Saturday, April 9, 2016

Matt got "Gooned"

Early this week another family we know sent their son to wilderness. Matt, 16 years old, had been doing drugs, leaving the house without revealing his intentions or whereabouts and exhibiting threatening and abusive behavior towards his family. He is going to struggle in that environment. Matt's family is very well-to-do. I don't believe he's ever had a callous on his hands from working. The world has been served to him on a platter from in the material sense.

Matt's situation is unique in other ways. He is adopted, often a big factor with wilderness kids. His adoptive Mother is not particularly stable, leading his Grandmother to take the reins on Matt's life. It could be worse. Grandma and Grandpa are well off. They live in a beautiful house with several vacation homes. When they travel they go on the private jet. Sounds wonderful, huh?

This profile is not unusual in the wilderness world. A family has to have means because the programs are very expensive. The woods are full of rich kids. Jack was able to go because we had financial help. We learned when we attended family workshop and Jack's graduation that we were a bit of a financial anomaly.

Unfortunately, money doesn't buy the things that kids need to become well-adjusted, good-decision-making individuals. That's compounded by the fact that kids with money have access to a lot of things that are dangerous for them. Drugs, fast cars and instant popularity can distort a kid's sense of right and wrong. Non-identified or misguided values provide a faulty framework for decision making and often, the young get into trouble or become addicted to substances.

As it turned out, Matt was met at home by a pair of large men who served as his escorts to the eastern Utah winter headquarters of Open Sky. He'll be gone for a couple of months, living under a tarp, hiking 7-10 miles a day and learning how to start a fire without matches. He will get blisters and callouses. He'll learn how to eat food cooked over a fire from a limited menu of ingredients. Hopefully, he will find himself and a vision for the person he will become.

Jack update;
We talk to him every week and catch up on his activities, social life and school work. The other day someone asked me how Jack was doing. I heard myself reply that he's doing well and that he's an "A" student now. I'd never said that about Jack before. I have such pride in the growth he's making. Jack would be happy to have that support but he's determined to improve himself strictly for his own approval, internal validation.

The last time we were with him he was about an inch shorter than me. When we see him again next month I hope he's an inch taller. He's growing in so many ways. Now his friend Matt is on the path.

Consider contributing to one of these funds so families that need help can afford it.

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