Second Nature Uintas (1998-present) Duchesne, UT

Wilderness Program

History and Background Information

Second Nature Uintas is a behavior-modification program that was founded in 1998. It is marketed as a Wilderness Therapy Program for troubled teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17. The program states that it accepts teenagers with a history of the following: mental health issues, trauma, behavioral problems, developmental issues, oppositional defiance, substance abuse/dependence, learning disabilities, academic issues, attachment issues and relational difficulties. SN reports that the average length of stay is between 8 and 10 weeks, but survivors have reported it is typically between 12 and 16 weeks. It is reported that the tuition is approximately $500 per day, meaning that parents typically pay between $42,000 and $56,000 for 12-16 weeks. Second Nature Uintas has been a NATSAP member since 1999.

The address associated with Second Nature Uintas is 382 W. Main Street, Duchesne, UT 84021. However, because Second Nature Unitas is a wilderness program, the actual program takes place around in the nearby wilderness. The program states that in the winter months the teens are taken to the lower elevations of the Uinta Basin, while in the summer months the teens are taken to the higher elevations of the Uinta Mountains.

Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy, LLC also operated a number of other Second Nature programs across the country including Second Nature Cascades in Oregon and Second Nature Entrada in Utah. The company also operated Second Nature Blue Ridge in Georgia. In September 2014, the owners of Second Nature decided to reorganize our programs into two companies, Second Nature Entrada & Cascades and Second Nature Uintas & Blue Ridge. Second Nature Cascades and & Entrada have both of which have since been rebranded as Evoke Cascades and Evoke Entrada. which has since been reorganized into Blue Ridge Wilderness Therapy Program.

Founders and Notable Staff

Cheryl Kehl is one of the Founders of Second Nature. In 2003, she was elected to serve on the board of NATSAP. She had previously worked as the Clinical Director and a Therapist at Aspen Achievement Academy, a reportedly abusive Aspen Education Group program. She also worked as the Clinical Director of Aspen Ranch, which is also a reportedly abusive Aspen Education Group program.

Devan Glissmeyer is one of the Founders of Second Nature. He previously worked as a Field Therapist at Aspen Achievement Academy, a reportedly abusive Aspen Education Group program. He currently works as a Therapist at Second Nature.

Brad M. Reedy is one of the Founders of Second Nature. He is also the Co-Founder and Clinical Director of the Evoke Therapy Programs. He previously worked as a Field Therapist and Clinical Director of both Aspen Achievement Academy and Aspen Ranch.

Jeff Scott worked as the Clinical Director at Second Nature. He previously worked at SUWS of the Carolinas as well as at Aspen Achievement Academy. He began his career in the TTI working at the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School and the Heritage School.

Ben Pearson worked as a Therapist at Second Nature. He began working in the TTI at the Anasazi Foundation in the fall of 1997.

Bryan Lepinske worked as a Therapist at Second Nature. He previously worked at the Willow Creek School in Provo, UT.

Jason Dalton worked as a Therapist at Second Nature. He previously worked at Logan River Academy for nearly four years. Logan River Academy has been reported to be extremely abusive and is a direct spin-off program of the confirmedly abusive Provo Canyon School.

Jen Murphy worked as a Counselor at Second Nature. She previously worked at Aspen Achievement Academy, a reportedly abusive Aspen Education Group program, for four years.

Jennifer Wilde worked as a Counselor at Second Nature. She previously worked at several reportedly abusive institutions, including Island View RTC for 7 years and as the Clinical Director at the Willow Creek School in Provo, UT.

Erica Thiessen worked as a Counselor at Second Nature. She previously worked as a Lead Peer Group Counselor for two groups as well as wilderness counselor at The Academy at Swift River, a reportedly extremely abusive Aspen Education Group program.

Patrick Logan worked as the Outreach Director of Second Nature Uintas. He previously worked as a Senior Instructor and Team Leader at Aspen Achievement Academy. For 8 months in 1996, he worked at Hidden Lake Academy as their Assistant Wilderness Director before joining Second Nature.

Program Structure

The teenagers are separated into numbered groups of between 8 and 10 teenagers each. Like other behavior-modification programs, Second Nature Uintas uses a level system consisting of levels. The levels are reported to be:

  • Earth Phase: On this phase, the teenager has to accept their placement into the program and learn to comply with its rules. They are isolated from the other teenagers in order to increase pressure. The keywords for this phase are Orientation and Acceptance. The teenager is not allowed to talk to anyone and must complete a set of assignments before moving on to fire phase, including a ‘life story’ assignment. This phase typically lasts about a week.
  • Fire Phase: During this phase they are slowly being integrated into a peer group and given assignments within the daily framework. They have to share life story with their group and also write accountability letters to their parents. They also had to read Man’s Search for Meaning. The keywords are Accountability and Engagement. They are also given more responsibilities and privileges.
  • Water Phase: During this phase they have to show leadership skills while they continue their own work. The keywords are Investment and Insight. On this level, the teenager is deemed responsible and mature enough to handle additional privileges and responsibilities. They are also given a metal water bottle.
  • Air Phase: The student are given leadership assignments such as using a compass and a map. The keywords are Insight and Responsibility. It is reported that the staff are allowed to give these residents extra food if they choose. It is also reported that very few teenagers are actually able to achieve this phase.

