The Beach Lodge

photo 1 300x225 The Beach LodgeShelterwood is set to open a new lodge in the summer of 2015. The new building is the result of generous donors and the recognition that there are many families around the country that need help. The lodge will house eight students, in four different pods, for a total of thirty-two. The unique design is the result of much study and consultation with the State of Missouri and the leadership of CALO.

We have decided to name this amazing new lodge after our late founder, Richard Beach. Richard passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. He started Shelterwood in 1980 and invested all of his energy into developing leaders and caring for families. Richard had a special way about him, always eager to connect and care for others, and willing to talk to anybody. His conversations were always filled with humor and care.

Richard always saw the best in people. He nurtured many people, young and old, into fantastic leaders. I was fortunate because I managed to spend many years directly under Richard’s leadership and deeply appreciated his mentorship. Unlike other leaders that try to hold on to power, Richard always found ways to share leadership. Even with Richards passing, Shelterwood remains living proof of this wisdom, as most non-profit organizations go out of business within a few years of their founder leaving. Not Shelterwood. We are still here and continuing to grow.

Richard trusted the people that he developed for succession. Those who do not finish well seem to always beSW Construction 13 copy 300x224 The Beach Lodge dissatisfied with whoever succeeds them, almost as if they are looking for, but unable to find, a clone of themselves. Richard did not hold on to power, but instead shared it freely and at Shelterwood, this continues to be our model. Over the years we have managed to develop and then release many leaders to start their own programs. Leadership development through our mentor process does not just apply to the staff that work at Shelterwood Academy, but it is also a critical part of how we interact with our students.

And so it makes sense that our new student residence would be called the Beach Lodge: designed to care for the most hurting of teenagers in an intimate way. We anticipate the Beach Lodge being filled with laughter, compassion and growth and providing an opportunity for young men and women to uncover their full potential.

Watch this fantastic video of Richard Beach share on the importance of love.

Richard Beach Shares

%name Richard Beach SharesRichard Beach wrote this article for a Shelterwood Newsletter back in the 80’s but it remains relevant today.

There was a man in scripture by the name of Barnabas.   It is interesting that a name in scripture often reflected something of the character of that person. Barnabas means “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Barnabas was one of the first who came to the great apostle Paul after his conversion and encouraged him or “urged him forward” (Acts 9:27). Wouldn’t it be great to be known as a Barnabas?

I recently asked a group, “What is encouragement?” Answers ranged from a boost, a lift, motivation, strengthening. Have you ever noticed how much encouragement energized you?

The opposite of encouragement is discouragement. The world’s system is not to encourage others, lest they get ahead of you. The world system is to discourage, to be sarcastic, to point out faults or to use false flattery to meet selfish objectives.

The Christian should be living a different lifestyle. After looking into God’s word and being encouraged, we should be encouraging others. Have you ever seen someone who encourages become the encouraged?

How then do we encourage?

  1. Point out good qualities in others
  2. Smile
  3. Pat someone on the back
  4. Share an encouraging scripture
  5. Pray for someone
  6. Listen
  7. Recognize a person’s gift and let him or her know
  8. Tell someone how his or her life has impacted your own life
  9. Maximize a person’s strong points

We miss you Richard and are proud to name our new student lodge after you.

The Intake Day

%name The Intake DayThe 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

Jimmy Faseler was critically injured

Jimmy Faseler was critically injured in a shooting at his home. According to court records, Jimmy came home, interrupted a burglary in progress and was shot in the torso. Police said he was still in critical condition Sunday afternoon and they described his injuries as life-threatening.


Staff Portrait Crops 4 Jimmy Faseler was critically injuredWhen Jimmy Faseler moved to Kansas City from Branson, Missouri, he never knew a place like Shelterwood existed. “I applied for a job just to make ends meet,” he said, “but it turned out to be my calling.”

Today, Jimmy is Shelterwood’s Admissions Director. Often the first point of contact for parents, he focuses on admitting students and helping them as they transition into their time at Shelterwood.  In the fall of 2014 Jimmy received the “Excellence in Service Award” from the National Association of Schools and Programs (NATSAP).

When he isn’t at Shelterwood, Jimmy enjoys cheering on the Kansas City Royals. He’s a familiar face at the team’s home games at Kauffman Stadium, and the Royals themselves call Jimmy a super fan.

Residential Therapy

SW Arch 92 Edit copy Residential TherapySome parents might be asking, “How do I know if my teen needs residential Therapy?”

