Today was a day to remember as our group of teenage boys and girls from Turning Winds Academic Institute had the opportunity to engage in another great activity. The night was spent off-campus in Bonners Ferry, Idaho at AJ’s lanes where the boys and girls competed for the highest score in bowling. One of the participants, Matt, said, “The activity was a blast!” Others enjoyed eating the amazing pizza while watching the youth leagues compete. One of the girls, Stephanie, proclaimed herself to be the winner of the night with a bowling score of 150. After further inquiry, it was determined that the high scored was achieved with the assistance of bumpers. Way to go kids, were glad that you had a great time!
Teens Snowboarding and Snowshoeing The Flat Iron Trail
On Janaury 6th, 2013 our teen boys’ group started off their Sunday a little earlier than usual. The anticipation and excitement was palpable among the group of teenage boys as they set out to snowshoe and ski the Flat Iron Trail, an intermittently groomed trail located on Flat Iron Mountain near Libby, Montana.
This endeavor was not your typical visit to the ski resort. No chair lifts, no groomed trails, and no lodge to get that steaming cup of hot chocolate. At approximately 10 a.m. the group loaded up their skis and boards onto their hiking packs and prepared to snowshoe for 2 hours up the steep, narrow trail and up to the top, where lunch was enjoyed while taking in the spectacular view. Ian B. expressed his sense of accomplishment by saying he was “amazed at how gratifying it was to reach the peak and to look all around me and know the only place to go was down”.
After lunch the snowshoes came off and on went the skis and boards! The group was reflective of various skill levels, but much to their credit those who were more advanced proved helpful and patient and everyone had a terrific time. Down-hilling the mountain was described by one participant as “a pure powder wonderland that will be hard to beat in the future”.
Turning Winds Academic Institute Christmas Party
Driving up to Yaak, Montana for the Company Christmas Party was like being in a winter wonderland; the party was held in the local community center to give it a feeling of being in a warm cabin on a wintery night. It was a great time to mingle with our colleagues. The food was to die for as it was prepared by Bob’s catering services. Throughout the event, there were games played and gifts exchanged. One of the lead supervisors mentioned how nice it was to celebrate with friends that have the same mission in helping troubled teens. David, the program director, gave the analogy to the staff that they were like the stars in the dark sky that gives light to the students at Turning Winds Academic Institute. Despite the cold weather, the spirit of Christmas warmed all of our hearts.
Turning Winds Academic Institute Bridge Completed!
We would like to thank all of those who were involved with this project our sincere appreciation. We will now be able to access the back portion of the property to play sports, work our forestry management program and to have fun. Wow, this is beautiful!
Troubled Roller Skater's not Teens!
What a blast we had this evening as we took the kids roller skating in Libby, Mt. It was fun to watch those kids who had never been roller skating attempt to skate. One student, Stephanie, mentioned that it was nice to put on skates again. Another student, Vince, had some hidden talent which we were unaware of until he put on his skates. It was almost mesmerizing to watch him skate as he obviously had a lot of experience. He showed off doing some jumps, twists and forms which demonstrated his skill level. The other students could not believe what Vince was able to do out there on the rink. We had the roller rink to ourselves and the management team was very effective in working the music, arcade game room and assisting with food accommodation. We had Pizza Hut deliver at the roller rink for our convenience. It was truly a teenagers night out from Turning Winds Academic Institute with pizza, soda, video games, music and the fun experience of, awkwardly roller skating for the first time!
Turning Winds Academic Institute – Fostering Healthy Lifestyles in Teens
Tonight we celebrated the birthday of one of our students, Jasmine who just turned 18 years old. What a blessing it is to have a student who is so passionate about changing her life. And although she is away from her family, she mentioned that this was one of the best birthdays she has ever celebrated and she thanked the students and leaders for this momentous experience.
We had a great group of teenage boys and teenage girls with us tonight hanging out and having a great time. One of our parents had just donated a new blue-ray dvd player, so we decided to view our first blue ray quality picture at TWAI. We watched the movie, “War Horse,” which is an inspirational movie detailing the life of a young man and the bond it had with its’ horse, Joey, during World War I. It was definitely a tear jerker for some of the girls. It was one of those moments that as a parent you would have admired how remarkable your children were as they sat and watched the movie while talking and eating popcorn together without any concern as to whether or not they were up to no good.
While watching the movie, a group of students were in the nearby kitchen baking several batches of chocolate chip cookies as a gift for the staff at Turning Winds Academic Institute. Needless to say, the cookies did not quite turn out as we had hoped for. Either there was a key ingredient missing in the dough or there was too much of an ingredient as the cookies had sort of a bland taste to them. Oh well, the kids had fun making the cookie dough and then baking the cookies.
