As an organization, Venture Academy has served hundreds of families troubled teens from across Canada since 2001. We literally have hundreds of emails, written testimonials, pictures, and gifts and thank you cards from parents and students. Here is a small sample of some things families have to say…

Parent Professional Testimonials

We Are So Grateful to the Team

I am a Psychologist and I chose Venture Academy for my child because Venture Academy offers a high-quality wrap around service that other programs don’t offer.


Visiting a counseling office once a week or even twice isn’t going to be enough for your child. They need a number of team members working in different roles with your child and they need to be removed from their home community stressors. Our son graduated from Venture Academy in 2010. Our son has overcome significant drug use, failing in school and completely moving out of relationship with us as parents. Our son is now in University, working, enjoying family time and is drug free. We are so grateful to the team.

– Psychologist Mom

It Enabled Our Son to Be Free

When we came to the conclusion that our son’s needs had overwhelmed our ability to parent him, we were devastated. Through conversations with friends we found out about Venture and within days a placement was secured in the thirty day assessment program.


For such a long time we had been running on adrenaline, dealing with crises and high emotion without time to react and plan our approach to support our son. The decision to enroll our son was taken suddenly, in the midst of crisis, while there was a window of motivation on his part. Knowing that he had gone to a safe, family-based program rather than an institution was comforting to us. During the first thirty days we really put our trust in the treating team at Venture. I believe that it was what allowed us to have the time and distance to think about what we needed and wanted for our family. It enabled our son to be free from the unhealthy environment, peers and choices that had contributed to his illness. It allowed our intense emotions to settle so that we could begin to rebuild a healthier relationship with our boy. I don’t think that we had the skills to communicate in a different way in those early days. Now that our son is home with us again I am amazed at his growth and maturity. We are forever grateful that the staff and families of Venture were there for us when we needed them.

– Psychiatrist

What a Wonderful Program

I am an Education Assistant and I chose Venture Academy twice for my family. As a professional in the lower mainland in the education field, I have knowledge of a number of local programs. I tried a number of interventions in our community and nothing worked.


My daughter was struggling in school and in many other areas of her life. My daughter has learning difficulties and it is so awesome that the teaching staff at VA are trained in helping kids that struggle in school. It is refreshing to connect with my daughters teacher and have her using strategies that I myself use in the classroom with my students. As a blended family, we had one of our older sons attend Venture Academy a number of years ago. He did very well and continues to do so but this is actually why we chose Venture Academy the second time. Venture Academy offers something that seems to be lacking in other programs, including US based programs, that I explored and that is the warm, caring, attachment / host parent model. What a wonderful program.

– Education Assistant

This Decision Has Been a Life Saver

After months of meetings with professionals from the public health system (I documented a total of 21 professionals involved during a 16-month period), my husband and I were without hope for our troubled son’s future.


We were about to give up when we heard about Venture Academy. Within one week, our son was in their care. We were impressed with how quickly the Venture team responded. Six months later, our son was transformed back to who he used to be: a caring and intelligent person. We can’t say enough how this decision has been a life saver for our son, and to our whole family. We are very grateful to Venture’s staff for bringing our son back to us.

– School Principal

Venture Academy Made My Dream Come True

I chose Venture Academy because I knew I did not have the skills to help my son find his path.


Venture Academy made my dream come true and returned my son to me.

– DM Physician

Venture Academy Saved Our Daughter’s Life

Venture Academy saved our daughter’s life – there is no doubt about it. How did they do it where others failed most pitifully?


Without access to her toxic peer group, bullies, inappropriate and unhealthy outside influences could not reach her. Nor could she be tempted back onto the path of disaster. Not until then did our daughter begin to recover. Finally she could feel safe from bullies, temptations and judgement and when free from these distractions she could begin to understand that her life was valued. She began to allow herself to be happy, to experience joy and to laugh like a teen should. Her choices became healthier and sustainable. We missed her terribly – don’t get me wrong we did. However, we were faced with the choice – a living healthy thriving teen or a dead one.

