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What Parents Say About Northwoods!

Hey Matt, How’s the great northwest? Jason’s hair still crazy curly? I haven’t talked to you guys in a few years. But Mike always talks about Idaho and how being at Northwoods was a part of his life he will never forget. He holds these memories very dear to his heart. Believe it or not, he has even matured. I know, who would’ve thought? There is always a random comment about how wilderness and Northwoods were a real turning point for him and how he will cherish the relationships he developed and nurtured in these settings for the rest of his life. You and Jason and the warm families of Bonners Ferry need to pat yourselves on the back. "YOU DONE GOOD BY MY KID!" No particular reason for the correspondence except that every time he brings Northwoods up, Dave and I look at each other and say we should really send you a note to thank you and to let you know how Mike is doing. He’s doing really well. He will always have struggles with anxiety but he has learned how to deal with his issues in a healthy way. He is excelling at Liberty University, playing club lacrosse and being the social butterfly you knew him as. I can’t believe he is finishing up his Junior year. I love that we are basically dealing with a regular 21 year old. Heck, I’m so thankful he is here with us, appreciating life and enjoying healthy friendships and an occasional immature moment with those friends. Although he has a few tattoos, they are tasteful and meaningful to him. He likes the fact that people ask him about them. That’s when he is able to talk about his past at wilderness and Northwoods. We spend time talking to him about the "gifts" and "experiences" he has been blessed with and that he may want to use these one day to help other boys that have lost their way. Through conversation and just watching his interaction with teens, I can tell he really does have a heart for the these kids. But, like every other young adult, it is important that he choose his path and I know that path is one of experience, disappointment, disillusionment and normal "young, I know it all " bull headedness. Remember those days? J I always tell my kids you have to push up through the dirt to be a beautiful flower. Mike keeps in contact with many of the kids he graduated with. I can sense that he misses Idaho, but he always cuts me short to say none of his friends are there anymore. I know many of them are there because he leaves his face book up when he’s home. I’m just sayin……I see his communication with them. Don’t worry, I’m not a meddling mom. The less I know, the better I sleep. He keeps in contact with Eli and high school buddies the most. I hope Eli is doing well. I think of his mom often. Mike’s good natured though. He avoids conflict with Scott (little brother) now and really is becoming the big brother we knew he would be. I told him he should go out to visit all of you this summer, on his own tab of course. He is considering it. He spent 10 days in Alaska this past summer with a friend. Beautiful pics and according to him, everything very much like Idaho. I know in my heart he’s not meant to live here in Baltimore for the rest of his life. He is a nomad by nature. Now I hope as he matures, he will begin to realize his gifts and start to focus on using these gifts in a setting quite like wilderness and Northwoods. Please give my best to Jason. I hope you are doing well. I hope business is good too. Thank you again for mentoring Mike and for the countless hours you give to these boys. It’s a gift. And you are a gift to these families. Happy New Year. Sincerely, Stephanie S.

Daron's Family would like to thank you Matt, Dave and all the Supervisors for enduring Daron. We all know what an Angel he can be but we have seen real progress with him. Daron is more mature, has more self-control, is more organized, focused and grateful. The first 4 days of his return have been a blessing (I'll check-in later...). Thank you to all involved...*In the event a parent of a troubled teen wants to speak to a parent of a former student of Northwoods you may consider giving them my name. Best Regards Matt. Darold

Julie, mother of former Northwoods student Connor, wrote about her experience with Northwoods;

That morning I first looked at the Northwoods website and three words jumped out at me: "Zest for life."  I couldn't help but reflect that someone had chosen those words and it might say "something" about the people that our son, Connor, would meet at Northwoods.  I had no idea at the time how "dead on" that thought was." Fresh from a top notch wilderness program, Connor came to Northwoods with some apprehension.  Honestly, his first month was pretty rocky.  It took time for him to make friends and for the group to gel.  He tested the rules and got in trouble.  During that time Matt, Dave, the therapist and the staff stayed in fairly close contact with my husband and me.  Any concerns we had were welcome and met with not a bit of defensiveness.  Before long though, Connor was clearly thriving.  He made friends.  He loved the outdoor adventure aspect of the program, cliff jumping, sailing, hiking, biking, and kayaking just to name a few.  He took great pride in showing us the trail the boys had built around the property at the Sagle Farm.  Before long he was eagerly anticipating his time in Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica part of the program is truly extraordinary.  Dave Yeats calls it "enrichment"; I call it transformative.  What Dave and Matt started on a tent platform in the rain forest has grown  to 100 acres adjacent to the Children's Eternal rain forest with two houses including one where families are welcome to stay when they visit.  Toucans fly by and howler monkeys can be heard in the distance.  The vegetation is tropical and lush. 

