Monthly Archives: October 2011


This have really calmed down at shelterwood. One of the new bigs introduced the kids to some card games and half the house is hooked and that is all they want to do. A couple days ago me and a few of the littles starting converting a hiking trail into a Mountain biking trail. We have worked over a dozen hours and completed two berms and a jump. It has been really cool to see the kids be excited about working and actually ask me to work with them. Il try to post some videos or pics.

Love you all
Brian f



Your browser does not support the video tag

iPhone blog

This is my first ever blog from my iPhone! Now you may wonder, brian why would you use your iPhone with it’s tiny little screen to type out a blog when you could with much greater ease type it on your laptop? And my reply would be yes, but where’s the fun in that.

Anyway today today was pretty crazy. Well it didn’t actually get crazy until dinner time but then it stayed crazy for awhile. It all started with a text saying one of the kids had walked out of the house and that I needed to end my bike ride in the woods. Once I got out of the woods I saw the guy who was missing so I droppedy bike off and began to follow him with another big. Our new policy is that kids are not allowed to walk off propert anymore, we are supposed to tell them that once they get to the front gate they can either turn around or they will be restrained and brought back to the house. I actually had enforced this new policy the night before with one of our newer littles who tried to walk off and me and another big had to “help him” back to the house. Once inside we brought him into the iso room where upon finding out that he would spending the night in the iso room had a bit of a freak out and I ended up having to restrain him for an hour until I got too tired so I had to trade out. Anyway today this other kid was walking toward the gate and I followed the same procedure as the day before; told him he was free was free to walk around the loop or anywhere on campus but he could not leave property. This particular individual is in my opinion one of our most defiant kids so I was hoping but not expecting him to stop. As he approached the gate I ran ahead and closed it and positioned myself so that he would he would have to move me to get out. This week we finally got restraint trained and while I have had plenty of restraints and felt confident in my abily to restrain him
I didn’t want to unless absolutely nessesary because it would be very difficult to get him back into the house and I didnt feel like laying on top of a pissed off kid while he cusses me out for an hour until he calmed down again like I had the night before. He approached me and said get the Fu*k out of my way I want to walk. And I said I hear you but that’s not an option right now. This went back and forth a few times with his response getting a little
Louder and more agitated with each rebuttal. This banter was only interrupted by brief outbursts where he would get up right in my face cuss me out, dare me to touch him, and then push me. Normally if a kid pushes staff like that it’s instant grounds for a restraint but for whatever reason the big who was behind him didn’t. Even though the kid was obviously escalated I could also tell he was scared. He would get up in my face and look me right in the eyes and try to intimidate me and I would look back into his and stand firm letting him know I’m not afraid of you and your not getting your way right now. He would have brief moments where it seemed he was trying to pull himself back together but would eventually fail and then blow up again with his frustrations redoubled. I noticed his legs where shaking which in the moment I believed was a physical manifestation of his fear.what ended up happening was we had another big (Bj) switch out for the one currently with me (andrew) because Bj has the best relationship with this kid. During the switch Bj walking to me and I got distracted and the kid walked past me at which point I was like hey we need to get him back here, he is highly escalated and I would rather restrain him where on our property instead of on someones front lawn where we will prob get the cops called on us. He felt it was best to let him walk it off and once the hall director showed up in the van he said that after talking to the kids counselor he agreed that that was the best course of action at this time, with the understanding that he would stop by highway 24 or be restrained and returned to property forcefully. I ended up tailing Bj for 3 miles in the van then the kid picked up a rock and kept walking toward the highway. At this point I knew things where not good. Me and the hall director drove past them and attempted to restrain him but whenever he was aproached he treatened us with the rock. We tried once Again with the same result and then in the time it took to contact the necessary staff he was already on the highway headed into town. We ended up having to call the sherif and he detained him and brought him back to property. Once that got resolved I ended up having to restrain the kid I had the night before again in the iso room thankfully only for 30 mins mins before I was relieved instead of an hour.

In addition to all this madness earlier this week once kid had a meltdown and ended up getting detained by police on property and brought to a psyc hospital, I don’t believe he’s coming back. Oh yeah and I got punched (in the chest thankfully) when I tried to break up an unapproved guy/girl interaction, this lead to my first public restraint.

So all in all a pretty crazy week hopefully things will calm down again.

Love you all, god bless.