It is reported that very few teenagers are allowed to go home after they complete the program. Most are sent off to other longer-term placements including Residential Treatment Centers and Therapeutic Boarding Schools. Many survivors report that they were lied to about this, and told that they would be going home after only a few weeks at Second Nature.

Abuse Allegations

Second Nature is reported by many survivors to be an abusive program. Allegations of abuse and neglect which have been reported by survivors include severe medical neglect, solitary confinement, over-medication, humiliation tactics, and restriction of food. Many survivors report that they have been diagnosed with PTSD following their time at Second Nature.

One survivor reports that they experienced the following at Second Nature:

  • “put us on 48 hour isolation in solitary confinement on the whim of the staff members. Not even as punishment.
  • i was forced to drink a gallon of water in 5 minutes on two separate occasions as punishment for forgetting to get my water bottles logged (they can’t be held liable). They told me if I finished it the group would get quesadillas, so everyone cheered me on. Both times I drank until I threw up water, and both times I was forced to scoop up my own vomit even though it was just water, dig a hole for it, and was told I was dramatizing
  • staff calling the girls names, encouraging us to call each other names, encouraging verbal abuse -group meetings that existed purely to humiliate and shame.
  • girls being forced to hike and participate while withdrawing from serious drugs such as meth, crack and heroin
  • i was put on meds that made me drowsy, accused me of faking when I kept passing out under the weight of my backpack as a result, only stopped the meds when my parents noted they couldn’t read my handwriting bc I was so weak.
  • inadequate protection against the desert cold, girls would cry themselves to sleep.
  • was made to write a list of things I would never tell my parents, then forced to read it. When I turned around they were there for their visit which I hadn’t been told about ahead of time.
  • I never got the hang of making a fire, and they thought I just wasn’t trying, so they put me on isolation for a week where I couldn’t talk to anyone and the only thing I was allowed to do was to try making a fire all day. For a week.
  • sadistic games played by the counselors just to teach us lessons, promising prizes it was impossible to win.
  • clearly Mormon therapist who told me I needed to find a higher power to get better, even t hooch he knew I was Jewish and that that is a higher power.
  • kept me an extra month against my parents will bc they wanted to take me home instead of transfer me to a RTC in Utah.
  • was not allowed to draw read or write.”

In 2014, it was reported that a 14-year-old at Second Nature Blue Ridge was forced to engage in sexual activity with a counsellor at the program. This is likely one of the incidents that contributed to Second Nature’s re-branding as Evoke and 2N Blue Ridge’s rebranding as Blue Ridge Wilderness Program.

Survivor/Parent Testimonials

12/31/2020: (SURVIVOR) “This place damaged me permanently. It’s been almost 12 years since I was kidnapped and dropped in the frigid wilderness of the Uinta Mountains for 3 months. I now suffer from crippling PTSD and depression, as well as permanent nerve damage, over a decade later. I’ve only recently started to understand that this hellish nightmare of a “therapy” program is the root of my PTSD. I’ve attempted suicide twice since going through this program and by the will of some higher power I’ve overcome years of hard drug addiction. I blame Second Nature and its staff. They profit from the suffering of troubled teenagers, and not just monetarily. They get off on abusing minors. My mind can’t comprehend the evil propelling the cruelty of the staff here. These people should be charged with kidnapping , torture and even murder. Two other troubled teenagers I knew from Second Nature have taken their own lives since. They were good, kind people who struggled with addiction, mental illness and pain in their home lives. I watched teenagers in my group suffer through seizures from drug withdrawal and were refused treatment (one of them died shortly after leaving the program). I witnessed many other group members get hurt, sick and some attempt to kill themselves. It’s taken me years to repair my relationship with my parents, caring but misguided people who were tricked into sending me here by some money-driven “educational consultant”. I was an anxious teenager from a broken home who smoked a little weed and was bullied at high school. I was a kid, and I never hurt anyone. I did not deserve the scars I incurred from Second Nature. I feel like the trauma will never heal. I have permanent nerve damage in my fingers and toes from frostbite I got in Second Nature. I remember the all night forced hikes under threat of starvation, I remember defrosting my numb toes every morning, the solitary confinement and the constant shaming, I remember the pain of the untreated ingrown toenail I was forced to hike on for 2 months. I remember being restrained no matter how hard I fought and thrown into the back of a van to be driven back into the mountains when I tried to escape. I try to block these memories from appearing in my stream of thought but they always rise to the surface. I still have the occasional nightmare of waking up alone under my tarp shivering and scared. Second Nature messed me up and I’ll never be okay. They made me afraid of therapy and taught me the true meaning of fear. I believe in Karma and that justice will be served to the monsters who tortured and abused me. The worst part of it all is that I’ve been distrustful and afraid of therapy ever since the program, even as an adult. In the therapeutic boarding school I was sent to after Second Nature, I was abused mentally and physically by the staff and forced to work like a slave until I couldn’t take it anymore and got myself kicked out on purpose. I missed an integral part of my development and was deprived of some of the best years of youth that I will never get back, spent living in a waking nightmare thousands of miles away from home with the same few heavily medicated and mentally ill boys, no female interaction for years. That is not a natural part of growing up. I was a kid with problems but I never did anything that bad. I needed guidance or help with my anxiety, not kidnapping, gaslighting, abuse and more fear. I truly hope that any parents reading my review who care about their family will reconsider sending their children to this place and spare them the trauma I’ve been forced to endure. There are better ways to rehabilitate troubled teens. I hated my parents for years and I still struggle with forgiving them for the aftereffects I suffer through daily. This place should be illegal. It’s nothing more than an industry for them and they don’t care about teenagers’ well-being or the future of their lives. Do your research and you will read many stories like mine. Second Nature is not a solution. It’s a problem and it makes me nauseous that it’s still open.” – Alias (Yelp)

