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CEDU / RMA : A Short History of a Cult for Kids in California and Idaho from 1967- 2005

Updated on October 15, 2015

Welcome to CEDU

“CEDU High is an emotional growth boarding school for adolescents who exhibit behavioral and learning difficulties. The curriculum has three cornerstones: The original CEDU Emotional Growth program; college preparatory academics; and an outstanding outdoor adventure program. Woven through this triangle is an enriching theme of visual and performing arts. CEDU High School is the original emotional growth boarding school. Since 1967, it has worked with teens and families to redirect negative behavior, teach vital life skills, create academic success, and reunite families. ”

Mel Wasserman often said, “Take away boundaries and bring in a sewer, a biker society. The magic is not in the building itself, it is in the setting of boundaries, a certain posture and a certain way we act inside them, and then we have something which facilitates what we are trying to do here.

The Early Years : 1960 - 1967

It was 1960s, a time when many cults, new religions and other types of groups were in their formative stages. This is a story about, just one such movement that came along during this period of American history, but it is important to share the story of CEDU and it's other half the Rocky Mountain Academy, known as RMA,. CEDU / RMA had a profound effect on many children of the Baby Boomer generation. Since the 1990s, CEDU/RMA survivors have come forward, formed support groups and spear headed online communities dedicated to finding one another. Numerous people from the student body are missing and their whereabouts still remain unknown, which is evidence that their lives possibly became worse during their time at CEDU / RMA . The organizational leadership and educational adminitrators of CEDU, have had a much wider influence on America, than many people realize. Many parents trusted their children with this educational experiment, unaware of what CEDU / RMA was really about.

My intention with this article, is to better inform readers and let them judge for themselves.

"See yourself as you are and do something about it "

The above statement is a was the Alma matter and motto for CEDU. It is also a mission statement for those working within the education institution and quoting Mel Wasserman.

CEDU Educational Services, Inc., goes by the four letter name CEDU, pronounced as it look aloud, " see-doo ". Many children are survivors of this cult for kids in California.

Remove some of the Alma Matter wording, leaving the first word from the primary parts of the sentence, you are left with only two verbs, "see" and "do".

See and do.

This is a simple, yet masterful keyword associative command.

CEDU was the brainchild of Mel Wasserman and wife Brigitta. They founded in 1967, CEDU owned and operated several therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness campuses and teenage behavior modification programs. CEDU had locations in California and Idaho from 1967 until 2005. It is allegedly, the most prevalent cult of influence on the education American children in US history. Having unseen tentacles of influence remaining active even today.

CEDU is maybe an acronym for Chuck E. Dederich University

CEDU is also a backronym. A backronym is a phrase constructed with purpose. Backronyms often are constructed with educational purposes, for example to create mnemonics. This is a well known practice in Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step programs. Using backronyms as teaching tools is common, similar to using slogans. A backronym for DENIAL means, " Don't Ever Notice I Am Lying ", but most backronyms don't start as a word. Like the Al-anon phrase ODAAT stands for, "One Day at a Time ". In this case, ODAAT is also an acronym.

CEDU is rumored to have been named after the founder of another cult organization from California called Synanon. Chuck E. Dederich mentored Mel Wasserman, before CEDU was founded. Mel Wasserman was involved as a sponsoring teens and active in Synanon. By the early 1960s, Synanon grew into an alternative living community, attracting members whose goals centered on self examination of life, but aided by quasi-therapuetic truth telling group session work. Synanon grew larger by the 1970s and it ultimately changed names, becoming the Church of Synanon. Some say that Mel Wasserman actually began working with teens in 1965, as the proprietor a local furniture store in the Santa Monica area, but located nearby to Synanon's headquarters. He began taking in restless youths, letting them stay with him and his wife in their home. Although CEDU wouldn't exist until 1967, when Wasserman purchased some land in Running Springs, CA. The property was located just outside of Los Angeles, CA.

Mel Wasserman grew up in Los Angeles, attending Fairfax High School. He fathered three children in his first marriage, divorced his first wife and married his second wife Brigette in 1963. The couple originally lived in Palm Springs, CA together, but later would drift between Sandpoint, ID and Carmel, CA. Wasserman and Brigitte helped found the first Boys and Girls Club in Monterrey County.