Our group also created a new logo for our crew and will be working on a slogan that will go along with our new crew logo. Eventually, the students will be able to have these printed onto t-shirts, polo’s or a nice fleece to wear around the campus. Next week’s activity will be at a roller rink where we will have dinner together and put on some skates! Wow, I didn’t know that roller rinks were still around.
The Warmth of a Campfire brings healing to the soul
One of the aspects that make teen boarding schools great, is the activities that are offered. Each week at Turning Winds Academic Institute, the students hold a Crew Meeting for all those who are doing well at the school. The students have decided to name their Crew, The Wolf-Pack. The kids are in the process of designing a logo and slogan which best represents their work as a Crew. The mission of the wolf pack is to engage in high adventure activities; to foster the development of student leadership and to give back to society through meaningful service. This week we decided to hang out around a bond-fire to discuss the events that would take place for the next few weeks. The boys and girls came up with some awesome suggestions for service in the community. The kids talked about Christmas caroling at a nearby nursing home in December and making cards for those who reside there. Another idea was to bake cookies and make cards for the staff at TWAI. Both were great ideas!
The highlight of the night happened while telling scary stories around the campfire and just as the climax of one particular story was reached, one of the leaders let out a primal scream and the group of girls all jump in unison while one of the boys jumped so far that he landed on the nearby bench. We all had such a great time around the campfire and for a moment it seemed as though we had forgotten about the troubles in our lives and the very things that brought us to TWAI.
We concluded our experience by having root-beer floats while continuing to converse around the campfire. As we were discussing our logo and what it would look like, one of the girls suggested that we have a logo of a campfire with the smoke appearing as a wolf. What a neat idea; we should have a rough draft put together by next week.
By: John Baisden
New Construction at Turning Winds Academic Institute
Turning Winds Academic Institute is in the process of replacing an old bridge that was constructed by utilizing a railroad car deck which was supported by two large larch trees that were three feet in diameter and spanned thirty –six feet across the South Fork of the Yaak River. With the heavy run off this year and extended rainy season into the Summer months, the South fork of the Yaak River swelled beyond its banks and eroded away about two feet, thus, causing the existing bridge to sink below the high water mark. Travel across the bridge became nearly impossible and with the structure compromised further, we could no longer access the back part of the 150 acre of property.
After taking nearly a year to get approval through the regulatory agencies, we will have completed the construction of a beautiful steel-substructure bridge that now spans forty-five feet across the South Fork of the Yaak River and now sits approximately six feet higher than the previous bridge.
Turning Winds Academic Institute cares a great deal about the environment especially when it comes to our water ways. Being one of the best teen boarding schools in the world, we teach each of our students through character education the importance of environmental awareness which addresses the impact that we have on the surrounding environment.
The new bridge will be completed by the end of November 2012 and will allow us to utilize the 120 acres of land which we have on the other side of the river. Our hope is that next year, we will be able to install several activity fields for outdoor recreation. In addition, this will allow us to enhance our campground and we will be able to integrate animal care into our scope of treatment in working with struggling teens.
By: John Baisden
An Amazing October Experience in Hells Canyon
We left for Hells Canyon on Sunday, October 14, 2012 with a group of seven boys which included Cameron, Joey, Aiden, Matt, Jacob, Joe and Ahmed. The boys were eager and had some hesitation at the same time as they were about to embark upon a journey that would put them to the test physically and emotionally. We stopped in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho to refuel, eat a great dinner at Qdoba and fix the wiring on our TREC trailer as we had some lights that were not working correctly. One of our students who’s intention is to pursue electrical engineering for his college focus, gladly took the challenge and repaired the damaged wiring as we all hung out in the parking lot of Auto Zone.
We did not arrive at Pittsburg’ Landing until about 11:30 pm Sunday night. Upon arrival, we determined the campsites that we would occupy and began to set up tents as bad weather was upon us. After setting up our tents and putting away our gear, we settled in for the night. It seemed as soon as everyone got into their individual tents it began to rain. The tone was beginning to set in as we all knew that on the morrow we would begin our expedition in Hells Canyon.
Monday morning, we awoke early and began to prepare for the day. We had a motivational thought that morning on the power of maintaining a positive attitude when faced with adversity as we were trying to prepare these young men for the days’ itinerary which was to backpack approximately twelve miles from Granite Creek to McGaffee’s Cabin. Once we were packed, we met a river guide near the boat ramp on the Snake River who would navigate us up the river approximately 30 miles and drop us off near Granite Creek where we would begin backpacking. The boat that we loaded onto was a thirty foot aluminum boat with three boat motors that could provide more than 600 horse power. The ride up the river going over the rapids was exhilarating to say the least. The guys were grateful for the experience and within an hour we were dropped off above Granite Creek.
