Tom Croke, www.FamilyLight.com

Loi Eberle, www.StrugglingTeens.com

If you'd like to share your NSA experience with others, please email us your story.

APRIL 2012 - From a PArent
I just wanted to let you know that Sam is doing very well. He is attending school every day, is their best student according to the principal, has reached out to the other students and made friends and was accepted to a number of colleges including Sarah Lawrence, Bard, Hampshire and………. Amherst!  Amherst is especially exciting because his Dad went there. I still can’t believe that he got in- not because he doesn’t deserve it, but because they had a 10% accept rate. He has also (entirely on his own- all I did was pay) arranged a trip for him and 2 friends from school to spend 5 weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Cusco, Peru this summer. He is such a comfortable international traveler because of his experience at NSA.

I want to thank you for all you did for Sam. After his time at NSA, he was clearly prepared to tackle this year.



JUNE 2005 - From A Parent

"Our son recently graduated from New Summit Academy and we are very proud to say that as a result of his experience with the dedicated faculty and therapeutic staff there, he has completely turned his life around.

Although it was a hard decision to send him to a school so far away, he has benefited tremendously from being in the Costa Rican culture, seeing a different way of life, and being truly loved by his Costa Rican host family. It was important for him to have an opportunity to be outside of the American culture—which has become increasingly competitive and materialistic recently—and get back in touch with his basic values. I can't say enough about the energy, enthusiasm and competence of the staff. They are a wonderful group of people! I have never seen my son happier or more self- confident, and this was very far from being true when he started there.

We have absolutely no regrets. It was one of the hardest decisions we ever had to make, to send him so far away, but it is also one of the best."

Kim Kluger-Bell, California  

September 2009 - From A Parent

"We landed in San Jose with our son, made our way through customs, and saw a kind looking woman holding a sign with our name on it. She greeted us warmly and introduced us to the school driver. We piled our luggage into the van, and set off to see New Summit Academy.

We could never have imagined a warmer greeting at any stateside school. Everyone came to us, welcomed us and especially our son, and helped him feel part of the community right away. The boys were away on an aventura when we arrived, so we had a few hours before they returned to see the campus, help him settle into his room and speak with the staff. We felt so comfortable there, and when we said goodbye the next day, as difficult as it was to leave our son so far away, we knew that we were doing the best thing possible for him and that he was in very good hands.

Like every student at NSA, our son had a story. His was one of academic failure, which was quickly cutting off many avenues that could lead to a productive, positive future. Like most NSA students, he spent time in a wilderness program. During that time learned some invaluable things about himself. We learned about NSA during the program, and he became interested and enthusiastic about the school. After he arrived and settled in, he did experience some regression while he got accustomed to things and adjusted to his new environment. But after his first aventura, a scuba diving trip in Panama during which he became certified in open water diving, he came back with a new determination to try harder and succeed. And indeed he did, working hard, improving his grades, getting involved in student government, trying new sports, including surfing, and eventually coming to terms with the fact that he did have a future and it was up to him to make something of it.

Now our son is about to graduate and come home. He is organizing his plans for his next
steps. He’s thinking carefully, looking at options, and he is genuinely excited about everything he has to look forward to. He comes home with many new tools: he is comfortable speaking Spanish, he knows how to manage international travel on his own, he’s certified in CPR and wilderness first aid…and he speaks confidently, with a maturity and wisdom that we had not heard from him before. We know that his road ahead, will not be easy, but he is poised to set goals and accomplish them, something we could not imagine one year ago, when our adventure first started."

June 2009 - from a STUDENT

"NSA is a place that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Just two months ago I graduated, and can attest to my journey at New Summit Academy being one of the most memorable and positive experiences in my entire life.  Before coming to the school, I was really skeptical about what it would be like given that time and time again I would hear horror stories about restrictive or “level-system” programs. I will be the first to say that NSA is extremely unique in almost every aspect, and nothing like any other transitional school. One of the greatest things about NSA is the fact that since there isn’t tons of students; you get to know everyone (students and staff both) as if they were your family. In my case, after lunch a staff member is my history teacher but at 4:30 they turn into a teammate during a game of ultimate frisbee. As students, we do virtually everything together as well. You live together, go to classes together, eat together, and go on trips together. You really get to know everyone at NSA on a much deeper level than you would in a traditional public high school, and can feel comfortable going to virtually anyone for anything.

