Monthly Archives: August 2011


first things first, The two run aways have been found! in TEXAS!! I was in the office and i revived a call from the Texas state patrol. The officer said “hello, i think we found two of your boys that went missing”. So that is a huge relief.

Things at Shelterwood have been getting better. as i get to know the kids better it is easier to love them and easier to not take things personally, which is really difficult when your getting cussed out. I ask the Lord to continue to teach me how to love and lead these kids. They have all been hurt and need Christ’s love.

Love you all,

Brian F


The get away

Yesterday was a good day. We got a new intake who i got to hang out with pretty much the whole day and 3 kids graduated from the program. The graduation was really important for me because i got to see that this program actually works and that God IS at work in these kids. I also found out that the song “How to save a life”  by The Fray was written about the Shelterwood program. Shelterwood used to have a campus in Denver and one of the band members was heavily involved in praying for that campus.

Last night i had night duty, which is supposed to be midnight to 6:30 but since this morning was a saturday the kids didn’t have to wake up till 8:30 and no one relieved me so i stayed up till 8:30 Doing room checks every 15 mins till about 3am when i did it every 30 mins. I woke up after lunch to my roommates discussing how two “littles” didn’t just runaway but more had a get away. They stole a freakin van and are apparently heading to Las Vegas. This was troubling in and of itself but i was more upset that i was pretty close with one of these kids and while he seemed to have exhibited thrill seeking behavior in the past he seemed to be doing much better. He couldn’t sleep last night and so he came out into the hall and we talked for a little while, which i perceived as him opening up but in hindsight he was probably just scoping things out. I happened to posting up right next to his room because ironically the new kid adjacent to him was a flight risk so he was on 24 hour check. This basically means you run normal night watch but instead of posting up in the living room where you can see down both halls you post up right outside that kids room with the door open an monitor him and the other hall simultaneously. If i hadn’t been posted outside his door then i bet they probably would have run last night because even though they would have set off the alarm i can chase them but i can’t restrain them unless they are harming themselves (cutting) or others (fighting). If i would have known where they were going if i could have beat them to the vans and stood in the way i could have restrained one of them if they tried to move me but thats literally all i could do. And at night  all of the staff would have been asleep but me and so our response time in terms of calling the cops etc would have been greatly diminished.

Apparently i heard through the grape vine that they are done at Shelterwood because this is  grand theft auto and they will be charged as adults in Missouri and will probably go to jail, which, say what you like about Shelterwood is a hundred times worse. Im honestly really really sad because these kids totally screwed up their whole future with one stupid choice. I don’t know if its worse if they get caught and go to jail or if they actually get away and live their lives. Either way this sucks.

Love yall,

Brian F


Yesterday was definitely the most difficult day i have had at Shelterwood. The problem is that we are undergoing a lot of major shifts in the program. We have a new CEO of Shelterwood and she is making a lot of changes. In addition over the summer, specifically summer break which was last week we were desperately understaffed. This meant that the coverage ratio was pretty high so kids got used to not being monitored which meant they got used to getting away with everything. Now we have 8 Bigs back in the house we are cracking down and the resistance is brutal. I think i have heard more swearing in the last week than i would in an entire year back home. Some of the littles are pretty responsive and just need a couple reminders but one kid in particular is really getting to me. Were not allowed to say names or anything like that but i will just call him “Ben”. In One day he earned 6 hours of work for being disobedient on several different occasions. The problem is he just doesn’t care, he is already close to having 100 work hours and in the past he has had up to 300 work hours. Me and the other bigs are trying to problem solve and do some paradigm shifts in how we give him consequences, because he doesn’t care about getting hours.

Second, a little got punched in the face yesterday. This was hard because i had spend most of the day with the two kids involved. “Tom” the kid who got punched worked off two hours with me so we had a long time to talk. during our time he told me how the other littles would pick on him and try to get him to fight them. He unfortunately would call them names back and this is apparently what lead to the fight. Right before lunch me and tom and working and he was asking me how he could do things differently and i told him, don’t give them a reaction and just walk away. After dinner i took a bunch of kids to the pool on the property and then 40 mins later two kids walked out and said Tom got beat up. My heart sank. I felt so bad for him. I felt like i failed him, and that i should have been there to protect him because i knew that this was coming. I told him things would get better if he didn’t give them a reaction and then he still got beat up. I watched the video footage of it and it made me feel better because i saw that he had indeed walked away when initially provoked.

Third, im sick. have been since monday and its really getting to me now.

