residential program for at-risk youth

i need recommendations. i have a friend who’s daughter has made a series of bad choices, each one worse than the last. in each of these, she’s denying everything. this is a girl from whom you wouldn’t have seen this coming, a year or two ago. her parents and i agree that she could use a good summer experience in a program that takes her away from her normal everyday environment, including the friends who lead her into these choices. over the years, i’ve heard of lots of these programs, including those from a christian perspective. but i don’t actually know where to point my friends. i want to be careful that they don’t send her into a program with seriously hardened kids, and she ends up coming out worse than going in (like a nominal offender after a year in prison). any suggestions? western half of the united states would be helpful.

10 thoughts on “residential program for at-risk youth”

  1. I had a friend who worked at Star Ranch in Texas in the early 90’s, and it seemed to be very good. It looks like their website is down tonight, but I don’t know if that’s a technology problem or if they have gone out of business.

    However, when searching for Star Ranch, I came across, which seems to have some good suggestions for what you’re looking for.


  2. A couple of students I’ve worked with have been part of Outward Bound. They’ve had great, life-changing, positive experiences.

  3. Marko,

    This sounds like me when I was fifteen. I was sent away to a lock-in program and did learn many more tricks of the trade by the time I got out.

    I don’t know what kind of “program” you are looking for. Any “criminal”-focused program will have other “hardened” kids in there that she could cling to. If you want a christian camp-type thing, there is always Hume Lake in Cali. They are having a camp in San Diego in 5 days and it’s 5 days long.

    I’m sure you know this but anywhere she is sent, she will find the bad choices if she wants. Although, getting her away from the bad influences and negative routine would be healthy, it would most likely be short-term. I just don’t know if 5 days is long enough. Were you all looking for long-term, just through the rest of Summer or for under a week?

    Has her family considered family therapy? Sometimes having a neutral person hear every side of the family “problems” and give unbiased solutions could solve much more than sending one problematic family member away.

    Anyway, I hope some of that helps :)

  4. Oops, forgot one:

    I know someone who went through Teen Challenge and it turned his life around. I believe his program was long-term but I think they have short-term and other programs. This is an environment that has hardened kids but the leadership is phenomenal.

    Teen Challenge

  5. I accidentally put some info about this in the section after your book review blog entry. Check it out… i have heard this is a great place. I think they use equine therapy, among other things. I am praying for this girl.

  6. Marko,
    Jen’s comment about family therapy is germane, whatever else they decide to do or not do. The “problem person” is not usually the real problem. She may actually be reacting to something else.

    What a hard place for all of them to be in. God’s grace to you.

  7. I worked for Heartlight Ministries
    ( as residential staff (a.k.a. house parent) and highly recommend it. It’s not a short-term summer program though.

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