Whetstone Boys Ranch/Boarding School is committed to the redemption, rehabilitation and restoration of at-risk and troubled boys between the ages of 13 and 17. Whetstone’s 30 years of collective experience working with at-risk youth, and with a variety of residential facilities, provides us with a deep understanding of what it takes to run a successful program. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and for 10-12 months, we will provide intentional mentoring, consistent discipline and unconditional love. Through licensed counseling/therapy, we address behavioral disorders such as defiance/anger (ODD), hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD), and depression. Our youth home and therapeutic boarding school provide a loving and encouraging atmosphere with house parents, teachers, and skilled staff who boldly believe in the power of relationships.
2. THE BOYS WE SERVE
Whetstone serves boys between the ages of 13-17 who have been identified as at risk in their families, communities, and schools. While “at-risk” requires no specific diagnosis, it commonly refers to young men who are under a great deal of stress and have chosen unhealthy coping mechanisms. Many of these young men have been diagnosed with disorders such as ADD, ADHD, ODD, Bi-Polar, etc. Characteristics of the boys we serve could include but are not limited to: beyond parental control, drug or alcohol use, apathy, lethargy, truancy, disrespectful attitudes, behavior problems, school problems, self-harm, depression, anger, and/or low self esteem. We are not staffed to treat severe addictions or mental psychosis.
3. LENGTH OF STAY
At a minimum, it takes 10 months to complete our program, so we recommend planning for a 10-12 months. In this time, boys will work through a level system and earn the equivalent of at least one year of academic credit in our boarding school. Parents must also make arrangement for 4 weeks of home visitation: one at Christmas, one in the spring, and two during the summer. We feel that these times are necessary for your son’s eventual reintegration to your family, and for our staff to conduct training and campus improvements. NOTE: If the vacation times are not possible for your family, we are open to discussion.
From the time he wakes up at 6:30 until he turns off his light at 9:30, each boy is given direct care and supervision. As he advances through our boarding school/program of therapy, and as he demonstrates greater responsibility, he is given a greater freedom; but his time is always managed carefully in order to provide meaningful and therapeutic activity. Whetstone is not a “lock down facility,” but leaving without permission will be a major violation, and we will work with the proper authorities to provide for their safe return.
5. LOW STAFF RATIO
Whetstone’s greatest competitive edge is maintaining a low resident to staff ratio. Understanding the backgrounds of these boys, relationship building will be a key element to their overall therapy. The minimum regulation for residential treatment centers in Missouri calls for a minimum 8:1 ratio. While most centers seek to maximize this number for budgetary purposes, we believe this will dramatically hinder the quality of care for our boys. In contrast, Whetstone is committed to maintaining a 3:1 ratio.
6. TYPES OF THERAPY/COUNSELING
The basis of our therapy is mentoring – the modeling of positive behaviors within a loving and supportive environment. Our low staff-to-boy ratio (1:3) allows us to spend quality time with each boy in the schoolroom, in the outdoors, and around the family hearth. We believe in common sense approaches to problems: good sleep, healthy food, fresh air, sunshine and lots of exercise. Beyond this, we will contract and partner with physicians and counseling professionals as needed, within the varied contexts of individual, family and/or group sessions. Last but not least, we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, through prayer and bible study, to change lives. At the end of the day, it is God, our Lord and Maker, who understands us better than we understand ourselves. Whetstone may sow the seed, but God gives the increase.
7. FAMILY INVOLVEMENT
God has designed the family, above all things, to provide the basis of our mental, emotional and spiritual health. It is usually the case, though not always, that a rupture has occurred within the family of a troubled boy. Death, illness, divorce, abuse and neglect are frequent causes, but whatever the case, it is best if this rupture can be repaired. To this end, Whetstone hopes to serve as a resource for parents who seek reconciliation with their son, who though he may not know it or admit it now, desires the same. We hope to facilitate this through a process of family counseling, transparent and regular communication between all stakeholders, supervised visits, and eventually overnight stays. Over time, through patience and prayer, it is our goal that the family be restored.