I often tell parents that if they find themselves seriously concerned about their child’s behavior or emotional state more than once or twice a month, then they need to take action.   They know their child better than anyone else, and they need to pay attention to their “gut.”

The longer a parent waits to deal with serious emotional and behavioral issues in their teen, the more difficult it will be for a parent to address these issues themselves, and the greater the potential that residential therapy will be needed to assist the parents.

There are many specific warning signs: defiance, rebellion, lying, depression, isolation, suicidal communication, refusing to participate in family activities, being secretive, dramatic changes in behavior, friends, or academics, destructive habits such as drugs, alcohol, cutting, or eating disorders, choosing poorly in relationships.

When you get to this stage, you have probably already discussed your concerns with your child on multiple occasions with little success and have maybe consulted with a local therapist.  Unfortunately, outpatient counseling typically depends on some level of willing participation from the client.  Oppositional teens often struggle to make positive gains in the local counseling office for three specific reasons: First, because they have difficulty trusting a professional that they only see for brief weekly sessions.  It usually takes a great deal of time to build trust with a teen and they often doubt the motivations of people that they perceive as only caring because it is their ‘job.’  Second, teens often have difficulty expressing themselves through talk therapy and do much better when given an opportunity to express themselves through experiential therapy.  Some of the best counseling is done at Shelterwood while walking on the campus in the evening or sitting around the campus lounge with a cup of hot chocolate. Third, when left to their description of events or attitudes, teens find it to easy to mislead an outpatient counselor.  Outpatient counselors are put in a tough spot because they can only work with the information that they are being provided and oppositional teens find it easy to shift blame and avoid responsibility when they are the only ones in the office and the counselor has no other vantage point.

If your teen remains unmotivated and uninterested in changing his/her approach to life than residential care is the best option.  Residential therapy affords the counselor an opportunity to watch and interact with the teen throughout the day, seeing them at their best and worst while they interact with teachers, peers, and house staff.  Having been burned before, parents are often wary of a counselor’s ability to see through the manipulation of their teen.

Because of the 24/7 nature of residential therapy, it is really difficult for teens to mislead for very long.  But they certainly try, especially at first, enlisting one of three different approachesOne approach that usually only lasts a few days is to make attempts to act ‘good,’ trying to demonstrate that their placement was an overreaction by the parents and that they really don’t need to attend such a program.  A second strategy that they use is to try and create doubt within their parents.  They make assertions as to how bad the other kids are, or how horrible the food is, or maybe they will create elaborate stories about how the teachers don’t care about academics enough, or how the counselors just don’t understand.  After all, “You are right, Mom and Dad, I really do want help but just not here. It seems dangerous, unprofessional or not right for our unique family needs.”  The third technique is simply a power play, an effort to threaten parents with hurting themselves, hurting others, running away, or withholding future love and connection if they are left in the program.  Of course, I have also seen teens switch techniques when they are not achieving their desired results of getting removed from the program.

It usually takes a few weeks and maybe even a month or two to work through the teen’s resistance to change.  We use empathy and strength until teens slowly recognize the safety of their current surroundings and begin to let down their guard and become more honest.  By placing their teens at Shelterwood, parents are clearly communicating to their teen that there are consequences. And by keeping their teen at Shelterwood through graduation, those teens are learning that their mom and dad are serious about them learning these lessons before they return home.

It is important to remember that each teen is a free moral agent with his or her own will. Some teens act on what they are learning while they are still in the program.  For others, they might need to return and struggle again before what they learned can be solidified into lasting change.  Earlier this year, I heard from one young man who wrote to thank me and to tell me what he had learned at Shelterwood. The remarkable thing is that this young man did not finish our program; in fact, he had to be removed from the program. He described in some detail the things he learned in our program and the desire to come back and visit.

So, if you are dealing with a struggling teen right now, you are not alone, and you are not a bad parent. However, you are in a massive battle. You cannot focus on your past mistakes, and lose heart and give up. The Bible reminds us to “forget what lies behind and to press on.”  Seek the prayer and encouragement of others, and the wisdom and counsel of professionals.  And continue to believe that love never fails!

Homework Struggles?

3WtyNdU Imgur 300x200 Homework Struggles?Success is a team sport, with students and parents both taking an active role.  Sometimes though, homework makes parents and their student feel like they are members of rival teams!

