WinGate Parent & Student Testimonials | Reviews
Ferris W. - Former Student
“Before I came to Wingate I was lost. I had no sense of identity, self-confidence or self-worth and treated myself and others with disrespect. I was very entitled and handled disappointment very poorly. I was dishonest
with the people who love me and I was dishonest with myself. I knew that the way I was living would not lead to a long or fulfilling life, however, I had lost most of my will to live. I felt doomed and life seemed hopeless.
I came to Wingate because I had tried more traditional treatment programs a few times and while I did learn from them I did not have the life changing realizations that I needed in order to successfully get and stay sober. I also have always had a strong connection to nature and the wilderness proved to be the best therapist I could ever ask for. When I came to Wingate I knew that it was my last opportunity to change my life and I saw wilderness therapy as the best option for lasting results.
The best way for me to describe my experience at Wingate is humbling and empowering. I needed to be humbled, and i was very surprised when I found out that the world doesn’t revolve around me. While this was hard for me because I was used to having things go my way, it also empowered me. I learned what I was capable of only when others held boundaries and stopped giving into my unreasonable requests. The staff at Wingate was able to do this for me and I am forever grateful to them. When I was at Wingate I was able to work through many of my problems with the support of my peers, the staff and most importantly the wilderness. Nature acted like a giant mirror to me, making it too difficult to ignore the aspects of myself that I needed to change in order to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.
Since leaving Wingate my life is more amazing than I could have ever dreamed. I have stayed sober and due to that, I have amazing opportunities in my life. I am in school and absolutely love to learn (never thought I would say that!). I have managed to take the lessons of gratitude and respect that I learned at Wingate and live my life by them. The biggest change I see in myself is my newfound confidence and self-worth. I know that I am capable of great things and therefore have achieved so much in my time since I left Wingate. I am a genuinely happy person now and I would have never been able to get to this point in my life without the help of Wingate.
I wanted to come back to work for Wingate because the program saved my life. I felt the need to help others as I was helped. I am a very firm believer in the power of wilderness therapy. It did not only save my life but many others and I wanted to be a part of that by sharing my experiences with those who need a life changing experience.”
2015 WinGate Student
"My daughter’s experience with you guys is still a solid and positive memory for her. It has definitely become a defining component of her being. She is forever 'wilderness'; I can't recall any recent conversation that doesn't somehow seem to include a reference to the Wingate experience. I'm not sure how many kids you're able to follow-up on but I'd tend to believe that you have the same impact on quite a few. I'm openly jealous of the job satisfaction you are able to obtain."
2015 WinGate Student
"Just to let you know, [my son] exited out of high school after returning home from Wingate. He then did 2 years of community college and 2 years at UCLA to receive a BS in chemistry when he was 20. He is now 22 and working on PhD in physics at USC. He was not happy about going to Utah, but I think it put him on a better path."
Robert A. - Former WinGate Student
“Before I came to Wingate I had a horrible relationship with my parents, I was a regular hard drug user, homeless and my life was completely unmanageable. I was in trouble with the law; my drug usage was harming me physically. I wasn’t connected and felt like I no longer had a soul.
I came to Wingate because I had nowhere else to go but down and I could not handle life my way any longer. I was beginning to develop heart problems and realized that if I did not get help soon I would die or go to prison. I wanted to get better.
While at Wingate I struggled a lot but I gained a set of tools to cope with my problems and gained hope that I have never had before. I started to love myself again and build healthy relationships, some of which I still keep today. I gained an appreciation for the outdoors and most importantly, reconnected with my higher power.
Since leaving Wingate I attended an aftercare program that really helped me strengthen the skills I acquired at Wingate and then some. I have lived on my own and continued to work a strong program.
I wanted to come back and work for Wingate because I have so much gratitude for this program and want to share with other troubled teens what I was so freely given here.”
Felicia G. - Former WinGate Student
“Before I came to Wingate, my priorities were out of line. My relationship with my family had deteriorated and the only thing I really cared about was getting high in order to relieve the constant guilt and depression I was experiencing. I had tried treatment before, in a short-term residential program. In that environment, with other unwilling kids like myself, I was unable to have lasting sobriety.
I came to Wingate because after rehab I continued to use drugs and alcohol so I could cope with the issues I still had. Rehab taught me about addiction, but had done little for me in regards to the reasons why I was using. I struggled with low self-esteem, hopelessness, depression, anxiety and promiscuity. I constantly lied and manipulated my parents. They had tried to help me, but I always found a way to resist their attempts and get what I wanted – drugs.
