October 2021:  Information on Area Visits                                                                                                       

Visits from family are very important to the students at Kolob.  Being away from home can be hard.  We highly encourage visits because they are so important to the therapeutic process.  Visits are the best way to connect, build trust with each other and practice new skills.  Students and their families look forward to visits in the area of Southern Utah first.  These then lead to many home visits as a student progress through the program.  With the holidays coming up, many students will be having area visits with their families.  Other students will be going home for holiday visits. When parents are planning visits, we often get lots of questions about our recommendations for fun things to do, places to stay, or places to eat around Southern Utah that are family friendly and worth visiting.  Kara Poole, one of the amazing primary therapists at our sister program, Moonridge Academy, decided to provide a webinar to help parents planning an area visit with their student.  In this webinar she highlights some of the awesome places to explore in Southern Utah.  The webinar was so well received, we felt it would be helpful to post the webinar in our monthly newsletter to assist parents as they plan for upcoming holiday visits.  We hope you have fun watching...

September 2021:  On The Search For Dedicated Mentor Staff                                                                         

The mentor staff at Kolob Canyon are some of the most important parts of our program.  Mentor staff spend considerable time with students providing daily support, supervision and personal coaching.  They help students with homework and daily chores.  The mentors also prepare all of the meals.  In the evenings and on the weekends, mentors provide leisure activities and community opportunities for the students.  Each student is also assigned their own special mentor staff who meets with them weekly to help complete level work, answer questions and provide personal support and care.  In other words---they do just about everything!  With that said, we love our mentor staff.  They are the heart and soul of the daily milieu at Kolob Canyon.  Lead by our Residential Director, Tiffany Neibaur and our Assistant Residential Director, Maria Fowler, our mentor staff receive initial and ongoing training to enhance their skills.  There are many mentoring staff who have worked at Kolob Canyon for many years.  We also have newer mentors who have been with us for a shorter period of time.  We have younger mentors, older mentors, female mentors and a few male mentors.  Our hope is that each student will feel a connection to these dedicated and responsible individuals. 

Kolob is continually looking for dedicated mentor staff who are excited to work with teens.  We love hiring individuals who want to have a positive impact on our students.  Recently Tiffany attended a job fair at Southern Utah University in Cedar City.  She was able to talk with individuals interested in working with teens.  Tiffany shared information about the program at Kolob Canyon including the opportunity to participate in adventure activities and most importantly helping our students gain new skills and learn to have a life worth living.  

 

August 2021:  Kolob Canyon Responds to Negativity about the Treatment Industry                     

We think everyone would agree that the world feels a little different post covid.  Maybe people are feeling the impact of being so disconnected for such a long time, maybe we're emotionally tired from carrying around so much stress and caution for so long. Certainly most every segment of our society is seeing increased rates of anxiety and depression, whether it's in the schools, workplaces, and even at home. And nowhere do we see it more than in online forums. 

While we are so lucky to continually hear from past students about the happiness and awesome lives they are now living, recently we've also seen an increase in negative online reviews about Kolob. We are also seeing and hearing about the recent increase in negative reviews from our colleagues that work at other schools and programs across the country. We acknowledge that and how scary that can be as a parent, student and even for our employees. This has been disheartening at times, given that everyone who works at Kolob does so to truly try and help others, and to be a positive contributor to the lives of teens who are all working on challenging issues. So to occasionally hear that some prior students did not appreciate the help or worse yet, claim that it was intentionally harmful, is heartbreaking.

Reports have been made that students and families who have had a positive experience have chosen not to share their experiences on certain social media forums out of fear of retaliation. Often previous students and parents post positive comments that are quickly attacked or their comments are removed.  

There is also a typical and a healthy response to mental health treatment which is the desire to move on to the next chapter of your life. We often experience that students and families want to focus on the next steps of their lives and not focus on their previous treatment. Therefore, their positive experiences are not always reflected in online reviews. 

Being away from home is hard and healing is painful, no matter what. It makes sense that some students might look back and denounce the efforts to help them. We carefully make sure the care and treatment at Kolob is compassionate, ethical and transparent, but we also know we can't control how a person opts to experience it or reflect back on it. Mental health is a tricky science. Mental health professionals and programs can create a structure and opportunities for people to heal. Still, it is in the student’s control how they use that structure and opportunities and how they sustain what they learn in therapy throughout their lives.

We are a group of professionals, many of whom have licenses and educational backgrounds that have taught us to recognize the signs of abuse, neglect, and trauma. We would never knowingly let our students, who are here to heal, experience those things at our hands. We are here to heal, not harm. Kolob comprises many wonderful people who have dedicated their careers to helping our students and their families. People who grow with us, learn with us, and lead with us to create an environment where families can learn, heal, grow, and connect.