Homework doesn’t have to be a game with winners and losers. Identifying specific struggles that a student might have with homework is a great first step to teaming up for success.

As with any good team, it really helps to understand what motivates your teammate. Understanding how your teen approaches homework might be the best clue as to how to encourage them and draw out their best performance. At Shelterwood, we have found that teens typically fall into four very different approaches.

The Motivated Student: This student has an internal drive to achieve, and independently pursues academic excellence. Resourcing this student with time, space to make decisions, and regular encouragement can help him maximize his full potential.

The Motivated, Accommodated Student: This student wants to do well, but may have struggles in one or more subjects. She receives help in school, and is striving to achieve even with limitations. We have found that frequently reminding this student of the full arc of her improvements can be very helpful. It is important not to do this in an empty vague way, but to instead truly celebrate success with real specific affirmations and rewards. If this student falls into the trap of simply looking at day-to-day successes and failures, goals become may become foggy, frustration will set in and progress often becomes stalled. Tutoring and peer study groups are often a valuable resource for this student as she struggles to maintain motivation for difficult subjects.

The Procrastinating Student: This struggle might be the most confusing to parents and often creates a tremendous amount of frustration within the family. When students wait until the last second to do projects and daily work, it is often difficult to determine when they are falling behind until progress reports are sent home. This student is his own worst enemy, and though he may not struggle with the material, he digs himself into a hole. Issues arise when parents aren’t aware that their student has been procrastinating until the last minute, and this erodes trust. Asking the student homework related questions daily, communicating with teachers, and helping with scheduling assists this student greatly. But be careful with oversight; it is easy to fall into the trap of taking on too much. Instead of allowing the teen to defer responsibility, begin to discuss the fear that is behind the procrastination. Often the desire to see a teen maximize his abilities hinders parents’ ability to see procrastination as anything beyond laziness, falsely believing that his effort and ability to complete assignments is completely under his control. Instead, these parents need to open their hearts to the idea that maybe fear and self-doubt, not laziness, might be paralyzing his progress.

The Combative/Resisting Student: At Shelterwood, we have found that students that have become agitated and upset by the very mention of homework are often troubled by a deeper dynamic. There are many possible reasons that a student is combative when it comes to homework: struggles with content, frustration over lack of study skills, power struggles, undiagnosed learning disabilities, emotional struggles. Instead of engaging in the battle, empathy and loving engagement is really the only solution for parents. Setting aside the homework and focusing on the individual will help parents get to the bottom of things and eventually help their teen. Professional assessment may be needed to see if there are diagnosable issues at play. Resistant angry teens can be a real challenge and often push parents into expressing their own anger. The tension might dissipate if the parents can distance themselves from their teen, but it might leave them feeling like victims and walled up in their own homes. It is always better to not take a teen’s opposition personally, but to instead recognize that the teen is actually in a critical place and in desperate need of help.

Homework doesn’t have to be a battle, and parents can take control of the situation by knowing where their student’s strengths and weaknesses are, what their motivations are, and how to best communicate with them. Like a cruise liner, it takes time to steer the ship in a different direction, but take heart. It is doable!

Chad Smith

Academic Dean, Shelterwood

Sometimes Social Media is not very Social

The Lonely Side of Social Media

As a parent of older teens, I do my best to stay current with today’s social media sites and apps. The best I can manage these days is Twitter and Facebook, which is now, according to my teens, a site for “old people.”   I guess I can’t argue with them when I see my mom posting things to their pages and signing off with, “Love, Grandma.” To be sure, it’s the modern day equivalent to pinching their cheeks in public. Grandmas can somehow get away with it…parents, on the other hand, cannot.

parents at computer 300x169 Sometimes Social Media is not very Social
Sometimes social media is not very social

As I browse through my news feed, I see my friends with younger children post pictures of cute shenanigans or share amusing things their kids say or do. I am not allowed to do that….EVER! Every time I take a picture of my teens, the first words they say are, “You’d better not post that to Facebook!” So, I am left to experience all of the joys, triumphs and failures of raising teens alone. My kids are doing some really cool things, saying things that make me laugh out loud and daily impressing me with their ability to navigate tough waters. But I cannot share this and I am coming to see why. They are people who have rights to their own lives. Of course, it was nice when they were little and we could choose their clothes, their food and sometimes even their friends. Not so anymore, and that’s a good place to be. But, it’s a lonely place to be. So, Moms and Dads, take heart in knowing that there is a huge population of us parents of older teens out there who feel the same way. You are not alone! I encourage you to treasure these days as much as you did when they were little by keeping a private ‘Facebook’ in a journal that you can give them someday when they need to be celebrated.

