Safe and Sound

Long Road

My teenage son and the two interventionists were on their way to Oakland. We received a text from the “lead” Tyler, when they arrived at the airport. We received another text when they made it through security. And more followed, when they touched down in Las Vegas, the stop on the way to Idaho. Similar texts came they were taking off again, landing and had arrived in Idaho. It was so nice to get these updates through the early morning hours.

We had so much support from our friends and family during this emotional time. They checked in with us throughout the day to see how we were doing. I am saying right now, if one can share hard times with others, it comes back to you big time. People do care and we were so grateful to have “our village”. Even with the support, the hours seemed to move in slow motion. We tried to go back to sleep but it didn’t really happen.

And then around 12:30 pm, California time we received a call from Tyler. He let us know that our son was successfully delivered to the Wilderness Program, safe and sound! Whew, what a relief!  He shared that our son was completely compliant and polite during the trip. The transport went very smoothly.

The only question that our son asked was “How long will I be gone?”
The answer, “A short time”. The real answer was most likely between 6-12 weeks. But I’m getting ahead of the story. Be sure to keep following the MY WARRIOR MOM LIFE Blog to get all the details!

Tyler asked if we had any questions for him.
“Did our son know what was happening? Was he suspicious at all?”
No, he was very surprised”, was the response. “He was very quiet, the whole way there”.
“Did he sleep on the trip?”
“Yes”, according to Tyler. (No, when we later asked our son. He just pretended to be asleep.)
“Did he eat anything?” we asked. “No, not really”, according to Tyler. (So much for the bottled water and Hershey’s bar I sent along!)
“Did he take his retainer, with his two false teeth attached to it?”
“No, he said he lost it”, said Tyler.
(After a couple of years of braces, this was the second custom retainer that he lost in just a few months time! And this one was only two days old! What? That was $700 down the drain! I was angry after hearing that! More on that later!)

We thanked Tyler and told him that he was one of our “angels”! We said that we would be happy to recommend him and his company’s services to anyone needing a transport team like we did. Tyler was happy to help. He would turn right around and do the same trip in reverse to make it back home later that same night. Within days, I filled out the questionnaire sent by the transport company and gave everyone high marks!

Within moments of our call with Tyler, we received a call from the Wilderness Program saying that our son was being checked in and about to pick up his clothing and gear. Shortly after that he would be examined by the staff physician and would join up with his new group. I could feel the numbness of our exhausting day beginning to wear off. Whew, what a relief! Our son was safe!

What would this new journey hold for our teen? Would he be angry with us forever for sending him to a Wilderness Program without his knowledge? Could he understand why we decided to send him? So many questions were in the air. Stay tuned to find out the answers.

Full of hope and relief,


One More Day….

My son was on a downward spiral before Wilderness

We completed all the paperwork for the Wilderness Program. We arranged for the transport company to come and take our sixteen year old son, in the middle of the night, without his knowledge. And yes, it is absolutely the one of the most difficult decisions a parent can ever make. But we had a chance to save his live. That’s it.

We had to think of it in a positive way. His life was spiraling downward. We were finding out about alcohol incidents that previously had been just marijuana use. Our house was like a hotel to him during the three weeks of summer vacation. He slept there, ate a late night meal there and was gone for the rest of the time. With who knows whom and who knows where. He was checking in less and less and I was always worried.

I called his friends, I texted his friends. They were really getting annoyed with me asking questions, but what else could I do? He seemed depressed and anxious at the same time. On the afternoon before the “big night” he asked me to take him to get some electronic supplies. I reluctantly said, “Fine.” On the way out of town, I rear ended a tow truck in front of his old middle school. Things like that happen for a reason. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but when I asked my son to retrieve our license plate which fell of the car into the intersection, he said, “No way, do you want me to get hit?”. WOW, thanks for caring, is what I felt. He got out of the car and started walking home when I told him that I wasn’t taking him to buy anything.

I tried to not think about what was ahead later that evening, so I went to try my hand at the game of pickle ball with a friend. It was a great distraction and an awesome workout. I ran into a couple of moms who were from our nursery school many year ago. As we talked, they asked about our son. I told them the whole story. Talk about stopping a conversation. I was very emotional.

The night before that we had a nice dinner with our son and the friend who took him to school during the last weeks of his freshman year. It was a thank you dinner to the friend and we all had a great time. Except, we knew what was coming and they did not. It was so hard not spilling the beans and acting natural, but we hung on and were able to do it. We talked about fun things we liked to do and of the future. It was surreal!

For some unknown reason, our son was home by 8:30 or 9pm the night of the transport. He watched some movies on his phone in his room and then started making grilled cheese sandwiches around 11 or 12 pm. I heard cereal being poured into a bowl after that.  There were lots of noises coming from the kitchen. I tried to sleep but couldn’t. I had an alarm set for 2:55 am. The guys (two large men: one played in the NFL and the other was bigger!) texted to say they would be arriving at 3 am. As soon as they arrive, we would go over the game plan first before anything else, outside the front gate.

Come back to the blog tomorrow to hear how it all went.

Trying to stay calm,


Shhhush…It’s a Secret

Shush...It's a Secret

After filling out the LONG online application for the Wilderness Program our son would be going to, we were given a TO DO list a mile long to make it happen. And we had to keep all of this a secret and under wraps or he would resist. The list of things we needed to get accomplished was scheduling a physical exam with the pediatrician, getting an up-to-date dental exam, ordering another retainer (since he lost one previously) and a finding a host of other things that needed to be scanned. I needed to find his report cards, student ID and get images of the front and back of the health insurance card. We needed to re-arrange big money and free up some room on our credit cards in order to pay for everything.