The academic component of NSA is also something else that can be held to high regard. Prior to starting, I was lacking credits in several areas and was initially unsure as to whether or not I would be able to graduate on track as people I knew at home. When I got there, Martin helped me figure out what classes I needed to be taking to keep on track, and in the end, it worked out right on track. All the teachers at NSA are great and extremely open to offering extra help if you need it. It’s not the traditional lecture style classroom setting either. From constructing electrical devices out of old components in Physics, to making a Jon Stewart- esque TV show in History, there were many times that I remember studying a concept or subject by doing something hands-on or out of the box. Another cool part about academics is the fact that each semester there is an academic field trip. When I was there, as a school we went to both Nicaragua and Panama City. On each trip, we broke up into pairs and studied various aspects of both cultures. We interviewed locals, tried different food, and saw sights like the inside of an active volcano and the Panama Canal. Academics are something that tie into many different aspects of the program.

The immersion aspect of the school is likely something that will stay with me the longest and I can’t say enough about. Each Friday we had a class called “Global Citizenship” where we would carry out a community service and work internship, and then on Sundays we would spend the better part of the day with a Costa Rican family. My homestay family were some of the most caring people I have ever met in my entire life. On Sundays, they embraced me as though I truly was a member of the family, and it gave me an amazing perspective into the culture. I went to birthday parties with them, festivals in town with them, or played games at the house with my brother and sister. For me, they literally turned into my family away from home. I cannot say enough good things about having gone through the homestay aspect of the program, and they are some of the people whom I miss most in Costa Rica.

The personal growth component of NSA is something else that is really unique. Every student has a personal growth advising team that oversees their individualized goals and accomplishments usually made up of 2 staff members. Also unlike other programs, the personal growth aspect is really left up to the discretion of the student, and nobody is forced to “check-in” or talk to anyone if they don’t feel the present need; That being said, if you do need to talk to someone, there is always somebody on campus available. You also aren’t required to talk to someone on your advising team, either. If for instance you feel more comfortable talking to a teacher or another student, that’s encouraged, and it’s another example of how in theory NSA functions as a community and everyone is helping everyone out. It’s always helpful to keep your advising team in the loop though, because they are the ones that can help advocate for you and that talk with your parents at home. This relaxed approach was something that for me personally was nice, because I never really liked the idea of having a 1-on-1 structured time to talk to someone.  I was much more comfortable building friendships and trust with people, and then going to them as I saw fit. In this way, the personal growth component is much more individualized and serves as a resource, but not something you’re forced into.

Finally, the aventuras are something unlike anything I had done before. The 4 main integrated aventuras are about a week long, and you go on challenging hiking, kayaking, and rafting trips around Costa Rica. Each trip also has a personal growth and academic componant to it as well, so they encompass a lot. On the integrated aventuras you kayak the Golfo Dulce (in the southern part of the country), hike through Corcovado National Park (according to Nat-geo the most ecologically diverse place on the planet), hike and raft through the Cloud Forest, and finally climb to the top of Mt. Chirripo (the tallest peak in Costa Rica). I remember before each trip being nervous and worried, but ultimately each aventura gives you a chance to think and connect with everyone on the trip and mark milestones in your NSA “journey”. There were times when there were literally monkeys jumping over us in the trees, and again this is something I couldn’t envision myself experiencing in any other scenario.

Realistically speaking, there are some really good aspects about NSA and some challenging aspects. There are restrictions to leaving campus, internet/TV use, cooking, phone calls, and other things that you might normally take for granted at home. Some rules can be bothersome or seem somewhat childish, but ultimately if you go through the appropriate steps you can earn create opportunities that can make your stay at NSA easier. All of the staff and your advisors are open-minded and if you show the initiative and have the patience they are willing to help you out as much as they can.