We are strongly dedicated to hearing feedback to try to remove defensiveness, and evaluate it to see if there is anything in it that we can use to improve. Improvement only comes by having an open mind and heart and a willingness to shift where needed. We have been (and continue to be) open to inviting and evaluating feedback about our schools, and we review them in our Directors and Team Meetings with an open hearted question to ourselves: "Is this true?  Even if it isn't, could it have been experienced as true?  Is there something for us to look at here? And, what can we do with this?" From feedback we are continually making intentional shifts in different departments and approaches at Kolob. We want to continue to amplify the things our past students have loved and appreciated about Kolob, and also see what we can do to improve the parts they didn't.  

July 2021:  Bidding a Fond Farewell to Adventure Director, Ruth Morrow                                            

For the past 10 years, Ruth Morrow has been an integral part of the Kolob Team.  Ruth came to Kolob Canyon as a Primary Therapist.  She was amazing in that role providing support to the students she served.  She was a dedicated and fierce clinician and advocate.  When we decided to upgrade the adventure component of our program, Ruth was the obvious choice for our Adventure Director.  She loves the outdoors and understands the importance of adventure therapy in the healing process.  Ruth designed an amazing adventure program that included weekly adventure activities and monthly 3-day adventure trips.  These became a foundation for the Kolob therapeutic program.  Ruth would often say that the best therapy that happens at Kolob, takes place while students are hiking, kayaking, rafting or skiing with their therapist.  We know that she is right!  In addition to her adventure responsibilities, Ruth continued to provide clinical services to a number of our students.  She continued to add to the therapeutic modalities she specialized in to ensure our students received the clinical services they need specifically in the area of trauma focused care.  Ruth is now moving onto new adventures for herself as she pursues working in a private practice.  We will deeply miss Ruth and her committment to our students and our staff.  Ruth, we wish you success in your future endeavors.  You only deserve the very best!  

June 2021:  Exciting Changes at the CERTS Programs                                                                                              

Kolob Canyon is part of the CERTS Programs.  The other schools in the CERTS Group include Kolob Canyon, La Europa Academy and Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy.  The CERTS Group leadership is shifting in ways that will only make it more effective in helping with our students, including those students at Kolob Canyon in their healing journeys.  

Majority Owner, Kent Tasso founded CERTS in 2002, opening Kolob Canyon Residential, and slowly adding Mountain Springs Preparatory Academy, Moonridge Academy and La Europa Academy over the next few years.  We have built small, sincere, effective and loving programs with intensive therapy and top level programming provided by the best in the field!  To improve the operations of the CERTS Group, Kent has promoted Tawny Thomas to the role of CERTS Chief Operating Officer.  Tawny joined CERTS in 2008 as Executive Director of Kolob Canyon and Moonridge Academy and more recently has served as CERTS Outreach and Program Development.  As COO, she will continue to support the leadership of our programs and take a more primary role in ensuring we are providing the best care to our clients at each program.  As Tawny takes over the day to day program oversight, Kent will still stay involved in CERTS, and particularly in manning the CERTS Foundation, our nonprofit fundraising organization that provides needed scholarships to families. 

With Tawny's stepping in as COO, there's another exciting announcement! Kris Archer has joined our team as the CERTS Marketing and Outreach Director.  Kris has been a light and force for good in so many ways within the treatment community - and we're so happy to have her hitting the road, educating others and sharing the good work happening at Kolob, Moonridge, La Europa, and Mountain Springs!  

  

May 2021:  May Happenings and Adventures                                                                                                                  

May has been an exciting month at Kolob Canyon.  We started our month off we Parent Seminar Weekend.  We always love having out parents on campus with us.  Parents are such an important part of the treatment process.  Our students and their parents enjoyed classes, support groups, family therapy and a hike in the actual Kolob Canyon (our namesake).

We honored two of our most dedicated staff this month.  Our Adventure Director, Ruth Morrow and our Assistant Residential Director, Maria Fowler each celebrated 10 years working at Kolob.  We absolutely love these two amazing individuals whose every action is an example of the motto, "WE ARE ALL IN--EVERY DAY".  Thank you Ruth and Maria.  We seriously don't know what we would do without your guidance and strength.  

This month we also enjoyed an amazing trip to Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park located close to Moab, UT.  While we have been to Arches National Park, we have never fully explored Canyonlands We loved the hikes, the scenery and the companionship we felt with each other.  Fun with peers, therapists and mentors is something that makes every adventure trip special.  

At the end of the month we loved taking one of our very favorite hikes.  This is the Red Reef Hike in the Red Cliff Reserve.  This hike is spectacular.  We always enjoy the chance to use the rope to get around the steps next to the waterfall and the slot canyon after is one of our favorite places to scamper and climb.  Usually there is more water in the creek, but this year Southern Utah is experiencing a bit of a drought.  Despite that, we continue to look forward to this hike every single year.  