Mel Wasserman's successful ideas about education and working with troubled teens at CEDU seeded many therapeutic boarding schools, military boot camps, wilderness retreats and the growth of outpatient rehabilitation centers in the United States.

Wassermn is considered responsible the out-cropping industry of young adult rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol recovery. This is well documented.

The Beginnings of CEDU 1967 – 1985

After working with teens from home in Palm Springs, CA, Mel Wasserman decided to sell his furniture business to create a school for troubled teenagers. The first CEDU program was a success and expanded rapidly, forming other specialized educational programs. Wasserman surrounded himself with educators and professionals, He taught himself about adolescent behavior. The philosophy of CEDU education would become based on strict adherence to his self devloped set rules, principles, boundaries, and accountability systems.

Mel Wasserman formed a radical new ideology for dealing with criminal behavior patterns, troubled youth and runaway children. The parents were sold on the process, then removed from their role as parents, so that the child would learn to change their behavior. All parents were told that the best thing for their child, was not question the process, and stay out of the child's life. Mel was wise enough to seek out parents and clients that were wealthy and living in California. This quickened the growth of CEDU, since the first facility was paid for in full and ready to set up.

During the early 1970s many states were in confusion, when dealing with the new counter culture of psychedelic drugs and new types of crime. Many judges, attorneys, counselors, police officers and psychiatrists were willing and open to trying new treatment methods, if they had shown promise. Because of these factors, CEDU educational facility began gaining ground, Hollywood rich kids, wealthy parents and the California state legislation swiftly got behind the CEDU program. It was new, innovative, challenging, and the most important thing, it would get those teenagers hundreds of miles away from the public, someplace where they wouldn't bet bothering anybody. CEDU encouraged a parental and student commitment, that meant staying for 2 to 3 years minimum at the school. Additional rules stated that no contact, no letters, no phone calls, no holidays, plus attend school everyday all year round.

"Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you."

Kahlil Gibran was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, writer, philosopher and theologian.He is 3rd best selling poet in history, just after William Shakespeare. His best-known work is 'The Prophet'. It became especially popular during the 1960s with the American counterculture movements and how it came to be part of CEDU / RMA sacred text. The above quote was embraced by American hippie culture and used by John Lennon in 1968 in the song 'Julia'.

This poem was an obvious influence on CEDU / RMA

ON CHILDREN by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

All parents are not alike...

CEDU / RMA seeks to blend the styles of controlling behavior into a unified parental system, one where the parent can be made irrelevant with the correct stimuli. The theory works something like this study from Rick Trinkner at the Department of Psychology in the University of New Hampshire attempts to demonstrate in this research study.

The researchers evaluated three parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. The results were gathered in a double blind series of experiments, so as not to influence the behavior of the children and their parents when interacting in stressful situations together. Parents and children are hard to study without influencing behavior.

" Authoritative parents are both demanding and controlling, but they are also warm and receptive to their children's needs. They are receptive to bidirectional communication in that they explain to their children why they have established rules and also listen to their children's opinions about those rules. Children of authoritative parents tend to be self-reliant, self-controlled, and content.

On the other hand, authoritarian parents are demanding and highly controlling, but detached and unreceptive to their children's needs. These parents support unilateral communication where they establish rules without explanation and expect them to be obeyed without complaint or question. Authoritarian parenting produces children who are discontent, withdrawn, and distrustful.

Finally, in contrast to authoritarian parenting, permissive parents are non-demanding and non-controlling. They tend to be warm and receptive to their children's needs, but place few boundaries on their children. If they do establish rules, they rarely enforce them to any great extent. These parents tend to produce children who are the least self-reliant, explorative, and self-controlled out of all the parenting styles. "

The findings of the studies where not what was expected in the end results.

"The style that parents used to rear their children had a direct influence on whether those children perceived their parents as legitimate authority figures. Adolescents who perceived parents as legitimate were then less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. Thus, authoritative parenting may be more effective than the other styles because this style makes adolescents more willing to accept their parents' attempts to socialize them and subsequently follow their rules.

