What was the problem you were having before you discovered Whetstone Boys Ranch?
Though Caleb had always struggled with controlling his emotions, shortly after the age of 11 our home had become a battleground. Stealing and lying had become the norm. We watched helplessly as our tender-hearted, engaging son turned cold and apathetic. He refused to take ownership of his poor decisions and became increasingly withdrawn, angry, and depressed. Everything was a fight, whether anyone else was engaging with him or not.
What did the frustration feel like as you tried to solve that problem?
It’s hard to describe the feeling as a mother to watch your child spiral and not be able to “reach” him. As the parent of a challenging child you learn how to become their advocate, helping others see the amazing qualities within them that you see and love as their parent. As his mom, I truly believed that I knew him best. I knew how to speak to him, love him through his hurt, and put supports in his life where we felt unqualified. But, eventually, none of that was enough. Limits were set and mowed right over. Privileges were lost only to be met by verbal abuse and threatening behavior. Passwords were changed and items were taken away, only for our accounts to be hacked into and reset. Money was stolen, trust was lost, and joy was nowhere to be found. Every day was exhausting. Not trusting my child was heart breaking. I was afraid for his future and deeply saddened by what our family had become. I missed my son. There were many voices telling this Mom that he needed more than we could give him. I fought against those voices so hard, as I knew God gave him to US intentionally. I will never forget the day I felt the Lord say “get out of My way”. I was working so hard to provide an environment that Caleb could succeed in that I was standing in the way of where God wanted him. Driving Caleb to Whetstone was the most difficult thing we have ever had to do as parents, but there was nothing else WE could do for our son. We had to let him go and let the Lord take over.
What was different about Whetstone?
Whetstone was everything we couldn’t give Caleb. It was a break we all needed. Caleb deserved to be in an environment where his temptations didn’t exist. He needed to be in a place where he had opportunities to explore new interests, challenge himself, and find a purpose. He deserved to be with people who could be consistent 100% of the time because the environment supported it. He needed to feel understood and have access to people who could help him process his strong emotions as he was experiencing them, not for 50 minutes, days later, during an already scheduled appointment time.
Talk about the moment when you realized that our program was actually working to help solve your problem.
It didn’t take long. He sounded happy and healthier during our first phone calls, which we know may not the norm for most boys. The first opportunity we had to see Caleb we were a nervous wreck, especially because we were there to tell him we were moving. We will never forget him nervously telling us he had to ask us a question. It was nothing either of us was expecting. He said to us, “Why did you wait so long to send me here? Why did you show me so much grace?” We were blown away. He then broke down, sobbing, apologizing for all he had put us through.
During our first family visit, we were able to see just how deeply he was being impacted by your program. Besides his manners and eagerness to hang out with his family, it was his smile. There was a joy in his smile that we hadn’t seen for years. We spent that week enjoying genuine conversations with him, as he shared his experiences, asked our advice and listened to our responses, nodding along as he processed what we were saying.
Tell us what life looks like now following your experience with Whetstone.
Caleb has been home for three months now and it seems so hard to even believe what life was like before Whetstone. Whetstone didn’t change who Caleb was – they helped to bring our son, who was lost inside of himself, back. Today we are enjoying the typical frustrations of parenting a 13 year old boy, which we will gladly take! Our biggest disagreements are over how often he should do his laundry. We are so happy to have our boy home and to continue to see that joy filled smile on his face as he jokes around with his siblings or is teasing his Dad. He completed his first quarter at a new school with all A’s (and one struggling Science grade) and zero notes/calls from teachers about behavior.
One of our greatest things to watch is the return of Caleb’s sweet, playful relationship with his siblings. They are regaining their trust in him and he is aware of just how impactful his interactions with them are.
He is involved in extracurriculars and church youth group, is making new friends, and training for his first 10k in May.
We are forever grateful to the Whetstone staff for loving our boy.
My name is Gina Degenhart. In March, 2014, my husband and I made an incredibly hard decision to enroll our son into the Whetstone Boys Ranch program. At the time, we were at our wits’ end and feeling hopeless as we worked with our son who was struggling teenager. Little did we know then how dramatically the Lord was going to help change our son and family during the following 11 months. After completing the Whetstone Program, our son returned home a profoundly changed young man. Praise the Lord! He started Whetstone at a 5th grade academic level, while he was in 8th grade. Just last week, he graduated top 10 in his class, earned Academic and Technical honors, and accepted an apprenticeship with a local HVAC company. While in high school, he was a record holding football kicker, for a team that this year was state runner-up. He also was awarded All-City Academic team all four years in high school. Before Whetstone, we seriously worried he might not graduate from high school. He proved otherwise…excelling all the way through. Just as important, our son’s ability to relate with family members, peers and those in authority dramatically improved. He is beloved by employers and family members, alike. His spiritual growth is a testimony to the love and nurturing he received at Whetstone.