11/8/2020: (SURVIVOR) “I am not writing this review to spite this place. I am writing this review because this program does not work. I am not just another angry patient. I was sent to second nature some time ago because my parents thought I was doing drugs too often (intentionally being vague to remain anonymous). Honestly, the experience sucked but I am glad I did not get sent to “aftercare” like many other patients. The average stay at second nature is around 3 months. For those who are wondering, second nature is a program which is designed to select another program for the patient to go to after second nature. These aftercare programs are usually around 1 year. After I got back home, I went back to having fun. I eventually stopped on my own because I grew tired of it. That does not mean I do not relax on the weekends. Second nature did not teach me anything of value. If anything, second nature taught me to be more sneaky around my parents because I knew the potential consequences of getting caught. Before I became an adult, I was counting down the days until I turned 18. When I turned 18, I felt so free. Ultimately it is up to the patient to decide if they want to change, and I know for a fact that the former patients in my group and my friends who also went to second nature have not changed (I’m friends with them on social media) even if they went to aftercare (most went to aftercare). Some are using and selling drugs. Some are strippers/prostitutes. Some are having kids way too young. Not one person (myself included) is doing what their parents want them to do. Great alumni network. In my opinion, this program was a waste of money and time. Don’t be fooled, addiction is a money making industry. Money does not solve all problems. Forcing someone to go to rehab most likely will not make them change their ways. People have to want to change on their own. So parents, do not expect your child to change unless they want to go to second nature. In other words, if you need to hire a transporter company to take your kid to Utah, do not expect them to change.” – Anonymous (Yelp)

10/4/2020: (SURVIVOR) “I attended this God awful Abusive labor camp where they openly admit “redhawk” that he uses tactics to break horses on the clients. They lie to get you there saying you can leave anytime and have access to a phone when ever you need to. Lies. This place made my condition worst. This is not made to help anybody but to break a human soul and spirit. It is a waste of money. This is a work camp and labor camp used to humiliate and break clients. It’s not some peaceful retreat they make it out to be in the marketing material.” – Dante (Yelp)

3/3/2020: (SURVIVOR) “I was sent here 2 years back and I can openly say if you plan on sending your kids here there are so many better options. Don’t even think about sending your kid away. If you don’t want to deal with your child and send them elsewhere do be dealt with you don’t truly love them or deserve to be their parent and this is how it will look to the child for the rest of their lives after. It’s been two years and I can say I will never truly forgive my dad for sending me to Second Nature. It makes me hate that he’s my dad. Yes I was struggling but I wasn’t on the verge of death and therefore such intense measures shouldn’t even be considered. The only beneficial skills I learned from second nature were survival skills and a general understanding of my emotions. But this doesn’t matter whatsoever because the trauma from that experience has caused me more anxiety and depression than ever! I am not just an angry kid who was sent to Second Nature. I happened to enjoy my stay in many parts. But that’s simply because I learned that I love the outdoors! but most children sent here are not so fond of their situation and in the end this program causes more problems than it solves. Everyone who was in my group has relapsed or gone back to old habits unless they DECIDED to change themselves. CHANGE DOESN’T WORK WHEN ITS FORCED.” – Max (Yelp)

10/8/2019: (SURVIVOR) “Yelp is deleting my reviews. Second Nature can’t hide the fact that abuses occurred and their staff was riddled with perpetrators. I went here and I was in group 11 with therapists Vaughn Heath and his then wife Carrie (appropriate right?) Educational consultants knew Vaughn as an expert in the field and the area of sexual abuse. After leaving second nature the therapist Vaughn Heath used the platform of Facebook to seek out and sexually perpetrate on a previous group 11 patient. This program added more traumas onto the young girl. Second Nature, you can’t bury this or keep me quiet.” – Mary (Yelp)

8/21/2019: (SURVIVOR) “You are hiking in rain, feet of snow if you are injured they tell you to suck it up. I am not anti-wilderness, as I think it is a great experience. But this place is truly not therapeutic, the schoolwork is very hard to get help with. This program often leaves you hungry at night and staff will get aggressive over small things such as exchanging phone numbers, whispering, etc. I got my wrists grabbed to the point of bruises after exchanging phone numbers, and I got no apology until he met my parents. Send your child to another wilderness program this is miserable for all parties. My therapist was nice but the staff does NOT CARE except for a select people. Just remember this is your child.” – Zac (Yelp)