Finally, one of the Bigs just anounced this morning that he is leaving today. He is burned out and can’t do the job anymore. This is bad because we are not down to 7 guy bigs. And when you consider night watch, and kitchen duty, 1 person having a day off and one person managing work hours that leaves 3 “Bigs” to do coverage for up to 17 Littles who are now fighting each other. Not good odds.

Please pray for “Tom” that he would feel comforted and safe at Shelterwood. For the Bigs that we could remain rooted and established and sane.

God bless


The combination of School starting on monday and “John” leaving has lead to things being significantly more relaxed at Shelterwood. I havn’t had to restrain anyone or chase a run away or anything. I did give my first room grounding (RG) consequence yesterday. This morning i gave 3 hours of work for disobedience. Aside from these consequences things have been pretty uneventful compared to my first week. I finally got keys to open the “Confo closet” and most of the other rooms in building. We got a weekly schedule figured out. I got assigned two Littles who i am responsible for writing progress reports for. My first night watch is friday so if anyone want to Skype for brief 10 min intervals between my checks totally can because il be up till 6:30 am. Im getting van training on friday.

Im getting to know the other staff and bigs now that everyone is back from break. I got to do gazebo duty yesterday with another big named courtney from Alabama. Littles on stages 4-5 are allowed to interact with littles of the opposite gender  for 1 hour in the Gazebo. They have to sit on opposite sides and are not allowed to touch. Two bigs have to supervise and be within earshot. After the kids went to bed some of the girl bigs came over and we watched youtube videos for an hour.

Since all the bigs have to take turns doing night watch for the next year me and some of the bigs are thinking about investing in some night vision googles, not because its not necessary but mostly because it would be super bad ass.

Love you all, thank you for your prayers.

Brian F.

A week at Shelterwood.

My first week at Shelterwood i became first aid/CPR certified and turned in over 20 signed forms. During my first week at Shelterwood i went rock climbing, swimming, biking. My first week at Shelterwood i had a “Little” tell me that he “Is not my Bitch” to which i somewhat inappropriately replied “well actually you kind of are, but don’t worry your not my type” (I later apologized to him but told him he still had to finish cleaning). I saw littles throw chairs off of the balcony. I spent the night in a “Little”s room named “John” who the night before had literally thrown the big out into the hall way (the Big did have Cerebral palsy) and barricaded the door. I had to confiscate two razors from him that night. The next day i saw the same “Little” break a window, then try to run away because he got “Property grounded” and wasn’t able to go to Krispy Kream. That night at Krispy Kream i saw a “little” eat 14 donuts  and drink a large coke and then abruptly vomit. I saw “John” have to get restrained and forced back into his room. He then punched a Hall director (In the arm) and stayed up till 5am (thankfully i wasn’t in his room that night). I saw the same little get escorted out this morning because he got pulled from the program. Then today after lunch i talked to a kid who told me almost killed himself last night but had his roommate walk in “at the right time”.

All in a weeks work at Shelterwood. The last 6 days have felt like a month. This is going to be a long year.

With that said, im doing suprising well inspite of the craziness of the last six days. I really feel like God has prepared me very well for this Job and as a result it appears that most of the kids respect my “athorita” (South park reference). For example “John” (not his actual name) was really well behaved the night i stayed in his room and actually went to bed at 1am which he said was the earliest he had ever gone to sleep during his two week stay at Shelterwood. Im not foolish to believe that im some kind of snake charmer but i was definitely able to apply some of my knowledge to guide my interaction with him the way I wanted it to go by doing things like…

Never taking anything personal- When i first met “John” he had written “F*%k new Bigs” on his back in permanent marker. Even though i was shocked i reminded myself to not take this personally and went straight up to him and started talking and trying to relate to him.

Relating– after talking to him i realized that we had some things in common, mostly in terms of previous places that we had lived. I quickly probed these topics more deeply to highlight our similarities because as i learned in our training “Rules without relationship leads to rebellion”. I think that this was probably one of the biggest issues for this kid was that he had a lot of Adults in this program trying to enforce rules without having established any relationship and rebellion (breaking windows, punching, running away) ensued. I knew the kid for 48 hours and he obeyed me more than any other “Big” (except one).

Thinking outside the box– I always used punishment as a last resort, and tried to think of other ways to attain my goals than a full frontal assault of demanding and then punishing. For example “John” and another “Little” in the room had a radio in their room and where listening to unapproved stationed way to loud. I couldn’t allow them to break the rules but i knew that “john” wanted me to try to turn down the radio so that we could get into power struggle over the volume/station. I decided to work around the problem by going upstairs and getting my small speakers and ipod and playing approved music that they liked at a reasonable volume. Not to toot my own horn but my fear of getting into a power struggle over the volume was accurate because the next day one of the other new bigs went into the bathroom and turned down the volume of the radio while the littles where showering and they almost rioted (kind of).

