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Whetstone Program

Transforming Troubled Boys into Servant-Leaders: The Whetstone Program

Embark on a journey of growth, restoration, and empowerment with Whetstone Boys Ranch boarding school for troubled boys. Our 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. Through our unique program, we equip boys aged 12-16 to become servant-leaders in their families and communities.”

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boarding school for troubled boys


Who does Whetstone Boys Ranch therapeutic boarding school for troubled boys serve?

Whetstone Boys Ranch serves families with boys between the ages of 12-16 who struggle with anger, apathy, depression, relationship issues, trauma, truancy, self-esteem, and various other challenges. The ranch offers support and programs tailored to address these difficulties. Many of the boys we serve have also been diagnosed with attention deficit, hyperactivity, oppositional defiance and attachment struggles.

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.

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.

boarding school for troubled boys

What is the students 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.

boarding school for troubled boys

Do you offer/participate in community service through your boarding school for troubled boys?

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.

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.

boarding school for troubled boys

How do you address character/spiritual development?

Whetstone Boys Ranch prioritizes character development, as reflected in our name. Our mission, akin to a whetstone sharpening a knife, is to hone the mind, body, and soul of each boy, preparing him for service in his family and community upon departure. Through our unique 3 Level/6 Trait system, we meticulously instill six essential traits for a successful life. Beginning with Honesty and Self-Control on Level One, we progressively integrate Responsibility and Kindness on Level Two, and culminate with Loyalty and Perseverance on Level Three. These traits underpin every aspect of our program, guided by Scripture and fostered through relationships.

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.

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.

boarding school for troubled boys

What kind of athletics do you offer?

Whetstone Boys Ranch maintains a dynamic program focused on strength and endurance training through activities like distance running and various team and individual sports. These activities include 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 actively leverage these foundational virtues, all while ensuring a healthy dose of old-fashioned FUN!

boarding school for troubled boys

What other kinds of recreation do you offer?

At Whetstone Boys Ranch, we believe that boys naturally crave adventure; it’s part of who they are. Our program focuses on nurturing this adventurous spirit, offering abundant opportunities for self-improvement. We commit to crafting an engaging program for your son, packed with weekly opportunities for creative projects and skill enhancement. Throughout a year-long stay, activities typically feature 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. We monitor all exposure to these elements intentionally, leveraging them to build character, educate, and provide counseling when necessary.These things are not bad; but we believe the boys in our care need a lot of mentoring and guidance when using them.

boarding school for troubled boys

What sorts of after-care/transitional services are offered after staying at your boarding school for troubled boys?

Whetstone Boys is not successful if your son is not successful. We are committed to being intentional and available, whether it’s sending transcripts to high schools, assisting with military enlistment, preparing for the ACT, or staying connected on Facebook. Each aspect is approached with dedication and readiness to support. Our aim is to ensure a seamless transition for him in whatever path he chooses to pursue. 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?

Our policy involves administering medication upon parental request and in line with their family doctor’s recommendation. We only decide to reduce medication after consulting with medical professionals. However, we firmly believe that active participation in our program significantly decreases the need for long-term psychotropic medications.

What happens if you need to use restraint?

Our staff undergo rigorous training in crisis management and de-escalation techniques through Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI). Whetstone stands ready to engage local juvenile and law enforcement officers in case of emergencies. With 50 years of combined experience working with boys, we’ve amassed a range of formal and informal tools to address these issues as they arise. More importantly, our expertise allows us to prevent these issues 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 loan inquiries serviced through their lenders, this program has earned a trustworthy reputation. You can rely on its name. Here are some benefits you’ll get with a loan from Prosper HealthCare Lending: Immediate decisions for loans under $35,000. Term options extend out to 84 months with affordable monthly payments. No collateral required. No prepayment penalties. Fast & easy loan inquiry process. 100% Confidential.


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Another memorable trip to Memphis. Great museums, great music, great food. We actually got to meet the duckmaster on the roof of Peabody Hotel. A little rain, but that just made it more “bluesy!” ... See MoreSee Less

Another memorable trip to Memphis. Great museums, great music, great food. We actually got to meet the duckmaster on the roof of Peabody Hotel. A little rain, but that just made it more “bluesy!”Image attachmentImage attachment+7Image attachment

Adventure Week Highlights: camping through a midnight storm, 14-inch pancakes, "around the world" basketball, Mr. Newell's Jambalaya Challenge, Mr. West's New Zealand accent, camp coffee, fishing just to fish, quiet talks on quiet lakes, and lotsa disc golf. The pictures tell the story. ... See MoreSee Less

Adventure Week Highlights: camping through a midnight storm, 14-inch pancakes, around the world basketball, Mr. Newells Jambalaya Challenge, Mr. Wests New Zealand accent, camp coffee, fishing just to fish, quiet talks on quiet lakes, and lotsa disc golf. The pictures tell the story.Image attachmentImage attachment+Image attachment

Adventure week begins! Setting up tents at Bar M Campground in Branson. ... See MoreSee Less

Adventure week begins! Setting up tents at Bar M Campground in Branson.
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