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Rural setting at Wildwood Canyon appeals to young-adult males

July 25, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Environments for Recovery
Wildwood Canyon

Benchmark Transitions’ primary residential facility for young-adult men conveys a look and feel that is in keeping with its male inhabitants. Once owned by the sheriff of San Bernardino County, the sprawling ranch property that now houses the Wildwood Canyon facility features an Americana motif with a bit of the Old West thrown in.

“We knew from the first moment we saw this property that this was a men’s treatment program,” says Shelley Skaggs, Benchmark Transitions’ chief marketing officer.

The 7,000-square-foot main house and its surrounding 50-acre property may be spacious, but its owners are not using that to move toward adding beds. Only up to six male patients ages 18 to 28 are treated in the center at any one time, housed in semi-private accommodations.

“This creates a primary peer group that is small and manageable,” says Skaggs. “These young men need to connect with their peers in a small setting, with guys with similar issues. They’re not in there with 35- and 40-year-olds.”

Wildwood Canyon offers both detox and residential treatment services, though Skaggs says a typical scenario might involve intervening with a young man who may be experiencing an earlier-stage substance use issue (likely involving marijuana) and has not yet graduated to the highest level of severity. The facility admits both privately insured and self-pay patients, with a customary residential stay of 30 to 45 days.

The setting appeals to the spirit of a restless young person. Stables on the property allow the owners to keep horses for equine therapy. There are goats and even a donkey on the site as well.

Orchards and gardens dot the property (the Yucaipa area in San Bernardino County is known for its apple orchards), and patients are encouraged to participate in sustainable gardening by growing cucumbers, potatoes and other crops. A thousand-year-old oak tree stands as a signature feature of the campus.

“These guys love being physical, getting out for hikes and walks,” Skaggs says.

She says many of the patients have come from fairly affluent family backgrounds, though few have resided before in a truly rural setting such as this one. Connecting with animal life is likely a novel experience for most of these young men, therefore.

“This is a true cowboy ranch,” she says, with plenty of red, white and blue added to the motif. Conversely, Benchmark Transitions’ residential site for women conveys a more comfortconscious feel, she says.

Still, the men’s facility has established itself as a secure environment for its residents since opening around 18 months ago. “A young guy just came in from 30 days there, and he said he felt very safe there,” Skaggs says. “He said there was a lot of structure, and a lot of connection with the staff.”