With a structured, supportive, and challenging curriculum in a family-oriented environment, Berkshire helps youth develop self-management, academic, physical, social/ emotional, and independent living skills while building confidence and maturity. Berkshire works with youth with different needs, placing them together in residential, recreational, and academic settings to maximize a focused skill building and productive environment.
Berkshire’s academic program aims to prepare youth for a challenging and successful future. Through a diversified, experiential, technology-rich, activity-based curriculum, we work to meet each youth’s individual characteristics and learning needs.
Youth interest and life goals direct our flexible and individualized New York State Regents-based curriculum. Our youth work at their own pace to pursue areas of focus and further study. Teachers treat youth individually with flexible strategies and assessments. Through our academic programs, youth can work toward a GED, IEP Diploma, or a Regents Diploma.
With the understanding that not every youth has the goal of furthering their education upon graduation from high school, Berkshire has developed the Vocational Training & Workforce Development Program.
Berkshire youth develop goals directed toward self-management, academic excellence, physical well being, and social-emotional growth. We integrate these goals through academic support and other related services to maximize their successful transition to adulthood.
We provide opportunities for youth to experience success at work in areas such as: horticulture; recreation; culinary srts; carpentry; plumbing; electrical; and landscape maintenance.
Berkshire’s life-changing programs are based in a core of stability and warmth that embraces the community as a whole. These offer a wealth of opportunities for learning tolerance, responsibility, and cooperation. Youth Care Counselors, a nurturing and watchful presence, interact with youth in tune with their interests and concerns.
Berkshire’s dedication to a family atmosphere is evident within the youth’s academy. Youth Care Counselors wake their youth up in the morning, making sure they are dressed properly and fulfill their house responsibilities.
As in any good family environment, manners and hygiene receive particular attention. We expect our youth to keep their personal space and the common areas clean and tidy, learning to do chores because they need to be done and taking pride in their home away from home.
Each youth has a private room with a bed, dresser, desk, and room for personal items. Depending on the specific academy, the youth have from 5 to 15 housemates with whom they participate in therapeutic activities in order to build trust and encourage positive peer relations. Staff are aware of youth who may find it difficult to make friends or join a group activity. They quietly coach and encourage these youth to assist them in developing positive friendships.
The Youth Care Counselors, who are responsible for supervising the youth 24/7, provide therapeutic recreational activities, academic support, and opportunities to build upon life skills. Computer labs are available within the academy.
In addition to computer labs, youth have access to television, age-appropriate movies and video games, as well as Berkshire’s movie theater, located on campus. Contingent with the youth’ daily, positive achievements, they may earn a variety of additional privileges including special off-campus trips and/or other incentives.
Communities flourish by sharing responsibilities. That’s why, at Berkshire, each youth shares the care and cleanliness of the academy, and must complete his assigned chore each day. These chores are rotated weekly and may include taking out the trash, picking up the common area, cleaning the kitchen, or cleaning and sanitizing the restrooms and showers. All of our youth are responsible for their own personal area, including making their bed each morning and keeping their closet neat and orderly.
Youth who remain on campus on weekends find exciting activities, rest, and old-fashioned fun. Our school is located in Canaan, New York and affords a real variety of off-campus cultural and fun activities. Regional sporting events, art and science museums, theater, state parks, shopping, movies, and skating are some of the activities within a 30-minute drive.
Annual activities in the area include a visit to the Big E (Eastern States Exposition) and trips to Lake George. Youth can ski at local ski resorts and experience the arts at Jacob’s Pillow, the Norman Rockwell Museum, or local theater groups. The Boston Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Boston Red Sox are within driving distance, as well.
Our youth also enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating on our lake, with Youth Care Counselors supervising all recreational activities.
We know how important family gatherings and support are to our youth. Family contacts are encouraged on a regular basis both on campus and in the community. Regular home leaves are provided and coincide with the school calendar.
Our youth and their families develop home leave goals with their clinicians in order to help improve family functioning. If problems should arise during home visits, Berkshire’s treatment team is available, by phone, to assist and support the family through any situations that might occur.
