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Whetstone Program

Whetstone Boys Ranch’s mission is to “sharpen the character of young men by modeling the life of Christ, mentoring them through authentic relationships, imparting the love of creation and teaching the joy of work, thus equipping them to be servant-leaders in their families and communities.”

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Boys in snow at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys


Who does Whetstone Boys Ranch therapeutic boarding school serve?

Whetstone Boys Ranch serves families with boys between the ages of 12-16 who are struggling with anger, apathy, depression, relationship, trauma, truancy and/or self-esteem, among a variety of other things. Many of the boys we serve have also been diagnosed with attention deficit, hyperactivity, oppositional defiance and attachment struggles.

Harvest at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

What is the length of a boy’s stay?

At a minimum, it takes 6 months to complete Whetstone’s program, so we recommend planning for 6-12 months. In this time, boys will work through a level system and earn the equivalent of at least one semester of academic credit in our boarding school. Parents must also make arrangement for two separate week-long family visitations. We feel that these times are necessary to facilitate a successful return home upon graduation, and for our staff to conduct training and campus improvements.

Fun at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

What is your boy-to-staff ratio?

Whetstone’s greatest strength is its extremely low 3:1 boy-to-staff ratio. Because relationship-building is so fundamental to the therapeutic environment, this is something we feel very strongly about. While Missouri’s licensing limit is 8:1, we believe such a standard dramatically hinders the quality of care. In contrast, Whetstone has a ten year track record of maintaining a 3:1 ratio…or lower.

Rodeo time at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

What is your daily structure like?

From the time he wakes up at 7:00 a.m. until he turns off his light at 9:30 p.m., each boy is given direct care and supervision. As he advances through our program and demonstrates greater responsibility, he is given greater freedom, though his time is carefully managed in order to provide meaningful and therapeutic activity. Whetstone is a non-restraint facility but if a boy chooses to leave, we will work with the proper authorities to provide for his safe return.

Newspaper article about Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Do you offer/participate in community service?

Servant-leadership is the highest goal in character development. To this end, each boy contributes a minimum of six hours of community service per week. In order to accomplish this, school work is completed in four days, allowing one day during each work week for service. These diverse experiences include but are not limited to:

Building fences · Putting up hay · Sorting, branding, and doctoring cattle · Processing chickens and pigs · Laying tile · Installing hardwood flooring · Painting · Demolition · Serving food to needy families · Taking soil samples · Extracting Honey · Gardening · Landscaping · Tree planting · River clean-up · Highway clean up · Cooking · Animal Care

During these times, boys work alongside many other individuals, and they are evaluated on both attitude and performance. Progress in our program is connected to their participation.

Learning skills at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Do you offer vocational training?

Whetstone Boys Ranch believes that boys grow best when they are productively engaged in a project, and that mentoring is most effective when they work alongside other men in the accomplishment of a worthy goal. To this end, boys will gain hands-on experience with a variety of skills such as carpentry, fence building, leather work, gardening and a variety of agricultural activities. Depending upon a boy’s level of interest and determination, he will be able to earn academic credit for his work.

Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

How do you address character/spiritual development?

Whetstone Boys Ranch is intentional and proactive when it comes to character development – a goal that is expressed in our very name. Like the purpose of a whetstone is to sharpen a knife, our purpose is to sharpen the mind, body and soul of each boy on our campus, making him useful for service in his family and community when he leaves. Our unique 3 Level/6 Trait system is incorporated into each aspect of our program. We take the sharpening concept to its limit, using every opportunity to instill 6 traits necessary for a successful and fulfilling life after they leave Whetstone. Beginning with the end in mind, we work through the 3/6 system in a detailed manner, applying Scripture and building relationships all along the way. On Level One, we focus on Honesty and Self-Control. Put into basic terms, we are looking for compliance. This stage generally lasts about one to two months. On Level Two, we raise the bar – continuing to hold him accountable for the first two traits, while adding Responsibility and Kindness. On Level Three, we begin building Loyalty and Perseverance. These traits guide our decisions in many aspects of the program, including chapel topics, film discussions, reading assignments, and community service opportunities.

Bull arrives at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

What animal skills do the boys learn on your ranch?

