Dear: Dr. Sapp
“Thanks for helping set my life back on track. I am so thankful for you and all your great and caring group of staff. I’m making good choices and I have amazing true friends that I spend all my time with. I also just started a volunteer program called big brother. It’s where I have a young brother who I spend time with every week. They were like me when I was young with anger issues. I love my brother and we do so many fun things. He’s 9 years old. I also joined the cadet program where I go on ride-alongs and help arrest people, it’s super interesting…”
Thanks to you, my peers, and staff for everything”
Avery (Former Student)
“Dear Andy, Bernie and All at Cherry Gulch:
Next week we are heading out of town to spend Thanksgiving in Virginia at a resort. We have skeet shooting, bowling, lots of eating and fly fishing on the agenda. It will be a really great getaway. I love Thanksgiving because it is a time to reflect on all that we have to be grateful for.
Thinking back on this year, and where we were one year ago, I wanted to pass along my gratitude to you and to Cherry Gulch. Hard to know where to begin, but I guess I want to thank you for getting me back on course. When we sit down on Thursday, I will be grateful for having my both children at the table with me. Even in moments of doubt and fear, I put my trust in you and the program at CG – you never let us down. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate seeing my son, once again, as strong, capable, intelligent, caring, and fun loving. The parenting strategies we learned, the card system, the ability to step back and reflect and get back on track made all this possible. At Cherry Gulch my son allowed himself to become the perceptive, caring leader that he is. I see it over and over again with his sister and with peers he interacts with. More important, he sees himself as a leader. I have said it before, but I hope you all realize how much you have done for us, and how much we have done for ourselves under your care. It really is extraordinary.
There are still bumps, but we are resilient, we have tools to use to communicate, there is no drama. For that, I am grateful.
My best wishes to you and your families on Thanksgiving. Hold them close.
(Mother of former student.)
“First, your program is without peer in the treatment of younger adolescent boys. I have seen a lot of programs and have never seen one with such an impressive array of well thought-out clinical, educational, milieu and experimental services that are tailored for boys with the needs of those you serve.
Cherry Gulch has a good, peaceful feel. The guys look content and involved. The pacing of activities, the intentionality of your milieu and the impressive variety of activities is rarely combined in the ways you have designed. I believe you are a fabulous “bang for the buck”, and your classroom size, therapist to student ratios, learning content and opportunities are reflective of a program that is really rich in opportunities for change and really focused on putting students and families first.
Congratulations on doing it right!
All my best,
Kimball” (LCSW, Senior Vice President of Innerchange)
"Thanks to everybody working at Cherry Gulch. I consider it the best experience I had so far. A YEAR in IDAHO changed my whole LIFE…
I won’t say goodbye because I will never be gone from this adventure. If I have the possibility in the future I will come back as an alumni to show other students that positive changes happen.”
Charles (Former Student)
Everyday we think about you and the staff at Cherry Gulch. Dillon is thriving at home and really enjoying the public high school here in Lake Forest. As we watch his independence and courage to try new things, we say a little “thank-you” in our hearts to you and all the wonderful staff. We would love you to share this letter with staff.
It was truly an agonizing decision to leave Dillon with strangers in Emmett, Idaho. There was no amount of research we could have done to know in advance what a blessing each and every one of your staff would be to us. As Chris said in his speech, each and every one of you helped Dillon. And the sacrifices you make in this challenging career couldn’t be rewarded with more gratitude. Thank you, and please know how important you are to parents hundreds of miles away who never stop worrying, wondering and hoping for their children in your hands.
Dillon and Chris and I are looking forward to the alum reunion down the road. And we wish all the success in the world to all of you at Cherry Gulch.
Maggie and Chris”
“Dear Dr. Sapp,
I am Michael’s grandfather, and his mother is our daughter. I am grateful beyond measure for what you and the staff have done, not only with Mike but for our daughter. We watched and tried to be supportive throughout these difficult years. We saw and felt the terrible toll that has been paid. We watched and hoped for an outcome like what has occurred to dare and the results exceed what we could imagine. I have spent time with Mike since he was born and have enjoyed him enormously. The work that was done…at Cherry Gulch has results better than anything I have seen in 40 plus years as a child psychoanalyst and psychiatrist. Despair has been replaced by joy.
