Sorenson's Ranch School was started as a summer teen boot camp and over the last 50 years has been transformed into a contemporary well-equipped therapeutic boarding school providing licensed adolescent treatment including a very effective wilderness program for its students as well as assistance.
Sorenson's Ranch School started as a summer youth program. In the summer of 1959. The original people involved were Burnell and Carrol Sorenson, Ell Sorenson, Wayne Brindley and Milton Brindley. At the time of its inception Burnell worked as a teacher in the Whittier Unified School District in Southern California, and used his spare time recruiting for youth locally for the summer juvenile boot camp program. Some of the original facilities also served as a deer camp through the early 1960ís. During the 1970ís Burnell was the principal owner with Carrol and had several years representing the Youth Conservation Corps, which was a newly formed organization to provide youth from various backgrounds teambuilding, educational, and outdoor experiences while doing projects with the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service. Many of those projects still exist to this day in the surrounding outdoors of Grass Valley. It was in 1984 that Burnell and Carrol retired from their teaching careers in Southern California to live full time in Koosharem. That same year Sorenson's Ranch School started to give year-round adolescent treatment to troubled teens needing help. Sorensonís quickly formed the basics to become an accredited boarding school and a licensed residential treatment facility. Because Sorenson's Ranch School was a pioneering venture, the State of Utah initially were unclear how to oversee and inspect our facilities to care for troubled youth, so the license was first granted through Youth Corrections to provide reactive attachment disorder treatment. Later this was done directly with the Department of Licensing. Wayne Holland, who is the current Chairman for the Utah Democratic Party, was the original licensor. Now Sorenson's Ranch School is a family-owned and operated residential treatment centre accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools (NAAS). It is licensed as a mental health and substance-abuse treatment centre with the Utah State Human Services Department and is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Because of the declining health of Burnell, Shane and Jill Sorenson took over the helm of the school around 1998. Layne Bagley took over as the primary admissions person. Today the Clinical Director is Dave Nelsen, who has specialist training in Reactive Attachment Disorder, ADD, ADHD, Aspergerís Syndrome, and extensive experience with adolescents suffering from behaviour modification needs. Dave coordinates his efforts with our other primary therapists who bring considerable expertise to todayís Sorensonís Ranch School. Nowadays Sorenson's is also a licensed residential treatment facility that includes treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, serves students with histories of different kinds of behaviour modification such as problems with parents, substance abuse, low or non-existent self-esteem, learning difficulties, dropping out of or being expelled from school, extreme mental stress, and Reactive Attachment Disorder. Many new buildings have added to the facilities. Among them are: school building, gymnasium, library/administration building, lodge, industrial arts building, and the largest wood barn built in Utah in the last 50 years. Troubled teens seem to respond well to the animal therapy offered at Sorensonís. With the consolidation of the farms, Shane Sorenson also assists in the sowing and harvesting of the crops, which are needed for the many animals on the youth ranch. Currently, we have horses, cattle, bison, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, rabbits, and goats. The Sorensonís ranch's wilderness program instills in its students the values of loyalty, respect, self-worth, personal management, and respect for property, cleanliness, and trustworthiness. The improvement in the dormitories has been dramatic during the 50 years youth have been in Sorensonís therapeutic boarding school in Koosharem. In the early 1960ís the cabins all had no bathrooms or running water, only one common bathroom on each side of the cabins for each specific gender. Indoor heating was installed in individual cabins in the 1970ís, and consisted of small wood burning stoves. The 1980ís brought the advent of indoor plumbing into each cabin along with central heating. In the last two years the dormitories have been completely renovated. Overall there has been, a total transformation in the comfort and coziness of student dormitory living. Moreover Sorenson's Ranch School has the goal of continuing to improve its services for its clients. We teach a new way of life with emphasis on ranching, farming, camping, and country living. Many students go on to college or trade programs. All students have life-enhancing experiences. We look to the future with excitement and hope for our staff and the clientele we serve. For more information visit Sorensons Ranch School or call the admissions office at 1-888-830-4802