 minutes. A staff member will be in the room with your child as she/he speaks to monitor the content of the conversation. Abusive and/or manipulative language will not be allowed and the call will be terminated if a student begins dialogue along those lines."
"If for any reason, you receive a call from your child that is not scheduled, please notify us immediately."
"To maintain a safe environment, we reserve the right to search a student's belongings at any time during the duration of the program."
"The Wilderness Assessment Course is 26 days in length and is solely a backpacking experience."
The first segment above further implies that the wilderness assessment is simply a marketing tool for the long-term program. This is a serious concern.
The monitoring of calls for "manipulative language" (which often refers to telling the truth about abuses, conditions, and/or other possible violations at programs in this industry) is a serious concern. And, the monitoring of calls in this manner is a warning sign of an abusive program.
Why is the program so concerned about the child getting a private letter or call home? Why doesn't the program trust the parents to use their best judgment in regards to their children? Is it because parents are naive enough to place their child in an unlicensed program at a cost that is greater than Harvard tuition?
The possible violations of the search policies of this program were discussed previously.
What does this 26 day "backpacking" experience entail? Is there a serious risk of permanent injury from excessive hiking (20 miles per day, mentioned above)? This is a serious concern and does not imply a serious "assessment" or "therapeutic" component.
Summer Program Clothing List (page 1)
"Items Participants Should Not Bring:"
"Clothing with Logos or offensive gestures"
HEAL finds it interesting that watches and books are disallowed for the 26 day "hiking" trip. And, this is especially so since those items are approved for the residential program. 26 days without a calendar or watch is unacceptable and likely to cause psychological harm.
What does the program mean by "Logos"? Are "Nike" logos okay? What are the rules? Many items of clothing include a small mark from the manufacturer? Are such items disallowed? This is too vague a directive.
Regardless, overall this appears to be a giant scam and parents should avoid placing their children in Explorations...or is it "Exploitations"?
Hi - I came across your website and submitted my survival stories for RMA and Ascent to your website. I was sent to many of these schools when I was younger including RMA (2.5 years), Ascent (6 weeks), The Amity School (4 months), SUWS (5 weeks ) and Explorations in Montana (2 weeks). I witnessed some terrible things at all of these places, but the worst case of child abuse that I saw was at Explorations in Trout Creek, Montana and I was disappointed to not see Explorations on your list. They use the same model of behavior modification that the CEDU schools did, however they are smaller and therefor have less accountability and are still open today. http://www.explorationsmt.com/ When I was at this school (which I attempted to run away from) I was belittled for refusing to shoot a firearm (At the age of 13) by Lorne, the head of the program. There was a young man there who appeared to be semi-reta rted or very slow and he was always being verbally abused by the staff. Lorne made him actually run in a field to set up his targets while he fired his gun around the young man trying to scare him - it was horrible to watch. Just thought you guys might like to know about this place... I can't believe they are still in operation.
|HEAL received a second survivor report on February 7th, 2007. It is not posted here as we do not have the author's permission.|
|Former staff members have demanded to be removed from the staff list because they believe the association with Explorations will damage their future employment opportunities. (July 14th & 20th, 2010 & August 19th, 2010)|
SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2015 UPDATE:
Phoenix Mountain Collaborative d/b/a Explorations in Trout Creek, MT is licensed by the Montana Board of Private Alternative Adolescent Residential or Outdoor Programs. You can file complaints about this facility with the licensing board here: http://bsd.dli.mt.gov/license/bsd_boards/complaints/complaint.asp
September 16th, 2015
Last Updated: September 16th, 2015