Conversely, authoritarian parents have the opposite effect in that they actually reduce the likelihood of their children perceiving their authority as legitimate. Adolescents from authoritarian parents are more likely to resist their parents' attempts at socialization."

While the children of permissive parents were less likely to respect their parents as authority figures, the researchers found they were no more or no less likely to engage in delinquent behavior.

" According to the researchers, the results show that fostering and creating parental legitimacy is one technique for parents to exert control over their children. Additionally, parents are more likely to be viewed as legitimate authorities if they utilize authoritative parenting practices rather than authoritarian or permissive practices, which tend to undermine parental authority."

10 Common Mistakes Parents Make About Teenagers

This is the hard sell given to the parents by CEDU. Facilitators would hit parents with this and upon getting parental commitment to the program guidelines, there would be a vehicle ready for immediate abduction of the child, after signing the necessary registration paperwork. Parents were encouraged to not teens anything before sending them away. With the ideology, that the cord must be cut and cut off at the root. Here is what the Woodbury article explains to parents, in no short detail. These ten mistakes are said to befall all parents wheather bad, good or indifferent to their children. These are the 10 mistakes most parents make concerning teens and what they say when talking about their troubled teens needs :

  1. "We want a place close to home." All parents want the best for their child, and it is far more important to find a place that best fits his/her needs than to emphasize the mere convenience of being close to home.
  2. "We want something affordable." Except when a program has a large endowment or fund raising capabilities, low cost comes from cutting corners. Deciding on a place based on costs runs the risk of entrusting your child to a place with untrained minimum wage staff.
  3. "We want our teen fixed." This view tends to come from looking at the child as an inanimate possession, and discards possible causal influences such as family dynamics, past trauma, or pathology. The child might have the problem, but the solution is likely to come from the whole family.
  4. "That school helped our friend's child." This view seems to think of children with problems as all the same, and are as interchangeable as a mass production item. Each child is unique, their problems are unique, and the solution/intervention is going to be unique.
  5. "A six month placement should do it." Children grow at their own rate, and necessary insights will happen in the child's own time. Setting up arbitrary time limits run the risk of setting up unrealistic expectations on the part of both the child and the parents which can sabotage the placement.
  6. "We are looking for a military school or a boot camp." While a punishment oriented model might work for a child who is age appropriate emotionally, it will frequently backfire for a child with emotional/behavioral problems, and for these children can even be dangerous. This request all too often comes from parents who are angry at their child and want to punish them into submission, an unhealthy impulse.
  7. "We can trust what professionals tell us." First, many people parading as professional in this business have no professional credentials whatsoever and should be avoided. Second, even legitimate professionals have a personal frame of reference or bias, and the parent should accept their advice only when it makes sense to the real authority on any child, his/her parents.
  8. "We don't need to tell the school/professional everything our child has done." When a school or professional is blindsided by less than full disclosure by the parents, the child can be hurt by an inappropriate placement. It can result in something like trying to cure cancer through cold medicine.
  9. "We will save some money by finding a school or program by ourselves without the help of an educational consultant." This is similar to answering charges from a criminal court without the benefit of an attorney who knows the rules, the law and the players. Just because there are some people who parade as educational consultants while accepting finders fees, or seem to be in it just for the money, doesn't mean that a legitimate educational consultant with credentials like membership in a professional organization or a good reputation among quality schools can't save you much grief and money.
  10. "We don't need to get the other parent involved." A child needs to develop whatever relationship he/she can with both parents. That is one of the strongest motivations a child with problems has to heal. Trying to cut one parent out of the placement intervention in most cases just deprives the child and reduces the chances of success.

Rock music was used to teach CEDU / RMA values and dogma.

Counter culture music was the perfect compliment to CEDU's adopted sacred text from Kalil Gibran, because it also reinforced their philosophical outlooks on life. But the muses were banished at CEDU schools. There was no music or entertainment that might be considered normal in the outside world. Entertainment had no value or positive contribution to the needs of a troubled teenager. Control of what was called music took priority as an order of business at CEDU / RMA. John Denver was a most important musician to the CEDU / RMA dogma.