Arthur” (Father, Grandfather, Psychiatrist & Child Psychoanalyst)
“To each of the staff, we cannot find the words to express our thankfulness for the hard work, dedication and caring each of you bring to your job every single day. You are an incredible group of people who are saving and changing lives. To each of you boys, you have all taught Mike something and in return, you have learned from him. So, thank you to each and every one of you. We hold you all dear to our hearts and are going to miss you.”
Debbie (mother from Ohio)
“Dear Dr. Sapp,
I want to thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. It must have been the work of God for you to have come into my life while I was going through some hard times. You helped me grow and mature and start living the life God wanted me to live. I wish you nothing but the best for you and Miss Christina in your marriage and your continued success at Cherry Gulch.
Billy” (former student, age 14, from Hawaii)
“Dear Dr. Sapp,
Thank you for offering me a place in your program. Cherry Gulch really helped me deal with my problems and even do more. For instance, I am very far ahead of many of my peers at home in areas such as decision making and managing emotions. I enjoyed the time I spent at Cherry Gulch and learned very much. I feel that my voice was really heard at Cherry Gulch and my suggestions were taken into consideration. This is really important because it helps create a healthy environment where everyone is happy. Cherry Gulch has been my home for seven months and it will continue to be my home in my heart. I will always remember the friendships I made and the fun experiences I had. I hope that there will be an alumni event for Cherry Gulch graduates; this would be an awesome way to keep in touch and remember all of our experiences. Thank you again for all that you have done.
Sincerely Alex,” (former Cherry Gulch student, CA)
“You will not forget the people that you met at Cherry Gulch it’s like they left a BRAND on your heart. You’re bud - Dillon”
(message sent from a former student to his friend on the day he graduated from Cherry Gulch, 13, IL)
“I wanted to let you know that Scott showed a tremendous example of what being a great teammate is all about Sunday. After he scored his second goal he skated right to the bench yelling “Tarrant shot first – he got the assist!” He wanted to be sure everyone knew that it was Tarrant that made the original shot that led to his goal. His actions showed he was more interested in Tarrant getting the recognition, than himself. It was a fantastic show of sportsmanship from obviously one of the very best players on the ice to one of the more inexperienced players. Fantastic! It was great to see the kids, led by Scott, celebrating in all their teammates success – not just their own!”
Sent from Scott’s hockey coach after Scott graduated.
Ode to the Boys of Cherry Gulch
Gift of Hope
Meek to willing,
Follower to leader.
Indian to chief,
Boy to man.
Orientation to Trail Boss.
Ode to the Boys of Cherry Gulch!
Written by Scott’s mom for his graduation.
Dillon’s transition has been very positive! He has adjusted nicely at school. He is staying on top of all his school work, and is socially satisfied and engaged in therapy. He reports using the coping skills acquired at Cherry Gulch and has had to resort to them less as time goes on. Dillon is aware of the advantages he has having been at Cherry Gulch and asked as a gift for his birthday a trip to Cherry Gulch, to go see his friends’ graduation. He really seems to be using what he has learned and continues to grow positively.
Julie, MA, LPC (Therapist)
"I wanted to share a story with you that I think you’ll appreciate. Mike had spent the afternoon at my mom’s house helping her grate 15 pounds of potatoes and then fry them up to make potato pancakes. My mom is in pain most of the time from issues with her back, hip and pain so she really needed help with this job. Mike did a terrific job. I went to pick him up and while Mike and I were driving home, at a very busy time of day I might add, I was muttering under my breath about the guy in front of me whose not driving well and is on the phone. Mike turned to me and said, ‘mom, we need to do some I feel statements right now.” So, he lead me through the process (wouldn’t let me get away with “I feel Angry.” Since that’s a secondary emotion) and in the process I realized- I had options! Then, I suggested he try one and he began, I feel content because I just helped Grandma…” This is not the only time that Mike has “opened his toolbox": and we are impressed with his ability to use the skills he’s learned –even in the heat of one of his moments.
We talk about Cherry Gulch a lot. He misses so many things about it but also seems ready to move forward. He uses his music to help himself and has been working out almost every day in some way or another. It’s the little things that I really notice- he takes care of his personal hygiene without being reminded, he watches what he eats and monitors himself. I believe he has a renewed self-esteem. We see a wonderful young man emerging and are so grateful for all you did to help him.
Thank you for sharing your afternoon with our family.
The boys of CG are here for a variety of reasons…. but within each boy, there is one common thread…life at home was NOT working…and it was time for change, REAL CHANGE!
Today I give thanks to God for the gift of hope… Cherry Gulch.
Today I give thanks to the boys of CG.