The Fall colors were in full effect as the scenery seemed almost surreal. The hike for the first day seemed to last forever as we did not get into camp until about 5:00 pm. We were exhausted, but stayed positive and looked forward to a much shorter day on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, as we were hiking along a stretch of trail, we heard rocks rolling down the hillside opposite to the river from us. As we looked up, we were in awe to see a 250 lb. black bear traverse across the side of the nearby mountain. Apparently, we had startled the bear! We watched the bear for about five minutes until it made its’ way into a treed canyon with thick underbrush. We were all surprised at how quickly the bear was able to move on such a steep sloping mountainside. For those of you that thought that you could outrun a bear on a mountain side, think again. The hike was only seven miles, so time seemed to go by much faster. Most of that day, we hiked with the sun upon us which was a warm change from the days prior as the weather was cold and rainy.
On Wednesday, the original leaders transitioned out with new leaders who would take them the remainder of the way back to Pittsburg’s Landing. The group awoke early Wednesday morning to prepare for the most challenging hike of the trip as they would be backpacking approximately twelve miles with some good elevation gains. The group hiked well despite the challenges of the hike and they were in good spirits upon arriving at Kirkwood (campground) around 5:00 pm. The group ate dinner and talked about their hike on Thursday which was a six mile hike that would take them back to Pittsburg’s Landing. After talking about the remaining itinerary, the boys presented a unique challenge to the leaders. They proposed to hike out the remaining six miles that evening so that they could spend all day Thursday resting and relaxing. The leaders agreed it would be a safe and rewarding experience for them to complete the hike a day early, so they continued on. Most of the remaining six mile stretch of trail was hiked in the dark. It was truly an adventure for the boys and the adults hiking at night with headlamps beaming down on the trail in the dark of the canyon. The kids were amazing and we are so proud of them! They broke all sorts of records; it had been at least five years since we had a group of teens that were able to physically hike nineteen miles in one day. Congratulations guys for accomplishing such an amazing feat!!
The following day, the boys spent relaxing and working on therapeutic assignments. It was a day of great reflection as the guys thought about their lives and some of the issues that got them to where they were prior to enrolling in our teen boarding school. New commitments were made towards establishing a healthier life style and another experience of creating success in the lives of teens had been achieved.
Before transitioning back to Turning Winds Academic Institute, the group stopped off at Silverwood Theme park for an Octobers’ evening celebration. The kids had a blast at the park eating “ junkfood” and enjoying the park rides. For more information on Silverwood Theme Park visit, www.silverwoodthemepark.com. We are so proud of our students for their amazing accomplishment and for having the courage do something that very few people would ever accomplish in their lives. It is an amazing testament to the great abilities that we have as people when we put our minds to accomplishing something so great. No obstacle in life is impossible to make it through given the right planning, tools and determination.
By: John Baisden
On the morning of February 26, 2011 four students from Turning Winds Academic Institute attended the 32nd Snow Joke Half Marathon in Seeley Lake, Montana. The course is one lap around the Seeley Lake on plowed roads with caution from race organizers of "ice patches". Total distance of the race is 13.1 miles. These four young men trained for six months in extreme weather conditions. Enduring very cold temperatures and heavy snowfall they remained focused on their goal. Below is an account from one of the students on how it all began:
"If you were to drive on a Monday afternoon down South Fork Road in Yaak, Montana; you might witness the sight of four teenagers maintaining a steady pace though the crisp, cool mountain air surrounded by the serenity inducing scenery. Alex B., Alex A., Phil V. and Hunayf P. are all from various places throughout the USA. During our stay at Turning Winds Academic Institute we discovered we all shared a passion for running. Using this shared drive a dream was born. Through dedication, support, and sheer will power the once obscure thought of running a marathon was turned into reality. Not to say it was easy, but together united along with the highly supportive staff members and administration of Turning Winds Academic Institute we overcame the odds and proved that "if there is a why, there is always a how!"
On February 26th, "we were finally granted a chance to put our efforts to the test at the 32nd Snow Joke Half Marathon in Seeley Lake, Montana. Everything we went through taught us never to give up, fall in love with running, and build everlasting relationships. Upon the completion of the marathon we were on the top of the world with our lives in our hands to control. No distance is too far, no mountain is too high when you pour your heart and soul into it...Especially with your friends."
Another student recalls the race: "The pre-race speech was made, the gun fired and we were off. The first six miles were a little slow to start, but we were starting to stretch our legs as the pack spread out. My partner and I gave it all we had in the last seven miles, running as hard as we could. I remember the last two miles were brutal because we were so tired. We crossed the finish line at 1:51:59, exhausted but relieved to be done. We finished 69th and 70th out of 400+ runners. That was pretty sweet for us."
The accomplishment of these students is a clear indicator that with passion, hard work, and determination goals can be achieved. Persevering in the middle of a grueling Montana winter, all four boys proved to themselves and everyone around them that anything is possible when you remain dedicated and focused on your goal. Following the Turning Winds Academic Institute mission statement of success, these four students truly “RENEWed their belief in their own potential”, as well as inspired fellow students to extend and set goals for themselves.