God created an amazing variety of animals for man to admire, nurture and train. In giving him dominion over them, he gave us the opportunity to learn important lessons about ourselves, our world and our relationship with Him. Whetstone Boys Ranch is committed to providing an animal rich environment that will allow for daily interaction and work-based therapy. Currently, we are in the process of developing a Farm Program that involves work with cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits, dogs…and a constantly varying number of cats.

Hiking at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

Do you teach basic outdoorsmanship?

Nature is the best classroom. Countless lessons about truth, justice, beauty and harmony can be gleaned by simply sitting still long enough to observe the forever constant and constantly changing properties of wind, sky, earth and water. Our 285 acre ranch, nestled in the Ozark Mountain Region provides awesome and ample opportunity for boys to interact with the Creator of a classroom without walls. A sample of the classes we have offered in the past includes Winter Survival, Summer Survival, Fishing, Orienteering, Campfire Cooking, Shelter-Building, Knot-tying, and Disaster Readiness. In addition, each boy will participate in at least one “Adventure Week,” during which he will be challenged to grow mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually in the great outdoors.

Basketball at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

What kind of athletics do you offer?

Whetstone Boys Ranch maintains a dynamic program of strength and endurance training by engagement in distance running, team and individual sports such as basketball, football, whiffle ball, golf, ultimate frisbee, can-jam, swimming, and disc-golf. Each month, our Recreation Coordinator leads the boys in a series training and competitive exercises designed to help them develop skills that they can be proud of and they we will be able to transfer to their everyday lives. Beyond mere competition, athletics allow boys the opportunity to learn and practice important life-skills such as self-control, patience, endurance, fortitude, attentiveness and commitment. We try to capitalize on these bed-rock virtues, while also having good old-fashioned FUN!

Fishing at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

What other kinds of recreation do you offer?

Whetstone Boys Ranch was founded upon the belief that boys are built for adventure. This is simply the way they are wired. Our entire program is built around providing such forums for self-improvement. We are committed to designing an exciting program for your son that includes weekly opportunities for creative projects and skill development. During a year long stay, this will usually include fishing, swimming, hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, rappelling, bowling, model building, carpentry, woodworking, guitar, field trips to concerts, sporting events and museums, creative writing, movie-going and much more! A note about media: We never allow boys unsupervised access to the internet, television, music or movies. All exposure to these things is monitored and used intentionally to build character, educate and counsel. These things are not bad; but we believe the boys in our care need a lot of mentoring and guidance when using them.

Restoring families at Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys

What sorts of after-care/transitional services are offered?

Whetstone Boys Ranch is not successful if your son is not successful. Whether this means sending transcripts to high schools, helping him to enlist in the military, preparing for the ACT, or simply keeping in touch on facebook, rest assured that we will be intentional and available when it comes to helping him make a smooth transition. Through a comprehensive system of therapy that includes consistent accountability and loving guidance, we hope to provide your son with a both a reason and an opportunity for lasting change. We are optimistic that our biggest problem might be that your son doesn’t want to leave. With God’s help, Whetstone might just become a home away from home.

What is your stance on medication?

It is our policy to administer medication if the parents wish, and if it is the recommendation of their family doctor. Potential reductions in medication, if desired, will only be attempted after consultation with medical/health care professionals. Having said this, Whetstone believes that full participation in our program will reduce the likelihood that most psychotropic medications will need to be taken long term.

What happens if you need to use restraint?

Our staff is trained in crisis management and de-escalation techniques through Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). Should the need arise, Whetstone is positioned to enlist the assistance of local juvenile and law enforcement officers. Our 50 years of combined experience working with boys has equipped us with a variety of formal and informal tools to address these issues when they arise, and more importantly, to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

boarding school for troubled boys

What’s the cost?

Please call our office at 417-934-1112 to talk to a Whetstone Boys Ranch staff member about tuition. If interested, you may also wish to contact Prosper HealthCare Lending about low interest loans for mental and behavior health. Prosper HealthCare Lending is the premier financing company in the behavioral health industry. With over $5 Billion funded and over 300,000 loans inquiries serviced through their lenders, this is a name and a program you can trust. Here are some of the benefits you’ll receive with a loan from Prosper HealthCare Lending: Immediate decisions for loans under $35,000 Term options out to 84 months (affordable monthly payments). No collateral required. No prepayment penalties. Fast & easy loan inquiry process. 100% Confidential.