As a result of the experiences our family had while our son was at Whetstone, I felt led to get involved. I have been a member of Whetstone’s Board of Directors since 2015. Jeremy Thompson, Whetstone’s Executive Director, has communicated the idea of converting the unused and unsightly area where the swimming pool used to be, into a new recreation area and venue for resident level changes and graduations in the future.
I experienced a graduation at Whetstone when my son graduated. While it was nice and held in the living room of the residence, we would have loved to have had a more formal, designated area where we could have had more space and ideally been outside in God’s creation. Myself and all of the board are excited to experience future graduations in this area upon completion!
If funded and once finished, I am confident that Whetstone will use this area to help kids know Christ. Modeling the love of Christ, developing authentic relationships with boys, and imparting the love of creation are all tenants of Whetstone’s mission. I have no doubt that all of these things and many more benefits will come as a result of this project.
Thank you for the opportunity to apply for this grant.
“Some great guys making a difference in this world…”
“I would HIGHLY recommend Whetstone to anyone who has a son who’s struggling. We sent a 15 year old boy to the ranch and he came back a confident young man! The staff is wonderful – so full of grace & love for these boys. It was worth every penny we spent and I am so thankful for them!!”
“I’ll keep this short and sweet. My son went to Whetstone because he was out-of-control at home. Details aren’t necessary, but suffice it is to say the home life situation was untenable. Through the love, patience, and wisdom of Whetstone staff, my son was basically transformed over nine months. All the exact factors that drove that change can’t be reduced to a formula, but his time there being surrounded by godly men had an absolutely profound impact on him. He’s been out for about six months now, and, while there have been brief moments of him exhibiting past bad behaviors, they have been just that – brief. He quickly catches himself and course corrects. He is even quick to apologize when he’s been wrong; something he never would have done before. I cannot endorse this program more highly.”
“A great and life- changing experience. I miss the place.”
“Speaking from the point of a past kid who ended up going to whetstone when I was 16, this ranch is a miracle and so are the staff. They helped me to find my way back to God and showed me how to be a great sharp young man and without them I would never have made it where I am now they Teach you sharpen you and build relationships with you when I was there I hated everyone close to me and got it I some scary things but now I have found how to love my family and be mature I also was given a second chance and joined the marines some who have gone here would say otherwise just to do damage to people who fed clothed and taught them and offered their help but this place is a miracle and it saves lives and families!”
“I highly recommend Whetstone Boys Ranch. The staff are individuals of high character, very loving and very good at what they do. The ranch provided a positive and supportive environment for my son to heal and grow.”
“Overall we had a positive experience. There were many difficult days but in the end it was what our family and son needed – a break, an opportunity to change a negative pattern. Our son is thriving now and I’m not sure we would be where we are without Whetstone’s help. I can see how it might not be the right setting for everyone but it was for us. Our son was known, held accountable, challenged, and rewarded.”
“Without Whetstone in my life, I would be a mess. Whetstone has taught me many ways to control emotions and actions. I have become a better worker and person because of whetstone Boys Ranch. The staff are always there for you, and will do anything to help you thrive physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Whetstone is truly a life changing experience that can change a troubled teen into a man. Proverbs 27-17 stands wide and clear with Whetstone. ” As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.” Being a brother at whetstone means being a leader and becoming someone who the boys look up too. As a leader you don’t only lead, but you also sharpen the character on other boys. And that’s what becoming a Whetstone gentleman is all about. I am a graduate of Whetstone, and now a thriving young man because of whetstone.”
“Whetstone was definitely the right place at the right time for our son. It may not be right for everyone but it was the perfect fit for our family. It wasn’t easy but Whetstone made a huge positive difference in our son’s personal growth. The men and women who work at Whetstone are amazing individuals who guide the boys to the very best of their ability.”
“Few people can understand the chaos and hurt going through your family when making a decision that your young son can’t and shouldn’t live at home with you. Shortly after taking action and getting a few days of peace in your home, you begin to pray that you made the right decision and that he is in the hands of professionals who will love him with discipline and therapy. You’ve put enormous trust in the people running the school. My wife and I did not and have not regretted our decision for a second. These are trustworthy, Christian men who will pour into your son.”
“I highly recommend Whetstone Boys Ranch. The Whetstone staff are individuals of high character. They are very loving and are very good at what they do. The ranch provided a positive and supportive environment for my son to heal and grow.”
“As the mother of a young man who graduated the program (and returned two years later as an intern), I cannot sing the praises of Whetstone enough. Thank you for transforming lives and infusing hope.”
“Whetstone is a wonderful place where boys become men, under the influence of the godly men working with them! love all the Whetstone team!”
“Its Wonderful what to see a trouble youth find his way like a EAGLE He can FLY ..”
“I am so proud of these young men who have dedicated their lives to helping boys become men. God bless you Axle and Jeremy as you serve Him.”