Snow Plow Parenting

super mom med 300x199 Snow Plow ParentingThere is a new buzzword in parenting circles today…the ‘snow plow parent.’ These well intentioned moms and dads are closely related to their twins, the helicopters. Just like a snowplow, they go ahead of their kids and move any obstacles out the way so that the kids have a smooth path in which to move forward. The problem, as you can guess, is that it robs kids of the sense of accomplishment and value they receive from solving problems, learning to handle loss and forging their own paths.

As a parent who ‘snowplows’ at times, I can tell you that the tricky part is when your child battles with depression, anxiety, a learning disability, a physical limitation or handles stress by turning to substances. As a parent of a struggling teen, I naturally want to minimize obstacles out of fear that if our child struggles, he might turn even more towards his dangerous coping behavior and his problems will only deepen. This cycle of rescuing in order to protect our children from themselves can feel like a death spiral.  And I know I am not alone because many parents call each day, sharing a similar story of feeling out of control and seeing that their teen is “spiraling out of control.” It is so enticing for us as parents to get overly involved in the situation when we feel like our child is behaving out of control. Most parents have a hard time sitting back and watching their kids work through adversity on their own, but it’s often the only way for children to learn to trust themselves and gain the confidence needed to navigate through adolescence and adulthood. If we remove the obstacles for them, they feel paralyzed to handle any hardships that will inevitably come once they leave home.

Could it be that our attempts to help our kids have perhaps caused some of those issues in the first place because we have unwittingly given them the message that they are not capable people and must have our help with everything? There is no guilt here…our children know that we have good intentions. They do. But I have come to recognize my own need to show my kids that I trust them to be capable, strong, and creative in their problem solving. Even when I see them struggling and using dangerous coping mechanisms such as cutting, drugs, sex, etc., I am called to let go. My role as a parent is not to drive the snowplow but to simply pick up a shovel and work alongside my teen.


Call us and learn more about Snow Plow Parenting
800 584 5005

How to find Success in School

Three things parents can do in January for a better May

student computer 300x205 How to find Success in SchoolJanuary spells the beginning of a new semester for most teens, but maybe things didn’t turn out so well the previous term. Now is the time to plan for success in school.

Too often kids who struggle or perform poorly in school are victims of their own poor habits. January is a great time to set them up for successfully completing the school year that is coming in May! Here are a few things parents can do to help:

1. Get to know the lay of the land. A new semester means a new schedule and perhaps a couple of new teachers. Contact the teachers to introduce yourself and ask questions like: (take out all dashes here and in between the questions) How much time per week can he expect to spend on homework for your course? Are there any large projects coming up during the semester?  How often do you update your grades online? Then sit down with your student and discuss what you find out!

2. Chart a course. Sunday evening, sit down with your student to discuss school. Talk to your teen about the weekly family schedule including the sports and activities done during the week, and the expected homework load. For example, if you expect that your student is going to average one hour of homework per night, when will that hour happen on Tuesday night? Figuring this out will help both of you start healthy time management patterns.

3. Celebrate positive results and make a game plan for those times when you miss the target. You may find out during your Sunday evening sit-down that an Algebra test is coming up on Wednesday. Bring this up in conversation Monday and Tuesday nights, and then ask how he did on Wednesday. This engagement brings accountability, both to your teen and to you as the parent. Celebrate success! If your student did well, praise him! If the test didn’t go so well, process what went wrong.  Challenge your child to speak with his teacher and ask follow up questions, and then encourage him to commit to improvement. The key is to show your teen the skill-set of owning his success so he can take the guidance you give him and begin to apply it without your help.

Communication is key.  Parents who discuss goals, material from class, and time management with their teens will give struggling students more confidence in the classroom. These conversations are more effective when they start in January, instead of in early May when it’s too late.

Chad Smith

Academic Dean

Shelterwood CEO thanks the staff

 DSC 2008 copy e1417458820659 200x300 Shelterwood CEO thanks the staffDear Shelterwood Team:

I want to take a moment this Thanksgiving Holiday and thank you for your service and your dedication to Jesus and to the kids and families we serve at Shelterwood.  I have told many people that I am very proud of our entire Shelterwood team.

