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New Perspectives - Dec, 1993 (#25) 

Clark Fork, Idaho
Carl Olding, Head Master

Elk Mountain Academy is brand new on 80 acres at the base of the Cabinet Mountains in North Idaho. The property is bordered by National Forest on three sides giving it a good sense of isolation in the full grandeur of the Rocky Mountains.

Carl has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and 14 years of experience working with young people at risk, along with his 15 years of sobriety. He and his wife, Loretta, are licensed by the State of Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to house boys ages 12 to 18. At the present time, the students will share the top floor of their home, but plans are being developed to add buildings on the property to facilitate the students' activities. Several experienced professionals in the area are available to Carl to call on as needed and as the program grows.

Academics are on campus at first, with a goal of helping students attend the local public school "as soon as they are academically and socially prepared to do so." When a student is attending the local public school, Carl and the staff "will give support by tutoring and conferring with the teachers in the school to facilitate the success of each student."

Outdoor activities will be a large part of each student's day. These include regular chores with a staff member working alongside the student, and physical fitness utilizing the multitude of available outdoor activities such as water or snow skiing, backpacking, horseback riding, etc. "There seems to be something about living in nature that fundamentally changes old ideas and attitudes. Many people seem to grow more spiritual when in a natural setting. This of course is strongly encouraged at Elk Mountain."

Their belief statement includes the following: "We believe that the kids we teach are fundamentally good people. We draw clear lines between bad behavior and bad people. We believe that kids are exposed to much danger in school and on the street and that it's not likely that they will always make the choice that is best for them. We believe that to 'unplug' from the system for a while is more than helpful, it is necessary."

From a recent lunch Linda & I had there, we can attest that the property is beautiful, has a good sense of isolation, and Loretta is a good chef.

Copyright 1993, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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