The best defense is a good offense- The last thing i have learned/ worked to apply is that it is always best to be proactive especially when dealing with kids who have a defiance disorder. Whenever there was a silence or he was sitting around not doing anything i tried to initiate a conversation or some kind of interaction because it was easy to steer those interactions in the direction i wanted then trying to redirect their self initiated conversations and interactions that often lead to violence and course joking.

I am really excited for this year and everything that God is going to teach me. I know that it will probably be miserable at times and i will want to quit some days, but i also know and have already seen God stretching me and refining my faith and my character. My heart breaks everyday to see the darkness that so many of these kids live in. It breaks my heart to learn about some of the brokenness that these kids have come from. Abandonment, divorce, abuse, neglect; all of these things feed into their frustration and they lash out at us because we are the light shining into their darkness.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21)

Please pray for me and all other staff at Shelterwood that we would continue to be the light that exposes darkness. That we would return hate with love, accusations with commendation, and violence with peace. That we would not only turn the other cheek, but bless them when they curse us, pray for them when they do us wrong. And that we would do this not because its our duty, our calling or our job, but because we know Jesus, and his love for us. Please pray for patience, wisdom and joy that surpasses all understanding.

In Him,

Brian F


Ps. Even though a lot of this may seem heavy, (which it is) i do want yall to know that i am also having a lot of fun, especially with the other bigs and that even though its hard i feel more alive than i have for a long time. So don’t worry, pray.

New Beginnings

I left for Missouri Tuesday Aug 16 around 2pm from Broomfield Co. I stayed the night in Topeka, KA  and drove the rest of the distance in the morning. I rolled into Shelterwood around 11am and moved in. Not having anything to do i took i bike for a little ride around the campus and found a trail on the edge of the property. The other “Bigs” welcomed me and i helped them run some errands off the property. After this we had a big dinner with all the new “bigs” at our directors house. Before going to bed two of the “Bigs” have us the low down about what to expect over the next year. It was a little intimidating and i know they were telling us pretty much the worst things that have happened but it was still pretty intense. For instance, BJ told me “whenever your on night watch make sure you wear your running shoes because eventually you will have to chase some one”. Apparently, some of the guys like to go for midnight stroll where they are not trying to run away but just want to make a scene. Since we are not allowed to restrain anyone unless they harming themselves or others all you can do is just run along side them until they decide to return. I was also warned that i will probably see a lot of blood while i am a “Big” due to kids who cut themselves. These stories where told while we helped one of the Bigs do his night watch which is when someone has to stay up all night doing rounds every 15 minuets till 6:30am. We only stayed up till 1 am because we had a long day ahead of us. Starting monday me and the 7 other bigs will each rotate doing night watch.

Today we had CPR training, lunch and then 3 hours of policy training which consisted of us taking turns reading a 30 page long document. Now i have some time off and will probably go to wallmart.

The program will be in full swing starting monday because thats when the kids start boarding school. Monday we will have 20 kids (called “Littles”) and 8 residential counselors (like myself called “Bigs”). In the 3 days leading up to monday me and the other 10 or so Bigs have a sort of crash course that will prepare us enough to start engaging in “Coverage” which is basically engaging with the kids/knowing where they are at all times. Our training will continue for a few weeks after monday when we start working.

The Littles we work with are on a 5 level scale of treatment. Each level technically signifies their progress with their therapist but also has important rules that determine the level of care we provide. For example , level 1 (which lasts for at least 3 weeks) littles have to remain within 5 feet of us at all times, level 2 within 10 feet, level 3 within 15 feet. The littles also gain more privileges as they level up, greater allowance, more freedom etc. We have a two page document that clearly outlines all of the most common misbehaviors and the corresponding consequence. There are two that are particularly humorous that i wish to share with you all, or Yall as they say here. First is failure to communicate a change in location. Littles in stages 1-2 have to ask permission to go into a different section of the building (ex, go from upstairs to downstairs ). If a little doesn’t ask permission to do this they have to run up and down the stair 25 times. Second if a little fails to buckle his/her seatbelt in a van or unbuckles during a ride they must wait until all the other littles exit the vehicle and then they must buckle themselves into every seatbelt in the 15 passenger van saying “Im safe” every time they move seats.

I unfortunately havn’t figured out a way to get the pics off my camera onto my laptop with out my printer (which is what i have been using for the last 4 years). When i solve this i will uploads some pics from the property.

Love you all, and God Bless