6/30/2019: (SURVIVOR) “This review goes out for all parents thinking even for a second about sending their child here. It’s not worth it. You think your child will learn and grow from this? Well then you are probably just as delusional as the people who run the place. You think, “oh wilderness therapy, sounds like a good way to get my child out of the scene of day to day life and have them step back and work on themselves.” Yea if your child was Bear Grylls. Everyday is a grueling fight for survival. I was there in the winter of 2018-2019. I suffer from permanent nerve damage in my feet from the harsh cold and not enough warmth. The staff are harsh, cruel, selfish, and are solely focused on the objective of leaving the next week. The staff are all you have. the only connection to the outside world. Your solace and comfort in a time of stress. A kind staff, someone you could connect with was rare. Shout to the homie Corbin. One of the only real staff I met. Along with Ian, two of the nicest staff. The only way I made it through was because of them. I was in the G9/G3 group. I prayed every week to heaven or hell that I got these guys as staff. The therapist, Tracy, was nice. She was kind and counseling but only came out once a week. Making a true connection difficult. You can go to a therapist at home once a week, for an existential lower price. Shouldn’t you be seeing a therapist more at a wilderness therapy program? My story is similar to any child sent her. Messed around, did some drugs. Nothing to harsh, nothing to severe. Diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was truly struggling. All it would’ve taken was a shoulder to cry on and a pair of ears to listen. No one ever understood or tried to understand without anterior motives. My home life became so bad I resorted to living on the streets. Some time into living on the streets I was picked up by police as a juvenille runaway and taken to the hospital. After waiting hours for my parents to come and get me. I thought hey, maybe this is on me. Maybe i need to open up to my parents more. Im gonna try to change. Im gonna try to make things better. Finally my parents showed, with two very large goons. They told me i was going with the men to utah for a few days. In the car they forced me into the small seat in the back of an SUV. Being 6’4 this was extremely uncomfortable. I was stuck back there for 12 hours. After arriving at the program, being stripped and searched, they proceeded to do a series of medical tests as if i was joining the army. They large hiking boots, and put me in a truck. They drove me out to the middle of nowhere and dropped me off. I proceeded to go through hell. A living hell. Days of coldness. Forgetting warmth. Writing about warm things in life just to get a taste of what i knew was never to come for quite some time. I fought at first. refusing to do what they told me to do. Begging my parents to take me out. Begging them and pleading to show i had changed. All to no avail. All to find out i was stuck for 12 weeks. Maybe more. In a living hell. I learned to lie. You have to lie if you want to get out of there. I lied and got home. Im very successful at home now. Im sober, im happy, and healthier than ive ever been. I have a steady job and true friends who are good and are their for me. Can’t say second nature is the right choice for anyone. Unless you truly just want your child to suffer. no one needs to go through this. parents i beg you if you are debating on sending your child here. Just try to listen to your child. forget trying to accomplish anything. just listen. i was forced to spend thanksgiving and christmas out there. In freezing temperatures. Im going to have to stop there because theres just so much more wrong with this program. If you have any questions about my story, experience, or views on second nature feel free to message me.” – Cooper (Yelp)

6/13/2019: (SURVIVOR) “I attended Second Nature from September to December of 2017. I’ve thought a lot about writing this review because I didn’t want others to think that I was writing this because I was pissed about what had happened. Second Nature did not help me what so ever. Before being sent to Second Nature I was in the middle of a depressive episode and my parents didn’t know what to do. Someone recommended this place so off I went. As soon as I got there you are strip searched and examined. I was extremely uncomfortable being thrown into a new environment with no one that you know and being forced to do this. The staff members as a whole were very nice and caring and tried to do whatever they could to make Second Nature seem more enjoyable. However, the therapist that I was assigned did little to help me. She tried to stick so many disorders and diagnoses on me that weren’t correct. (Since coming home, I see a therapist weekly and both my therapist and the psychologist I see strongly disagree with the treatment option that was made.) She told my parents that I shouldn’t be brought home and that I wouldn’t be able to last at home for a while without having another episode. She told my parents that I was unwilling to participate in therapy and that I needed more and more time in the Program. I was willing to participate, I just didn’t agree with the diagnoses she was making. None of them made sense for me. While I was there, I had hurt my hip. The doctor on staff decided to provide me with a very strong pain killer that I easily could’ve been addicted to without checking with my parents first. Not only that, he diagnosed the wrong thing and I would up having to get knee surgery when I got home. I won’t argue that Second Nature is not effective, because it is. But before you send your child there, see if that is really the right option for them. If it is the last resort, try it. But if there are other options, try those first. I proved the therapist wrong and I am thriving at home, two years later without being sent to another therapeutic program and have a great relationship with my family due to my current therapist.” – Rachael (Yelp)