– Clinician, Registered Nurse

So Impressed by All Staff

Don was frustrated in his local community and surrounding area where he found no appropriate services that did not include him having to hand his daughter over to the local ministry and quite possibly a group care home.


Don was “sold on Venture Academy” because the goal for VA was to always return his child to his loving home. He loved that we worked based on the clinical methodologies, attachment theory and that the youth were not in a group care model. Don has been so impressed by all staff at VA and speaks highly of the program whenever he gets a chance in his work. Don has been asked by the local school district to speak to his experience at VA to the schools. Don asked today if this would be ok with us. Don has been happy to be a parent reference. He states, “Thank you VA for all you have done”.

– Police Officer

My Son’s Improvement Has Been Tremendous

I am a nurse and I chose Venture Academy because my son has mental health issues…


and I have found there is a significant gap in treatment for youth with mental health challenges in Alberta. My son’s improvement has been tremendous.

– Mom Nurse

Parent Testimonials

As One Parent States…

We tried everything we could think of as parents including all the normal parenting strategies such as curtailing privileges, the carrot and stick approach, local counselling and things still weren’t getting better. We knew we had to do something different.


We searched and discovered a variety of programs and approaches but the Venture Academy approach seemed to make the most sense to us. After one final incident (of a string of many) we decided to take a great leap of faith and placed our child with Venture Academy. In the end, the results were what we’d hoped for and our experience with the staff was amazing.

– JF, Edmonton

To the Parent of a Troubled Teen

This has likely been a very difficult time for you. I cannot fully understand what it has been like for you and your family however I can share with you that our family has faced an experience of dealing with an out of control teenager. This letter is to offer you some insight into our experience with Venture Academy and to let you know that you are not alone.


When our son was 15 entering Gr. 10 his life (and ours) took a downward spiral that lasted 18 horrifying months. He began to skip school, leave the house at night through the basement window, break the law, drink, and take drugs regularly and other delinquent things I will never know, or care to know.

My husband and I responded with the usual parenting discipline strategies like grounding, removing privileges, talking to him, counselling, and even tough love. Nothing helped. His out of control behavior escalated to the point where he was not living with us for days and weeks at a time. Many a sleepless night we wondered if we would get the “worst phone call a parent can get”. Would we need to identify his body? Will we plan his funeral? Our situation seemed hopeless.

How did we get to this point? What could possibly help?

Clearly what we had tried was not working so any last ditch effort had to be drastic. He was still 17 and if anything could be done it had to happen soon. Searching the internet we inquired into Venture Academy. What could they possibly offer that we had not already tried? Regardless we had to keep trying.

Speaking with Venture Academy we felt their program offered some unique refreshing features that other programs did not offer.

Our son would live in a therapeutic home with people who knew how to work with troubled teens and he would not be exposed to other troubled teens fulltime.

He would be surrounded by therapeutic interventions in his daily routines; education, recreation, therapy and counselling sessions. For example when he needed to learn to deal with his anger his therapeutic “parents” and clinical team would all focus on this goal. Circling the wagons so to speak.

A period of months (not weeks) would give him the time to safely experience and try out new ways of being in real life environments; school, the mall, the gym, workplace. Success breeds success.

With a leap of faith we made the decision to proceed. Like many things in life, change does not always happen as fast as one might like. In the early days there were many days we wondered, “What have we done? Can this very expensive program possible work?” But as time went on small glimmers of hope, snippets of improvement encouraged us to believe that just maybe our family could be healed.

Home visits allowed us to see our son trying out new behaviors. I think we were all a bit scared during this time, but gradually we saw a consistent shift in his language, thinking and behaving. Looking inward we too also shifted our ways of parenting.

Our son is now discharged and our healing continues. We are not under an illusion that “it is over” by any means. We continue. Gratefully, we are rebuilding our family life with a healthy teen who is connected to our family, clean, and most importantly wanting better for himself and his future.

We are thankful to Venture Academy for helping us all move forward with our precious son alive and full of potential.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is the quiet voice in the night that says, I will try again tomorrow.” Our advice to you is, keep trying and take the next step to get help – contact Venture Academy.”

