October at Shelterwood

campus storiesThe trees on campus have been brilliant this fall. We’re witnessing changing seasons, but also changing lives. After a few busy months this summer, we have almost a full house with 55 students.

We hosted guys and girls family retreat in October—it was an awesome time of growth. Always a few bumps and hard times, but a general sense of commonality in struggle and in hope. A few parents words: “It’s always good to share with others on a similar journey, to encourage and pray for each other.” “You don’t feel so alone in your own journey.” “Comforting to be with people who understand and love our son so much.” The sharing time on Sunday after chapel was powerful for many families. Speaking about that time, a few said: “Gave us hope.”  “Beautiful.” “Valuable…I am going to invest in Kleenex.”

The leadership has been doing a Bible study with the guy and girl Littles weekly this fall. Jim Subers (CEO) has been taking the guys through the “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldridge. It’s an optional gathering, but with the promise of grilled meat if you show up. A few guys were skeptical at first, but as the weeks progressed nearly everyone showed up. Rujon Morrison (Shelterwood Director) has been taking the girls through a study of “Women of Faith and Passion.” A few weeks ago a former super model told her story. The girls were captivated. There is nothing like the power of a real woman who understands struggle explaining how she found her security in Christ.

Mid-October our whole campus was out in Kansas City for two days of serving. We helped a variety of non-profits including a women’s shelter, a ministry serving pregnant teens, an inner city food pantry and soup kitchen, and a thrift store. The students did great and the days went by without any hiccups…expect, of course, the usual things that happen when you take a bunch of teenagers into a thrift store to sort random goods. Three guys ended up in adult diapers, a funny situation compounded by the fact that the person who gave them the idea was a counselor.

The Intake Day

friendsThe intake day was challenging, as they often are, because Mom was on her own and without any additional support. Her daughter was pretty hard on her mom-in the customary ways.

But a Shelterwood student (Brooke) helped this family in an amazing and unprompted way. The new student had sneaked back into Mom’s rental car and staged a 90 minute sit-in unless Mom agreed to fly her home and deliver her to a Detroit jail (which, as you’re aware is better than Shelterwood). Brooke, shared her own story, speaking very highly of Shelterwood and sharing that the Shelterwood process offers “only the challenges that are needed for someone to heal, grow, and ultimately thrive.” Brooke single-handedly coaxed her out of the vehicle, gave mom a hug (making mom cry tears of gratitude). As Mom left, she shared “I can’t wait until my daughter becomes mature, loving, and wise beyond her years like Brooke; maybe, even someday, she will talk some other new student out of a rental car!” I told Mom I was confident this was possible for her and I chuckled knowing that few would have ever thought this possible for Brooke.

Yesterday reminded me of everything that’s great about Shelterwood. Namely, how we work so hard to love well and how on our hilltop, even a parent’s toughest-day-ever can end well. Lastly, I was reminded how Shelterwood’s culture of loving tenaciously can melt even the toughest of student hearts like it has Brooke’s to the point of creating Shelterwood loyalty so persuasive it can even pry a hostile teenage stranger from her mom’s rental car.

Bravo, team and thanks.

Jeremy Lotz, MA, LPC, NCC
Director of Training & Leadership

This is What Real Mentor Relationships Look Like

mentor relationshipBrad Paynter (Mentor, 2002-2003) reflections on a mentor relationship with a student, that’s lasted over 12 years.  At Shelterwood Academy we have fostered hundreds of these types of committed mentor relationships and believe that your teen would benefit from this type of lifelong support.

Zach had been on the Shelterwood campus for a number of months before I arrived in the fall of 2002. The friendship was immediate. We shared a very similar history: both from Iowa, both soccer players, both raised in military families. In addition, both our fathers were physicians who knew each other through their respective careers despite the distance between our cities.

But the providence of our encounter extended beyond the regular kind of mentor relationship that is wonderfully typical of staff and students.  Soon after my role as a mentor in 2003, I invited my parents to Zach’s graduation party in central Iowa.  What developed was truly a display of God’s provision for community among believers. On more than one occasion our families have been a blessing to each other in ways that can only be understood by our similar histories. When my father retired from the National Guard, the Websters helped us find a spot for the reception after the ceremony, and then helped with the preparations.

Zach and I have continued our friendship through the years. We have commented at times that being at Shelterwood seemed like an entirely different life—in a weird but wonderful place. What a blessed life.

Relationships Continue After the Program Ends


impact livesLife after Shelterwood is actually a very special chance to deepen relationships and demonstrate real care for one another.  I was thoroughly blessed when three former Shelterwood students came to my wedding.  Others students wanted to come, I look at those pictures, and for some of them life has been significantly more difficult since Shelterwood, but they are strong enough to bear it thanks to Shelterwood. It is a beautiful testament to the Lord, the week leading up to the wedding the kids stayed at my parents house and I laughed with them, and joked as we recalled various stories, and had deep spiritual conversations. To impact lives is such a privilege and together we are better off.  These young men will remain friends and I hope that we can continue to care for one another.

Former Shelterwood Mentor


Find out how Shelterwood continues to impact lives long after the tuition is paid. Check out other student stories of change or parent reviews.

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