2019: (SURVIVOR) “as someone who spent almost 4 months at second nature just a few years ago. i can honestly say it was one of the worst experiences of my life. and recently i was diagnosed with PTSD from two separate therapists because of second nature. sending any child here…is simply abuse. as a response. i don’t mean to be rude. but if you ever spent almost 4 months out in the wilderness against your will. including all the censorship you make the kids go through. not to mention that therapist’s lie to parents and kids to forward there own agenda of actually “doing something” and the fact that most staff are just barley out of there 20’s and have no clue how to handle kids. that being said. yes i would like the proper documents to open a case if those are real.” – Hex (Google Reviews)

1/2/2019: (SURVIVOR) Link to Nate’s Survivor Testimony

4/12/2019: (SURVIVOR) “If there were an option for zero stars, that would certainly be my choice. The following is stated exclusively from personal experience. Others may have had better or worse experiences, but the following is what I went through…It is my feeling that the entire operation should have been shut down years ago. I can confirm from personal experience that a significant amount of what other negative reviews had stated are true. For example, it is absolutely true to my experience as well that the ‘counselors’ required that children created a fire by themselves with sticks, string and a rock each day in order to eat anything cooked on a fire. Otherwise, we were forced to vile dehydrated beans and rice with a little bit of cold water, which I can tell you through personal experience does not re-hydrate them. They are practically inedible and still crunchy and tasteless. That was a daily occurrence. Also, being sent on ‘solos’ were a real thing – these counselors actually took children to remote places, where they were then left alone for days at a time (wouldn’t know exactly for how long, as they had a rule that children were never allowed to know what time it was). We were left with nothing other than minimal food to get by, some water, and our blue tarp and strings to sleep under in a sleeping bag. Yes – that is the same type of blue tarp that would be laid over the back of a pick-up truck to cover up lawn equipment, for example. No insulation, and nothing close to a tent that one can enclose. There were way too many activities that went on that are so unethical and so horrible to put children through. All children (and I say children because I am referring to the under-18 program, in which children are sent there involuntarily, compared to the adult version), were required to carry on their backs their incredibly heavy backpacks each day on long hikes in all weather conditions. These backpacks held tarp materials, clothing, a week’s worth of food, a rock, fire making materials, notebooks, and other items. We were even forced to place heavy rocks in our packs as punishment to make them even heavier. They were very heavy, and not all kids are the same size. They all, however, carried the same backpacks – even the smaller kids. We would have to wake up each day, pack the contents of the bags, then go on long hikes for unknown amounts of time and unknown distances. Counselors refused to ever tell children how long hikes were, how much longer the hikes would be, or what time it was. As a kid, this caused incredible feelings of fear, powerlessness, and that of what a prisoner likely feels. Upon arrival, children are blindfolded, taken to a remote place in the mountains, then isolated from the group for days until they finish writing their ‘life story’ with zero guidance or instruction. Then, once they present it they are first told that their life story needs to be one with full accountability or they were forced to be isolated for days more and re-write it. This also comes at a time when children are most fragile, scared, lonely, powerless, and terrified – when they FIRST arrive, typically at night, having no idea what is about to ensue. Imagine this as well – the entire time in the program, children are outdoors. Whether in a snowstorm, windstorm, rainstorm, or any other weather. We were outside 24/7 in the middle of winter, and slept in nothing other than a sleeping bag and a blue tarp over our heads, for which we were responsible figuring out each day how to find a location in the mountains and hang it properly in order to not wake up soaking wet. One pair of underwear for each week. Weekly “showers” consisted of taking a couple of old dirty coffee containers, filling them with water, then stripping in the middle of the woods in the freezing cold and pouring that water on oneself. Not a good time, and very hard to do. The counselors, who spend days with the children, seemed to have no backgrounds in therapy, no credentials, no schooling or degrees for it. I cannot confirm this but can only speak to personal experience. On what planet should young, inexperienced, uncredentialled adults be physically and emotionally responsible for taking full care of sometimes very emotionally damaged, addicted children, some of whom had psychological disorders. These poor kids should be in the hands of incredibly qualified, trained psychologists and psychiatrists, not counselors looking to make a couple bucks. I want to review their financials to see if there is an expense item for ‘referral fees paid.’ I would be very curious to see if they are paying people around the country to refer parents to send their children to this place, creating a bias and moral dilemma. I have spoken with many, very scholarly, successful and brilliant psychologists and psychiatrists, all of whom have said they cannot believe that some people actually send their children to this place. It is shameful. Much more to say but limited character space.” – Gerald (Yelp)