 

April 2021:  Joshua Tree National Park Adventure Trip                                                                                       

Through the years, Kolob Canyon has gone on many adventure trips.  We have adventured in most of Southern Utah and Southern Nevada including stays at all of the national parks and many of the southern located state parks as well.  What we have never done is explore Joshua Tree National Park.  This amazing gem, located in Southern California, is filled with beautiful vistas, unique landscapes and of course a lot of Joshua Trees.  It is known for its emotional healing powers and has long been a favorite of many.  We were excited to provide this adventure experience to our students in April.  This trip was filled with camping, hiking, exploring an oasis, and the constellations of the night sky (Joshua Tree is a National Dark Sky Park).  Our students also enjoyed the evening campfires where we held groups to discuss the DBT theme of the trip.  And as with all of our trips, it was also a time to connect with peers and just have some fun!  Working hard and playing hard--that is what we love about adventuring!  

March 2021:  Our New Puppy Lyric and Her Many Roles on Campus                                                             

In late 2020 we welcomed a new puppy to our campus.  Lyric is a sweet labradoodle that we anxiously awaited for quite some time.  Prior to Lyric joining us on campus, our team discussed what role Lyric would play at Kolob.  In the past our dogs have always been outside animals, but with Lyric we wanted our students to have a different experience.  We wanted to invite Lyric inside the house and study hall so that she could provide emotional support to students.  We hoped that she would cuddle with students during therapy sessions, lay at their feet while doing homework, snuggle with them in the evenings and play with them on the lawn.  Lyric has done all of these things.  To help Lyric learn the basic rules of obedience she spent her first few months being trained by our Equine Director.  In preparation for Lyric we built two new dogs runs--one outside of study hall and one directly behind the residence.  This way when Lyric isn't with the students she has a safe place to be outside and she is always close by.  The students often provide Lyric with new toys that she immediately chews up, because she is a puppy.  We joke that with all of the stuffing from toys it looks like the only place it snows on campus is in Lyric's dog runs.  Lyric has brought so much joy to our campus.  On any given day, you can find Lyric wherever the students are.  She loves to snuggle during therapy, stop by offices to say "Hi", curl up in study hall for a nap or supervise at the barn.  She gets loads of love and attention and she gives lots in return.  Lyric is still a puppy and she is still learning.  So if a student says to her teacher, "Lyric ate my homework" it is entirely possible that is true. 

   

February 2021:  We Hosted Our First Parent Seminar and It Wasn't Even Virtual                                    

We were thrilled to hold our first Parent Seminar of 2021!  Doing so in person rather than virtually was just what our parents, students and team needed.  Parents and their students participated in parent/teacher conferences, support groups, equine therapy, family therapy, classes, and even an Improv Workshop.  And of course there was an adventure experience--because it just wouldn't be parent seminar at Kolob Canyon without adventure. 

To make this happen, we put some practical protocols into place for our parents and team: 

  • Team members received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine prior to seminar.
  • Parents, students and team members were all tested prior to seminar to ensure those in attendance were negative for Covid-19.
  • Parents were split into smaller groups for classes, support groups and adventure therapy activities.
  • These small groups remained consistent throughout seminar so that there was less exposure to others.
  • Everyone wore masks when inside and even outside as much as possible.


    

January 2021:  Covid-19 Updates                                                                                                                                      

“We are in this together--And we will get through this together"

 - Antonio Guterros
 Secretary-General of the United Nations

Kolob Canyon is excited to announce that we have started the process of Covid-19 vaccination!  Most of our clinical and academic team members have received the first of two vaccinations.  Our mentoring staff has also been able to start with vaccinations as well.  This process will continue in a few weeks when many staff will receive their second vaccination.  We feel so fortunate that the state of Utah has considered our staff to be essential workers who have a higher priority to receive the vaccine.  We are happy to be contributing to a healthy, safe and hopefully more "normal" 2021.   

In the meantime, we will continue with the Covid-19 guidelines that we have successfully had in place at our programs throughout the pandemic:

  • All students are encouraged to wear masks in the classrooms and when not in their bedrooms.  All employees are required to wear masks.
  • Social distancing is always encouraged. 
  • Frequent handwashing and disinfecting surfaces is just a way of life now.
  • Newly admitting students are tested for Covid-19.
  • Symptomatic and positive Covid-19 students are immediately quarantined as per CDC guidelines.
  • Frequent tests are administered on all students and employees whenever we have encountered a positive case to quickly reduce further spread.
  • If an employee tests positive, they immediately quarantine at home for the recommended 10-14 days before being cleared to return to work.
  • Students have been able to seamlessly continue with their schooling and therapy through online platforms, even when in quarantine. 
  • Our off-campus activity options are always being adjusted as necessary, as dictated by local levels of outbreak and CDC recommendations.  We have been able to continue with many of our adventure and recreation activities.  
  • Parent visits and home visits have enhanced testing and quarantining requirements to help increase the safety of everyone. 
None of us could have ever predicted the curve balls of Covid-19.  We are excited for a healthier 2021! 
   