It seemed overwhelming but it actually gave me an action list of things TO DO  each day, so I was occupied. The last thing I wanted to do was to tip our hand and give away the Big Secret. So, we went on lock down. Any conversation we had with friends and family was on a different topic. No more posts on Facebook. The hardest part was that I still had to converse with other parents of our son, since he went “missing in action” a number of nights. I told them nothing.

My son would take his cell phone, but then go to places that had little or no coverage. He would take an extra charger, yet his phone would go “dead”. What a pain it was to try and communicate with him. Things couldn’t get worse, could they? YES! However, I knew we were on the right track, when at my son’s physical appointment, I asked to speak privately to the Doctor before he gave the exam. I told him what was up, and he firmly “shook” my hand when I told him our plan. “Way to go!” he said. I felt empowered. This was the same doctor that examined our two day old infant son and said he was a bit jaundiced so, “Give him a sun bath” for a few minutes. The same doctor that treated a young boy with the stomach flu and pink eye. Now we were dealing with not going to school, screen addiction and marijuana. How did this happen? No one tells you it actually gets harder, not easier!

The last piece of the puzzle was giving the final okay to the Wilderness program and setting up the transport company. It was getting down to the wire. There was one final spot saved for our son for the end of June or we would have to wait another month to begin. NO MORE WAITING! We confirmed the dates and then had to get through three seemingly long weeks without giving the secret away. Find out if we did it in tomorrow’s blog post.

Breathing a sigh of relief,


The Tipping Point in Our Decision

Our Tipping Point

It was strikingly clear that our decision was the right one. Wilderness it was. But how would we know which one? Our Education Consultant said it was all about the people. And she knew most of them working at these places, from her years in the field. She also said don’t go looking around the internet because they can all paint a wonderful picture with a well done website, which made perfect sense.​

I wanted to get a sense of what the therapy part of the Wilderness programs were like, so a family member gave me a set of videos from their child’s experience six years before at a program in Utah. I watched it and started to get sense what a gift the nature component played in helping kids. Their brains needed to have the serenity of the earth and it’s elements to relax and change.

The world was moving too quickly for some and out of control for many, including my son. Along with his ADHD which appears to create a lag in his development, so does using massive amounts of technology. The cherry on top was the abuse of substances like marijuana. So my fifteen year old was at least two years behind in his emotional development. WOW!

I was at my rope’s end so I posted something on Facebook that showed my vulnerability. It said something like: “Not sure what the future holds, private school, boarding school or wilderness?” Very simple, but lots of my friends responded. “Hang in there!” and “This too shall pass” were in the comments back to me. And then along side of my posting was an ad for Blue Fire Wilderness. It said something like “Wilderness Therapy Programs can help get kids and teens lives back on track – Call today”.

So I called. A very sympathetic voice answered and talked with me for about forty-five minutes. He was so caring and helpful by answering my questions that I wanted to check it out. In fact he told me he knew our Ed. Consultant. So we mentioned this place to her and though it was fairly new (since 2014), it was in the same location as a well known program before it, so she knew a little bit about it from that perspective.

We filled out the online application which is daunting to say the least. I was like a “mad woman” typing quickly to fill in all the questions of what led us to the position we were in currently. We did compare it to another program that our Ed. Consultant suggested and it was a toss up. Both were exactly what we were looking for. The tipping point had to do with Equine Therapy and the activity based model that Blue Fire Wilderness used.

The other program was outstanding and I also filled out an application there, too. Boy what a ton of work, but it was formalizing our need to send our son. A big question was the cost. These places are not cheap. Seriously, not cheap (over $500 per day, yes per day!) We are still waiting to hear if were will get any compensation from our insurance company, but we worked on our finances and increased our line of credit and we were off to the races. It’s only money right, when you are talking about saving your son’s life?

Come back tomorrow to see how we kept this secret in the weeks before the admission date was scheduled. There were many ducks to put into a row, it kept us all very busy!

Getting Stronger,


Plan B

Plan B

“Plan B”? I repeated to the Doctor.

“Yes, Plan B is Wilderness,” he explained. “A Wilderness Therapy Program. It’s like a re-boot. It’s gives teens a chance to stop what bad behaviors are going on in their lives and it can put them back on track.”

Oh, I’ve heard of that,” I replied. “I have a nephew who went to what I always called SNOW CAMP and he hiked and hiked and hiked and was given peanut butter after completing certain tasks. I think it helped him.”

“Well it’s a bit different now,” the doctor continued. “They participate in outdoor activities and learn important survival skills from the staff, but most importantly they are accountable to themselves and their peers. It simplifies their lives and takes away all the distractions. Here is the name of a local Education Consultant and she can tell you more about it. She can also give you info on other school options, since the local public high school is not a good fit for your son. They don’t get it at that high school. Not everyone learns the same way.”

As I left the consultation, my mind was spinning with doubts and fears. We will never be able get our son to go to a Wilderness Program. Never in a million years. He will fight it the minute it’s suggested. But when I got home and mulled PLAN B over in my mind, I started to get used to the  possibility. However, every other option had to be exhausted first! We weren’t done trying other things before deciding on Wilderness. We had to continue with Plan A first: Weekly therapy, email my son’s teachers, call an IEP meeting.

I began talking with family and friends and was shocked to find how many friends had sent their kids/teens to Wilderness Programs. Was bad behavior becoming commonplace for our youth? Was the pace of all our lives becoming unmanageable? Was the technology boom causing undue stress and anxiety for some? YES! YES! YES!

I called the Education Consultant and made an appointment for the upcoming Saturday.
(Come back tomorrow and find out what we learned from her.)

​Still hopeful,