Teen Ranch Programs



I’m Not A Cowboy

There are a number of programs that are designed around good old fashioned western values. Often referred to as “Ranch Programs” or “Troubled Teen Programs”. The programs include academics, behavior modification, a points or level system, and chores. The chores are usually foreign to the teen enrolled in the program. Many teens are not used to doing any type of chore around the house, let alone chores on a ranch or farm. The obvious advantage to a program like this is the built in consequence system of extra chores. For example a teen that is not compliant may be asked to clean out a corral. This doesn’t sound too bad, but when the teen realizes that it means shoveling and hauling animal waste it takes on a whole new meaning.

Academics On The Farm

Teens enrolled in a Ranch Program are required to attend school just like teens everywhere else in America. The difference is that most programs of this nature utilize modern technology to facilitate the teens education. There are many programs available on line that allow teens to stay caught up on their school work while they are on the farm. Most of the online programs allow a teen to move ahead at their own pace. This is helpful for students that suffer from ADD or ADHD. When a teen struggles staying focused they can do some school work, mixed with farm chores, mixed with caring for the animals on the farm. This minimizes the effects of the ADD allowing the student to have a little variety in their daily schedule.

Animal Therapy

Some Ranch Programs offer Equine Therapy or some other type of animal therapy. The philosophy behind involving animals in the therapy has the ability to reach teens that are difficult to reach. This can be accomplished by using the animal in analogous examples allowing the Therapist to break through walls that may have previously been difficult to break through. There have been a lot of studies done on the effectiveness and benefits of these types of programs. The results can be very dramatic even with Autistic children that may have been impossible to reach previously. Programs for special education or Autistic children are obviously different than the troubled teen ranch programs we are discussing now. The reason for pointing to the success with Autistic children is to illustrate the benefits of using animals to help young people in general.

Life On The Farm

Unlike the John Denver song “life on the farm” is not very laid back at all. Teens spend all day in school followed by their farm chores, any home work assignments, followed by individual and group therapy followed by bed time. The day usually begins early on the farm with animals needing attention eggs gathered, cows milked, morning chores are done before school. It may seem that this type of program could be compared to slave labor as the students whose parents are paying tuition are also allowing their child to work for free. If the ranch hands assigned to work with the teens would probably agree that it would be easier (at least initially) to get chores done without the teen help. At any rate when the teens retire for the evening they are ready to go to sleep.