The following is a Letter we received from a Father (Bob D.) on January 11, 2018, sharing his family’s experience with Back2Basics from 2014-2017.

To Whom it May Concern;

My wife and I have struggled with our son Allen’s defiance and addiction since he was an adolescent.  When he was ultimately expelled from the 7th grade we made arrangements to send him to a Utah based Wilderness Program. I recall fondly (now) watching him replace his seldom used school books from his backpack with dusty camping gear we had accumulated over the years.  That day marked the beginning of a 14 years battle with drug addiction and its collateral damage.

By Allen’s 22nd birthday he had run the gamut of specialized schools and residential rehabilitation programs. While we knew that Allen needed to find lasting sobriety, we were also convinced he needed to discover something he could excel at and be passionate about.  Allen had never excelled at team sports or extracurricular activities in school though he typically enjoyed adventures in the outdoors. Therefore, when we were once again searching for a rehabilitation program for Allen in mid-2013 we came across Back2Basic highlighted in The Fix and the combination of therapy in an outdoor environment appealed to us.  After confirming space at their Flagstaff location I set out to Flagstaff with my drugged out occupant. I was totally sold on the program after spending 10 minutes with Roy and his young assistant who was a graduate of the program but Allen balked at the 6 month commitment. After protracted negotiations and my threat of $60 and a drop at the Greyhound Station, Allen agreed.

This was his first of three chapters at Back2Basics, however I’d grown accustomed to relapses, failures and restarts.

One incident worthy of recall was after Allen’s first departure. He had caught a Greyhound bus from Flagstaff to Minneapolis to track down a girlfriend who was earning substantial cash at a seedy bar. By the time he arrived in Minneapolis she had entered a rehabilitation program and he was broke.  When Allen asked me to help him return to Back2Basics, Roy insisted I forward all Allen’s calls to him.  Roy had Allen call in for several days at specific times to inquire about re-admittance.  In the meantime, Allen spent many days at the soup and homeless shelter awaiting word from Roy that he could return to Flagstaff. Needless to say, my wife and I were delighted to defer to Roy and his experienced staff.

Allen left Back2Basic after completing the six month residential program (though it took him 10 months to complete!). Not long after his graduation, Allen relapsed and ultimately asked to return to Back2Basics so he could enter their six month Transitional Living Program.  Again, Roy did not make it easy for Allen and he had to spend time in Residential before graduating to Transitional Living.

I strongly believe the reason Allen continued to return to Back2Basics and eventually embrace a sober, productive lifestyle was its outdoor program. Without exception, my weekly calls to Allen while he was in the Residential Program always centered on the outdoor adventures of the previous week. During those trips he formed strong and lasting bonds with his peers. Stories of assisting Newbies, miserable weather, record mileage and elevation gains abound. It was exhausting just listening to his adventures.

I witnessed how staff could use the weekend adventures to keep clients engaged both at Residential and in the field.  In Allen’s case, he so enjoyed the outings that the threat of losing that privilege kept his behavior in check then, when out in the field, his natural leadership skills built self-esteem and offered a road map for a future career as a guide.

Shortly after successfully completing his second attempt at Residential and entering Transition, Allen was lucky enough to be selected as an Intern Guide at Back2Basics.  During the six month Transition, Allen would spend 3 to 4 days at Back2Basic then spend the balance of his time hiking the Flagstaff outdoors with friends, many of them Back2Basic graduates.

TestimonySince graduation from Back2Basics in August of 2017, Allen has secured a job with a Wilderness Treatment Program, guiding troubled adolescent teens throughout the Utah wilderness.  The counsel, training and recommendations Allen received through both his personal experience and internship at Back2Basic was key to his success in his new position. How ironic that Allen returns to where his journey began almost 14 years ago, this time as a leader.

I often wonder why more rehabilitation programs have not emulated Back2Basics’ unique outdoor adventure therapy and their exceptional staff whom I credit with Allen’s recovery and the happiness his mother and father are experiencing this Holiday Season. We are eternally grateful to Back2Basics.

Bob D.
San Jose, CA