Scientologists believe raising children to be one of the most joyous, rewarding experiences in life. The basic tenants of Scientology involve ensuring children are loved, cherished and shown respect, while encouraged to contribute to family life. Scientology teaches parents to raise happy, healthy children, and to communicate openly with them. In fact, it is in Scientology scripture, as written by Founder L. Ron Hubbard, that “a good, stable adult with love and tolerance in his heart is about the best therapy a child can have.”
“A good, stable adult with love and tolerance in his heart is about the best therapy a child can have.” L. Ron Hubbard
More than three decades ago, the Church of Scientology religious order, the Sea Organization, determined that due to the time, care and attention required in raising children, that those Scientologists who wished to raise a family would do so out of the religious order to give children the proper care and attention that was needed. Thus, once the last generation of children in the religious order grew up, in the late 90s and early 2000s, the facilities for children were closed and the properties eventually sold. Prior to that, children of parents who were in the religious order were cared for and schooled in Church facilities.
In the 1980s, children of those serving in the Sea Organization in Los Angeles were cared for and schooled at Church facilities in Hollywood. After the Los Angeles riots in 1992, it was decided that the children required a safer, more secure environment outside of the city where they could play sports, care for animals and continue their education.
The 30-acre Canyon Oaks Ranch near Santa Clarita, California was acquired. Today, former students—many of them loving and caring parents themselves—say the ranch was nothing like the fictional facility Leah Remini and A&E portrayed in the actress’ reality TV show. They describe it as a spectacular facility which gave them wonderful experiences to last a lifetime.
As former student Diva Gustafson recalls: “What I really liked about the ranch is that we were literally a big family and I was always with my friends. I never had to leave them. I would go to bed and they were there. I would wake up and they were there. And you know “Oh hi! Oh guess what, guess what I dreamed about?” It was just cool. It was just fun and we took care of ourselves and I feel like it like made us pretty independent.”
What I really liked about the ranch is that we were literally a big family and it was like I was always with my friends.
Indeed, the Church-run facilities at the Canyon Oaks Ranch were licensed and conformed to local and state regulations. They passed their annual health inspections, fire department and water testing inspections. Amenities included a swimming pool, basketball court, horses, chickens, dogs and other animals. At one point, a neighbor donated several hundred apple trees, and an apple orchard was created on the property. Students took care of the animals and in addition to their various activities and education, played sports and went camping.
As former student Brian Schermerhorn recalls: “We didn’t have drugs, we didn’t have any weird, you know, vice or anything like that, we’re kids you know. We would go to the pool. Every once in a while we were able to go out to the L.A. Zoo, the La Brea Tar Pits and you know we had all these outings and we were able to go camping, and we were hiking…”
We didn’t have drugs, we didn’t have any weird, you know, vice or anything like that, we’re kids you know. We would go to the pool. Every once in a while we were able to go out to the L.A. Zoo, the La Brea Tar Pits…
The children also shared warm relationships with their parents, who cared for them, as any caring parents would. This was a boarding school where children spent the week and visited with parents on the weekend.
As former student Liz Peterson recalls: “I was there from 1995 to 1999… And during that time we did schooling, we did physical education, we went on trips, we used to go on field trips, places. We lived in dorms. We had a swimming pool. We had horses. We had lots of animals. I had my own cat. We had dogs. We had a regular type of a boarding school setup where you had meal times and you had class times.”
We had a swimming pool. We had horses. We had lots of animals. I had my own cat. We had dogs. We had a regular type of a boarding school set up.
Students also said they never heard one word about the claims about alleged sexual abuse made today by their friend Saina Kamula. None ever experienced any such behavior, and they say they would have heard about it if it had happened. Not only did they hear nothing from Saina at the time, they never heard anything from her as an adult.
“Saina and I even talked about the subject of sex, which is to me as close as you can get on the subject of the sexual abuse or anything sexual,” said friend Vanessa Bolstad. “And she mentioned not experiencing anything sexual at that time and that was when she just left the Sea Org. It was ten years ago—so it was definitely after that time of living at the Ranch. So if anything had happened to Saina, and we’re talking about this subject of sex, you would think that it would come up, and she never said anything like that. She didn’t say ‘I was sexually abused’ or ‘I’ve experienced sex or—she said the opposite of not experiencing it.”
Today, former Canyon Oaks students have fond memories of the school and find it despicable that Leah Remini is spreading hate and bigotry about their religion with her fraudulent program.