Therapeutic Christian Boarding School
Why We’re Different From Teen Boot Camps
Finding the best method to help your troubled teen can be one of the most crucial and difficult decisions you make. In recent years there has been an increase in parents seeking a ‘teen boot camp’ as a form of intervention. Often modeled after military basic training, a teen boot camp typically seeks to first “break down” a teen through rigorous physical training, hard labor, and strict discipline followed by a period of rebuilding. These boot camps may achieve short-term results, but often lack the integrated approach to make a truly lasting change.
Crosswinds’ approach is different. We believe the therapeutic Christian boarding school setting we provide in the Dominican Republic offers many things that domestic programs and other traditional teen boot camps cannot: an opportunity to focus, a shift away from material value, a fresh start, healing for your family, a chance to rediscover hope, an integrated approach and personal time of growth for your teen. We know that sending your child to a program out of the country can be a very difficult thing to do, but there are many benefits to the location of Caribbean Mountain Academy at Crosswinds.
Why Would I Send My Child to the Dominican Republic?
- Adventure-based Experiences: Hiking, white water rafting, snorkeling, and much more can bring new perspective, confidence, and peace into lives that have been full of stress and poor choices.
- Caring for Plants and Animals: Part of the experience in the Dominican Republic can include helping to care for the animals on the campus, such as chickens, cows, goats, and horses, as well as gardening. Not only does this help teach the value of hard work, but it also helps take the focus off of “self” and puts it toward nurturing (and appreciating) God’s creation.
- Leadership Development: There are all kinds of leaders. Some are natural-born leaders and others are less obvious—such as the quiet ones leading by example or the individual that steps in when a moment of need arises. We believe that it is our responsibility to discover and cultivate these abilities within the students we serve, including providing them with opportunities to lead others. In fact, we believe our Christian worldview provides the best framework to develop all styles of leadership.
- Concentration on Education: We want to help each of our students catch up, keep up or get ahead educationally. Most of our students struggle with school not because of ability, but rather focus and direction—especially given the struggles that they have been battling.
An Opportunity to Focus
The technology teens are adept at using daily is incredible. But it can also be part of the problem. They gather information instantaneously, are in constant communication with their friends, and can always be entertained. Being in the Dominican Republic will allow them to:
- Get away from the noise. How do you compete for their attention when someone or something is always getting in the way?
- Give them time to listen. Changes in their life come from not only quality time, but also quantity time. Being in a new culture and separated from their everyday life opens doors for us to share truth with them.
- Allow them time to be listened to. Not only are the students separated from distractions, but the staff that works daily with your child are as well. With an environment that is free from the noise of our American culture, students can be heard. We have diverged from the typical troubled teen boot camp approach as we strive to establish an authentic process where the students and teachers are growing together.
A Shift from Material to Relational Value
We’ve all taken things for granted at one time or another. In American culture, it’s much easier to focus on what we don’t have than what we do have. The experience in the Dominican Republic will provide:
- Community Service: Teenagers want to be part of something significant. The opportunity to do community service projects on a weekly basis allows them to gain a sense of purpose much bigger than themselves.
- Cross-Cultural Experience: The opportunity to interact with the Dominican people allows students to see that happiness has nothing to do with the things they have, but rather the relationships that they may have been taking for granted.
- Giving Versus Receiving: How often have our children heard the phrase that “it is better to give than to receive,” while at the same time the world is bombarding them with the message “get yours while you can?” Caribbean Mountain Academy allows our students to experience the gift of giving and to see the value of what they give, rather than what they get.
A Fresh Start
Have you ever just wanted to simply start over? Many of our students would do just about anything to have a clean slate. They often have a reputation that precedes them. No matter what they do or say, they can’t seem to shake what others have already determined from their “troubled” past. Instead of fighting this preconceived image, young people often give up, acting and reacting based on what others already expect. The Dominican experience will allow them to:
- Create a new reputation: At Caribbean Mountain Academy, students are removed from everything familiar – including the people who have known them in the past. They can leave their former reputation behind and build a new reputation that they can be proud of.
- Start over: Getting a fresh start with a reputation is just the beginning. Students also have a chance to start over educationally, physically, and emotionally.
- Eliminate negative influences: Sometimes the negative influences of other troubled friends, school, and the community are difficult to ignore. Not only are these influences absent at Caribbean Mountain Academy, but as a parent, you have also created a powerful distance between your child and those who have hurt your child in the past.
- Be vulnerable: Asking for forgiveness and giving forgiveness are virtually impossible unless a person is willing to be vulnerable. Being removed from everything you know is one of the fastest ways to reveal this vulnerability—no matter how tough you think you are.
Healing for the Family
Whenever possible, we will come alongside your family and work with you, your child, and the rest of your family, without your child having to ever leave the home. However, a therapeutic boarding school environment is sometimes necessary for your troubled teenager in order to reduce the tension before moving in a positive direction. This can be a difficult decision, especially in the midst of crisis. The emotional cost to your family and your marriage is not often clearly understood while dealing with a child who requires all of your focus and attention. A temporary break in the stress allows you to begin to understand the toll that has been taken on your family—and more importantly, allows you to begin restoring what has been lost.
Your child’s temporary stay in the Dominican Republic provides your family the opportunity to:
- Take a “time out”: The ability to have a time where you can catch your breath and gain your composure, while acquiring the tools and techniques your family needs is priceless. The fact that you have chosen to participate in this program also sends a valuable message to your child.
- Focus on your marriage: One of the most important things that you can do to help your troubled child is to work on your marriage. Difficult children are often well-versed at working one parent against the other. We will be working with you and your spouse on a weekly basis to make sure that you have the skills to not only keep your marriage strong, but to keep it strong enough to stay focused on what needs to be done when your child returns home. In cases where the parents of a child are no longer in a relationship together, we can still provide support to one or both of you, as a co-parenting team, to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals.
- Create a healthy environment: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Preparing for your child’s return is as important as the work being done at Caribbean Mountain Academy. If the family and the environment that your child returns to are not different from the one they left, the lessons learned at Caribbean Mountain Academy are not likely to prevail. Learning to communicate, appropriately discipline, and listen are just a few of the areas that are key to creating an environment where your child will flourish once they return home.
- Focus on the child’s siblings. Many times the influence on the remaining children is not often seen or understood until it is too late to counteract. Our program was created with the understanding that there are consequences throughout the family that need to be addressed.