Rural Missouri - August 2018 - 32
Above: Medical Assistant Karen LaFevers, left, and Licensed Practical Nurse Kari Rogers get
ready to draw blood for a patient's lab work. Bottom: Whetstone Program Director Matt
Foster works with a boy on his school lesson. "We're in this business of making men," Matt says.
"We want to make sure that they get the help that we got."
The ranch also shut down for six months in order to rebuild. But from
the carnage came Cabin Week: an annual part of Whetstone's program where
the boys take a break from their normal routine and work on a dogtrot-style
cabin - dubbed "Ebenezer" - using trees broken by the storm. Although the
inspiration for the project comes from the story of the same name in the book
of Samuel, the inherent metaphor for rebuilding with something once thought
damaged isn't lost on Brandon.
"Instead of just letting them lay down and rot, we were able to take a negative situation and make a monument to the idea that God has a purpose for all
of our lives," Brandon says. "And it's been really fun. I mean, what boy doesn't
want to be able to say that they built a cabin?"
Ebenezer also recalls one of Whetstone's core values of servant leadership,
in that the school also serves as a working ranch. Combining the other key elements of therapy and education, the boys spend part of each Friday in agriculture class taught by instructor Ty Lewis. Hands-on projects include tending to
farm animals, learning ag economics and building and maintaining fence. On
Wednesdays, Ty also leads the boys on service projects around the community
with help from Whetstone staff members.
"There's always a lesson that can be learned from the day, and it helps them
see there are other things out there besides 'my little bubble,' " Ty says. "Working with animals adds a whole other aspect. It allows them to feel safe and
Helping the boys develop the vocabulary and communication skills to
address their struggles is just as important as developing character traits such
as honesty, kindness and self-control. Program Director Matt Foster says in
order to successfully teach and model that behavior parents also must be
engaged in their son's therapy.
"If you're 13 years old and you don't need to live at home for nine months,
there is more going on than just you," Matt says. "That's something people
don't realize about running a therapeutic boarding school; everyone you are
seeing is coming to you at the most desperate time they have ever been in."
The school side of the ranch is itself a two-part process which headmaster
Axel Liimatta refers to as "ﬁlling the bucket and lighting the ﬁre": traditional
school subjects taught through Accelerated Christian Education curriculum
coupled with afternoon discussions and lectures on music, ﬁlm and literature.
Axel's afternoon sessions are another approach to help the boys on their journey. Ideally, each learns accountability and responsibility along the way.
"If you take the long view of things you realize all we ever do on our best day
is plant the seeds," Axel says. "Just like a farmer, you have to create the right
conditions, but we don't make the plant grow."
David is a 13 year old who graduated from the program in June. Before
coming to Whetstone his relationship with his parents was rocky - a near
constant state of arguments. Now, David says he has learned to control his
anger and communicate with his mother and father.
"I deﬁnitely have more respect for them and understand they are trying to
help me," David says. "Now they know I'll be able to talk to them and not get
upset and make things go downhill from there."
In the same way that Ebenezer is being raised one week at a time in the
woods, the staff and boys of Whetstone keep at their unﬂagging mission of
building and becoming better men. Unlike building the cabin, their work may
never truly be ﬁnished.
"That's the idea here, these boys being surrounded by good men and a good
environment that will help shape them," Brandon says. "And it's hard, but
everything that's hard is usually good in the end."
For more information on the Good Samaritan Care Clinic, go to www.
goodsamaritancareclinic.org. For more information on Whetstone Boys Ranch,
go to www.whetstoneboysranch.com.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2018
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Contents
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Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover3
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