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Whetstone Boys Ranch is a working cattle ranch and therapeutic Christian school that serves struggling boys ages 12-16 and their families. Boys live, learn, work and grow at Whetstone as they experience essential individual, group and family therapy, excellent academics, exciting outdoor adventures, and useful hands-on tasks. We believe in sharpening young men to become true servant-leaders in their families and communities.
Since 2011, Whetstone’s purpose centers on the reconciliation of boys (ages 12-16) and their families. Boys live in dorm-style in the boarding school with a 3:1 boy to staff ratio. We treat struggles such as anger, depression, low self-esteem and trauma with a loving, systems-based approach. And this comprehensive method of treatment and restoration sets us apart. We work with boys with Reactive Attachment Disorder, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, internet addictions, and rebellious boys. Here the boys live, learn, work and grow as they experience essential individual, group and family therapy, excellent academics, exciting outdoor adventures, and useful hands-on tasks.
• Boys who suffer from not being able to form healthy emotional relationships with adoptive parents, including RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder),
• Boys who are unable to remain focused, ADHD, (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
• Boys who display signs of early rebellion, refuses to obey, shows argumentative behavior,ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder),
• Boys who simply need a change of environment, separated from the negative impact of internet addictions, and harmful relationships.
We focus on issues adolescent boys struggle with, including introductory misbehavior (vaping, negative video game-technology/pornography), anger, depression, low self-esteem, trauma related issues, attachment and adoption disorders. Whetstone is an opportunity to intervene now, before these issues grow deeper. Boys receive therapy based on their needs, after going through a screening process.
Therapy and counseling includes individual 1 hour sessions, once a week, led by a LPC therapist. Individual treatment includes EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) — originally designed to alleviate distress associated with traumatic memories. It is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences…and helps activate their natural healing processes. (EMDR.com)
Family therapy includes an intensive 2-3 day session during a boy’s stay at Whetstone with our licensed therapist.
The 285-acre ranch in the Ozarks, offers an Adventure Week each year, as well as hands-on classes on topics like Winter Survival, Summer Survival, Fishing, Orienteering, Campfire Cooking, Shelter-Building, Knot-tying, and Disaster Readiness, and more. Strength training program with running, team and individual sports such as basketball, football, whiffle ball, golf, ultimate frisbee, can-jam, swimming, and disc-golf, and more.
During a yearlong stay, the boys are offered other adventures like fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, rappelling, bowling, model building, carpentry, woodworking, guitar, field trips to concerts, sporting events and museums, creative writing, movie-going and much more.
Whetstone Boys Ranch provides boys with a liberal arts-based education in a uniquely integrated setting. The Whetstone curriculum diagnoses gaps in student learning before moving to material that the student may not be ready to tackle. These gaps in learning are often the cause of student failure and eventual misbehavior in the classroom and at home.
Whetstone’s low boy-to-staff ratio gives us a huge advantage over most educational settings. One teacher for every three boys, provides multiple opportunities for assisting them as needed. Whetstone students return to public schools, private schools, home schools, and are those headed to college shortly after graduation. Whetstone helps transition the boy back home with providing transcripts to high schools, helping him to enlist in the military, preparing for the ACT, and more.
We do therapy without “doing therapy.” In a small group setting, guided by qualified teachers and counselors, we talk about movies, music, novels and poems. We talk about Truth and Beauty – examine a “Grecian Urn” or two. Some say that all art is therapy. If this is even close to the truth, our boys get a ton of it while sharing their thoughts in writing and during lively group discussions, developing critical thinking skills in the process. In addition, all boys participate in at least one week-long adventure therapy session, during which they hike, camp, fish, rock-climb, rappel, cook over a campfire, and other activities.
One key component of our therapeutic model is mentoring – the modeling of positive behaviors within a loving and supportive environment. Our low ratio allows each staff member, from counselor to cook, to spend quality time with each boy in the schoolroom, in the outdoors, and around the family hearth. In doing so, we are naturally drawn to storytelling. We all have a story. Happy, Sad, Tragic, Triumphant. It longs to be shared because we long to be understood.
From a therapeutic perspective, what we see as our role in this story has a dramatic impact on how we view ourselves in relationship. Our beliefs make us able to overcome the problems we face in life, because they make us willing to receive help from those we love. Throughout our program, boys are encouraged to share and understand their story, as well as the stories of those around them. When people do this in community, understanding, compassion, and forgiveness become not only possible, but probable.