Those in charge were very aware of its power and dealing with teenagers, music was a beast to be tamed. Most normal channels of media were censored, no television, very few movies, no music but what was sanctioned and approved. The music that was allowed was only listened to as part of the programmed teachings, but mainly as part of the Propheets. These were psychological ecstasy rituals in the worst tradition of the Greek mysteries, bombarded with a group psychodrama ritual of verbal exorcism, scream therapy with awakening hypnotic hyperventilation and group reinforced rage. They banned all music from the outside world basically, it was forbidden and controlled it to such a degree that most of it was considered unacceptable, simply on the premise that it was art. It was creativity without a focus.

Ultimately it was an extremely lucid and powerfully therapeutic tool used to subjugate the groups of troubled teens into conformity to their rules of CEDU very rapidly. The staff seemed hellbent on destroying any taste or love for music or that they had as students, appreciation was not an option. Breakdown the fundamental thing that all the teens had in common, no matter what their background.

The CEDU programmed music canon of choices and taste in music was dated even in 1982. The teachers were very influenced by the post flower child generation of the cultural revolution, and by the writings of Kalil Gibran. It seemed that the staff was hopelessly lost in the early to middle 1970s philosophy that accepted the hippie utopia had died with disco. Their road had run down long ago with death of Joplin, Hendrix, and Morrison.

Students experienced several workshops throughout their stay, these are referred to as "Propheets", in which the general theme for the propheet is based loosely on the writings from author and poet Kalil Gibran. The propheet evolved out of all night Rap sessions by Wasserman in the late 1960s. Examples of this were a Kalil Gibran passage about Joy and Sorrow, which is used in the Truth Propheet, or his prose about children, which was used for the Children's propheet. Wasserman was quoted as stating that a propheet was to "Take the words of the Prophet and put feet to them."

Propheets lasted a full 24 hours, but occasionally longer. It was soon found that certain questions had to be addressed before there could be meaningful work on other areas. It rapidly evolved into nine Propheets, taken in sequence by all students, each one addressing different issues any child must resolve in order to become a mature, successful adult. For example, a child has to have at least some handle on what the truth is about themselves before anything else can even be addressed.

The first Propheet consequently is the Truth Propheet. Later is the Values Propheet where each child explores the basic values he or she is living by, and is helped to decide if those values make any sense. Other Propheets help them look at what they are really doing in creating relationships, help them ask what happened to the Dreams they once held, and explore and understand the things they do to undermine success and happiness. Each one helps them to better understand that area of their life, and to make changes when and where appropriate.

These will be discussed more clearly in the next section of this article concerning Rocky Mountain Academy and the use of the same Propheet ritualistic transformative wilderness group therapies.

Rocky Mountain Academy CEDU expansion 1982 – 1990

The average time a student spent at a CEDU school was 2½ years. The school year was year-round. The original CEDU program did not believe in use of psychological medicine. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1pm to 5pm (sometimes 6pm) students were required to attend group therapy sessions called Raps. In this CEDU period, Raps were highly confrontational, at any given moment in a Rap there were could be between 1 to 15 students screaming at other students or, with their head pointed towards the floor, screaming at their own 'emotional issues' and/or crying uncontrollably.

In 1982, a small group of students and staff, including founding headmaster Dan Earle, left the Running Springs campus to open the Rocky Mountain Academy ( also known as RMA ). The school was located near Bonner's Ferry, Idaho and the overall curriculum and philosophies were identical to the original school, CEDU Running Springs. On rare occasions staff and students were transferred between schools. The staff generally transferred campuses for promotions, students were transferred because the staff felt they might benefit from a fresh start over. But this was not the standard practice, or was it?

RMA was a last chance facility in some views, the kids that were sent here were considered unreachable or beyond hope. Many runaway students were from this facility, rumors say that there were many who would never be heard from again. Rocky Mountain Academy was one of the largest employers in Bonner's County during the period, diversifying its timber and agriculture economy. Many students were put to work as cheap free labor. This was a form of punishment if you really screwed up. Real work, like laying building rock retaining walls in the middle of the snowy winter, or chopping wood to build your own cabin, one friend of mine did both of those and build most of a deck for the lakeside where the RMA school was. She did this almost completely by herself as it was told to me privately. That is hard work for any young teenager.