New Summit Academy is truly a unique community of students and staff, and a place that really helped me to refocus and put myself on a positive track. I have not been gone long, and already miss everyone I met through NSA. It helped me a lot, and I know that it is a year that I will remember for the rest of my life."

-John G // Class of ‘09

From A Parent

"My son just graduated from high school at New Summit Academy after 1 1/2 years in Costa Rica. It has been an amazing experience.  He is committed to his recovery, has much greater emotional stability, is happy and self-directed, has better relations with the family, and has been accepted to George Washington University for the fall.   He went because he was depressed, addicted to cocaine, abusing alcohol, not doing well in school, and not functioning well in the family or in general.  

Why New Summit Academy?  We looked for a school that was structured enough for him to learn to succeed, yet that would provide enough independence at the appropriate time, so that he could learn to manage in the world after therapeutic boarding school. New Summit is excellent in providing structure in the beginning, with eventual self-reliance.  The therapy is supportive and insightful, yet gives great responsibility to the student.  Our family has experienced a lot of therapy and this was by far the best and most useful.

What about the fact the school was in Costa Rica?  That was the scariest part at the time, but in fact, Costa Rica turned out to be a huge positive.  The culture is gentle and welcoming.   My son took advantage of the quarterly Aventuras and explored some beautiful areas of the country, seeing scarlet macaws, monkeys, sea turtles, anteaters and dense rain forest.  He became certified as a Wilderness First Responder, in scuba diving, and received training in white water rafting.   He especially enjoyed his home stay family and loved two university classes he got to take in San Jose.  My son now speaks fluent Spanish.  He was accepted at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.  Costa Rica turned out to be a huge advantage of the school.

Some of the things I wanted to know as a prospective parent:  the medical and dental care is wonderful (he had to get his wisdom teeth out and had an infection that had to be treated). The country is safe, stable and friendly.   The staff is a combination of Americans and Costa Ricans (Ticos).  For us, the travel logistics with American worked well through Dallas/Fort Worth or Miami, through Phoenix on America West, or through LA on United.

The quality of the therapy, the level of skill and insight, is extraordinary, both for the student and the family.  In addition, my son had great success academically.  The academics are very individualized college prep courses.  He has confidence in his writing ability now which is a huge step.   He was also supported in the college application process and because of his experiences at NSA, I think his application was unique.  He was accepted at 8 of the 9 colleges to which he applied.  Since the school is affiliated with New Summit School in Mississippi, there was no problem with colleges understanding and accepting his transcript and application.

I loved visiting Costa Rica and find this graduation to be bittersweet.  It was a wonderful, healing, growth experience and I am truly thankful for New Summit Academy, for Mario, Heather, Cristina, James, Andy and the rest of the staff."

Jan B., California

from a student

"The amount of dedication that these people have to each and every individual is extraordinary. Throughout my experiences with Andy, Heather, Mario, and James, I was given the opportunity to thrive academically and emotionally in the healthy atmosphere they provided.   With the beautiful country of Costa Rica as the setting for their school, I was able to culturally enrich my life and studies through interaction with the local people and environment. Not only did I learn a significant amount of Spanish, but I learned a lot about myself and negative tendencies as a human being.

With the facilitation of my advisors, I recognized the changes and courses of action I needed to make in order to escape these destructive habits. While accomplishing these necessities of life, I was provided with a superior means of continuing my academic studies and life in order to fully prepare myself for the adventure that awaits me at university. Looking back on my experiences with these great people, I am sincerely thankful for their devotion to the betterment of my life, and the others enrolled with me."

Eric W., 18, Texas and Vietnam

from a  PARENT

"I hope you will share our experience with other parents. Fourteen months ago, our son was troubled, not wanting to go to school, dabbling in risky behaviors and oppositional. When it was clear that he needed something different than what he had at home, we explored piecing together a program at home with the best counselors, family counselors and environmental change. After talking with many parents who had done this and regretted it --the teens did not change! -- we enrolled our son in New Summit Academy in Costa Rica. It was very painful to think that he needed to be away and it seemed hard on him and on our family -- financially and personally.

