Bridges Academy

Our mission is to successfully reunite teen boys and their families with a positive vision for their future.

Bridges Academy is reflected in the magnificence of the Three Sisters mountain peaks (Faith, Hope and Charity) on the east side of the Cascade Mountain Range, between the cities of Bend and Sisters, Oregon, where the beauty and grace of today meets the healing and restoration of tomorrow.

About Us



If you are experiencing difficulty with your teen, please consider answering this short questionnaire. Sometimes the difficulties that you’re experiencing can only be properly addressed by getting professional help in a controlled environment which Bridges Academy offers. We hope this assessment will help you in understanding the severity of the problems your teen is currently facing.

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Bridges Academy offers a carefully planned and fully accredited program specifically designed to meet all of our students’ academic abilities and goals. The individualized plans and diplomas include IEP accommodations, credit recovery, honors classes as well as college prep classes. Our experienced and dedicated teachers customize curriculum to fit each student’s needs and can accommodate grades 7 through12 with year-round, on-campus classes and low teacher-student ratio.

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Family Participation

Family Participation

At Bridges Academy, we know family involvement is critical to the emotional development of teens. The journey begins with identifying and setting goals that are designed to address the needs of the individual student and culminates in the healing and reunification of the entire family.

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Life’s paths can be challenging… Bridges Academy can help guide the way. Since 1997, we have had the privilege of successfully reuniting hundreds of teens and their families. Here are just a few testimonials.

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The Importance of Male Role Models for Boys

Boarding school role models

Mentoring for troubled boys Oregon

Troubled boys benefit from having a variety of good male role models

Father’s Day is a day for spending time with our dads and honoring them for all they have done for their children and their families. It is also a holiday that brings to mind just how vital it is for children of all ages and backgrounds to have positive male role models in their lives. The influence of a male role model is crucial for all children and teens, both girls and boys. But it is of the utmost importance in the lives of troubled boys and can have a lifelong impact on how their futures unfold.

It is often said that “it takes a village to raise a child.” While everyone may not agree with this proverb favoring a very hands on approach to raising their boys, there’s no question that a parent cannot be omnipresent helping their children at every turn in the road.  The proverb stipulates that a child is best raised by many teachers in a community setting.

No one is an island

This first idea is central to the philosophy.  A boy should know that they are not alone in the world.  Their parents and family structure are a foundation from which they should feel comfortable reaching out to other role models.  In the United States, however, parents wonder who they can trust with their children.   They are vigilant of who their children choose to look up to and learn from, and often not confident leaving their children in the hands of other.  What they see on the news, of drugs, crime, and risk to their boys’ welfare doesn’t help.  The alternatives, however, are little to be desired.  Boys can be left to their own devices learning from television, video gaming communities, the internet or their peers.  They can choose questionable role models around them who are often either oblivious to being observed and mimicked or simply are poor choices.  Lastly, when reaching beyond their parents, boys can simply strike out and not find a role model they are drawn to.  If a child is given plenty of good candidates, however, this process can be fun and rewarding for all involved.  Mentors and role models can be vetted by parents in advance and the child can have the satisfaction of “choosing” one to learn from.

Children eventually resist being “told what to do”

There comes a stage in every boys life where he wants to be a man.  Although to many parents this will bring a smile to their faces, as this stage happens rather early in boys’ lives, the boys themselves take this pretty seriously.  There simply comes an age when parents have to choose their battles.  As much as they would like to pass on all the knowledge they have, a boy will often develop “selective hearing” and resist getting so much instruction from one source.  Having other men to serve as role models and mentors helps parents maintain influence without the drawbacks of constant direct involvement.

Boarding school role models

It is often said that it takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man. While everyone may not agree with that maxim, most people will concur that no parent can be all things, at all times to a child. That is precisely why positive male role models and mentors are important for troubled boys. For, as the author James Baldwin famously said, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

The disproportionately larger number of female educators in our school systems means that your boys’ and girls’ are more than likely being taught at school by women. All of this equates to many children across the nation growing up without the advantage of having positive male role models in their lives.  Bridges Academy’s staff is 90% male.

For boys, the absence of a male mentor to look up to and emulate can have a variety of adverse consequences that will impact their entire lives. An expansive 5-year study of children and teens conducted by the mentoring organization Big Brothers Big Sisters has brought a number of these issues to light. According to the study results released by the organization in 2013, boys who grow up without positive male role models are more likely to use and abuse drugs and alcohol, are more prone to anger and violent behavior, are more apt to be affected and influenced by peer pressure, and are more likely to perform poorly in school. Further results of the study include additional eye-opening comparisons between boys raised with male mentors and those who were not:

  • Boys with positive male role models are 2 times more likely than non-mentored boys to enjoy school and believe academic success is important.