Around 1990 the facilities began to accept that some of the teenagers could need medications. RMA became the even more drunk, more druggy, more addictive personalized center for rehabilitation. Although both CEDU and RMA were designed to do the same type of treatment.

Are Parents Obsolete?

Adults are going to have to wrest back control of the culture from teenagers who should not be left in charge. How can they be expected to manage themselves without good role models and clear guidelines for responsible behavior? Montana Academy monitors and controls the environment. We do not allow free access to media. We search students on and off campus and know what is going on in their lives. We provide structure and containment for teenagers who do not have the wisdom to manage themselves. The adults are firmly in charge but they are also willing to engage with students on all levels. They eat lunch with them. They play with them. They attend daily groups to talk about all aspects of their lives. They act as role models and create close relationships. Within the context of such relationships there are few aspects of life which cannot be discussed. The adults provide perspective along with affection and discipline. We have good reason to think that this model works. Our graduates are proof that with appropriate close adult attention teenagers can grow into responsible and thoughtful young adults.

Wilderness Programs and Teenage Academy Camps 1990 - 1997

CEDU grew in status, popularized clientele, infamy, and more profitable.

It was partly due to the unusual nature of its curriculum of behavioral modification, but also it had a philosophy that was similar to new age, inner child work, and dealt with addiction, at a time when none of these were widely known. Nor were they combined in such a way.

The school's philosophy was to take high risk self destructive teens and change the way that they viewed themselves and to change the destructive behavior they exhibited towards themselves and others. The staff provided a different curriculum which focused on the positives of some of our greatest heroes including Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Kahil Gibran as well as Martin Luther King Jr. and other intelligent, humane leaders of the world. This was used to help the students to understand that sometimes peace is more potent than violence in dealing with conflict. While there are many students who had a difficult time in the later years of the school, there are those who the program benefited and enriched.

Many of the counselors and teachers were not qualified to teach in an academic environment. Many students have said they learned little about how to function in the academic arena and found themselves at an educational level below their peers after leaving the school. The absolutely over the top and cult like focus on dealing with emotional issues and finding the student's inner child, this all left little time for legitimate academic pursuits, and academic excellence was not recognized or even desired by the teachers that were called alumni. Most graduates were encouraged to become CEDU / RMA staff and never leave.

The actual academic life that was had by students was changed over the period of years, and was an evolving process for the CEDU / RMA schools and their lifespan. At one point actual studies or classwork that was related to anything educational in nature, well it was basically nonexistent, and students earned school credits for the activities they were forced to endure. The student body and their daily labor force was given much less physical labor work, the daily labor rituals were replaced with academic classes to some degree. Even so many detainees never did not graduate with high school diplomas and had to return to high school after attending one of the CEDU / RMA schools. The program did not even afford student graduates and equivalency certificate or a GED. That is one of the most unfortunate things that can be said for every single student detainee that atteneded any of the Mel Wesserman schools.

CEDU / RMA acquired by Brown Schools 1998 – 2005

One thing that the industry of teenage drug and alcohol rehabilitation has brought forth for sure, that is an independent revenue stream that is a goldmine for those who have the money to franchise such a facility. There is more money in it than the stock market today. Well as Mel Wasserman and family got older, he was sure to cash in on his little teenager wasteland sooner or later. Even if he wasn't named Baba O'Riley.

CEDU Education was sold to Brown Schools while it was at its peak in the market; all the schools were full and everything was going well. Two years into its ownership by Brown Schools, the staff turnover was extremely high, no one with any time or stability in the company was left, and CEDU Education went backwards.Former employees watched helplessly as the Brown Schools made management decision after management decision inconsistent with the CEDU philosophy of education and inconsistent with what was effective in helping struggling teens. in March of 2005, two things happened. CEDU was forced under financial and legal pressure to close its doors, along with the Rocky Mountain Academy school. Secondly, now it was the brand new ownership of Brown Schools suddenly declared bankruptcy. Partly because of legal costs related to lawsuits filed by the families of several former students.