6/25/2018: (SURVIVOR) “I wrote a review that was once on the top of this list and then it was removed due to the age restricting policy. Well Im 18 now and I’m finally old enough to not get this taken down lol. Don’t send your kid here if you care about your relationship with them. Also don’t trust educational consultants or aftercares. Since being a victim of this horrible business model I have seen kids mental well being deteriorate into oblivion. I attended second nature in the summer of 2017 and have never been in a worse mindset than I was put through at this place. I “as well as others” became extremely depressed and suicidal and lost complete respect and trust in our parents. Usually educational consultants will get a commission from sending you here, so when they tell you “Oh your Son/Daughter would really excel here.” they are 90% of the time speaking out of their ass and just want that sweet sweet commission. When I first came to second nature I was extremely mad at my parents and thought I would never forgive them for such a traumatic experience. “Being Gooned/Transported.” And to tell you the truth I have not forgiven them. After all of this time. I want to kill myself and have horrible trust in all adult figures because of this place. And I am not the only one. I’m not really sure what Im trying to do by posting this review but I just want to warn parents that this can severely mess up your kids relationship with you. From what Ive witnessed this is just an expensive business scam directed towards desperate parents that have money to throw away. 99% of the time the therapists and educational consultants will recommend your kid go to aftercare and you will end up spending a-lot more money than you initially thought. All of the kids I knew faked their progress so that they could impress the staff and parents just so they could leave sooner. Please just use this as a last resort and really try hard to think about what you are doing and try to talk with your kid about it instead of just blindly violating human rights and traumatizing them by waking them up to transports. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep thinking about this and I feel so alone now. I hope you as a parent can help your kids, but do it from a better approach instead of Gooning them and forcefully sending them to shit in a hole for 3 months. Thanks, Former 2N student.” – Persondude (Yelp)

2018: (SURVIVOR) “Through first hand experience I would warn parents from sending their children here. I spent fourth months at the program and after being released from it I have felt nothing but mistrust and hatred towards my parents, though I do not blame them for sending me to the program they thought they were doing the right thing. The program promotes conformity to the system which does not create real results, I have been in contact with most of the other students that I spent time with at second nature, and I have yet to find one of over twenty that has no relapsed or though the program was a waste of time and damaging, as for me relationships with my family have become distant and fake. I find that not single day goes by where I do not think of second nature wilderness program. The staff were highly mixed in attitudes toward the attendees of the program, some I quite liked and would like to have a friendship with and others were there as work and saw the students as nothing than that. In the program if you are not with it and confirming your life is made harder every day by staff with “consequences” which is a word that used heavily, even at the mention of punishment the staff be on you like hyenas to a carcass and dispute it with heavy intensity. The therapists are only available once a week in the field and you are given a single hour with them and that is it for the week. I found that the “therapy” was rushed and never made real strides towards a solid answer or focus on the therapy you required. As far as contact with parents goes there is little to none. You are allowed one letter a week and will receive one letter a week, in that letter you are expected to family counseling. Though counseling through letters in highly in effective and is easily squandered. In my time there I only was able to do phone calls in the last month I was there. In total I got four phone calls of family therapy where the therapist and parents are in a group call with you. These were more focused but 4 thirty minute real family therapy sessions for the whole stay is heinous idea and will to no real results. Another problem I would to address is that of the child “transporters” that some parents used lovingly referred to as goons. Goons are emotionally damaging for students of the program. They are kidnappers that your parents pay to take you away early in the morning or late at night and drop you in the mountains/desert. The fact that this even legal within the country is sickening. In the end I would warn any parent looking at the possibility of wilderness as a viable option for there child to seek better methods. This is not a drug rehab center or a fruitful method of counseling it is a money making corporation that is pushed by “educational consultants” as a viable option for any form of counseling.” – Alexander (Google Reviews)

2017: (SURVIVOR) “Went here when I was 15, am now 31. This place continues to haunt me. The recruiter took advantage of my mother who was desperate for an answer to get me help bc I smoked weed. The process was awful. I was stripped naked, i was forced to hike 20+miles a day bc I was a “bad” person. We were forced to eat peanut butter and ramen noodles and would not be able to eat healthy unless we could bust our own fire. After no contact allowed bc a therapist said so, 6 months later my parents came to take me home so I thought. WRONG. The contractor forced them to send me off.” – Michelle (Google Reviews)

12/3/2016: (SURVIVOR) “They took off my pictures like many other people here I got PTSD from going there along with acute intermittent porphyria. A 1:100 disease for life. I throw up blood regularly I go to the bathroom and see blood in the toilet im now on 10 pills just for anxiety and sleep and 15mg a day of oxy. This place gave me nightmares and health problems for the rest of my life. I moved out never spoke to my parents again. I had pictures that were taken down part of porphyria is you get sun blisters my face back and chest have scars from the sun sores that will never be healed or covered up. I experience pain everyday I’ve had seizures as a result of the PTSD my last seizure dislocated my shoulder and tore my rotatir cuff. I came out worse than I went in. They refused to bring me to the hospital and I was told if I didn’t stop throwing up i couldn’t go home. I was so sick there from the salmonella I was throwing up daily one night I was so dehydrated I passed out half way to my tent and passed myself. Sending your kid here could kill them my doctors told me im lucky to be alive and what I have (porphyria) could be passed onto my kids. It mutated my gene. Screw them if you send your kid they will hate you. Im not the only one who came out worse than when they went in. If I got sick I was supposed to carry extra weight while hiking to metaphorically reflect the weight the group had to carry from dragging me by my backpack while I was unconscious on hikes. Luckily the staff although they were told not to bring me to the hospital they atleast didn’t force me to carry extra weight after they found me unconscious when I passed out and passed myself. They knew I want faking but the therapist believed I was. I was also mocked because I read the bible cause I knew I was dying. I debated hanging myself while there because I knew I was dying I wanted to go out on my own terms. I had my will written inside my boots telling my parents to get an @autopsy done. I also told my friends in my group to tell my parents what REALLY happened to me and why I died. I HOPE THIS PLACE BURNS TO THE GROUND. Therapist lu vaughn was my therapist. The staff I had knew something was wrong but they were helpless because of her orders. I been to jail and jail was better than that place. Imagine sending ur child somewhere worse than jail they will never be the same. I don’t trust anyone and cut off my entire family because of this place. Look at the other reviews more ppl left with PTSD I wouldn’t wish PTSD on my worst enemy” – Fred (Yelp)

