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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Bridges Photos

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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

A Testimonial From Some Very Thankful Parents

Received on October 18, 2013

Dear Bridges Staff,

A year ago, some combination of bullying, anxiety, bad teachers, wishful-thinking, immaturity and manipulative behavior had brought Matt to the point of completely refusing to go to school. Having tried two 8th grade schools, wilderness therapy, and then a one-on-one tutoring-style school, we were reduced to home tutoring and therapists coming to our house. When Matt started hiding from them, we were out of options and utterly exhausted. Family relations were frayed. The doctors and therapists were out of ideas, yet advised us against a therapeutic boarding school.

But Dick went up to visit Bridges for two days, and liked what he saw. We gave Matt one last chance to get his act together, and then turned him over to Bridges. Though he came up with us to Bridges willingly, he decided the place (like everything else) was not right for him, so held on tightly to Nancy’s wrists as she tried to depart, refusing to release her. Joan and former staffer Brian skillfully talked them both through the moment, and Matt suddenly released his fingers as if a pair of handcuffs had popped open.

That miraculous moment foretold a miraculous year: Matt has matured five years, gained confidence, developed social skills, learned to overcome and manage his anxiety, become physically fit and able to play all sports (vs. almost none), learned to understand, articulate and manage his feelings, become realistic about his responsibilities, and … he has gone to school each and every day, finishing all but one 8th-grade subject and earning some 9th-grade credits. On recent home visits, he has happily jumped out of the car to go to his new school full of new kids – such a striking change from just a year ago when he would so often refuse to get out of the car. Secure now with himself, his attitude towards the other kids is remarkably more positive.

The year was not without its difficulties, of course. Four months in, during an off-campus family visit to Bridges, Matt did his best to convince us that Bridges was a terrible place for him, he was being mistreated, and things were not as they appeared. On our approach back to Bridges, he tearfully begged to come home. Mom’s heartstrings were being pulled hard. But Archie sat and talked quietly with Matt for an hour, while Leslie calmly assured an anxious mom that the boys are, indeed, treated and fed properly. Then another miraculous moment: Matt said goodnight to us and willingly went up to bed. The next day he told us he still wanted to come home, but knew he needed to stay.

The Bridges staff have become like family to Matt. Leslie, chatting with him while driving him, like a mom, to his appointments; Kelly, keeping him excited and occupied with models and rockets; Archie, with his remarkable story of self-recovery, pool-playing expertise and approachability (not to mention the Chihuahuas!); Mark, entertaining Matt with his hunting and fishing stories; Eric, leaving Matt in awe after successfully managing a very difficult situation with another boy; Jeff and Michael, wonderful models of outdoor adventurers while calling Matt to account in the schoolhouse; Darlene, whose affection for Matt shown clearly through each lovely email to us; newcomer teacher John, who Matt grew fond of right away; and Joan, who, while figuring out how each boy ticks, devising their paths forward, and managing their cases, somehow manages to keep the whole place running smoothly.What an amazing team you are! With all of those wonderful personalities, interests, and skills supporting and surrounding him, Matt was able to absorb the constant, gentle and skillful therapy that you all provided and pull himself together, so that his sweet disposition and bright and curious self can now shine through. We will be forever grateful for your dedication to Bridges and its mission, your compassion, and your perseverance in extremely difficult and constantly challenging conditions. You have caused a hugely positive change, not only in Matt’s life, but also in ours and, undoubtedly, in the lives of many others.We know that Matt will miss all of you very much, and we will too. We are so thankful to you (and those we have not come to know as well), and we hope that each of you take great pride and joy in the lives you have turned around!

With much love,


Nancy & Dick

Matt’s Mom and Dad

Berkeley CA

Matt, glowing with confidence.

Matt, glowing with confidence.



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