The same year, Universal Health Services bid $13.5 million for the Brown School properties in bankruptcy.

Universal Health Services Inc., was the one who bought into the franchise as cheap as the law would allow. UHS was a public company focused on hospitals and behavioral health centers. It would subsequently be responsible for the reopening of the three former CEDU facilities: Ascent, Boulder Creek on the land site of the former Rocky Mountain Academy properties, and the Northwest Academy. These operate under the new namesake of Idaho Educational Services. Each program is overseen by individual director and has not changed hands in ownership since, to my knowledge. With Mel Wasserman having passed on, and none of his children jumped at the chance to take over his CEDU / RMA throne of power. It was only natural that his second in command at CEDU would fall in line, a long term associate, student, and perfect replacement Lon Woodbury.

He now runs the reformed and rehabilitated 21st century answer to the CEDU legacy through a multiple corporation entity of networks, all related to behavioral health and youth counseling, wilderness therapy being the focus as CEDU before them.

The Disintegration of Teenage Culture

" The generational bonds between adults and children have been eroded, adults have conceded too much of their authority to children and allowed media to assume too great a role in the day to day lives of children. The adults have lost control of the culture and, small reason, then that so many of our young people are confused and at sea about the tasks of growing up. In place of adult role models and close relationships they have turned to each other - the blind leading the blind. I learned a new term "co-rumination," which refers to teenagers who are hyper connected to each other, ask each other for advice and end up making each other more anxious, because they have no adult perspective to give. Girls receive an average of 135 text messages a day and spend hours each day on Face book - the hugely successful social networking site that seems to promote performing for others rather than presenting an authentic view of the self. This, in turn, suggests that life is always happy, upbeat and funny and so correspondingly the reality of boredom and loneliness makes teenagers sad. Boys have less interest in Face book but, being by nature more action oriented, they often get heavily involved in video games and avoid life's disappointments by retreating into fantasy. Both genders struggle to find an authentic self which will pave the way to an adult identity. "

A quote from Rosemary McKinnon, MA, is the Director of Admissions and Founder of Montana Academy. This is the more modern take on the core philosophy used today.

To a Cult in California

The first student enrolled for the first 1982 year season at the Rocky Mountain Academy was a California artist named Chris Sims. Chris has been helpful with bringing together other CEDU / RMA survivors via his Facebook page and other organized events like the CEDU 2011 reunion and Facebook page.

Chris Sims is a talented artist and has written about his CEDU / RMA experiences. This dark poetic piece is about those experiences. It is called, " To A Cult in California" by Chris Sims on Friday, November 12, 2010 at 11:06am ".

Up in the mountains
Above San Bernardino
Used to place
Named CEDU
"You are what you do not what you say you do"
If you were a teenager
And your parents were rich
This is where they sent you
To teach you new tricks

To a cult in California
Where they yelled at you all night long
Teenage concentration camp
American style/Chairman Mao
Reeducation brainwash trip
Make you stay up all night long
Reading Kahil Gibran
And when the sun came up
They'd have you yelling at empty chairs of Daddy and Mom

They 'd take you out in the cold
Make you dig a hole in the snow
Leave you in it for a three day solo
Soul searching with a sack of trail mix and a toilet paper roll

All music was unacceptable
If you even mentioned it
You'd end up moving rocks/stacking piles of sticks
But everywhere you went you heard the soft rock sounds
Of John Denver
The burned out tunes of Joni Mitchell, Neil Diamond, and Loggins and Messina
Spilling softly from hidden speakers
As people walked around with their arms around each other pointing at the trees

Ghandi was their Jesus
John Lennon was their God
They made you listen to Imagine and fucked with your head
Until your mind was gone
They molded your soul into a new form
For two solid years of fun
Then sold your new identity
To their customers
You called Dad and Mom

CEDU / RMA Investigations and School Closures 2005

As the decade progressed, CEDU / RMA and their five school flagship fell under the weight of its own karmic quicksand. Here are a few of the more important events that sent the whole CEDU / RMA school programs for trouble teenagers sinking fast. If you investigate the information here, you will be able to find more out about these school and where they are currently in America. For those truly interested in such topics of research and discussion.