Signed a grateful mother:

– SI, Calgary

Our Family’s Journey

Through the time that our daughter has been with your program we have been encouraged by the phone calls as well as the face to face meetings with all of you! We would like to summarize our time with Venture.


When we contacted Gordon Hay on June 10th of last year we were very grateful for the thorough and informative interview by telephone and the quick response in providing the application forms and in the immediate response when you received it. The fact that you had an opening for our daughter was an answer to our prayers for help with our situation.

The admission was very difficult for us as a family but the sensitivity of your staff was much appreciated and helped us through this process. Once again the thorough interviews helped us to share our situation with you. We felt that you were very understanding and competent. Having reviewed the qualifications of your staff we felt secure in entrusting our daughter to you for the complete care of her physically and emotionally.

During the next six weeks the phone contacts with you carried us through this difficult separation from our daughter. The warmth expressed in referring to her as (“wonderful and lovely daughter”) reaffirmed our feelings for our daughter. The kindness and empathy that you as a staff expressed in talking to us encouraged us greatly, knowing that we had made the right decision in entrusting our daughter to Venture Academy.

Our first visit was like a breath of fresh air! She spent the first hours bubbling with love as she enthusiastically shared with us about the time that we had been separated. She made the comment that she had felt that something had been missing and now she knew what; family. We had a wonderful weekend with her without any problems at all.

Starting school in Kelowna was another big step for our daughter and we noticed some regression in her progress. The small school however seemed to be the right fit for her.

Speaking of the right fit, the family that our daughter stayed was a very good match for her. They provided the comfort zone for. The many hours that they spent in talking with her was exactly what she needed! All the advice and the care gave our daughter a wonderful home away from home. Thanks for making her sixteenth birthday a special event!

Being able to come for the wedding was very special for our daughter; her first reunion with her family after four months. Picking her up in Grande Prairie and again bringing her to Edmonton for her flight back gave us many hours of wonderful conversation through which we could sense the long way that our daughter had already come!

The Christmas break gave us a time of proving progress. We had looked forward to this with some apprehension but it proved to be far better than we had hoped. We were able to spend a lot of time together as a family. She was also able to reconnect with some of her friends.

As we anticipate our daughter’s graduation from Venture Academy this week we are grateful for the decision that we made to enroll her with your program. The progress that she has made certainly speaks very highly of the team at Venture Academy! We would definitely recommend your organization to anyone who has parent/child conflict in the family!

Thank you to all the staff!!!!!!!

– Anonymous, Alberta

Doing Great

T is doing great. I think it was the best thing in the world to send her to Kelowna last fall. She finished her last school semester having no problems at all. T passed everything and she gave up all of her old friends that she got into trouble with.


This year T wanted to go to school in Calgary so she went to stay with her mom. She has also been working and is doing just great. I can’t believe the difference in her and we owe it all to her stay at Venture Academy. It was the best thing we could have done.

– JL, Alberta

Appreciated Beyond Words

My journey with Venture Academy started with complete frustration with my son’s delinquent behaviours, activities at home and away, and his choice of friends. I spent many sleepless nights, worrying like crazy and shed many, many tears.


From the initial contact I had with the intake coordinator (L.), I immediately felt a sense of relief that I could get help from this program. I was treated with the utmost respect, care and concern regarding my situation. After I heard the words “he has been accepted”- I felt like a ton of weight on my shoulders had been lifted. The preparation to travel with my son and my ex-husband to Kelowna from Edmonton caused some anxiety for me as I knew I would have to do in order to help the rest of our family. I am still working through that all these months later, having my son in Kelowna was both heartbreaking and a huge sense of relief. I know without a doubt that I made the best, right and possibly the only choice at that time. I was terrified knowing as I drove away that my son was in total strangers hands- but I trusted. The staff that I met on intake day were in one word- AMAZING. The support and warmth that I felt was overwhelming. For the first time in a long time I felt that my son was safe.