"...A year ago, we lacked hope…not knowing if Scott could ever overcome this troubled path we were on…now we know…thanks to Cherry Gulch and all the hard work Scott has done.
Thank you for restoring our faith in our son, our family, our home. Thanks for giving Scott the life he deserves….the one he has worked so hard to reclaim. Thank you!"
An excerpt from Scott’s mom at his graduation.
Jeremy has been home for 6 months since completing Cherry Gulch. As you will recall, you and we took a chance on each other at that time – Jeremy was your first student and Cherry Gulch was opening for the first time. We have had the opportunity to watch the development of the facilities, the curriculum, the student body and the staff from the beginning. Jeremy was also embarking on a journey of new experiences and challenges. It was very hard not to have Jeremy at home but, I can honestly say he has become an amazing young man and I am sure his success is due in very large part to his stay with you. He is now back to grade appropriate academic work. He studies 1 – 2 hours a day outside of school – a mental discipline I never thought we would see – and is making good grades. Your assistance was very much appreciated in finding the right scholastic environment following CG, and I am confident he will be successful in a mainstream upper school beginning with 9th grade next year. His love of horses, to which he was introduced at Cherry Gulch, continues to this day – he rides and is learning to train horses every weekend. His manners are wonderful – I often receive compliments on his character, sensitivity and consideration. As you know, this was an important area of work for Jeremy, and the lessons have stuck with him. He truly understands the need to be empathetic, supportive and responsible to oneself, one’s family and friends, and one’ community. By the way, he is looking forward to the alumni weekend you mentioned; he remains in contact and communicates with his good friends from CG. In any case, I will keep you informed of his progress, but I wanted to write and thank you for exceeding our expectations and wish you the best of luck as you help other kids reach their potential.
To all the wonderful staff at Cherry Gulch,
I want to thank every one of you for your hard work and dedication to my son James and all the boys and families at Cherry Gulch. I was thoroughly touched by the dedication, professionalism, and kindness shown to myself and everyone else during the parent weekend. I arrived searching for confirmation that I was doing the right thing for my family and son by sending him to Cherry Gulch. I received that confirmation abundantly throughout the weekend. I left with a renewed sense of purpose and hope. I appreciated all the thought, time, and energy it took all of you to provide a wonderful weekend for the families. I want to thank you all for everything from the great food and fresh flowers on the tables to the parent therapy and interviews with staff, to the way staff members made sure I wouldn’t get lost on the way to tubing and others spent time helping James work off stocks to have that chance. Thank you for your encouraging comments about James and for your honesty about James. It was wonderful to see staff of all degrees take time out to have fun with the boys on Sat. afternoon. You are all top notch! Thank you.
I wanted to give you a short update now that Mike has been in school for about a month. So far, so good from many perspectives. Socially, he is starting to make friends but most of them are slightly older and more mature than the boys in the dorm he was assigned to. He has asked to move to a different dorm and once he writes his proposal, it will be approved. The school agrees that a dorm with more mature boys is a better fit for him. The comment was that they thought they might be in the middle of a honeymoon period but now that a month has gone by, they feel that he's "solid". He has also moved along their tier system (a system of increasing privileges based on behavior, following rules, taking care of self and stuff and doing your homework) from Tier 2 to 5 out of 6! You have done a terrific job preparing him for being more independent and thought you, all staff, and Ryan would like to know this. In social skills meetings, I've been told that Mike listens and then often has very perceptive observations. One of the boys told him he would make a good therapist! He took only 5 books with him and one of them is his "Abnormal Psych" textbook which he reads. Academically, he is also doing well. He has been moved to an 11/12th grade English class and the other night said his teacher is "so cool". We asked why he's cool and it's because of the assignments he's giving! Music to our ears as you can imagine. In science, they placed him in a slower moving Biology class but because he was doing so well, they've moved him to a faster moving section. In math, he's working one on one in Algebra but doing well. And US History is great. So, he's been well-prepared and I thought you and the teachers would be interested.
I know this is a pretty upbeat summary. It's not to say that everything has been perfect but the difference is that Mike has learned to trust people, to ask for help and to advocate for himself without acting out. This is huge but something that we definitely were struggling with helping him learn. His experience at Cherry Gulch gave this to him and for us to watch him thrive and grow. To see him handle obstacles with confidence and maturity is the biggest gift of all.
I hope all is well there at Cherry Gulch! We think about all of you so often and so fondly! Feel free to share this email.
Take good care,