December 2020:  Brianna Corliss is the Anne Sullivan Award Recipient for 2020                                  

     

Each year Kolob Canyon honors one of the mentoring staff with the Anne Sullivan Award.  This award is specifically awarded to a staff member who has shown great care, consideration, patience, and dedication to the students at Kolob Canyon.  This year the recipient of this tremendous award is Brianna "Bri" Corliss.  And honestly it couldn't have gone to anyone more deserving.  We asked our students and staff, "What is it that you love and admire about Bri?"  There answers will easily help you see why she is so exemplary in her role as a mentor staff.  

"I appreciate her balance betwen firm boundaries and expectation and kindness and connection."

"I love hearing from students how Bri is able to be a good role model for all of the students."

"Bri isn't afraid to try and do new things."

"I have enjoyued here quiet and gentle pressence on shift."

"Even when Bri is freezing at the barn, she has a smile and positive attitude."

"I envy her glasses and her ability to rock the fanny pack."

"Bri is so willing to help out in any way and she does it with a smile."

"She is so great with all of the students and all of the staff."

"Bri is direct and compassionate at the same time."

"Bri makes the people working with her better."

"Bri's calm yet assertive pressencee is so nice to be around."

"Bri is able to smile and have a positive attitude even when things are difficult."

"She is super sweet all of the time!"

"Bri has a remarkable balance of holding limits and showing care to our students."

Thank you Bri for being all in, every day, for every student.  We are so grateful for your dedication. 

November 2020:  Honoring Veterans Day with a Visit From Retired Air Force 2 Star General        

In honor of Veterans Day, retired Air Force 2-Star General Kathy Thomas, Vietnam Veteran and the first female general officer in the Air Force Space Command traveled to Cedar City and spoke to our Kolob Canyon students.

General Thomas shared with the students her stories of serving throughout the world, aiding in diplomacy missions, mobilizing troops following the 9/11 attacks, and - in her opinion, most importantly - helping change the rules and removing the obstacles for women in the armed forces.  General Thomas shared funny stories about having to wear skirts in negative 75 degree weather on base in Minot, North Dakota, and how she helped convince the Air Force of the folly of that gender-based rule.  She shared touching stories of supporting struggling troops, and how leadership is not in the speeches you make, or the ribbons on your lapel, but in the moments of service and true connection you give to others.  The students were enthralled with how many places she has been to, and served in the world, as well as how many Presidents of the United States she had personally met.   

General Thomas focused on the 3 Core Values of the Air Force:
1) Excellence in Everything You Do
2) Service to Others
3) Integrity, Always Be Honest

She shared how these values will lead to a successful, happy life, regardless of being in the military or not.  General Thomas now spends her retirement in Southern Utah, mentoring teens and young adults pursuing higher education and/or military service.  We are grateful to have had General Thomas share her life service with us. 

 

 

October 2020: Parent Seminars During Covid-19                                                                                                     

This year due to Covid, our Parent Seminars have looked and felt a bit different.  We were able to hold the first Parent Seminar of 2020 in February before the pandemic.  Sadly, we had to cancel our on campus Parent Seminars in April and July.  Instead we held virtual parent support groups, virtual parent teacher conferences and virtual parent classes.  We also provided our parents with three webinars each month to assist them in gaining skills to better support their children enrolled at Kolob Canyon.  Even with these wonderful parent education opportunities, we desperately wanted to be with our parents again.  This month from October 8th-10th, we were excited to hold an in person parent seminar once again.  This wasn't a decision that we took lightly.  We talked with parents to determine their interest in traveling to Utah for a seminar.  The response was overwhelmingly positive.  

To ensure the safety of our parents, students and staff, we developed the following guidelines and protocols:

  • We held the Parent Seminar at Zion National Park where most of our events were held outside.
  • We broke our parents into two smaller groups to keep our numbers at 10 people or below per group as recommended by the State of Utah.
  • All of our parents and staff were tested for Covid in the days heading up to the Parent Seminar.  We required negative test results for parents and staff to participate in the seminar.
  • Parents and staff completed a questionnaire regarding symptoms at the beginning of the seminar.
  • Temperatures were taken on each day of the seminar.  
  • Everyone wore masks and maintained social distancing guidelines throughout the seminar. 

We are excited to say that with these guidelines we had a successful Parent Seminar.  Everyone stayed safe and healthy!  It was so nice for our parents, students and staff to feel this very important connection.  We have such amazing parents at Kolob Canyon.  We truly appreciate their support and caring.


 

September 2020:  Carrying On With Covid                                                                                                                    

By this time there are probably very few treatment programs that haven’t been directly touched by Covid-19, whether in students or employees.  And it’s a situation we’ve all had to quickly learn to prevent, address, respond to, and manage.  Kolob Canyon has thus far not had any students who have tested positive for Covid-19.  The collaboration and support between NATSAP programs has been inspiring as everyone is navigating this together. 