  • Boys with positive male role models have higher grades and better school attendance than boys without solid male role models.

  • Boys with positive male role models are 2 times less likely than those lacking role models to bully, fight, lie, cheat, lose their tempers, or express anger.

Other studies comparing boys who have had strong male figures in their lives with those who did not, have uncovered additional meaningful findings. When boys have good male role models in their lives they have better relationships with their brothers and sisters and with their parent(s). Also, mentored boys are more secure, more self-confident, more empathetic, and more successful.

The faculty at Bridges Academy are good role models

Clearly, not only do boys deserve the presence of positive male role models in their lives, but they also need it. Biology dictates that boys will become men whether we like it or not, but ensuring that they develop into good men that contribute positively to our society takes work, influence, and participation by many. Boys become good men when they are guided by engaged and encouraging role models, male and female alike.

But the mere presence of a man in a boy’s life is not enough. And the men they admire on TV, in the movies, or on stage performing their favorite music do not suffice either. Boys need men in their lives who are supportive and consistently present—both physically and emotionally. Boys need male mentors who invest quality time in the relationship and who will text, telephone, or email regularly. They require someone who will attend their sporting events and plays and participate in activities with them.

Mentors need to be willing to invest time and even resources in the boy’s day-to-day life. They must care about the boy but also about the well-being of the family as a whole. Boys need direction to stay on the straight and narrow and a push to participate in sports and extracurricular activities. They need help pursuing a healthy lifestyle, reinforcement of good performance, and evidence that actions have consequences. And while women can teach boys to treat women with respect, a positive male role model can teach them by example. Positive male role models share stories of courage and of overcoming diversity and demonstrate with words and deeds how they became the wonderful people they are.

Positive male role models can come from any facet of a boy’s life. They can be a long-term family friend, a teacher, a coach, a friend’s father, a man from the family’s faith community, even a co-worker or a member of a mentoring organization. What matters is that the boy feels the consistent and reliable presence and support of a man.

Young boys need a man to look up to and respect, one who exhibits qualities they want to emulate and embrace as their own. They need a man in their lives who will be proud and encouraging when they meet a goal, and one who will embolden them to continue to strive when they fall short. This kind of involvement is proven to have a profound effect on troubled boys. It helps them see themselves in someone else. It enables them to imagine and explore who they want to be and recognize who they don’t want to be. Boys need positive male role models because all of us need to live in a world inhabited by good men.

Bridges Academy faculty is a great place to connect troubled boys with great male role models and mentors.  Our faculty is dedicated to the the Bridges Academy philosophy of promoting a student’s personal development and emotional maturity by building a well-rounded individual with commitment to self, family and the community.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

–Frederick Douglass, 1855

Wilderness program Bridges Boys Academy

Citations: default.aspx

Andrea J. & Diane D. Broadhurst, The Third National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect: Final Report,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, Washington, D.C., September 1996. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Promoting Responsible Fatherhood. index.shtml

The Community at Bridges Academy Screens “Hooked”

Written 1/22/14

Last night the community viewed a documentary called “Hooked” this is a great story about Demetrious Mitchell who grew up in West Oakland and how powerless he was over his addiction and how drugs got in the way of his dreams. Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell, (born September 10, 1968) is a former street ball player. He is considered by several NBA All-Stars to be “the greatest player to never reach the NBA”. He attended High School in West Oakland.

Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius Hook Mitchell is a documentary that was released in 2003. It traces the life of Demetrius Mitchell, who, at 5-feet-10, built his legendary playground status because of his amazing hops that enabled him to dunk 360 dunks over a late model Honda Accord car. Milwaukee Bucks forward Drew Gooden credits Demetrius with the feat of a 360 degree dunk over a car. Mitchell says his best dunk ever was a backboard-shattering dunk off an alley oop. The “Hook” says that he has been playing above the rim since he was 5’3″, but didn’t dunk in organized games until the height of 5’5. He played one season for Merritt College and one season at Contra Costa College intercollegiate squads and two years at California State University, East Bay (Formerly known as California State Hayward University during this time).