As the weeks passed by, a trusting relationship was formed with all of the staff that I interacted with. The questionnaires were thorough; however, we discovered that many underlying issues needed to be addressed. These issues were significant attributing factors as to why my son’s behaviours were as such. We all needed to go back to the fundamentals of family values, trust, open-heart, communication and respect for each other. We had somehow lost that, but with the experienced, educated staff at Venture Academy we were able to move forward. I was coached to help my interaction and behaviors be different. B’s admittance to Venture Academy made me realize that this is for all our family members. B is not the only one benefitting from this program. The more information that we shared helped the staff to appropriately counsel B and support him where needed. The information conveyed to me weekly was always truthful and at the same time was very hard to hear at times. I always felt that I could ask questions and discuss concerns with all the staff.

The awareness of my relationship and interactions and support given to rebuild this relationship is appreciated beyond words to express. I can only again thank you for helping me be honest with B and myself to build this new relationship- the support offered was exceptional at all times. The tools we learned will be tested on a daily basis- I have been able to effectively use these new methods with success with my other children. I hope this will continue with B.

I truly feel the staff at Venture Academy are an exceptional group of professionals. Your expertise has given me back the hope of having a warm, trustful, loving relationship with my son. I have always believed in him- he needed support to believe in himself.

Our journey has not yet come to an end. B is coming home now- we need to work together to ensure all that we learned is applied effectively. I know that we will have bumps in the road yet to come, but hopefully they can be repaired earlier and not as painful and destructive as before.

The investment in my son’s future has been made- I would not hesitate to try this path again if needed. I would say to all parents out there struggling with difficult teenagers- “Do what it takes and hold onto your kids” (the most amazing book I have ever read). This taught me that we are not alone with these troubled kids- we can support each other- these kids are our future, they are worth it!

We will now go on our own; I will always remember and be forever thankful for the support and education that we all have received. Those who have touched our lives will forever be remembered.

Thank you to those who opened their homes and lives to support my son. This has been an awakening for him to see that families do and can work together. The parent counselors have been amazing.

I will continue to pray!

– TM, Edmonton, Alberta

Thank Our Lucky Stars

I hope that all is going well with you and yours and Venture. I can’t tell you how many times over these past months that I have thanked my lucky stars that we happened upon Venture.


I am certain that there is no way we would have come to any successful conclusion to Shea’s problems had it not been for the intensive care and therapy Shea received during her time with you. It has made a world of difference in providing me the tools and knowledge I need to help her grow into a successful and happy adult. And I know she will be.

– CF, Toronto

Major Turnaround

Good morning. Our daughter has been doing really well, so I must take this opportunity to thank all the good people at Venture for the work you have done to help.


At this point, it appears to be one of the best investments I have ever made! Only one small stumble so far and she has left many of her loser friends behind. So thanks again to you and all the others at Venture that have played a major role in her turnaround!

– MB, Calgary


We had a most wonderful weekend with our daughter at home – could NOT have gone better (other than being for a longer time, of course).


She demonstrated so much consideration and courtesy, and true happiness.

Congratulations to you all!

– DC, Ontario

Revived Future with Our Son

Distance. When you are close together one doesn’t notice distance but when apart it starts to become apparent. That was our situation with our son.


Throughout his younger years we were close knit as a family and did everything together. As the teen years were entered “distance” was starting to form. Our many attempts at removing that distance resulted in furthering the gap and lack of communication between our son was deepening. Undesirable friends, bad decisions, disregard for rules had replaced any suggestion, help, etc. we attempted. What to do? After much discussion and research, our journey to seek out some form of help for our son led us to Venture Academy located in Kelowna, B.C. After initial contact between my wife and Gordon Hay with the Venture Academy we felt we had found a solution to our distant relationship issue with our son. From the onset, nothing but straightforward, honest help and feedback was received from Venture Academy with regards to the program, its makeup, approach, and experience with families in similar situations. That was just by the first initial phone calls. It was upon arrival with our son to the office of Venture Academy where we truly felt at ease with our decision to enroll our son in the program. To sum it up: personal and professional to say the least. From start to finish the change in our son was remarkable and all owing to Venture Academy and staff. As a business person who has dealt with many people, I can honestly say Venture Academy is on an “A” List. We look forward to our revived future with our son, sans the distance. Thank you Venture Academy for taking our son and working with him during our difficult time.