Today I realize that was the very best decision we could have made. Every penny spent and every moment he was missed at home were more than worth it. What the staff, counselors and teachers did at New Summit Academy changed my son's life for good. He's now a straight-A student and he came home with excellent SAT scores. He is calm and peaceful inside, cooperative at home and seems to have found himself by going through this exemplary program. In short, he's a happy person now and has more of the skills he needs to create a happy, healthy, productive life. Our son left home a troubled teen and came home a man who had matured 4 years in one year and we have a new start as a family. I believe the culture of Costa Rica, the environment at New Summit Academy, the experiential learning, the Harvard-educated teachers, the Costa Rican counselors and the AMAZING people involved in this school were the key. Mario, Danny, Heather, James, Roy, Andy and everyone there helped our son in immeasurable ways. He saw places in Costa Rica that no tourists ever see. He traveled in Central America and South America -- even swam across the water from Costa Rica to Panama. He had hated Spanish in his high school classes, but after a year at New Summit Academy, his Spanish is great.

His experiences with his homestay family were incredibly enriching. Instead of traditional therapy, New Summit Academy integrates these processes into the student's experience of the day. The counselors develop relationships with the student during the afternoon and evening, after the school day is done. The "Aventura's" or experiential education provides both amazing physical and cultural experiences in the environment and the ideal experience to open their minds in ways that traditional therapy does not. Our son was opposed to "programs", but truly bonded with and felt cared for the people at New Summit Academy. It was not difficult for his dad and me to visit there and they made every accommodation so that our experience in Costa Rica was enriching, too. We fell in love with the country and the people, but more than anything, we feel forever indebted to this small tribe of people who are changing the lives of boys and supporting their skills and sense of motivation, connection and love of life.

I would recommend New Summit Academy to any parent who was considering sending their teen there. Our educational consultants said it was head and shoulders above the other schools. They were right!

So please share with your parents two ideas: One, giving a troubled teen a whole new environment can result in near magical changes in your child. You are not sending your child away but opening doors to a brighter future. The other is that if you can possibly find a good fit between your son's needs and the New Summit Academy program, grab it! The program and the people are unique and both your life and the life of your child will be forever enriched. Kathleen lorimelody@yahoo.com

15 Nov 2007 - from a PARENT

"In a few weeks he will have been home for 1 year.  The transition went well and although it has not been perfect, we have used the communication skills we learned from Danny to effectively work through any issues.  

About a month ago, I was asking Tim what he wanted for his birthday on Dec 11th as he will be turning 18.  He said that thought it would be nice to travel to Costa Rica to visit New Summit Academy on his 1 year anniversary of graduating from the program.  He wanted to see all of you (Heather, Mario, Danny, Andy,  and Woody) and share his experiences of the past year.   He had looked at the calendar and realized that he has final exams around that time and it would not be a good time to miss some days of school.  I think it is a testament to you and your team that he has such great memories and desire to visit you with all of you.  New Summit Academy has left a lasting impression on Tim.  He grew into a man, learned tolerance, patience, anger management and gained a strong sense of self worth.   I am so glad that I heard about New Summit and that Tim had the chance to live and learn with all of you for a year.  So what is new with him….?

He is in the final stages of college applications.  He UC Irvine, U of Arizona, U of Colorado – Boulder.  He decided against Stanford but has Berkeley as his first choice.  We are still working with Whitney and she is terrific.  Tim has had some challenges with his courses here in Arizona.  His grades are mostly A and B’s which has frustrated him at times because he wants to get all A’s.  

He has been working as a valet parking cars at the Marriott which he loves.  He was recently promoted to supervisor which gave him some leadership
opportunities and a chance to earn more money.  He played football and did well. No injuries and he had fun.  The team was not the best and only won 2 games but Tyler played a lot and had a good attitude.  