The playground basketball star’s descent into drugs and crime destroyed any chance he had of becoming a professional athlete. In prison, Demetrious describes his rough upbringing on the streets of Oakland, and his struggle to survive. The filmmakers also interview several NBA stars who also grew up in Oakland, including Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Antonio Davis, Drew Gooden, and Brian Shaw, all of whom played with Mitchell on the streets, and were astonished by his skills, but were unable to help him avoid his sorry fate. They describe his unstable home life and the longing for community that drove him to the streets. Mitchell himself is shown playing prison league games, and is surprisingly still able to play above the rim.

We had a great discussion after the video that included but was not limited to these topics:

  • How after viewing the prison cell that Demetrious lived in for 5 yrs, the boys were grateful for the freedom they have at Bridges Academy.
  • They talked about how addiction caused Demetrious to choose drugs over his family, friends and his love for basketball.
  • We talked about how powerful a lifestyle can become and how it can pull you harder in the opposite direction of your loved ones who are trying to save you.
  • The boys who were already heading down the wrong path before they came to Bridges talked about how they can see now how their dreams were starting to disappear.

Archie Hamilton CADC I

Bridges Wants the Best for Your Child

Sometimes… When families come to us without the program knowledge that an Educational Consultant can provide, Bridges Academy helps by advocating what is best for the teen. As you read below, Bridges Academy recommended to this family that their son go to a Wilderness Program and return to us after completion.

Dear Joan,

Six months ago our family was in crisis.  Our son was out of control, oppositional, skipping school, lying and stealing.  Our family had been in therapy for 5 years and our son was not responding to counseling and medicine treatments.  Our therapist recommended a therapeutic boarding school.  We researched many and chose Bridges.  Our son’s behavior continued to escalate after he was placed at Bridges. He tried everything he tried at home and more; trying to get himself “kicked out of Bridges”. In his mind, if he got kicked out, they would send him home. He tried everything he could think of to get kicked out and finally became a too much of a danger to himself, others, and Bridges property to stay at Bridges.

After he was evaluated for psychiatric issues and given a clean bill of mental health, it became obvious that a wilderness intervention program was needed for our son.

 With the help of Joan, we chose New Vision Wilderness in Oakridge Oregon. Once placed in wilderness, our son had nothing but time in the woods to work on his behavioral issues.  He had 10 plus hours a week of intensive group and individual therapy working on tools for dealing with his issues and learning how to get along with other boys close to his same age.  In the wilderness there were no distractions, just the weather and the woods and lots of work to be done setting up and tearing down camp, cooking, and hiking upwards of 5-10 miles every other day.  Our son spent 74 days in the woods.  He learned how to take accountability and understand that he was spending a lot of energy self sabotaging.  Staff and his therapist worked very hard with him in the woods and the transformation of our son was amazing.  He became physically and mentally stronger and his inner happiness really started shining through.  For our son, his time in the wilderness was the ticket to his transformation. We are so very thankful that our son had his experience in the woods.  Seeing him transform himself into a happier, more self confident, and emotionally secure young man is really priceless!  We believe, that without New Vision Wilderness, our son would have just kept getting him self kicked out of places and continued on his own self destructive path.  Words cannot describe how excited we are to see the happy and loving qualities we knew he had hidden so deeply within him self.

 More amazing still, Bridges was willing to take our son back after wilderness, even after all the damage he caused.  Our son continues his work at Bridges and they have been flexible to our son’s academic and emotional needs. They have also been diligent in helping him make and meet his own goals of self improvement.  We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our son, it’s looking bright!



The Graduate: Bridges Academy Style

We were very happy to receive a letter from Lucas, a recent graduate of Bridges Academy. This letter is very meaningful for us and we want to share it with you. He tells us he is doing well, offered encouragement to other students who continue their learning and shared some photos from his graduation day! 

Lucas, who graduated November 18th of 2013 wrote the following:



I wanted to send you some pictures from my graduation. I am doing well over here in Seaside; I am currently looking for a job. I hope all of you are doing well at Bridges. I hope all of the students decide to work the program and make some positive changes in their lives. I miss all of the students and staff their and hope you are doing well. Soon enough you students will be done with the program too and be in control of your lives again so I hope you decide to make the choices now that will lead to future successes. I hope the best for all of you and hope the legacy of Lukey C (Rooster on a Hill) will remain at Bridges Academy. So for now I say goodbye once again.

Sincerely Lucas

Bridges Academy · 1-888-283-7362 · 67030 Gist Road, Bend, Oregon 97701 · Email: