How Turning Winds Began

Turning Winds is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. The Montana-based program began in 2002 with the simple desire to help young lives see a new path. In the decades that followed, the program matured into a sophisticated program that blends the benefits of a wilderness program, a residential treatment center, and a boarding school. 

Each of these three elements helps teens overcome their problems and rebuild their lives. We use the power of nature, academic support, and both group and individual therapy in a strength-based program that typically spans up to 12 months—enough time for teens to achieve real change, and practice what they’ve learned.


Turning Winds is a family-run program that’s all about families. It was founded by John Baisden and his son John Jr. two decades ago to rescue teens from crisis and put them on a path to success. Baisden chose to work in the mental health field after losing his seventeen-year-old daughter to a senseless act of violence in 1993. 


“We started doing it out of a tragedy, a loss of a child, a sibling, a daughter. And it kind of focused us in wanting to help other people and allow families not to have to go through the same pain and experience that we had gone through as a family. “


Since that terrible tragedy, Baisden has dedicated his life to saving the lives of other teens. It’s a calling for him.


“Our need to get into this business was a personal need of a loss,” he says. “And my need of being able to verbally express that to other people instead of holding it inside me. This gave me the perfect outlet to talk to other parents about the things I had gone through, and my family had gone through.”


A main part of the Turning Winds mission is to reunite troubled teens with their families.


“Our feeling was always to recapture the family and bring the child back into that family,” says Baisden. “It was never to change the child by itself but to have an impact on the entire family. So that child and family had the ability to change over a long period of time. So there was a therapeutic, definitely an emotional therapeutic, need for us to be in this business.”

Baisden co-founded the program with John Jr. in order to make a difference in people’s lives. John Jr. now oversees all of the financial elements at Turning Winds as CFO. He is the father of seven wonderful children, and he is married to Kara, the love of his life. John Jr. loves to write and is the author of a children’s book called An Unlikely Journey. His brothers Owen (CEO) and Carl (COO) oversee the day-to-day operations and ensure that the best quality of treatment services and practices are utilized. Turning Winds is truly a family business.

Before mostly retiring, John Jr’s father worked for 17 years as the admissions director for Turning Winds. He also regularly taught classes on self-care, proper equipment use, safety, and outdoor etiquette to prepare the many teens who journeyed into the backcountry. Like his son, he can rely upon a very supportive wife who has made all the difference.

When he talks with parents, Baisden often tells them “if you feel that you can find a program that’s better than this program, then send your child there—and I mean that! We’ve put together this program academically, therapeutically, emotionally, and behaviorally, and there’s nobody who has the outdoor activities that we have.” 

We travel with the kids internationally. We’ve been to some amazing places like Greece, Italy, Peru in South America, and Thailand. And so we’ve just over the years put together a really good package.”

At Turning Winds, it’s people who make the difference—and that starts with the founding family. Over the course of the past two decades, they’ve built a team of some of the world’s finest academic, therapeutic, and medical professionals, all of whom share the same goal: to help teens re-engage meaningfully with their lives, families, and their futures.

Contact us online for more information, or call us at 800-845-1380. If your call isn’t answered personally, one of us will get back to you as soon as possible.


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Picture of John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden Jr is the father of seven inspiring children, and he is married to Kara, the love of his life. Together they have created a family-centered legacy by leading the way with early childhood educational advancement. John loves to write and is an author of a children’s book, An Unlikely Journey and plans to publish additional books. Show More

John is a visionary in his work and applies “outside-the-box” approaches to business practice and people development. He is the Founder of Turning Winds, along with several other organizations. He has extensive experience launching and developing organizations. His skills include strategic planning, promoting meaningful leader-member movement, organizational change, effective communication, project management, financial oversight and analysis, digital marketing and content creation, and implementing innovative ideas through influential leadership. As a leader, John seeks to empower others and brand success through collaborative work. His vision is to lead with courage, grit, truth, justice, humility, and integrity while emphasizing relational influence rather than focusing on the sheens of titles, positions, or things.

Finally, John is passionate about life and promoting equity among those who are often overlooked because of differences that frequently clash with the “norm.” He lives in Southern Idaho and loves the outdoors and the life lessons that can be learned in such an informal environment.

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