As Danny may recall, Tim had a few short term goals for this year.  He wanted to get a car and find a girlfriend, which he did.  We still have debates about curfew and some of my “foolish” rules but overall we work through these challenges and have reached a comfortable and reasonable agreement.  Happy Thanksgiving & I will keep all of you in my prayers."
Best, Tim's mom

11 May 2005 - from a PARENT

"For families who are interested in finding a unique, enriching, safe, effective, and caring academic environment for their teenaged sons... Just under a year ago, my 17-year old son (then 16 years old) was graduating from an intense, 60-day wilderness program based in Utah. We had sent our son to Utah as the result of several attempts to address his apathy, recreational drug use, and sense of entitlement. Following the wilderness program, we were fully prepared to bring our son back home for his senior year of high school. However, upon attending his wilderness program graduation, we quickly realized that he had acquired many new valuable lifestyle tools and behaviors that would surely be lost or, at best, devalued if he came back to his old peer group and environment. It was then that we decided to look for a boarding school alternative.

We were initially introduced to New Summit Academy in Costa Rica (along with several other "stateside" boarding schools) through our educational consultant based in San Francisco. After fully investigating and interviewing a short list of outstanding schools, we were convinced that NSA most fully embodied the educational and lifestyle values we were seeking for our son. These included academic excellence, personal responsibility and accountability, personal growth through experiential activities, and respect for nature, others, and self. The only catch (isn't there always a "catch"?) was that NSA was out of the country! We had heard horror stories about boarding schools outside of the US, and our concern was real and completely understandable.

However, we had also become completely enamored with NSA's philosophy as well as the dedication, care, and proficiency of the NSA staff, whom we had, by this time, spoken to several times by phone. We called current and former NSA student families and became more and more comfortable with the idea of our son living beyond the borders of the US. Long story short, we flew down to Costa Rica with our son for his first day at NSA. I am happy to report it was one of the best decisions we have ever made.

Our son has thrived at NSA. His GPA has gone from 2.5 to just about straight A's. He has built homes for the poor, taught local Costa Rican kids to swim, hiked into rain forests, kayaked amongst whales, worked in local businesses, and countless other activities he simply would not have had the chance to experience here at home. Most importantly, he has learned to value his own life, to fundamentally understand that he is an integral part of a greater whole...that he indeed matters. In more tangible terms, our son has recently been accepted to attend several California universities, based > upon the excellent academic program at NSA (and, of course, his efforts in the NSA program!) as well as the university entrance exam scores he received while attending NSA.

In summary, I recommend, without reservation, NSA in Costa Rica for any family seeking a unique, truly life-altering experience for their son. The staff is completely professional, the academics are top-notch, the counseling services are incredibly caring and pro-active, the international experience is irreplaceable, and the gift you will give to your son is priceless. Please feel free to call me if you have any questions at all."

Best Regards,  Sanders Ergas, CA

November 2012 – From a Parent

The transition is going very well in my opinion.  It has been a joy for us to have B home.  He has been engaging, communicative, busy, and responsible.  He seems to be making the right decisions and seems to be happy. He was successful in obtaining a job in the second week he was home, with Safeway – a shopping center chain, working in their Starbucks.  He was offered several jobs to pick from.  He was very excited about “nailing” the interview as he put it, and he was quick to give NSA the credit for preparing him for interviews. 

He has begun the process with help from a consultant of applying to four-year schools.  He still seems more interested in going to a four-year school next year as opposed to going to Junior college and transferring, as he had originally planned. We are supportive of either option he chooses.  In a nutshell, things are going very well so far, but we also don’t expect it to be perfect. B is definitely a different boy than he was 15 months ago.

All the Best,

October 2012 – From a Parent

He is about half way through his first quarter at SCAD.  As you might expect, he loves everything about it in terms of the social aspects, particularly both of his roommates.  The work load has been a bit tough, particularly for the one liberal arts class he is required to take.  
He was able to abstain from drug use after returning from NSA. He appears to be managing his anxiety well and not feeling the need to turn to substances to alleviate it.
I was glad to receive your email because it gives me the opportunity to tell you again how much I appreciate all that he gained while at NSA.  I don't know where he'd be without all of you, but especially Mario.  Please keep in touch and remember that I would be happy to provide an enthusiastic endorsement to parents of prospective students.
Take care,

Phone- USA (414) 921-1388
Phone- Costa Rica: 011 (506) 2446-3376

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