I would like to share a wonderful complement we just received from John DeVries from a conversation he had with the CEO and Founder of one of the other “Jesus focused faith based” programs in the country.  They had a Education Consultant visit their program and the consultant told them that “Shelterwood was the gold standard of Christian programs.”   It is a huge encouragement that the perspective regarding us continues to be so positive.

And I recognize that this positive report is due first to the favor and blessing of God, and then second to the hard work of a wonderful and dedicated team of people.  Please join me this Thanksgiving in thanking God for His favor and blessing, and ask Him to continue to give us wisdom, divine protection, and to send us those kids and families that we can help.

I also want to share a story with you from our trip home on the airplane from Ft Lauderdale to Dallas with our team of 35 from Haiti.   I am going to leave off the specific names.  You can certainly guess the names, but the purpose is not to single our any particular staff members, but instead to give you a picture of the perception of our Shelterwood team by those watching.

I was seated on the exit row aisle, and I boarded the flight first so that I could check off our kids as they boarded the plane.  One of our young adult staff brought up the rear, and he checked the kids off in the lounge as they boarded the plane.  Seated across from me in the exit row aisle was a middle-aged woman who was interested in my list and struck up a conversation.  It turns out that she was a psychologist and had placed one of her children in a residential program a number of years ago.  She started the conversation by telling me how well behaved and respectful that our kids had been in the waiting area at the airport.   She told me about a couple conversations that she had with our kids prior to boarding, and she was very complimentary.

Towards the end of the boarding process, one of our girls was unable to find luggage space in the overhead bins, and she came to me and began to cry, saying “my mom and dad told me to keep this with me and not to check it, what am I going to do?”  One of our team immediately got up and pulled their own bag out of the overhead bin so that she had space for her bag, and then took their bag to the front of the plane to be gate checked.    The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.

Then halfway through the flight, one of our young adult leaders knelt down in the aisle next to me and told me that one of our female teens was using foul language and cursing out one of our female staff.  It had evidently caught the attention of the senior flight attendant who had warned her that if she did not behave herself, she would not be allowed to board her connecting flight.   I instructed this young adult leader to move our most senior female staff member to the seat adjacent to this young woman and to explain to her the consequences of her behavior.  And that if she did not change her behavior and apologize to the flight attendant, she would not board the next flight, and I would drive her from Dallas to KC with one of our female staff.   The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.

Then I got up and went to the front of the plane to visit with all four of the flight attendants on the flight.  I introduced myself to them, explained who we were, and where we had just been.  Among other things, I told them that fourteen of these kids had just been baptized in the Caribbean, and that we had a team of 35 on the plane and 34 were behaving themselves.  I apologized for the “one” who was misbehaving.  I assured them that we do not approve of that behavior, and that there would be consequences.  I said that “I fully support your decision should you choose to refuse her boarding the next flight.  We will simply rent a car and drive her back to KC from Dallas.”   The flight attendants couldn’t have been more kind, gracious and understanding.  They wanted to know about Shelterwood and what we do.   I then went back to my seat, and while I was sitting there, the lead flight attendant brought me two bags of stuff… when I looked inside, I found a sample of most of the stuff you can purchase on the plane:  a bottle of wine, chips, nuts, hummus and cheese, etc..   They thanked me for what we do and said that they just wanted to bless me with these things as a gift.  The female psychologist next to me watched this transpire, and said nothing.DSC 2007 copy e1417458765471 200x300 Shelterwood CEO thanks the staff

After the airplane landed, the female psychologist leaned over and with tears in her eyes, said, “I wish that I had known about a facility like yours to place my child in when he was struggling.  Your team is absolutely amazing.”   This was a huge compliment from a woman who watched our kids and our staff interact for several hours, and I would agree with her.  We do have much to be thankful for!  God has blessed us with a great team!    Thanks again for all you do!

I know that you may be working this Thanksgiving, and as a result, you will be missing your family.  Thank you for your service to Jesus and to us at Shelterwood.  Your service has not gone unnoticed in heaven, and our entire team is grateful as well.   As Corrie Ten Boom used to say, “If you obey God and give of your life, time and possessions generously, you will discover that you cannot out-give God.  God will do amazing things for you and through you.”  God is doing amazing things here at Shelterwood.  Thanks so much for the important part that you play in our ministry to struggling teens and their families.

May God bless you this Thanksgiving!

Blessings, Jim
Shelterwood CEO