Why fun matters at Shelterwood

Part of our approach to transformation at Shelterwood is giving our students new experiences and opportunities to step outside their comfort zone. Students learn to try new things, practicing recreation in ways that are healthy and constructive. This past summer at Shelterwood, students had several opportunities for special trips and off-campus activities.

“Our students live in a very structured environment at Shelterwood, and we have created that environment on purpose,” says Daniel Schlenker, Shelterwood Academy Activities Coordinator. “Trips offer students a bit more freedom, still with plenty of structure but in a new context and with new surroundings. Students are able to experience challenges and different opportunities than those they face on the Shelterwood campus, and put what they’re learning in therapy into practice.”

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Young adult mentors also travel with the students, and these trips provide time and space for essential conversations. Students process what they have been learning in therapy and by living at Shelterwood. “We really give the students time for meaningful, intentional conversations with their mentors,” Daniel explains.

Our students had a variety of trip opportunities this past summer. A highlight of the summer for many students was the Shelterwood mission trip to Haiti. Changing students’ environments provides opportunities for their hearts to be impacted with positive experiences and encouragement from the Shelterwood staff.

Students also had the opportunity to spend several days at Camp Barnabas, near Missouri’s beautiful Table Rock Lake. This uniquely-designed Christian summer camp typically serves students with disabilities, and hosts Shelterwood students during off-weeks in the summer season. “Their staff is sensitive to the unique needs of our students, and so it’s a good camp for us to visit,” Daniel says.

The camp experience includes team building exercises, organized sports and a daily spiritual component, plus an evening speaker. “Students were able to participate in high ropes courses, swimming, basketball, tubing and other outdoor activities,” Daniel explains.

“Camp Barnabas is a chance for our students to experience rest and recreation in a healthy way.” Students learn to spend their free time in ways that are constructive, breaking the habit of running to isolation activities like video games, social media and television.

Evenings at Camp Barnabas are spent listening to dynamic faith-based speakers. For example, during the boys’ week at camp, they heard from a speaker, who went through the Biblical story of Jacob. “Every evening focused on how Jacob was wrestling with God and finding his identity,” Daniel added. “Many Shelterwood students wrestle with the idea of having a relationship with God, and who they are and these evenings caused students to think through what this relationship looks like in a consistent way.” The boys continued to discuss this topic long after they returned to Shelterwood.

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While the boys were at Camp Barnabas, the girls back on campus enjoyed a “staycation” week. During the “staycation,” students and mentors enjoy fun and constructive activities around Shelterwood and the Kansas City area.  They enjoyed bowling, rock climbing gym, miniature golf, sporting events and other special activities around the area. When the girls headed to Camp Barnabas, the boys enjoyed their own “staycation.”

Also part of summer at Shelterwood was the canoe trip. Students traveled to the Ozarks of Missouri, and spent time canoeing, hiking, preparing meals and spending time together as a group. “Canoeing is actually a great opportunity for conflict resolution,” Daniel says. This experience in teamwork allowed students to practice healthy problem solving in a hands-on way.

Daniel recalls a moment from the girls trip when the river narrowed and increased in intensity — and one canoe capsized! “It was a rough start, but the girls got to practice dealing with a difficulty and making the best out of a tough situation. The challenges could have been handled negatively, but so many positives came out of the trip.”

Summer activities add balance to teens’ healing journeys, which is an important step towards en route to a promising future. “As students try new things on these summer trips, they learn the joy of accepting challenges and the rewards of trying new things,” Daniel says. “They practice spending their free time in ways that are both fun and healthy, so they’re equipped for life after Shelterwood.”

Summer at Shelterwood: A time of transformation

Summer can be a great time for positive change in the life of a teenager. Under the right circumstances, and given the right combination of positive experiences, we have seen many young people take great steps forward. However, without organized, positive activities, and the framework of the school year, the summer months can often be a vulnerable time for teens.

That is why we at Shelterwood have designed a special summer program for teens who might be struggling at home, or struggling with poor choices during the summer months.

We work to provide a safe and structured summer for teens, combining activity, adventure, therapeutic intervention and stimulating education. Students leave Shelterwood’s program renewed and restored — and ready for their best year yet.

Limited spots are available. Teens can start as early as June 1. Contact our admissions team today to start the application process.

Academic Recovery

Students can earn nearly a semester’s worth of class credit during the summer in our award-winning boarding school. Teens who are academically behind can catch up and get back on track — and advanced students can retake classes to bolster their GPA. Time at Shelterwood Academy means they’re ready to re-enter school with confidence.

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Because no two teens are the same, our licensed therapists work with an interdisciplinary team to create an individualized program for each student at Shelterwood. Students engage in individual therapy with a personal therapist, plus group therapy and family therapy. Our clinical team is trained in a variety of modalities that include CBT, Art therapy, Equine therapy, Sand Tray therapy, Play therapy, Attachment, Substance Abuse and Addiction, and Family systems. To maximize impact, all activities at Shelterwood are designed to be therapeutically strategic. We use recreation, adventure, art, gardening, music and performing arts to help students uncover issues, build relationships and provide clarity for moving forward in life.

Is your teen struggling with substance abuse? Our rigorous substance abuse treatment program combines educational, therapy and experiential elements to lay the foundation students need for a sober, healthy life.

Students experience substance abuse treatment concurrently with the summer program, so they’re growing and healing holistically.

If your child is wrestling with substance abuse, Shelterwood can lay groundwork for a life of joy and sobriety.

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At Shelterwood, our service opportunities help teens move beyond lack of empathy. Teens serve in a variety of environments, from food banks to nonprofit thrift stores, shelters and even the Christmas tree farm near our property. They learn to give back, grow as leaders and make a difference in the lives of others.

Personal Growth

Summer at Shelterwood is full of adventure. Teens try new things and build confidence — from music and art classes  to gardening and fly fishing and everything in between. Students uncover giftedness they didn’t know they had, or have their strengths reaffirmed. For struggling teens, Shelterwood is a place where they can learn to laugh again, to engage again and to connect with peers in a way that’s healthy and fun.

A Foundation of Faith

During Summer at Shelterwood, the stage is set for heart transformation. From inspirational chapel services to optional spiritual retreats, our faith-based approach gives students opportunities to grow. Our young adult mentors offer life-on-life discipleship. Teens learn that they are important, they are valued and they are loved by Christ.

Summer at Shelterwood is a place where struggling teens can find real hope and real restoration. Students get the best in therapeutic counseling and boarding school excellence — all in a residential community of people committed to their growth. Let this summer be a fresh start for your teen and for your family. Limited spots are available, and teens can start as early as June 1. Contact our admissions team today to enroll your child.