8. EDUCATION/BOARDING SCHOOL
Whetstone Boys Ranch is also a Therapeutic Boarding School. The benefits of our program include the following:
1. Our boarding school curriculum diagnoses gaps in student learning before moving to material that the student is not ready to tackle. These gaps in learning are often the cause of student failure and eventual misbehavior in the classroom and at home. When students don’t understand, they often act up instead of admitting they need help. Whetstone exists to provide this support.
2. Our boarding school program encourages and requires goal-setting, self-monitoring, responsibility, integrity and accountability. These are life-skills that traditional schools don’t usually have time, resources or inclination to teach. The large class setting can only function on a factory model, without addressing the more important issues of spiritual development and character formation.
3. Whetstone offers a variety of hands-on and engaging electives during evening and weekend programming, such as wood-working, agriculture, music appreciation and creative writing. These electives also offer the added benefit of exciting field trip and mentoring opportunities. For example, we make an annual trip to visit the Civil Rights Museum and the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in Memphis, TN…a complement to the music education offered by Mr. Liimatta’s extensive collection of vintage vinyl records.
4. Year-round schooling in combination with individualized pacing, allows for remediation/credit recovery, as well as the possibility to move ahead.
5. Students can continue their education from home once they return – thus avoiding re-enrollment in a potentially harmful environment. Students will be familiar with a home-school curriculum, which might allow them the opportunity to graduate early.
6. Whetstone Academy is directed by a 15 year veteran of both large public and small Christian schools. Mr. Liimatta is a National Board Certified Teacher of English, and holds both Kentucky and Missouri certifications to teach English, Social Studies, and Speech/Drama/Debate, in grades 6-12. For 10 years, he taught AP English in a gifted & talented program, along with general classes offered to average and struggling students. For 5 years, he has been a grader for the AP Literature Exam. Mr. Liimatta has over a decade of documented success teaching hundreds of students with a wide range of academic, emotional and physical challenges. He will work with parents, students and schools to establish an appropriate program of studies that will meet the current and future needs of every boy enrolled at Whetstone.
For more information about our dynamic curriculum, please contact Axel Liimatta at firstname.lastname@example.org.
9. SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
Boys at Whetstone attend chapel every weekday morning. In addition, they attend a local church service on Sunday morning. More significantly, Whetstone’s staff is intentional in their effort to “model the life of Christ” as they interact with each boy. Spiritual discipleship and mentoring form the core of our program.
10. COMMUNITY SERVICE
Following Christ’s example, servant-leadership is our ultimate goal. Each boy will thus contribute a minimum of six hours of community service per week. In order to accomplish this, school work is completed in 4 days, allowing one day during each work week for service.
11. VOCATIONAL TRAINING
Whetstone believes that boys grow best when they are productively engaged in a project, and that mentoring is most effective when they work alongside other men in the accomplishment of a worthy goal. To this end, boys will gain hands-on experience in the following trades: fence building/repair, carpentry, welding, leatherwork, gardening, plumbing and minor electrical.
11. THE LEVEL SYSTEM
Whetstone Boys Ranch is intentional and proactive when it comes to character development – a goal that is expressed in our very name. Like the purpose of a whetstone is to sharpen a knife, our purpose is to sharpen the mind, body and soul of each boy on our campus, making him useful for service in his family and community when he leaves.
Our unique 4 Level/12 Trait system is incorporated into each aspect of our program. We take the sharpening concept to its limit, using every opportunity to instill 12 traits necessary for a successful and fulfilling life after they leave Whetstone. Beginning with the end in mind, we work through the 4/12 system in a detailed manner, applying Scripture and building relationships all along the way.
I. On Level One, we focus on Honesty, Self-Control, and Kindness. Put into basic terms, we are looking for compliance. Will this boy work with us instead of against us? Is he a danger to himself and others? Can we let him out of our sight?
II. On Level Two, we raise the bar – continuing to hold him accountable for the first three traits, while adding Purity, Loyalty, Responsibility. During this stage, we start to examine the words, attitudes and behaviors of each boy. We start to dig beneath the surface and to shift our focus to matters of the heart. What is going on inside? How can we challenge him to be a man of integrity, to do what is right when no one is looking?
