Tips for Parents with Teens who are Refusing and/or Anxious about going to Summit Achievement

Summit has been providing wilderness therapy and education at our residential facility in the mountains of western Maine since 1996. Summit is unique in the field as 99% of our students come with their parents for enrollment. The other 1% come with family members or family friends. We do not enroll students via transport companies.

One of the key components in our program is helping parents through the process of informing and bringing their children to Summit once the decision is made.

We know it’s not always easy or comfortable for parents. So this article was written to help parents deal with common situations that may arise when preparing to bring their child to Summit.


The first step in getting your child to agree to go to Summit is being ready yourself, and we are here to help you. Making sure you are fully committed to this process will make a significant difference in what you do next.

After reviewing the website, talking with our admissions person, and filling out an application, we know you still may have questions. If so, please do not hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help and want to make sure we guide you each step of the way.


Once your child is accepted, if you have not already done so, you should tell them that they are going to a program.

One challenge we have heard from families is parents saying, “Many times I have told my child they are going to a program but I never followed through.” If this is the case, then your child is likely to think that you will not follow through again.

Your response should be something like this,

“I know I have said many times you are going to a program, but this time I prepared to follow through. Things are not getting better for you, and I care deeply about you. Things are not working at home, and you have been accepted into Summit. We are leaving tomorrow. This program is one that works primarily with voluntary students and we think this is the best way to go. There are other programs that take young people against their will, but that is not the route we want to go.”

Do not get caught up in the emotional whirlwind that many young people exhibit after being told they are going to do something they don’t want to do. Most young people don’t want to go to the dentist or school and parents have to put up the boundary and take the responsibility to make it happen.


Anxiety is pervasive for young people and many of our students struggle with it. Parents of highly anxious students regularly ask, “I can’t even get him to leave the house to go to school so how do you expect me to get them to you?”

We encourage parents to sit down with their child and say something like this,

“For a while you have been overcome with anxiety and not attending school. We need to change this pattern for you to have opportunities in your life. We love you. We cannot do it as it has not been working for you at home. If it was working at home you would not be stuck here not going out. Your anxiety has created a jail for you and we have found a program that will help you learn how to unlock the jail and get out. We will be leaving…..”

Frame it as a statement not a question and inform them you, as the parent, have made the decision. Be positive, caring and direct. You, as a parent, have to make changes to make it happen and that starts with being clear and direct.


Another challenge parents state when approaching their child about going to a program is the child responding to being told they are going to a program, “I will just run away or get kicked out.”

We encourage parents to be clear about how Summit operates compared to other options you have as a parent.

You can inform your child something like this,

“Summit takes 99% of their students via their parents. If you are going to run away or act in a way to get kicked out we should really be looking at a much more restrictive program in which the majority of students are transported by other people and that works with people who use threats to get their way. At Summit we will talk with you each week and visit you after three to four weeks. They are the only program in the country with a school and a wilderness component that operates this way. The others you will not be talking with us nor visiting for a much longer period of time.”


Another question is “how soon should I tell my child that we are going?” We answer that by stating to parents that, “every young person is different and you, as a parent, know your child best. What do you think?”

  • Do they need a long time to process the change?
  • Is it better for them to be told the night before or the morning of?
  • Some young people would benefit from seeing our website
  • Others may want to call us.
  • Would a neutral location be better?

Some families decide to tell their child and then go to a neutral location, like a relative’s house or a hotel closer to Summit to remove some of the triggers and temptations that exist at home.

Think about how your child is likely to react and then consider the different approaches to work with your child. If you need guidance call us and you can talk with our admission director or your referring professional or other supporters.


We know this is a difficult process. However, any change is difficult, and this is for the better. Things are not going well for your child and you at home and that is why you are reaching out to us.

You have applied to Summit, and your child has been accepted. Now is the time to help them get here for the help they need. When you arrive on campus our team will help your child to adjust to the program and do all that we can to make them feel welcome and safe upon arrival.

It won’t take your child long to realize that you have brought them somewhere that has kind people ready to help them.Who We ServeAdventure-Based Wilderness TherapyEnrolling at SummitCampus LifeThe Summit DifferenceFinancing OptionsAcademic Excellence