Connor has thoroughly embraced the culture of Costa Rica.  He lives in a fairly typical Tico home with a warm, caring host family with three other boys of their own.  He attends school during the day at La Casa de Northwoods which is going quite well.  He is learning Spanish at a furious pace and working toward fluency.  The students explore the rain forest nearly everyday with staff guidance and Connor has learned a tremendous amount about the ecosystem of the rain forest.  They work each day on the property.  The week we were there they were clearing rocks from a field to use it as a soccer field.  Somehow Connor has gone from high risk behavior to yoga, soccer, surfing, and weight lifting. 

"He tells me that when he comes home he will be trying not to eat anything with partially hydrogenated oil.  What was that I had to ask myself!  Most significantly though, he is remarkably comfortable in his own skin, self-confident and very much focused on the future."

"Connor is nearly halfway through his year at Northwoods.  He will attend a local public high school in Northern Idaho upon his return from Costa Rica.  I expect it will be far less exotic than Costa Rica rain forest but that real world, re-entry aspect of the program appealed to us.  He is looking forward to snowboarding on Schweitzer Mountain and plans to play baseball this Spring, an opportunity he thought he had blown.  He hopes to return home for his senior year of high school."

"In closing we can not know what the future holds for Connor but we have great hope.  During a time of raw heartache we put allot of faith in people we didn't even know but struck us as sincere.  We trusted in a small school with big visions and tons of experience.  We are not wealthy but we have chosen to spend our money on what we most value, Connor.  At this point, it is hard to imagine that we will ever regret this remarkable year at Northwoods.  It will always be apart of who Connor is.  It will be apart of all of us."

"I call that, A ZEST FOR LIFE!"

"Wow! What an awesome experience! The people are so lovely and friendly, and the country is beautiful. Thank you for putting us up at the Northwoods cabina! Very peaceful nd relaxing. It's wonderful to spend time with Mark. "

"After 9 days enjoying the sights, sounds and tastes of Costa Rica, and specially the hospitality of the Northwoods family, we truly understand!!! PURA VIDA...Gracias to Hugo, Pat, Choco, Freddy (and his family) for laying the ground worte and then enabling us to enjoy our trip down here. Being able to spend such quality time with Taylor will go a long way in solidifying our family. We now have a new perspective and understanding of his experience in Costa Rica, and are found of the growth and naturality he's shown.We enjoyed the tranquility and the family time at "La Cabina Isla", and had a great vacation to the Central Pacific beaches. Both of my land locked sons can surf!!! Enjoy your little piece of paradise and thank you for sharing it with us ! "

"Last morning. Flight out tomorrow!!! Enjoying last "Café con Leche"on the patio. The sound of Cicadas and birds always present. This time could not have been better. Had dinner last night with Hugo and Dinia, wonderful home cooking. Also if you have a chance go to Hanging Bridges. parrots, monkeys, waterfalls, "the real deal"Finally a thanks to the whole Mendez family. They are wonderful!!! Gracias family!!! Our son Michael is blessed to be abble to spend time living with them. It really is PURA VIDA here at Northwoods La Tigra Costa Rica.

PS. Please take the time to sit on the porch in the evening, in the dark, just listen. "

Northwoods in Bonners Ferry
PO Box 8
6889 Apple Alley
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
Northwoods in Sagle
PO Box 676
279 S. Sagle Rd
Sagle, ID 83860
Northwoods in Costa Rica
APDO Box 129
La Fortuna, San Carlos
Alajuela Costa Rica