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Alldredge Wilderness Journey

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Posted: Jul 9, 2003 19:01

Letter To Editor

July 21, 2003

Our family sought the help of an educational consultant after our son had run away and been found. He was depressed and we were not communicating well. Several programs were recommended and we chose Alldredge.We chose it primarily because it included two parent programs in the overall three month "semester back" program.We did not want to be separated from our son any longer than necessary and have two other children who were very affected and also needed to be part of the process, in our opinion.

The first month, the kids stay in the wilderness with counselors. Our son was a flight risk and we were very comforted by the tracking system and communication that was in place. He did, in fact, try to run and was unsuccessful.

The wilderness is used as an environment in which the kids explore beliefs and feelings. They have truth discussions and hold each other accountable to being honest about feelings. Our son took eighteen days to open up. This was a very scary time for him and us, however, the communication with Alldredge was excellent and comforting. He formed a tight bond with the three other boys and two girls in the group.

At the first parent program, our son had a look, posture and smile of confidence that we had not seen in years. All parents in our group had the same impression of their child. The first program lasts three days. The bonding with the other families and the other kids is indescribable. Several methods are employed to evaluate communication in each family and to share stories and feelings . The setting is so intimate, supportive and safe that the kids open up and so do the parents. We explored game-playing, roles and how an individual develops beliefs about the world and their identity in it. Repeating family patterns over generations are explored. Our family learned how we had gotten "stuck" with our communication and strategies to move forward.

In the second month, the kids live in a primitive village setting. The kids are more focused on community life and live with the group ahead of them in the program. The previous group acts as mentors. Our son grew tremendously this month in terms of how he was to tell us how he felt and had been feeling for a long time.

The second parent program comes after the village. Our whole family attended. This was the most profound experience of my life. Our family learned so much about each other and our patterns of communication. We now have "tools" to get out of ruts of communication and are aware of our trouble spots.

The third phase is school. Our son completed his entire second semester here. The kids continue to work on emotional growth which is still emphasized as the most important objective.

Our son is now home and has been described by both sets of grandparents as a "miracle". We know that we have a lot of work ahead but now have confidence about the strength of our family. I try to face fears openly and honestly.

I feel that Alldredge saved our sons life. He stated at the second parent program that he does not know what would have happened to him if he had not made it there. Our son also said that he met several kids at Alldredge that had been to other programs and that this was the first that had worked for them.

We have not experienced any other program, however, we feel that the values at Alldredge , as stated in their mission, including the search for virtue closley matched those of our family.

Cecile Holden


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