Spring Creek Lodge

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Current status Closed
Detainees.gif Capacity 421
Checked December 2, 2011
Open.gif Opened 1997
Close.gif Closed 2009

The former Spring Creek Lodge Academy campus is located north of Thompson Falls, Montana. It is placed at a small gravel road a mile south of Spring Creek Lane on Blue Slide Road. The official address is Spring Creek Road 75, Thompson Falls, Montana 59873 [1]

It was started under the name "Spring Creek Community" by Nancy and Steve Cawdrey. Late 1996 they sold the program to the Pullan brothers [2] [3].

They did open it under the present name in 1997. The program had room for 421 detainees.

It operated under an umbrella organization of WWASP. The owner/Director Cameron Pullan worked for Robert Lichfield in 1991/1992 at WWASP flagship program, Cross Creek Manor.

It claimed that it was redrawn from WWASP in 2006, but it still is marketed along the other WWASP facilities and the billing office is the same for all WWASP programs.

Program description

Some detainees arrived tricked by their families but parents were advised to use a teen escort company.

Level system

Both programs consisted of six levels. New detainees started at level 1. They had to show good behavior and attend a number of seminars in order to be voted up to the next level by their fellow peers and therapists. Parents were warned against complaints from their children in the Parent Manual.

The youth started with no privileges. Upon arrival they were strip-searched and their clothes were removed. They were handed an uniform appropriate for their level. They were not allowed to wear shoes due to the flight risk. As it was stated on the homepage of the facility: "It is not like most WWASP program surrounded by a fence but the local sheriff office is founded heavily by the facility, which also is the largest employer in the area. All the neighbors can receive a reward, if they catch a runaway."

Living conditions

Detainees stayed in groups called families while in the lower levels of the program (levels one, two and three), with the lowest levels (usually everything except for three all stars) sleeping in a large dormitory consisting of single room with ten bunks (20 beds) with adjoining bathrooms, shower and laundry facilities. Two rooms were joined together through adjoining doors at night time so night-staff can monitor the detainees.

Communication betweens detainees

During the day, each family was segregated, and not allowed communicate with other groups. Some lower levels within a family were not allowed to communicate with each other, unless the two people's levels added up to four (e.g. a level one and a level two may not communicate), this encouraged new detainees to seek out detainees that have been at the school for a while and may have a better attitude instead of seeking out new detainees that may come in with a negative or defiant attitude, it discourages negative people from cliquing up. It is important to note that each new detainees begins at level two and they may move up from there or lose their points based on their behavior.

Parent involvement

Parents were not obligated to do anything. It was an totally outsourcing of the adolescents of the youth, but if they insist in seeing the child during the stay, they were mandated to attend parents seminars, so they were emotionally prepared to be able to communicate properly with their child.


None of the education claimed to be done there were recognized by an accreditation association which was enlisted at the United States Department of Education. They refered to an independent association named Northwest Association of Accredited Schools .


Any moving up and down in the system was done via a point system which is controlled by good or bad behavior and the ability to observe the rules. Negative points could given to a student that disobeys any rules set forth. If the student blatantly did not follow rules set forthh, and showed a blatant disrespect for the rules they could be put in a isolation room called "The Hobbit", or "Dog Pund". This kind of punishment was called intervention.

"Exit Plan"

A youth graduated when the person reach level six or the person become 18. If a person did not reach level six before the 18 birthday, the youth could choose an Exit Plan. The family of the youth had no obligations to take the detainee back, but the Exit Plan was up to that of the Parent.

If the youth were not prepared to cut any connection with his or her family, a stay at Camas Ranch (for young adults males) and Canyon View Park (for young adult females) were offered as an alternative to the Exit Plan.


As it is the case with other WWASP facilities, there have been allegations about human rights violations of children.

The facility is also involved in a lawsuit [4]


A neighborhood stood up for their friend and created a support group as a constant reminder that anyone can be locked up without trial and conviction. An example to follow [5]

In the news

Spring Creek Lodge received a lot of the detainees, which was sent home when Morova academy - the school in Brno, Czech Republic - also a WWASP facility - was shut down due to suspicion of child abuse in 1998. Claire and Mia Fontaine has wrote a book about Mia's stay at both facilities where the readers can learn how the level system combined with parent seminars are able to to alter the sense of reality for both parent and child to a fact that they both are happy with the child being locked up [6]

Another transfer of detainees happened when Casa by the Sea in Mexico was shut down in 2004 - also due to suspicion of child abuse [7]

In 2004 a girl managed to commit suicide. It is only known attempt to succeed out of several attempts [8].

In 2005 a student with the name Adrian Sanders was hurt, when he fell down from a cliff during a transport from Spring Creek to another WWASP facillity [9]

In 2006 a 15 year old boy and his mother frooze to death when their car became stuck while returning to the facility which is located in a remote area [10]

In 2006 MontanaPBS made a TV program called "Who is watching the kids?" with focus on Spring Creek Lodge, which can be watched online [11].

In 2009 it rumored that a second child died at the facility. This rumor has not been confirmed [12]

January 14 2009 it was reported that the facility closed Januar 9. Many years of torment were over [13].

2010 the campus was sold. Another organization offers college courses from the campus [14]

See also

External links

Info pages

Survivor groups

Message boards


  1. The facility on Google Maps
  2. Story on the new Spring Creek - A Drivel Runs Through It, Patia Stephens blog
  3. MAKING A DIFFERENCE, story about the sale published on strugglingteens.com - industry marketing firm
  4. Documents from Turley Law Firm
  5. Save Hal Boston, Myspace group
  6. Comeback, a mother a daughter's journey through hell and back, Clare and Mia Fontaine, ISBN 0-06-085971-7
  7. Spring Creek's Short Leash, Missoula Independent, by John S. Adams, published 06/16/2005
  8. Desperate Measures, Denver Rocky Mountain News, 1999
  9. No news is bad news for Spring Creek’s “runners” - Escape in Sanders County, by John Adams, Missoula Independent, September 22 2005 (Re-print from Teenhelp industry)
  10. Bodies of missing mother, son found near Superior, West Central Tribune, Minnesota, April 4 2006 (Re-print from WWASP info)
  11. "Who is watching the kids?", MontanaPBS, 2006
  12. spring creek SHUTS DOWN, a thread on the Spring Creekers survivor group message board, myspace
  13. Spring Creek closes its doors, by Jamie Doran, Valley Press, January 14, 2009
  14. College set to open in TFalls, by Danielle Switalski, Clark Fork Valley Press/Mineral Independent, May 19, 2010