Here is what we have learned and what we've done...
  1. Employee temperatures are taken each day as they arrive at work.  Any employee with a temperature over 100 degrees is asked to go home.  Employees also fill out a questionnaire regarding symptoms before starting work each day.  
  2. All students are requried to wear masks especially during school hours.  All employees are required to wear masks.
  3. Social distancing is always encouraged.      
  4. Frequent handwashing and disinfecting surfaces is just a way of life now.
  5. If we do have any students with symptoms or if a student does test postive for Covid, they will be immediately quarantined.  
  6. We have an off-campus quarantine home for use if a student is having symptoms or tests positive for Covid.  
  7. If an employee tests positive, they immediately quarantine at home for the recommended 10-14 days before being cleared to return to work.  If they have tested positive for covid, employees must have a negative Covid test prior to returning to work.
  8. We are providing testing to our employees when they have concerns about symptoms or if they feel they have been exposed to Covid-19.  
  9. Student have been able to seamlessly continue with their schooling and therapy.  
  10. Our off-campus activity options are always being adjusted as necessary, as dictated by local levels of outbreak and CDC recommendations.  We have been able to continue participation in our Adventure Therapy Wednesday activities and monthly trips.  
  11. All new students enrolling, must be tested and have a negative test result before admitting and joining the other students on campus.  
  12. We continue to restrict tours on our campus.  
  13. Parent visits and home visits have enhanced testing and quarantining requirements to help increase the safety of everyone.  All students returning from a home visit or off-campus visit are tested and remain in quarantine with their parents or in our quarantine house until they receive a negative test result.
  14. We are coordinating the times of home visits and parent visits to ensure that testing can occur with results obtained in a reasonable amount of time.
  15. We are using a private lab in St. George for all of our testing.  This has helped make this process so much easier with results obtained in 24-36 hours in most instances.     

And With All of This....

Kolob Canyon has been able to continue safely enrolling new students, and we have had overwhelmingly positive feedback from our parents on our handing and communication with the pandemic.  None of us could have ever predicted the curve balls of 2020, but we're pretty proud of how it's going!  

August 2020:  Adventure Therapy During Covid-19                                                                                                

During this time of Covid-19, when so many schools and programs have been cancelled or have in some ways curtailed activities, Kolob Canyon has been able to continue our Adventure Therapy program.  Much of this is due to our location which provides us ready access to wonderous National Parks, stunning State Parks, lakes, hiking trails and so much more.  Because much of our adventure includes outdoor activities where our students are easily distanced from others they might encounter, students have been able to continue engaging in these amazing opportunities.  This spring and summer have been filled with hikes, paddle boarding, kayaking, exploring and rock scampering.  Each Wednesday brings a new adventure activity--outdoor activities, service projects or Academic Field Trips.  And once a month we have continued to experience our 3-day Adventure Trips including a fun river rafting trip on the Colorado River in July.  Adventure is such an important component of Kolob!  Why?  Because we believe that the more a student plays, explores, builds mastery, connects with nature and others - the more open they will be to making those adjustments towards a healthier, more balanced life. 

July 2020:  How Our Parents Feel We Are Doing Handling Covid-19                                                              

The safety of our students, their families and our staff is of upmost importance to us at Kolob.  In March we quickly put into place Covid-19 guidelines and protocols.  Over the past months, these guidelines and protocols have changed as needs arose or circumstance changed.  We routinely communicate with our parents to ensure that they are part of this process. Our staff are closely monitored when they arrive on campus.  Temperatures are taken and staff fill out a questionnaire about any symptoms before they start working each day.  Clinicians and teachers wear masks in the classroom and meetings.  Initially we cancelled off campus and home visits.  This was very difficult for our students and their parents. We have since reinstituted visits in the area as well as home visits for some of our students.  We follow strict protocols following a visit ensuring that students are tested for Covid-19 and then remain in quarantine until they receive a negative test result.  New students are also tested prior to admission and are quarantined until they receive a negative test result.  With these protocols we have been able to keep our students and staff safe and healthy. 

Recently Executive Director, Jack Hinman sent our parents a survey to see how they feel we are handling Covid-19.  We were pleased with the results.  We now know what we have done well and what we need to improve.  A sample of some of the questions asked included:

Is the program meeting your expectations related to parent to program communication?

 

Answers/Choices Responses
Very Good 9
Good 11
Fair 1

 

Is the program meeting your expectations with parent to child contact during this pandemic?

 

Answers/Choices Responses
Very Good 13
Good 5
Fair 2
 
How much do you support the programs current COVID-19 visit protocols?

 

Answers/Choices Responses
Kolob has a good balance of health/safety while supporting parent contact 19
Kolob should do more to increase the safety of students and parents 0
Kolob's protocols are excessive 1

 

Since the pandemic do you believe your child is having a closer to a normalized experience/childhood being in treatment compared to their peers that are at home?

 

Answers/Choices Responses
Yes 15
No  4
Unsure 2

 

Due to the pandemic, do you believe your child is having a normalized academic experience compared to peers?

