For close to 30 years, we have operated our residential treatment program Summit Achievement and, (in the last 10 years), our short-term Therapeutic Boarding School Summit Traverse. Our programs run 365 days a year, meaning that during the holiday season we must certainly have students enrolled with us. Those outside the field may think it is difficult to be enrolled in (or even work at) a treatment program during the holidays, but we have honed our model through years of experience in all areas, including the holidays! Being a relationally driven program, Summit focuses on family inclusion no matter what time of year. Families, students, staff, and faculty report that the holidays at Summit have been especially meaningful to them over the years.
For Thanksgiving, students at Summit Achievement celebrate at the main lodge by having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with families invited to attend for the day. The students and staff will head out on an abbreviated expedition on Friday and return to campus on Sunday. For the Summit Traverse team, some students may go on a home visit (with clinician/parent approval).
Hanukkah is celebrated with the daily lighting of the menorah. Over the years, Summit has also had a Rabbi come to campus. Families may also have a visit (with approval as above) with their child to celebrate the holiday.
Christmas is celebrated on campus at the main lodge with a special late-day dinner and each student being given gifts from their families. Much of the day is spent sledding, building snow people, or watching appropriate holiday movies. Some students may go to a local church to celebrate the holiday. Families are also invited to attend the dinner and celebration or take their child off-campus for an overnight visit to stay at one of the local inns in the beautiful Mount Washington Valley. The Summit Traverse team students may go home for a visit during Christmas or have a visit in town.
Summit has found that celebrating a simple holiday filled with love and support is one of the ways to foster healing for families and young people.