– D & KS, Bonnyville

Youth Testimonials

Venture Straightened Me Out

My name is M.A, and I attended Venture Academy from November 2016 until about March 2017. Although it may not be the most “fun” place, I struggle to look back and not remember some good times. I remember how tough it seemed at first, I did not believe that I needed the program; I didn’t need to be sober. I look back at the old me, and the only thing that comes to mind is what a bum I was. Venture straightened me out.


Before Venture Academy, I was fighting all the time, doing hard drugs and stealing from family, friends and strangers alike. On the path that I was heading down, there was no future in sight. I did a lot of stuff that I would take back in a heartbeat. But, today I lie in a bed located in Athens, Greece; earning some credits abroad. I am now almost 11 months sober, being one year clean on November 8th. I am in better physical shape than I have ever been thanks to the CrossFit regiment we followed as a class, and I am now an avid kick-boxer. It is a hobby I have grown very passionate about. The relationship I have with all of my family members has improved exponentially, and we as a family have happily moved on with our lives towards a new horizon. While at Venture my parents gave me the news, my friends, without divulging into details, were arrested and being held without bail. They faced serious charges. The situation that led to their arrest was a daily occurrence in my past life. I realized that if I had not been at Venture I’d be past a threshold beyond return. That was a major turning point in my life, and thanks to the all the staff members at Venture, and the love and support of my family, swell as my host family, I am now a proud young man with new found goals and ambitions. To all parents considering getting their child help, Venture is a great option, and is 100% recommend by me.

From a Recent Graduate of the Program

I’d tell the parents to get help for their kid right now.


There’s no sense in waiting – it’s only going to get worse. I know, I’ve been there and now I’m glad my parents took action when they did. They saved my life.”

I Hope You Know How Much You’ve Done for Me

I just wanted to say thanks again for helping me through all my crap!


I really don’t know what I’d do without you. So, thank you! I hope you know how much you’ve done for me and that I’ll NEVER forget you.

– MG, Alberta


I Was Given the Chance to Change

To most people, my life right now probably seems near perfect.


After completing two years of an undergraduate psychology degree at the University of Toronto, I decided to transfer to the social work program at Ryerson University and am now on my way to becoming a social worker. I live on my own in a nice area of Toronto and have many friends here, despite moving from BC. I will almost always been seen with a smile on my face and can say that I am truly in a great place in my life right now. Although this is my present situation, I was under much different circumstances during most of my adolescence. Growing up I faced many difficulties and being a free- spirited child I found that I dealt with most of my problems by delving into what I call “escapism.”

For many teens it may seem easier to blur the world around them than to face what is actually happening. I chose to deal with my issues by abusing drugs and living a life that now seems like a different world. Fortunately, in the midst of my path of self-destruction I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to change. I toiled with the idea of going to a rehabilitation centre, but after looking at many of the “institutionalized” places that seem to overwhelm drug treatment facilities, I became deterred. I heard about Venture Academy somewhere along the way, but was too caught up in my haze that I still would not budge from the life I was living. Then one day, I think that I hit my threshold because I had decided that I had had enough and wanted something different. I knew that I needed to take myself out of the current situation I was living in order to get a new perspective. When you paint a picture it is usually wise to take a break every once and a while and then come back to it with a fresh mind. Then, you can make alterations to it because you are able to see it more clearly; this is what Venture Academy did for me. It enabled me to look at my life outside of everything else that was happening with my family, friends and environment. I was given the ability to make changes and build my self-esteem, self- awareness, and overall personal empowerment to become the person I had always wanted to be.