 

Answers/Choices Responses
Yes 20
No  0
Unsure 1

 


  

June 2020:  Adventure Trip to Tropic Reservoir                                                                                                         

In June Kolob Canyon students, therapists and teachers adventured to a new location--Tropic Reservoir.  It was a beautiful part of the state that we have not visited before.  The beautiful little reservoir is located close to Red Canyon where we enjoyed hiking on the first day of our 3-day trip.  We loved the amazing red rocks and scenery in Red Canyon.  The second day of our 3-day trip included a fantastic day at the lake where we paddle boarded, kayaked and swam.  Although the water was a bit cold, no one seemed to care.  Our DBT theme for this trip was IMPROVE.  Each night included a student led group where the DBT theme was discussed.  Students especially enjoyed hanging out around the fire each night bonding and talking.  Adventure Trips provide our students with the means to do hard things and work through those things with their therapists who are doing the same hard things with them.  We love our adventure trips so much!!!

     

 


 

May 2020:  Kolob Canyon Welcomes a New Kitten to our Animal Family                                                     

Kolob is always excited to welcome new animals to our campus.  Animals help provide our students with support--sometimes when no one else can.  Often you will see one of our students holding one of our cats during a therapy session.  And you can usually find a student sitting on the porch snuggling a kitty.  In the past few weeks we have made a home for 3 new kittens.  The first kitten arrived a few weeks ago and the other two arrived just this week.  The students named our first new kitten, Cosmos because they thought her fur looked like the night sky.  Cosmos is receiving a lot of attention which is understandable seeing how completely adorable she is.  

   

 


 

 

April 2020:  Resources for Parent Support During Covid-19                                                                               

Depending on your situation and where you live, you might be social distancing, self-quarantining, working from home, taking care of children not in school AND elderly parents in your home.  Wow, so much!   It is easy to feel overwhelmed and a bit out of control.   You aren't alone!  We hear you and want to help provide some support.   The good news is that Kolob Canyon and CERTS Parent Education have some wonderful on demand webinars that can provide you with much needed connection, information and support.  Recently our Executive Director Jack Hinman provided a LIVE webinar about Self-Care during this Covid-19 period.   

There are also the following webinars that parents can access for some daily support.  All of our CERTS Parent Education webinars can be located on our CERTS Parent Education Channel at https://www.gotostage.com/channel/certsparenteducation.


March 2020:  Celebrating Our Awesome Residential Team Leadership                                                 

We have some pretty amazing staff at Kolob.  This month our Residential Director Tiffany Neibaur celebrates her 15th year working at Kolob.  She has literally been with us from the very start.  Through all of the ups and downs Tiffany has been our rock.  Tiffany is a true leader, and an inspiration to our students and our staff.  She sets an example of what it means to be a caring mentor to the students we support.  Her dedication is felt every day by the families we feel so privileged to support.  Her staff are quick to say that she is the glue that holds everything together.  Thank you Tiffany!  

   

Maria Fowler, our Assistant Residential Director was awareded with an Excellence in Service Award at the Southwest NATSAP Conference (National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs).  Fowler was nominated due to her years of tremendous and consistent support to our students at Kolob.  She is a good example and mentor to our students.  We were thrilled that not only do we know Fowler is special, those in the industry also see that she is excellent.  Our residential team leadership is wonderful.  


 

February 2020:  Parent Seminars Are Always a Highlight                                                                                    

Once a quarter we are excited to welcome our parents to campus for a 3-day Parent Seminar. Over the years we have found these weekends to be an incredibly important part of treatment for students and parents.  They provide parents with the opportunity to learn new skills and support each other.   Family therapy is an important part of parent seminar weekends and often families are able to participate in Equine Therapy together providing another layer to their family therapy session.  Parent/Teacher Conferences are equally essential allowing our academic team to catch up with parents about their student's progress.  And we never forget the Adventure!  There is nothing like hiking or tubing to remember how to have fun together.  Another essential aspect of parent weekend is time to spend together as parents and child reconnecting, practicing new skills and enjoying each other's company.  We had an wonderful parent weekend in February.  We love having parents with us on campus.

         


 

January 2020:  The Three Day Effect--Adventure Therapy Trips                                                                        

We have a tradition at Kolob Canyon...a tradition that we LOVE!  Every year, the first adventure trip of the season is spent at Ruby's Inn just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.  There is just nothing as beautiful as snow on the red rock formations.  It just takes your breath away.  We love the winter activities this adventure trip has to offer including ice skating and cross country skiing.  And we love that we get to stay inside when it is a bit chilly outside--so cozy.  We look forward to our 3-day adventure trips on the horizon with our annual ski/snowboard trip to Brian Head in Feburary and Arches National Park in March. 

We have been asked, "Why do you go on 3 day adventure trips?"  Good question!  There is actually scientific research that demonstrates that for changes to be made in one's mood and overall emotional functioning, a person needs to spend 3 days consecutive days in the outdoors. David Strayer, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Utah put this hypothesis to the test. 