7/25/2016: (SURVIVOR) “Don’t buy into the positive reviews, this place is terrible. You are a monster if you go through with sending a child there. What this place does to people is comparable to rape or molestation in the shame and how it outcasts you permanently from ever really feeling back at home again. When you are out there, the staff have no problem letting you know this is a business and that they are using the willingness and trust of confused and frustrated parents with money, and feeding you into an expensive system where therapists and professionals convince the parents that their child needs expensive boarding school, or other “after-care” programs. I was there summer of 2010 Group4 and I wish this never happened to me. Never have your child kidnapped people. That’s what mine did. That’s what this program may have you do, many in my group did. They had two huge Richmond gangster African American men burst into my room at 4am and drag me out of my room, threatening to handcuff me if I resisted at all. Others in my group had been beaten bloody by their “escort service” for resisting. Do not listen to the positive reviews. Maybe for a few this might work, but this has made my life hell in unimaginable ways. I’ll never forgive my parents for what they put me through with this, and I wish I could organize a joint lawsuit and get together with former “clients” and sue the hell out of this place for the damage they have caused us. You are a monster if you send your kid here. Don’t buy into the recommendations of professionals. This is not how you should treat any sort of problem. You are sending your child to a marching internment camp where they could be eaten by a bear because someone else brought food in their pack to bed. Which there aren’t tents here people. Just a boat tarp you string up with paracord, so rats run over you in the night, mosquitos swarm you in the hundreds, so loud their buzzing is what wakes you in the morning. Where if you don’t make a fire with sticks successfully, you can’t sit by the group fire or eat group food, forced to eat cold tuna envelopes while everyone else eats. Where they make you walk miles without water on “dehydration hikes”. Where staff members taunt you that you aren’t going home and that the therapist will convince your parents to send you to a boarding school. I was just a kid with depression who smoked some weed. A psychologist and his recommended “educational consultant” convinced my parents to have me kidnapped the day after I finished my school year and spend my 16th birthday and the next 3 months in the custodial care of this abomination of a program. Please. I beg of you. For your child’s sake don’t go down this road if you care anything about having anywhat of a normal relationship with your child. I can answer more questions if you’d like.” – Connor (Yelp)

4/14/2016: (SURVIVOR) “I had a horrible experience in this program. The reason I decided to go is that I had gone through a traumatic experience and I started seeing a therapist who recommended it. I was expecting to feel supported and get to know the staff and other people in the program. Instead I was treated like a criminal even though I’ve never done drugs or broken the law. The staff you interact with on a daily basis are not trained therapists. They were often emotionally abusive. I was told that if I left the program early my parents wouldn’t want me back. I have a very close relationship with my family and knew that was BS. At the time I was on disability at my first job out of college and had moved back home. We were often bullied and treated with disrespect. We hiked in over 100 degree weather most days . I was on a lot of anti anxieties bc I would get panic attacks which made me extremely tired. Sometimes when I needed a break from hiking (which btw i love hiking and used to do that most weekends before I was mentally I’ll) I was told I was lazy and that I could not take a break. During most of the program I was not allowed to talk to my parents. The therapist kept telling them I needed to stay longer. Btw they charge something like $5,000 per week which isn’t cheap so they have a strong incentive to make you stay longer. Finally in order to leave the program I would just flat out lie to the staff and say everything they wanted to hear. When I finally was allowed to go home my parents were very upset and I was very depressed for months. When I was finally able to communicate with my parents during the program I was terrified to tell them about what the program was like. The therapist was on the phone line and told me what I needed to tell my parents if I wanted to leave any time soon. I’m happy to say that now I’m doing very well . I’m a full time grad student and work 20 hours a week at a university. If anyone wants to talk to me about my experience I welcome it and am more than happy to answer questions. Of course this is only my experience and I know there are ppl who benefit from it. If your kid has serious behavioral problems or addicted to drugs they might benefit. If your kid is feeling depressed or anxious I wouldn’t recommend it. It could make their problems worse. Update on 8/7/2019: I haven’t been on Yelp in a long time and saw the response from Andrea. Well, there is another program called “Second Nature Entrada Wilderness Therapy Program” that is also located in Utah. These two organizations have the SAME logo. I’m certain they are affiliated. Anyone considering attending this program should really do their research. Here is a link that provides information about how shady these programs are. It also includes investigations completed by the Government Accountability Office. I want to emphasize that wilderness therapy programs are COMPLETELY UNREGULATED. It has been shown that the “educational consultants” and “after-care” programs get kickbacks for referrals. Again, please message me if you’d like to hear more about my experience. I will be checking my account. I’m very fortunate that I’m healthy, have a loving family, and am educated. Many people who participate in this program are not as fortunate and are therefore less likely to talk about their experiences.” – Allie (Yelp)

