Sometimes troubled teen boys need an intense therapeutic setting to help them overcome their issues. The question parents need to ask is: What is the right type of intensity for my son? What some parents may not realize is not all intensive programs are created equal. Boot camp-style programs are often what most parents think of when they think of sending their sons to residential therapeutic setting. However, for some boys, a military themed program is setting them up for more failure. On the other hand, boys ranches offer the same rigor without all the drill sergeant shouting and military style structure.
What Is A Boys Ranch?
A boys ranch combines the focused treatment setting with a real working ranch. The bonus of a boys ranch is the animals serve as therapy. The belly crawling under barbed wire or climbing over obstacle walls common to boot camp style programs are great tools to help troubled teen boys. However, the reality is those physical challenges really do not provide a troubled boy with any practical life skills to take with him when he leaves. A boys ranch is full of life skills. Animals, like people, need compassion, communication, and appropriate attention to their needs. As troubled teen boys work with the animals they have to develop those life skills in order to be successful with them.
How Is A Boys Ranch Different?
Boys ranches are able to offer one thing all other residential treatment programs lack: Horses. Equine therapy for troubled teen boys is special. Horses are great healers. The boy who would crumble and quiver in the face of a 250 drill sergeant typically excels in front of a 2,500 pound horse because horses need the same gentle touch as some troubled boys. Without verbal instructions from the horse, troubled teen boys have to learn different levels of communication. Working with horses also requires a deep level of trust between boy and beast. For many troubled teens, working with horses is the first time they tap into those deep emotional connections.
What Do Boys Ranches Teach That Other Programs Can’t
Boys ranches give troubled teen boys a different path out from their emotional and behavioral issues. They learn skills that can only be found by working on a ranch. It is a type of work most young people have no way to replicate in today’s modern society. Learning to nurture and care for an animal as big and responsive as a horse helps troubled boys develop emotional intelligence and strength. And let’s face it, ranching is also a very manly activity. For boys on the fringes of social circles at home, a boys ranch allows them an opportunity to develop confidence and a strong sense of self. He becomes a protector and a defender.
Not all boys need military drills. But, all boys need to cultivate inner awareness, strength, and self-confidence. A boys boarding school gives boys a boot camp experience by putting the work boots on their feet rather than in their faces.