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Safe Harbor admits boys aged 15-17 who are experiencing behavior problems at home and school and need an alternative home setting. The purpose of Safe Harbor is to assist the boys in becoming responsible, mature, and independent young men through spiritual, educational, and vocational training.
Safe Harbor Academy is a lower-cost Christian academy for troubled boys in Jacksonville, Florida, using the waterfront and maritime activities as the backdrop for helping teenage boys who are struggling. Safe Harbor provides a safe, stable, structured, alternative home, school, and behavior therapy. Boys learn responsibility and experience behavior modification through seamanship, mentoring, counseling, and a spiritual focus while also studying for a high school diploma.
Safe Harbor has been featured in People Magazine and on CBS This Morning, NBC News Today, CNN, and CBN. In addition, the story of the unique boarding school for at-risk boys is featured in the Safe Harbor movie, starring Treat Williams, on Hallmark Channel.
As a water-based program, the boys live aboard boats, learning seamanship skills. The Safe Harbor program is structured and centers on teaching a work ethic and helping the boys understand their behavior leads them to less and less freedom. We develop positive character traits by exposing the boys to many vocational education opportunities, including carpentry, welding, boat maintenance & repair, gas and diesel engine repair, and some basic electrical concepts. Character traits such as dependability, follow-through, focus, and attention to detail are taught in these courses.
Counseling is offered individually and through groups by both licensed mental health professionals and pastoral counseling. Professional staff conducts individual sessions with families and their sons, including conversations over the phone, and staff sends frequent emails to keep family updated. Additionally, short weekly phone calls along with encouraging letter writing help restore family relationships.
Safe Harbor admits boys aged 15-17 who are experiencing behavior problems at home and school and need an alternative home setting. Referrals are accepted from the professional mental health community, judiciary, pastors, relatives, and friends. The purpose of Safe Harbor is to assist the boys in becoming responsible, mature, and independent young men through spiritual, educational, and vocational training.
As a maritime program, the boys live aboard boats, learning seamanship skills. All boys must be able to pass a swimming exam as a condition of admission. The boys receive Vocational training in a variety of disciplines is also offered on-campus. Lifestyle competence such as driver education, job-seeking skills (interviewing, resumes, appropriate dress), banking – including establishing and maintaining a checking and savings account, the correct use of credit, and every boy graduates from Dr. Robbie’s FHA club (Future Husbands of America) learning basic nutrition, cooking and grocery shopping skills, laundry, and housekeeping skills.
The boys must maintain academic success to be eligible for extracurricular activities, including SCUBA certification, windsurfing, boating activities, fishing, and a myriad of off-campus activities. Responsibility for one’s actions is taught and reinforced daily. Privileges come only with an increased demonstration of responsibility for one’s self and toward others.
The goals of our educational and vocational programs are to prepare the boys for entrance into and success in the workplace. The foundation principles used include focusing on INTEGRITY and GOOD CHARACTER, teamwork, listening and speaking ability, problem-solving, ability to instruct and lead others, ability to allocate one’s time and money, reasoning, and personal integrity, honesty, self-management, and social ability.
The philosophy of Safe Harbor is to provide a caring, loving, disciplined atmosphere to instill self-esteem, responsibility, and reliability in the boys. To teach them to live and work in harmony with others, to be accepting and tolerant of their fellow man without compromising the truth, in a word to become mature. To this end, we believe this is maturity:
OUR HISTORY — FROM THE FOUNDERS…
“In 1982, when we took in our first boys for a short–term stay, we had no idea that this would become our life’s work. But what we were doing with the boys was working. God seemed to have a plan, so we decided to commit ourselves to the boys for one year. In 1984, when we officially incorporated Safe Harbor, we had also committed our own financial resources to support the program. We trusted God that even after our own resources were gone, he would help provide the funding if He wanted us to continue. We decided to accept NO government funding because we felt that the government was not and never would be very good at raising children. God has been faithful. Through the time, talent, and treasure of countless individuals, organizations, and businesses, He has blessed Safe Harbor and all of the boys and families we have served.”
Since its inception, the Safe Harbor program has provided each boy with the mental, physical and spiritual strength to succeed in life. In addition, water and boating have always played an integral part in our lives. Life on the water provides serenity and peace but also unequaled opportunities for life lessons. For these reasons, they utilize the waterfront and vessels as the foundation of the residential, academic, and vocational education program.
Sixty-plus donated boats of all sizes fill the docks and the landscape. The vessels serve as housing for the boys and staff, training vessels for marine industry-based skills, and play an important role in the vocational education and character development programs. They have kept the unique residential, integrated academic/vocational program guided by the Christian foundation throughout the past 25 years. The vehicles through which the goals are achieved are constantly changing, never stagnant. Safe Harbor will incorporate any medium to excite, inspire, teach and bring hope to boys we serve.
Cost-Effective: Safe Harbor is funded exclusively by the private sector (we receive no government funding). We understand that families may have to sacrifice to see their son admitted to the program and moving toward a successful outcome.
Academics: The Safe Harbor academic philosophy is built on the belief that education is a lifelong process and occurs in every area of life. At Safe Harbor, the foundation to a balanced education is the understanding that varied and unique learning styles exist, and identifying the particular style ensures he will achieve maximum success. Integrating a student’s unique learning style with traditional and active learning, hands-on and critical thinking skills, developed in an atmosphere that seeks excellence, empowers students to achieve maximum success. Thus, learning becomes fun, stimulating, and has its own reward.
Academics are a core component of the overall Safe Harbor Academy program. Due to behavioral challenges, many new students come to Safe Harbor academically delayed. The academic and overall program helps students recover from these delays and regain lost ground. The curriculum, combined with the unique and creative learning approach, supports students who previously have not experienced success in the academic setting.
The overall program, including vocational and maritime elective credit classes, reinforce “real life” learning. Key academic and life lessons are melded into the program, helping students discover their true interests and abilities while strengthening and helping students develop positive character qualities in their lives.
Many fun and exciting activities exist at Safe Harbor, such as; scuba certification, engine shop, fishing, sailing, surfing, Spike Reef Project, and many more.