1993 : 17-year-old boy disappeared from the Campus. He was never found. There are other alleged missing students, but all have been deemed as runaways, not related to CEDU. Boulder Creek Academy in Idaho opens.

1994 : 14-year-old boy disappeared from the Campus. The family believes that he was abducted. He has not been found. Also Jon A. committed suicide in one of the main dormitories of lower Camelot at Rocky Mountain Academy. Northwest Academy and Ascent Wilderness Program open in Idaho.

1997 : Five persons were injured in a riot at Northwest Academy. Investigations ensue due to this incident reaching the media and upsetting several sets of parents.

2002 : CEDU Educational Services, Inc. pays settlement to former client on charges of abuse. Mel Wasserman dies.

2003 : Brown Schools operated 11 boarding schools and educational facilities in California, Idaho, Texas, Vermont, and Florida. Facilities in Austin, Texas and San Marcos, Texas were sold to Psychiatric Solutions Inc.

2004 : Parents begin their search for a son who ran away from CEDU Running Springs.

2005 : Several CEDU employees reported to Lake Arrowhead Mountain News, however, that pending litigation against CEDU for abuse and violation of rights as well as citations against the schools contributed to the downfall. All CEDU / RMA facilities close down. Investigations into abuse, fraud, and criminal activities begin from federal and state agencies in California and Idaho. Lon Woodbury of CEDU had this to say about the origins of the program. "Mel Wasserman was influenced by Synanon, and so used the confrontation model watered down quite a bit in the founding in CEDU."

2008 : Surviving CEDU, a documentary by Liam Scheff, is released featuring a closing segment with cult expert Paul Morantz. Survivor groups begin coming forward and alumni students begin seeking each other out via social media online.

2009 : A police investigation is conducted into the unsupervised presence of the convicted killer James Lee Crummel on the CEDU Running Springs Campus in connection with the two disappearances. At least one other is suspected to be connected, but the boy has never been found.

2010 : Lon Woodbury, former admissions director at CEDU and current independent education consultant forms and reforms the CEDU philosophy under the Woodbury name, also begins to network with like minded organizations. Wilderness programs, boot camps, and similar groups networking online today. Woodbury uses Primal Therapy and Bio-genetic Analysis similar to CEDU therapies. He uses a variation and the business clout of the defunct Lifespring organization to reinvent the CEDU legacy with greater government funding.


The videos presented are are the complete unedited documentary titled - Cedu documentary by Liam Scheff. Not for distribution or sale. All rights reserved, Liam Scheff director/producer, Jessica Pentland co-producer. It is presented here as the best source of information about the survivors of CEDU / RMA.

These are also the links to the various chapters. Please spread the word about CEDU / RMA and help the survivors find each other. May something like this never happen again.

  • Clip 1 – Welcome to Cedu
  • Clip 2 – Come Smush with Me.
  • Clip 3 – Let’s have a Rap
  • Clip 4 – Propheets
  • Clip 5 – Who Is Mel Wasserman?
  • Clip 6 – Crime, Punishment and Fulltimes
  • Clip 7 – Cedu – Come Work for Us!
  • Clip 8 – I Versus Me
  • Clip 9 – Run Away pt.1
  • Clip 10 – Clip 11 – A Rudy Rap
  • Clip 11 – Caroline the Wolf
  • Clip 12 – The Summit
  • Clip 13 – Paul Morantz on Cults, Thought Reform and Confession

CEDU / Rocky Mountain Academy.

An American Cult for Children.

As It is because I have had the chance to know some folks now that were part of this organization and they are just beginning to come forward. It amazes me how brave the people out there are.

Good luck and money from home.

This Hub is dedicated to the children that survived CEDU / RMA.

A long lost friend once told me that this is still one of her favorite songs, even though the memories are hard, this song is for her.

© 2015 Blake Ford Hall


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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 14 months ago from San Diego California

      Very interesting expose of this CEDU cult. This is the first time I have heard of it. Sounds like there are a lot of questions left to answer.