The secure, non-coercive atmosphere at Wingate influenced my willingness to look at myself and become open to the idea of change. I began to understand the reasons behind my using and core issues fueling my addiction. I was presented with physical and mental challenges that helped me rebuild my confidence be it through hiking, learning to bust a coal, therapy assignments or groups. My parents and I improved our relationships through letters in which we took accountability for the past and planned how we would change our behavior in the future. I discovered my love for nature and the outdoors. I gained a newfound appreciation for the simple life and gratefulness for the extraneous things in life I was fortunate enough to have. Lastly, I healed myself physically through rigorous daily activity and healthy, homemade food that I prepared for myself each day.
Since leaving Wingate I have felt prepared to face life’s adversities using the tools I acquired on my journey. I have learned a new way of being that I choose to act in accordance with every day. I choose to be happy and live my life to the fullest each day by following my senses and listening to my heart. I feel confident in myself that I have the strength to make the right decisions with my best, long-term interest in mind. I am in control of my own destiny, well being and way of being.
I had a sense to return to Wingate to work. Wingate was the most life changing experience I have had and I truly believe that it saved me from the dark and dangerous path I was headed on. I felt it necessary to give back, I wanted to share all that I have learned and that I have to offer those still struggling so they may too know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
2010 WinGate Student
I would like to thank you. The program ya’ll have is simply amazing. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that your program has healed some of my heart. I know that I did the work, and changed myself, but it is the environment I was in that changed me. I am so very thankful that you guys provided this place for me. Your staff, I cannot explain how sweet yet though they are on us. Tough love. They know when and where not to use it. I am truly grateful for every single person in the program. I am not sure where I would be without WinGate. There is something that I can’t explain of how magnificant of a place it is there. I think about Moenkopi and WinGate so much. What the staff is doing, who’s new, how the weather is. It became my home for a few months, but it taught me so many incredibel and valuable things in life. I hope to come back and work there someday, give back what I was given.
The second part to this letter is informing ya’ll on how I am doing. Currently I am doing fantastic. I am going for level three, and things are just really going great for me. I just got back from Ashland, for a school field trip. I got to go see two Shakespeare plays – it was awesome. School is going really well also, getting my credits knocked out. I have also been busting coals! ha ha. My transition was hard, but it is all good now. I am also grubbin on my food! :) . Thank you so much WinGate, and especially Rachael Schneider. I could not explain how much I am grateful for!
The wilderness was a foreign place to me and I often felt out of place. Shayne was someone who helped me find my place in the outdoors. He taught me how to cross a creek and hop from rock to rock. And he was there when I slipped and fell to help me back up again. I fired my first piece of pottery under his watchful eye. He taught me to hike in the dark with a smile on my face. I remember hiking down a dry creek bed during a staff training in early September under the unrelenting desert sun. We had hiked all day and just wanted to find water. Finally Shayne stopped underneath the shade of a large cottonwood tree and told us to find a comfortable rock. We weren’t sure what to expect. But we all trusted Shayne and each found a rock to lean against. With his ever present smile, Shayne told us that now was the best time of day to take a nap! I thought for sure he was kidding. Shayne NEVER slept. He was the guy with boundless energy. But sure enough, he laid down and closed his eyes and fell promptly asleep. We all did the same. A short while later, Shayne woke us up by singing. With a grin, he told us nap time was over and we needed to get moving. Shayne had this ability to make most every moment a teaching moment. He saw the world as this living breathing phenomenon just waiting to be explored and discovered. He invited me to see the world the same. But what I appreciated most about Shayne is he helped me believe the impossible about myself and consequently those I walked the trail with.
- Sandra Priedeman -
Kent and Maggie
“Thanks so much for all you and the staff at Wingate have done. I really feel that Kevin is now in a different place and will be able to move forward toward a brighter future.”
Our best to you,
Kent and Maggie
“I’ve been meaning to send this, but haven’t found the time, or emotional energy, to actually sit down and express these things until now.
You may recall our initial conversation about our considering Wingate Therapy as the Wilderness Program to help our daughter, Elysia, and the family. There were several things during that conversation that “sealed the deal” for me, and I even told you that you could “stop right there” as you had begun describing the ways in which Wingate and your philosophies and approach are different than other programs that were likely suggested and available to us.
The first, and most glaringly different “thing” for me that morning, was the very first words out of your mouth. You asked me how I was doing, and expressed that you understood how very difficult a time the family must have been having and how hard it is to come to the decision we had and follow through with it, in contacting Wingate.
The other two things that struck me, and particularly because I had already spoken with the Admissions Director with the other company offered to us, was that you never asked me who else we were “looking at,” nor did you discuss or launch into attempting to “sell” Wingate in a marketing sort of way, which seems to always include a willingness to negotiate fees, etc.