III. On Level Three, along with the first six traits, we begin building Perseverance, Humility, and Excellence. These require more maturity, and they flow naturally from the previous traits. Self-Control can be shown in the moment, but Perseverance must be demonstrated over time. We start to ask things like: Can that job be done better? Can it be done faster? What does it mean to put others before ourselves, and why is it so important?
IV. Finally, Level Four ambitiously seeks to equip boys with Wisdom, Contentment, and Servant Leadership. We feel that today’s society thinks too little of young men. It holds them to a standard so low it’s offensive. We are determined to not make this mistake. We believe that God designed boys to be leaders, to show courage and determination in difficult circumstances, and to demonstrate a degree of wisdom that proves them worthy of being called Father or Sir…or Mr. President. The goal of Level Four is to make sure that boys don’t end up back at Whetstone, unless we hire them as staff.
While it is never our intent to bash anyone with the Bible, we have staked our lives on the truth contained in its pages. And although we will never fully understand or perfectly interpret it, we will do our best to humbly apply the truth we do understand. To this end, we have boys memorize one Bible verse each week, meditate on it what it means, and apply its teaching to their life. (If you would like a closer look at these verses, CLICK HERE.)
Whetstone Boys Ranch is confident that the daily application of Scripture to the lives of troubled boys is the key to personal transformation, which is the ultimate goal of our Level System. Like the Apostle Paul wrote to a young man of his day, we proclaim that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16-17
12. CATTLE PROGRAM/HORSEMANSHIP/ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
God created an amazing variety of animals for man to admire, nurture and train. In giving him dominion over them, he have us the opportunity to learn important lessons about ourselves, our world and our relationship with Him. Whetstone Boys Ranch is committed to providing an animal rich environment that will allow for daily interaction and work-based therapy.
Nature is the best classroom. Countless lessons about truth, justice, beauty and harmony can be gleaned by simply sitting still long enough to observe the forever constant and constantly changing properties of wind, sky, earth and water. Our 280 acre ranch, nestled in the Ozark Mountain Region provides awesome and ample opportunity for boys to interact with the Creator of a classroom without walls.
Boys like sports. Whetstone Boys Ranch will involve boys in a dynamic program of strength and endurance training by engagement in running, weight lifting, team and individual sports such as golf, basketball, walnut tossing and ultimate frisbee. Beyond mere competition, athletics allow boys the opportunity to learn and practice important life-skills such as self-control, patience, endurance, fortitude, attentiveness and commitment.
Whetstone was founded upon the belief that boys are built for adventure, and to test themselves against nature and other men. This is simply the way boys are wired. Our entire program is built around providing such forums for self-improvement. We are committed to designing a program for your son that includes weekly opportunities for creative projects and skill development.
Our staff is trained in crisis management and de-escalation techniques. Should the need arise, Whetstone is positioned to enlist the assistance of local juvenile and law enforcement officers. Our 40 years of combined experience working with boys has equipped us with a variety of formal and informal tools to address these issues when they arise, and more importantly, to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
It is our policy to administer medication if the parents wish, and if it is the recommendation of their family doctor. Potential reductions in medication, if desired, will only be attempted after consultation with medical/health care professionals. Having said this, Whetstone believes that full participation in our program will reduce the likelihood that most psychotropic medications will need to be taken long term.
18. AFTER-CARE/TRANSITIONAL SERVICES
Whetstone is not successful if your son is not successful. Whether this means sending transcripts to high schools, helping him to enlist in the military, preparing for the ACT, or simply keeping in touch on facebook, rest assured that we will be intentional and available when it comes to helping him make a smooth transition. Through a comprehensive system of therapy that includes consistent accountability and loving guidance, we hope to provide your son with a both a reason and an opportunity for lasting change. We are optimistic that our biggest problem might be that your son doesn’t want to leave. With God’s help, Whetstone might just become a home away from home.
Please call our office at 417-934-1112 to talk to a Whetstone staff member about tuition. If interested, you may also wish to contact American Health Care Lending about low interest loans for mental and behavior health. You can access their website by CLICKING HERE, and an application by CLICKING HERE.