The Summit Difference

Program Design & Setting

Summit Achievement combines the best features of a wilderness program and special-needs boarding school by integrating a residential milieu and traditional academic instruction with outdoor adventure-based therapy.

The Summit campus provides:

  • 54 picturesque acres in the Maine western mountains
  • Cold River Lodge: a 5,500 square foot facility serves as our campus hub, containing dining space, relaxation and event space, laundry facilities, administrative and counseling space, and a commercial kitchen
  • Academic Center fully equipped for educational instruction with 3,500 sq. ft. of classroom, clinical, and medical space
  • Comfortable, furnished 4 bedroom cabins with common area and Direct Care staff present

Two students typically share a room and their cabin functions as a team. This environment and the social community it supports facilitates the transition from the wilderness setting to home or boarding school, making the transference of skills learned in the backcountry more successful.

Students are on campus and attend school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. On Thursday they depart for a four-day expedition. Adventure activities differ during each week’s expedition, designed to meet the emotional and physical needs of the students. This model encourages students to bring the skills and lessons learned in the backcountry into the social community on campus and practice those skills in a setting that more closely resembles home or boarding school.

The duality of the Summit setting strengthens the internalization of lessons and increases the transference of learning from our setting to the student’s home or boarding school.

Academic Program

Summit Achievement’s blended learning approach to academics integrates face-to-face teacher facilitated instruction, a computer-mediated curriculum, and self-study with the same therapeutic support used in other parts of the program. Summit’s academic curriculum, developed by Blueprint Education, provides a wide range of courses at both the middle and  high school levels. All credits earned are fully transferable to public or private schools.


Students enroll in 3-4 individually selected courses based on their course of study prior to admission. The courses they are enrolled in while at Summit allow them to earn a half credit in each subject upon completion of the course in full.

Available course options include:

  • Core Subjects
  • Electives
  • AP Courses
  • Credit Recovery Courses

Our current educational model is structured much like a traditional school and includes:

  • 22 instructional hours per week, including evening study halls.
  • Four classrooms staffed by a core-subject teacher who provides supervision and instruction, with additional support from a special education coordinator.
  • Students use a laptop computer to access the accredited web-based curriculum.
  • Multi-sensory curriculum: Material is presented through text, video, hands-on projects, and interactive modules to benefit different learning styles.

Learning is individualized and self-paced, with the student in control of learning modules, time spent on topics, and the methods of displaying mastery of subject matter. Because students are engaged academically throughout their enrollment, they have the opportunity to keep pace and avoid the stress of falling behind in their courses. All the while, students are able to work on improving their academic skills and recover any credit lost so that they will have the smoothest transition possible to their next school setting. 


Our standards-based curriculum is accredited by:

  • The North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI)
  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI)
  • The Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation (CITA)

Family Inclusion


The Summit Achievement therapist serves as the primary contact and communication liaison between student and parent.  This master’s level therapist is responsible for fully integrating the student’s parents into their treatment process.

Parents are strongly encouraged to visit the campus three times:

  • On the day the teen enrolls
  • Mid-way through the program for an overnight visit
  • On the day the teen is discharged

On most of these occasions, the therapist facilitates a face-to-face family therapy session involving both parents and student. In between these in-person family sessions, family therapy continues via telephone or video conference calls. Following a progress update to parents by the primary therapist, the student joins the conference call to discuss treatment goals, specific treatment issues, dynamics of the parent-child relationship and transition planning. In this way, the parent-child relationship and respectful communication is strengthened, paving the way for the student’s successful return home.