4/16/2015: (SURVIVOR) “I highly doubt that anyone researching programs will look here.. on Yelp, but I would be remiss not to warn parents and families at every turn of this abusive program. Second Nature makes fantastical claims of it’s success rates, safety, and the qualifications of its staff but a little intensive research yields the truth: Second Nature programs are no more effective, and absolutely no different than programs like Utah’s now-closed North Star Expeditions/Challenger Foundation. In fact, wilderness programs and boot camp-style “tough love” treatments have zero peer-reviewed studies which show they are effective. I am 100% fo’ serious (research it!). I am a former camper, and I ended up swept through the system, and away from home for a bit more than two years. Second Nature refused me my inhaler while hiking despite the fact that I have had documented athsma my entire life (claiming that although I take asthma medication, that I was “lying” about my condition). 2N also espouses isolation as a successful form of therapy (most campers will spend 6-7 days on “Solo,” not a single person in sight, completely alone with no idea where staff is located). Please read any literature related to the recent Kelief Browder tragedy if you’re curious about whether or not isolation/solitary confinement is an effect form of treatment. 2N Counselors (who hold no degrees, certification, and are often 20-somethings with sleeves or tattoos and no career aspirations) were often incredibly cruel, telling a sick campmate of mine that she was “disgusting,” or calling young girls brats, fools, manipulative liars if they were sick, “idiots” and more. Worst of all, the program is recklessly-run and thus, dangerous. Our group was lost one afternoon with no water and no food, and 1 of my fellow campers fainted from dehydration. Any program that monitors, censors, or severely limits the contact you have with your child raises a big fat red flag. Your child should be able to have unmonitored contact with you, in the case that they are being mistreated or are in danger. 2N censors written letters written by campers, and phonecalls (which are a privilege granted before one leaves) are always in the presence of 1 or more staff member. A program that deals with frightened, sick, or abused children and teens as “manipulative, liars, entitled brats,” and more is also a red flag. “Being immature,” is not a reason to send a child to treatment (a child or teen, by definition, is “immature”). Programs that do not require staffers to have advanced degrees, and years of experience in the field= red flag. Qualified individuals should be a first-priority of any program which conducts it’s “treatment” in conditions as extreme as 2N’s. Programs which ask you to waive your power of attorney over to their staff and ask that you not sue in the case of severe illness, major injury, or death= red flag. Essentially, there are far too many horror stories but the bottom line here is: do your research. Now do more. The troubled teen industry is just that- an industry (not-so-fun-fact: supported by Romney’s venture capitalist firm, Bain), and their first and foremost priority is to make money for themselves and their friends at therapeutic boarding schools, “escort services,” and “educational consultants.” Profiting off a family’s vulnerability, confusion, fear, or even worse abusive and dysfunctional dynamic is morally reprehensible. Torturing teens doesn’t make anything or anyone better, it makes things worse. In the best case scenario, you will be exorbitantly wealthy and able to send your child to a “therapeutic boarding school,” a program which I can only describe as abuse-lite. Parents- you have options! Please, please, please arm yourself with facts/peer-reviewed and unbiased statistics and studies regarding troubled teen programs, and not sales propaganda. Best of luck to you!” – Roxanne (Yelp)

2015: (SURVIVOR) “I was sent here at 17. Told the staff that I didn’t want to live outside in the dessert and that once my pack and such comes on the third day (since I was rushed to wilderness because I got kicked out of Daniels academy.) I would be walking all the way out whether they help me or not. The first day and a half they didn’t believe me, after reiterating what I was going to do, about 10 staff members rolled up to camp after supper. Didn’t think anything of it until those same staff members were standing above me as i slept in my zipped up sleeping bag throwing down punch after punch saying “you think you can just say what you want to us? You think we’d let you out of here? We’d rather say you died at the hands of a wild animal than say you walked out of here. So after they were done pummeling me I laid awake all night. Come morning sure enough they were up and so was I, I had breakfast, cleaned up my site and then began to backpack out of camp until one guy (the marine) decided to stop me on my way out, when I wouldn’t listen to him he busted my eye open and I fought back he lost and let me walk but about 30 minutes later they caught up to me walking towards where bases general direction was, they then followed me some 30+ miles out of the dessert to base camp to which they called the cops and tried to press charges. I was arrested and the bailed out by second nature to then be put in a room full of those same staff from before, now they wouldn’t hit me though since my charges got dropped when that cute girl guide or what ever told them what had happened the night before and in the morning. This place is terrible, I have a deformed eye and ocular bone because of second nature. I tried to bring up the case with them and the courts but due to Utah law being how it is I couldn’t do anything against them.” – Brian (Google Reviews)

Related Media

Second Nature Website Homepage

HEAL Program Information – Second Nature

Secret Prison for Teens – Second Nature

I went into the woods a teenage drug addict and came out sober. Was it worth it? (Vox, 7/7/2016)

Lawsuit regarding Second Nature