In September of 2005, just a few months out of graduating from high school I moved from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC to embark on a new life journey, one that would hopefully allow me to be me. I moved in with a family, the Potters, who took me in like their own and showed me many valuable life lessons. They also provided me with the much needed stability and support that I was lacking in my own family. To this day I am still in contact with them and cherish the fact that I know such kind people. I feel that the counselling I received was essential in leading the way to figuring out who I truly am. I was soon determined to change and Venture Academy gave me the tools to do this. To me it wasn’t about figuring out what was “wrong” with me, but finding out how I fit into this world and what feels “right”. When I was ready, allowing me the freedom to still be me and interacting with the community was a huge freedom that many treatment programs for teens do not allow. I was able to participate in volunteer activities, interact with the other youth in the program, and also work in a full-time position job, which taught me many essential life skills. I know that self-actualization is a key factor in empowering individuals in Western communities. Venture Academy allowed me to do all of this. After reflecting on my time spent in the program and learning about the many aspects of our societal values, I truly believe that Venture Academy connects adolescents with the community in a way that no other program does. It enables youth to build on their own strengths, allowing them to find their inner power and rise above whatever is happening in their life.

I am not saying that any treatment program is an easy road, but Venture Academy is one that provides many opportunities and allows the youth when they are ready to actually be integrated with the community. I know that if given the right resources, adolescents can feel empowered to take hold of their chances in life. Problems such as drug abuse are not just individual, but also environmental; therefore, dealing with both sides of the coin (the individual and the environment) are absolutely essential. Not only does Venture Academy do all of this, it does so much more. It gives youth the tools to strive in life, to see that the world can be different than the one they are living in. It can give them hopes and dreams. It gave me a way to connect to who I really was and wanted to be. I was standing at a crossroad and had a choice to make. I chose to leave my current situation and go to Venture Academy. Right now, I am on my way to becoming a social worker, something that I know is my path in life and I am so grateful I was given the chance to change.

– MT, Vancouver

A Grateful Teen

I am not good at writing nor do I enjoy it. I remember the day another youth was leaving and was writing to Venture how it has helped. I also remember thinking how pathetic that was!


But here I am thanking the people and the program. Just goes to show how much I have changed. I look back now at the first two or three months. It was the hardest time of my life but there was always someone there who was sincere, who would help me. D, for one, is probably one of the most amazing people ever. She at first was my counselor but now she’s my friend; always there for me even if I had treated her like dirt. N; always had a funny comment when I was complaining. G, I could never win an argument with, he honestly amazes me. All these things are what I needed to get where I am today.

Most of all, A and her family. I could honestly go on forever! This family loves you no matter what, it’s unconditional. Their home is so warm and loving. Their kids are just so mature and adorable. C, her husband, is just so funny and genuine. I love this family so much. They have become my family.

I was always ashamed that I was in a program for behavior. I soon realized that what my mom told me was true! “S, there is no shame in getting help; the only shame is in not getting help.”

I can not imagine where I would be if I didn’t come here and have such as positive experience. I think that everyone can benefit from a program like this. Venture Academy is amazing. I thank each and every one of you for your support in my recovery. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I’ll miss everyone,

– SC, Ontario

Birthday Wish from Youth to Staff

Trixie, you are now turning 35 and I could not figure out what to get you. So I decided to make you this card which I hope you enjoy.


You’re one of the coolest people I know and your ability to remain positive in situations that are not so positive amazes me and I am honoured and blessed to be able to know you. I hope that this new milestone in your life is filled with happiness and love because you deserve it. You have been so kind and loving to me that there is no way I could ever pay you back. So I hope you realize that I love you like a mother.

Best wishes,

– SJ, Calgary

Unlike a boot camp for troubled teens, boarding school for troubled teens or even a military school for troubled teens, Venture Academy provides help for troubled teens by way of individualised professionally staffed home stay environments. Typically one home for each young person. Supports include access to our clinical team typically consisting of a youth and substance use counsellor, family therapist, teacher, psychologist, clinical supervisor and medical doctor. The one-to-one therapeutic treatment model is one of the most important benefits for parents accessing our residential treatment program for troubled teens.

Other parents and our team of professionals encourage you to take action now. Research indicates that your troubled teens situation won’t get better on it’s own. If you’ve tried local counseling or even other residential treatment programs for troubled teens, contact us today – we can help.