Pillars of Our Program

boarding school program

The 5 pillars of the CMA Program

“The 5 pillars make us who we are, and if you take one away, we’re not CMA anymore. We have a high success rate with students, and we believe these pillars are the reason why”– CMA Director, Andrew Stroup

Many parents identify with at least 1 of the 5 core pillars of Caribbean Mountain Academy. These pillars define the school and the experience families get when they send a student to CMA. They are the foundation of what CMA does and helps the school stand apart from other Christian boarding schools.

family counseling

Pillar 1. Family-based Counseling

Crosswinds believes that families are the foundation for student success. Crosswinds CEO Mark Terrell says, “We are going to work with you, mom and dad, as much as we’re going to work with the child that is in our program. [CMA’s interventions] will be successful if you decide to work just as hard as your son or daughter is. If you do that, you’ll be amazed at the success.”

CMA desires to see families heavily involved in their teen’s journey, and their goal is to see families restored. To work toward these goals, they provide weekly family counseling sessions, weekly individual counseling for your teen, as well as parent counseling sessions as needed. These counseling sessions are focused on restoring relationships, introducing healthy boundaries, and practicing good communication between parents and teens.

Pillar 2. Relationship-oriented Mentoring

Caribbean Mountain Academy Director Andrew Stroup says, “I think students really enjoy the highly relational component of the program. They have adults who are older than them but not so old that they can’t relate with what they’re going through, or with the dynamics of being a teenager. Our students look up to our house staff and really do value and crave their relationship.”

Relationship-oriented mentoring – group of kids at play Relationships at our therapeutic boarding school are often deeper because of the lack of distractions. Students are unplugged from cell phones, technology, and social media while they are in the CMA program. They connect with other students and staff on a whole new level. We feel it’s one of the greatest strengths of our Christian boarding school. Because of the way we run our program, our students are able to form close bonds with staff as they do life together. Biweekly service projects and adventure activities help build community as students and staff participate together. Evening programming is centered around activities that students enjoy, such as basketball or board games, and allows students to know the staff in a fun context. “It’s a tight-knit community,” Stroup says, “From a Christian perspective, it’s the most beautiful church community I’ve ever seen or experienced.”

Pillar 3. Adventure-based Learning

As parents, we love hearing about the positive things our children are experiencing. At our Christian residential treatment center, students definitely enjoy the adventure activities such as mountain hiking, going to the beach, zip lining, or river rafting. These opportunities also give them fun things to tell their family about. Adventure activities help students learn in a fun environment.

Students grow in self-confidence when they achieve things they’ve never done before. For example, one student said after a long and difficult hike, “My entire life everybody has told me that I can’t do anything and that I’m worthless, but today I climbed a mountain and nobody can take that away from me.” Students also have opportunities to learn teamwork as they work together to achieve their goals. For example, they get to cheer their fellow students on up the mountain or encourage their river rafting buddies to keep paddling. We find that these are also great bonding experiences for the students. The staff also uses adventure activities as teaching opportunities. Conversations naturally come up about teamwork, leadership, and their own relationship with God. It’s a fantastic way to open up deep and meaningful conversations in a non-threatening or upsetting way.


Pillar 4. Service Projects

Students participate in service projects two days each week. Serving others has been shown to reduce depression and increase a feeling of well-being and purpose. It also helps teach students empathy and the value of helping others. If your teen feels like they have made too many mistakes in life, helping others reminds them that they are capable of making a positive impact on those around them. It’s a great self-esteem booster and we’re proud to have it as a core part of CMA’s boarding school for troubled teens.

Pillar 5. Spiritual Discipleship

Caribbean Mountain Academy is a faith-based ministry, which means that faith is foundational to who we are. We desire to take every opportunity to help others learn about who God is and the redemption that is possible through building a good relationship with Him. When Jesus was on this Earth, he was known for hanging out with broken people and completely transforming their lives.

The staff at Caribbean Mountain Academy desires to do the same for their students. They hope that when students discover Jesus’ love for themselves, they will receive a transformation that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Students don’t need to be a Christian to attend Caribbean Mountain Academy. We welcome people of all faiths. Students are able to choose their level of participation in our faith-based activities. For those students who desire to form a personal relationship with Jesus, we offer Bible studies, devotion times, and weekly church and youth group activities.

Ready to be a Part of Your Teen’s Transformation? Parents are able to be involved at our therapeutic Christian boarding school by visiting the campus beforehand, participating in family and parent counseling sessions, and by building a strong support system for their teen to have back home. The 5 pillars of Caribbean Mountain Academy are foundational to who we are, and parents often relate to many of them. The pillars include family-based counseling, relationship-oriented mentoring, adventure-based learning, service projects, and spiritual discipleship.

AFTERCARE:  Preparing Parents for Their Teen to Come Home

“We do all we can to both make a lot of really good changes here, but when they go back home they also have enough support around them to maintain it.” — Caribbean Mountain Academy Director, Andrew Stroup

CMA’s goal is to build up the family so that they can be a strong support structure for their child when they come home. Family and parent counseling sessions help parents prepare to support their teen and protect them from outside harm. The counselor will help parents choose appropriate boundaries for their teen so that their child won’t fall into old habits at home. 

Once a child comes home, family counseling sessions continue for another four weeks. This is to help your teen have a better transition back to family life. If the counselor believes further sessions are needed, they will give you recommendations to qualified counselors in the area. It is up to you to follow up with one of those counselors.