Redcliff Ascent Wilderness Program (RCA)

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Redcliff Ascent (RCA) is a wilderness program, which offers behavior modification. They are based in Utah.

Some of the detainees are court-ordered into the program, but most are placed there because they would not follow house rules like cleaning dishes, wearing helmet when using a bicycle or just general disagreements with a step parent. (Parents do often use the children as tools against a new partner. RCA is then used as a defense tool from the parent with custody to turn them over to their side.)

The program has a stay between 30 to 60 days. 45 to 60 is the norm, but on the internet stays over 100 days is also to be found.

They are a member by The Independent Small Programs Alliance (ISPA)


Intake: Pollywogs

When they detainees have been processed they are taken to an area where they join a group called Pollywogs. While they are a part of this group, they have to learn 14 safety rules so good that they can recite them verbatim. They are out in the wilderness but not allowed to hike. The main tool is isolation and the urge in among to detainees to move forward in the program, so they can be released.

The program consist of 8 phases the detainees has to complete before being able to see their family again. During the entire stay the only means of communication is by letter.

Some of the phases are called: Coyote, Buffalo and Eagle


When a child is not willing to hike, they use pressure points at the last resort. It is called Positive Control System. See video [1]


In the rare cases where the program has been evaluated when the parents have tried to get the authorities to pay for their off-spring's stay at RCA, it have not been possible to prove that the program have worked [2]

In the News

The first season of Brat Camp was filmed at Redcliff Ascent [3]. The program was heavily modified to accommodate the viewer. Redcliff declined to take part in the next seasons, because they could not be as tough as they needed. From the article in Guardian: "The teenagers have the appearance of grizzled explorers: all have severely chapped lips, their faces are sunburned to the point of rawness, layers of skin flaking and peeling away. Their camp-issue clothes are dirty and ripped. And there is the fetid smell of unwashed humanity." [4]

In 1999 a group of boys assaulted the staff members. All eight was later caught. Some ended up in juvenile jail, which were a improvement of their situation [5] [6]

An article in The New York Times state that it was the third time the authorities had to look for teenagers who went missing from the program. Another incident happened in April 1999 [7]

The program is also used to put the teenagers through such a hard torment, that even being rape can seen being bearable compare to the program [8]

In a interview years later James Fonfé (one of the teenagers who was detained in the wilderness program during the Brat Camp TV-show) accused the staff for trying to convince the parent to detain their children at a boarding school - Discovery Academy - belonging to the same company and withholding the fact that their Visa's would run out in 90 days. He was not sure that the so-called treatment did work at all [9]


External Links

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