BECAUSE I felt an immediate “vibration,” if you will, that you were absolutely concerned for my child, for me, and the family as a whole, in becoming healthy and happy and on the “right” track again, first and foremost, You alleviated whatever questions or concerns or conflicts I might have had in making our decision.
Thank you very much for being the man you are, and in the position you hold at Wingate. You are an integral and extremely important part of the process for the families, as much as you are for Wingate Therapy. I hope that everything with this new, vital, and very important program will continue, and thrive, and make it through these extremely difficult economic and emotional times we are facing in the country as a whole.”
To the people at WinGate:
Words cannot express both my son’s and my entire family’s gratitude for the incredible care provided my son while a participant in your amazing program.
As with so many families, we were desperate and had exhausted all available avenues to help our son. We reluctantly sent him to Wingate on August 23rd, trusting complete strangers to keep our son safe when we were unable to do so.
Starting with the incredible work of escort Dana and Brady, and ending with Scott Hess, we were treated with absolute professionalism and compassion.
While we cannot begin to know how other programs would have impacted Connor, we can state with absolute certainty Wingate was top notch. Our son was able to revert back to his old self, pre-drug use. We credit Scott Hess and so many of the field instructors with this incredible feat.
Scott was the consummate professional with the rare and beautiful quality of evidencing compassion and understanding despite the often difficult mood swings of our son. He was able to see through his defenses and help him break down his walls for improved insight and help him develop a true desire to make lasting changes. Connor returned home positive, even keeled, and so incredibly mature. Angry mood swings, profanity, selfish behavior, and anxiety have all but disappeared. He relates to family members with a mature and empathetic attitude.
Unfortunately, our initial aftercare plans have changed, but we are optimistic Connor is well on his way to true wellness and sobriety thanks largely to your staff.
My son made a true and rare therapeutic connection with Scott as did I. Scott’s work exceeded our expectations in all areas. My true goal was to get my son sober. Never did I realize or expect that Connor would make a deeper connection and healing in so short a period of time. Scott was always the consummate professional and cannot sing his praises enough. I credit him for truly saving my son’s life as it was very much spinning quickly out of control. Scott took the time, often hour’s long therapy sessions, to make a profound, and lasting impact on Connor. He made individualized reading recommendations that Connor would not have read otherwise. Connor evidences a desire to read more of Scott’s recommended resources.
Scott made himself available to me as well. He always encouraged me and supported me throughout the entire process and several times since returning home. His open-door policy eased my anxieties and helped me see just how truly dedicated he was in helping our family.
My son, who has been in therapy with several different professionals now, declared he has never been so changed and assisted by a therapist. I could not agree more. Upon returning home, Connor has readily discussed with his friends and family how incredibly positive his wilderness experiences have been, even stating he missed the desert. He has changed the way he eats, as well. He actually misses his food packs and has gone shopping for some of the items that he used while in wilderness.
Sadly, we must end our therapeutic sessions with Scott and the Wingate staff but their hard work will forever have a profound and lasting effect on our family.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all you have done, knowing our mere words will never truly relay our innermost feelings of gratitude.
With sincere thanks,
Kimberly and John
WinGate Wilderness Therapy program has turned out to be one of the best decisions of our parental lives! Our 14 year old son was on a downward spiral of failing grades, early drug experimentation, and poor friendship choices; all of which contributed to a very tense and combative home life. As parents, we felt profoundly hopeless and helpless but then came WinGate. With the dedicated attention from our son’s therapist, supportive and down to earth trail counselors, and the core concepts taught in the Choices seminar, we, both individually, as well as a family unit, have learned greater understanding of our relationship behaviors. We now have the knowledge to affect positive communication, personal responsibility, and change. Whenever the opportunity arises, we give praise to the WinGate program, and pass on the story of our family’s success, and our renewed hope for a bright future for our son!
Forever Grateful Parents,
Kimberley & John
Dear WinGate Crew-
Finally, I have a quiet moment to thank you profusely for the amazing program you are providing for so many of us who have been at a point of tossing in the towel. My gratitude is beyond words for each of you who played a specific role in opening your hearts and souls to all, specifically my son.
He has continued to flourish personally and emotionally, and exhibits positive choice and decision making!
The school we chose for him continues to impress me with their approach of embracing and helping their students. Certainly my son sees this opportunity as a gift to enhance his future (as he did while in your program)! I’ve been told by several administrative staff that “he has taken the school by storm,” and everyone loves his positive attitude, outlook and encouragement! I can’t thank you all enough!
Scott- you were the one of the few who were willing to go the distance to provide a ‘space’ of safety to allow the process to flow and happen! You are a most fantastic human being and counselor! Thank you for your dedication and passion to be present for positive change.
I wish you all well, and a happy holiday season!
Sincerely and gratefully,