It immediately struck a chord with Strayer, an avid backpacker who noticed that some of his best ideas emerged after three days of camping out.

“Having hiked around the desert for years, I noticed in myself, and from talking to others, that people think differently after being out in the desert. Their thoughts are clearer, they’re certainly more relaxed, they report being more creative,” says Strayer. “If you can disconnect and experience being in the moment for two or three days, it seems to produce a difference in qualitative thinking.”

Strayer wanted to find ways to test what he started calling “the three-day effect,” a kind of neural reboot that might boost creativity. “I wanted to try to understand what was going on inside the brain," he says.

So, for a study published in 2012, Strayer and his colleagues Paul and Ruth Ann Atchley from the University of Kansas administered tests to 28 backpackers before and after going on Outward Bound trips. Immediately after a trip, the participants performed 47 percent better in a word-test game that measures creative thinking and insight problem-solving. The game is called the Remote Associates Test, or RAT. It poses a series of three words; for example, tug, gravy and show. The test taker has to come up with the fourth word that fits with all three; in this case, boat.

“A near 50 percent improvement is huge!” says Strayer.

What caused it? Strayer believes the frontal cortex (our executive taskmaster) of the backpackers’ brains got a much-needed break. Strayer often studies networks in the brain, especially the attention network, which typically gets pretty fried in the normal course of life these days. So many things demand our attention: emails, pings, deadlines, chores, grocery lists, elusive parking spots, and, as William Wordsworth put it, all the “getting and spending.” The world, wrote the poet, “is too much with us.” And that was in the early 1800s!

When the attention network is freed up, other parts of the brain appear to take over, like those associated with sensory perception, empathy and productive day-dreaming.

“That first day in nature, your mind is recalibrating and you start to notice things a little bit, to unwind from the modern world,” says Strayer. “You notice cloud patterns, sounds and smells, and it becomes really acute. You don’t need a watch anymore. You forget what day of the week it is.”

The Strayer team’s results caught the attention of some other neuroscientists, such as University of Nebraska researcher Frank Ferraro III, who normally studies addictive behaviors. Curious to see if he could replicate the creativity findings, he gave a similar RAT test to college students before and after a six-day canoeing trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. This time he also had a control group, a bunch of students who would take the test six days apart in a classroom setting. The earlier results were confirmed: The campers showed a 50 percent improvement after the trip, but there was no meaningful change in the control group.

An older study suggests the cognitive surge isn’t just a vacation effect. In 1991 psychologist Terry Hartig and colleagues tested backpackers as well as people taking sightseeing and other types of vacations, and found increased performance only in the backpackers.

Now Strayer is drilling down further to a part of the attention network, the midline of the frontal cortex, where theta waves become active when we are performing demanding cognitive tasks. He already has data indicating those waves quiet down out in nature, but not, notably, if you’re using your phone at the same time. (https://www.rei.com/blog/camp/the-nature-fix-the-three-day-effect)

His advice: Go outside for three days, and turn the phone off.   So 3 days it is!

      


 

December 2019:  Wow! It Has Been One Incredible Year at Kolob Canyon                               

As 2019 comes to an end, we at Kolob Canyon are so incredibly grateful for this past year.  We were excited to welcome new therapist Virgina Sanford to our clinical team.  She has brought so much energy and caring to our team.  We were also happy to welcome a new Admissions Director Wendy Penrod to our Kolob family.  Her authentic warmth is so needed as parents navigate the admissions process.  With our breeding program, Kolob welcomed three new baby horses this past year.  There is just nothing as cute as little foals and colts frolicking on campus.  We also started a fostering program in association with a local horse rescue.  It has been a priviledge to help horses in need.  Our students have especially loved this opportunity to serve--although it can be very hard to say goodbye when a horse finds a permanent home.  Kolob earned Gold Status as a Research Designated Program in March.  Our committment to data collection and outcomes remains a top priority.  During 2019, Kolob was thrilled to be one of the founding members of SUPA (Southern Utah Program Association).  In September Kolob along with the other CERTS Programs was instrumental in organizing the first SUPA tour for Education Consultants.  Our clinical team received training in Natural Lifemanship, a trauma focused psychotherapy.  This therapy based on connection and attachment will be an integral part of the Kolob Canyon program.  And let's not forget our adventures--something we do so well!  Students, therapist and academic staff enjoyed trips to Arches National Park, Great Basin National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Valley of Fire State Park and so much more.  In the summer we enjoyed hking, camping, swimming, cliff juming, river rafting and paddle boarding.  In the winter we loved downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing.  What a truly amazing year!  We can't wait to see what 2020 brings our way.

