Thursday, May 25, 2017

And Now It Gets Interesting

After 21 long months, Jack has returned to live with us and resume his life experience beyond treatment programs. On September 5, 2015 I took him to Open Sky Wilderness Therapy where he spent 80 days working through some of the issues that contributed to his unhealthy choices. In the weeks and months leading up to that event, Jack would choose skipping school and hanging out with other kids to smoke weed and engage in other nefarious activities.

After Open Sky, Jack was enrolled at Montana Academy in Marion, Montana. The school specializes in helping kids transition from wilderness programs back to a slightly more typical environment. While at MA, Jack made a complete turn around scholastically. In 18 months of year-round schooling he managed a grade point of 3.85, more than 1.5 points higher than his public school history. He also achieved a wonderful level of maturity.

The kid that I delivered to Open Sky is now a bright, engaged young man. The programs he attended have given him new tools that make him skilled at expressing himself, listening to others and coping with the frustrations that he encounters. We could not be more proud of the work he has done and the bright, young adult he has become.

Jack's graduation from MA and re-entry into the world brings with it new challenges. Together, we are adjusting to a life without the structure and protection that the school provided. For months we have been working on the plan for our family's transition to living together and how Jack will navigate his new (old) surroundings, without reverting to the behaviors in which he engaged two years ago.

Both Open Sky and Montana Academy have excellent programs for the parents and families of the kids they serve. It's well documented that when a young person does the therapeutic work they need they will fail later if their families don't complete work on their own. We have done our best to grow in a way that will support the advances Jack has made.

The center of the transition preparation has been Jack's "Relapse Prevention Plan" in which he spelled out his expectations for himself over the next several years. This was a project he didn't take lightly. The document goes into great detail, covering drug use, school performance, future goals and relationships. Lindsay and I both completed our version, referred to as the "Montana Academy Post Plan". In it we detailed how we envision Jack's interaction with the family and the rest of the world. We were impressed at how closely the two documents mirrored each other, giving all of us some encouragement for moving forward with little conflict.

Even with all the planning and negotiation for how life would work, there are remaining trust issues to be ironed out. Jack is learning to trust that we continue to have his best interest in mind. We are learning to believe that Jack will express his challenges openly and not revert to behaviors that he used to avoid conflicts.

Believe me when I say that Jack is fantastic young man. He will spend his summer working with friends that have a business teaching kids to rock climb. He's taking classical piano lessons and continues to play his bass and guitar. We're on the same wavelength regarding with whom he spends time, where he goes and what he does.

It's entirely likely that there will be slip-ups and conflict. Through that we will continue to grow and become stronger.

And now it gets interesting.

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At January 30, 2018 at 5:27 AM , Anonymous Søren Hansen said...

I am happy to report that prolonged pressure on schools like Montana has resulted in closure of several of them. We at Domestic Prisoners of Consciense as well as US based human rights groups have made a difference, so teenagers like Jack in the future will be able to live a normal teenage life instead of exposing them to death and frost bites in harsh wilderness programs and boarding schools where they will have difficulties to have their credits transferred back to their old school district.


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