Berkshire provides clinical services for all youth and their families with an ultimate goal of family reunification within the community. Clinical contact within the home is a key component to success!
Each youth receives individual counseling by a Masters Level Clinician. Clinicians’ offices are located within the Cottages, allowing youth to have easy access to their clinician, outside of their individual counseling sessions.
Each youth participates in group counseling, on a weekly basis, on topics such as anger management, social skills building, conflict resolution, grief & loss, etc. Youth also have the opportunity to participate in Independent Living Skills groups as well as other groups that meet their individual needs.
Each youth and their family participate in family counseling to improve relationships among family members, siblings, and improve other critical relationships in the youth’s home community. Additionally, members of the youth’s Treatment Team will be in continuous communication with the family to discuss the youth’s progress and/or current challenges.
Youth with issues related to drugs and alcohol, can receive substance abuse counseling at Berkshire’s well-known OASAS-licensed Outpatient Clinic, both individually and in a group setting in order to assist youth with overcoming their substance abuse and maintaining a drug-free lifestyle.
Berkshire has two consulting child psychiatrists, who meet with youth routinely to monitor psychiatric medications, in partnership with families. In times of crisis, youth and their families have access to Berkshire’s On-Call Treatment Team 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Berkshire has a fully equipped Infirmary located on the campus, where youth have access to medical care, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, by our Licensed Nursing Staff. The highly qualified nursing team can provide support and care for youth with a variety of medical/health needs.
All youth have the opportunity to participate in religious services and activities both at our on-campus chapel and at off-campus religious center. Youth have participated in a variety of opportunities including: Sunday, Non-Denominational Worship; Mid Week Bible Study; Life Empowerment Groups; Guest Speakers/Special Events; Pastoral Counseling; Monthly, off-campus trips; ...and much more!
Berkshire’s successful Horticulture Program is a multi-faceted, vocational-based learning experience. Each youth is given a chance to earn financial rewards, develop a strong work ethic, and enjoy experiential learning at its finest. This "hands on" approach has worked with nearly all of our youth. Youth are also offered many opportunities to work on community-based projects.
The Program can offer several employment opportunities. Youth can learn basic plant biology in the school setting, and the Horticulture Program enhances what each youth is taught. Additional program components include plant propagation, retail sales, working with the public, and field trips to area growers.
We also offer a therapeutic educational program, maintain a large and varied group of animals, and offer Agricultural Sciences to our youth. Youth learn about animal husbandry, employment opportunities, responsibility, and basic care of different varieties of animals and fowl. Therapeutic benefits stem from youth learning to care for and nurture living things. Many youth have built tremendous bonds with the animals they care for daily.
Our Therapeutic Recreation Program provides opportunities for youth to work through their life issues through therapeutic recreation and the venue of music. The program takes a holistic approach to help our youth develop healthy lifestyles.
Recreational programs at the lake front include swimming lessons, boating, snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, sailing, and waterfront BBQs. Our playing fields, outdoor courts, a rock climbing wall, and gymnasiums offer space for tennis, badminton, volleyball, softball, basketball, handball, soccer, fitness and weight training, and golf.
The Health and Wellness Program includes gardening, nutrition, culinary arts, community service involvement, promoting healthy lifestyles and personal development, and teaching youth to appreciate our natural surroundings through various outdoor experiences.
Most recently, Berkshire partnered with NYPUM (National Youth Project Using Minibikes) to build a dirt bike track located on our campus. Youth are welcomed to participate in the dirt bike program as a means of gaining skills in self discipline, respect, independence, and build upon self-esteem.
Affording our youth opportunities to express their creativity, a recording studio on campus provides a means to create CDs of their music, raps, and poetry. These youth are also exposed to vocational opportunities in the music industry.
As active members of the community, all youth are encouraged to participate in volunteer opportunities. Many of our youth volunteer to help on a weekly basis at the local nursing home or at the local animal shelter. Others may choose to participate in short-term volunteer opportunities that are centered around community events and celebrations.
If you have any questions, or would like to make a referral, please contact the Admissions Office at:
Tel. 518-781-1820 or 781-1871