  

 


November 2019:  Fostering, Adopting and Service To Animals Is Important To Our Students 

Students at Kolob Canyon are involved with animals on a daily basis.  Horse chores, Equine Therapy and Horsemanship Classes are an integral part of our program and our student lives.  For many of our students they will share their feelings with a horse before they will with their therapist.  Every 6 weeks our students are able to provide service at Best Friends Animal Santuary or at Dust Devil Horse Rescue.  These service projects are often a highlight for students and our team members.  We recently took our relationship with Dust Devil Horse Rescue to another level when we started to foster some of their horses on our campus.  Students have worked diligently to provide a caring and nuturing environment to horses that are malnourished and often experiencing their own anxiety.  Helping these horses regain health has been so impactful.  It can however be hard on the day when a fostered horse is healthy and is ready to move to a new adopted home.  Our students feel happy that a horse has recuperated and sad as they say goodbye to a horse that they love so much.  

During a recent visit to Best Friends Pet Santuary, our students fell in love with an older dog, Sparrow.  Sparrow has had multiple placements and had difficulty with these previous placement opportunities.  He struggles with separation anxiety and it was hard for him when past owners had to leave him at home while they went to work.  Sparrow had also been in an accident and lost one of his front legs.  This also made it more difficult for him to be adopted as well.  Our students felt an immediate connection to this sad and anxious fella.  So in November, Sparrow became the newest member of our campus.  He is still adjusting, but has 12 students and numerous staff who give him daily cuddles.  He is welcomed into therapist offices to support students during therapy sessions.  Sparrow is learning to trust us and we are finding that our hearts are big enough to love another animal in need of nurturing.  


OCTOBER 2019:  "EVERY BRILLIANT THING"....WAS BRILLIANT                                                                                                                                                                     

There is a play with a life-affirming message so powerful that the Utah Shakespeare Festival is offering it to every public high school and university in the state of Utah to help stem the tide of youth suicide. Every Brilliant Thing, by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, is an ingenious, heartfelt, highly theatrical one-person show wherein the narrator interacts directly with the audience.

Audience members learn that when the narrator was a child, his mother suffered from depression and attempted suicide. The narrator decided to make a list of all the things that make life worth living to persuade her to live, starting with #1, “ice cream,” and continuing to one million. This inventive, beautifully rendered theatrical experience is unique in the way the audience becomes a support community for the narrator and gains rich insights along the way about the things hiding in plain sight that make life worthwhile and wonderful.

On October 16th, students at Kolob Canyon were able to participate in this theatrical experience at the OTC Training Center.  Our students were part of the play both as actors and as they shared their own "brilliant things" throughout the show.  Because this play deals with the significant topic of suicide prevention, we spent time processing with our students following the play.  We feel very fortunate that our students had the opportunity.

   


SEPTEMBER 2019: 

INTROCUDING OUR NEW ADMISSIONS DIRECTOR WENDY PENROD                                    

Kolob Canyon is pleased to welcome Wendy Penrod as our new Admissions Director.  Wendy comes to Kolob Canyon with a wealth of experience.  She has been working with youth for the last 13 years in both the private and public sector.  Wendy actually worked as a mentor at Moonridge Academy many years ago and we are thrilled she has returned!   Most recently Wendy collaborated with local officials and educators implementing mental health preventive measures in schools and developing programs for students in risk.  Wendy is trained in DBT, Motivational Interviewing, Procedural Justice, and Trauma Informed Care. Wendy earned a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in classical acting from Southern Utah University.  While at SUU, Wendy met and fell head over heels in love with TJ Penrod.  The two just celebrated their twelfth wedding anniversary. Together Wendy and TJ sponsor an annual acting competition for teens.  Wendy believes with her whole heart that a comprehensive, compassionate approach with families is the most effective way to help youth become their best selves.

Five fun facts about Wendy....

1. Wendy loves improv theatre. She and her husband TJ own and operate a non-profit improvisational theater in Cedar City. They do weekly improv comedy shows and have traveled all over doing improv. Wendy is also the camp director for Camp Improv Utopia West, a weekend summer camp for improv artists from all over the world.

2. Wendy loves thrills. She loves super high rollercoasters and has been skydiving three times.

3. Wendy loves to travel and has been to 45 states, three countries, and plans to add even more numbers to those totals.

4. Wendy loves painting her nails and has a nail polish collection that could rival any professional nail salon.

5. Wendy's favorite color is leopard print. You name it, she's got it in leopard print.
 

 

KOLOB CLINICIANS TRAIN IN TRAUMA-FOCUSED EQUINE PSYCHOTHERAPY                                                

Our Clinical Team works tirelessly to enhance their skills so they can improve the lives of our students.  Our therapists have long been trained in Equine Therapy and have seen the benefits that it brings to the lives of our students.   In late September our amazing clinicians participated in additional extensive Trauma-Focused Equine Psychotherapy.  The training was provided by Natural Lifemanship.  Since 1986 this group has helped people overcome trauma and toxic stress by teaching clinicians how to help their clients form healthy relationships, with the help of horses.  Our clinical team Craig, Virginia and Ruth along with our Equine Director Anndi felt that this opportunity and training will provide even more support to our students who have experienced trauma.