Brian f


I hear voices

  • (I had some issues getting this sent out on time, so if this is the second time you have gotten this sorry)
  • “This is not about YOU!!”
  •  -Several years ago it was my friend Sara’s birthday and we were trying to surprise her by hiding in her room. We ended up having to wait for some time and after awhile people started talking, then danielle (sara’s roommate) would yell at every one to quiet down. This went back and forth till sara was just a few minutes away at which point one of my other friends erik Thyburg was still caring on a conversation (of course). Danielle not wanting her roommates surprise party to be ruined yelled out one of my all time favorite words of wisdom “Erik, this is not about YOU!” We all had a good laugh about it then, but these words have stayed with me throughout the years and i find them returning to me frequently here at Shelterwood. Some of the times it comes as my own voice in my head saying that to selfish spoiled kids who expect to get everything there way, and cuss you out when they don’t. But more recently it has been God whispering that to me when i am tired and frustrated and those same kids who just cussed me out come back an hour later and want me to do things for them, or i have a kitchen shift, or just want to quit. He says to me “Brian, this is not about YOU! this is about me and what i am doing in you and in these kids, and don’t you dare quit on me”.
  • Paradoxical strength– I am learning what it means to have Gods strength be made perfect in my weakness. That as a man i can be strong when i am completely broken and don’t even want to fight anymore, all i have to do is turn to jesus.
  • New perspective, new heart– probably one of the most important things i have had to learn is how to change my perspective and my heart. For instance, yesterday, I had two kids walk out of the house and continuously refuse to come back. When i caught up with them i gave them the choice of coming back to the house or going up on the hill where people where playing sports, i told them they had 30 seconds to make their choice and turned my back to let myself calm down. They took this opportunity to run away into the school house and hide. Once i caught up with them they continued to “act a fool” and say they “didn’t give an F” and then one of them walked off. Now at this point im pretty frustrated,and im chasing these two punks around the campus, flushing them out of their hiding spots and attempting to corral them while its the girls parents weekends so there are parents and staff walking around everywhere. Im thinking these two little turds are making me look bad, because we are supposed to keep the boys out of sight for parents weekend. And they are thinking, hey they just told us we can’t go outside, lets do it. So basically im sitting in the middle of the campus thinking, these kids are winning. They are not supposed to be outside and they are, they are supposed to be following my instructions and they arn’t, they are supposed to be changing and getting better and they have not been. At this point one of the girl littles who is in a “sheltership” with one of the kids approaches and askes him whats wrong. and he says “im just having a bad day” apparently he was upset because that girl was getting pulled in a week and half. While this conversation was totally unapproved it made me realize i was kind of being selfish. All i was concerned about was my appearance, that these kids where making me look bad and all i wanted to do was get them inside so i could show that i did have control. I was so concerned about looking good at my job that i forgot to be good at my job. God did not call me here to impress parents or staff or anyone for that matter but to love kids. At this point i just sat down and started talking to him and asking him what was going on. This in and of itself was a challenge because i have been really frustrated with this particular kid. Since i arrived 7 weeks ago this kid has beat someone up, sold a bottle of my prescription medication to a depressed kid who used it to try to commit suicide, was dealing drugs at school (different bottle of my medication), stole cold medication while he was off property with me and got himself and two other kids high, and is generally just a “defiant little Sh*t” (in his own words).  It was hard to get myself stoked about having a heart to heart with him because his deviance is matched only by his manipulation and lying. As i expected he went on his usual rant about how this place is total bull crap and its not doing him any good, and he knows how to act in the real world and that this is the real world so it doesn’t matter how he acts and bla bla bla. He saying im here to stop stealing money, doing drugs, skipping school. He said and i havn’t done drugs in like 7 weeks. So i called him out and asked about the night he got high on cold meds and he completely denied it. I told him i am not trying to get you in trouble for it because i can’t prove you did it anymore, but i know for a fact you did, because i heard all of your conversation that night. I said you are 18 now, you need to stop blaming every one else for your actions, and as long as you are at shelterwood you still need to follow the rules, i don’t care if you getting pulled soon. (He is my favorite person to call out now, the other day he lied to me and i knew and just said “Bull Sh*t, you are the king of Bull sh*t dude”) Anyway this morning we had a brief meeting with our new CEO and some of the staff was talking about how much they have seen some of the littles change and improve. I realized that being a big is like being a foot soldier in a war, we see the worst of it, we see the blood and the guts and casualties and it feels like we are always losing, constantly in retreat, always under fire but we can’t see the big picture very well. And the truth is we are not only winning, we have Won. Jesus has overcome the grave, and all of the hatred and evil that we see is just the enemies frantic, last ditch effort to take some people down with him before Jesus comes back, but we know how its going to end. It NOT all relative but it does depend on your perspective.
  • Joy in all circumstances. This idea of changing perspectives has changed my general attitude toward life. Its amazing how very simple things bring me amazing joy now. Like yesterday, i washed dished for 4 hours and i had a joy that surpassed all understanding. Whereas before even emptying the dishwasher which would take all of 3 minutes would seem too burdensome. I felt like i finally understood Phil 4:12 “ I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” The first week i was at Shelterwood we had this joke among the guy bigs where we would say “Shelterwood, where Joy comes to die”. and at the time it seemed true especially for me. Pretty much everything i enjoyed doing (mountain biking, skiing, hiking, climbing, playing video games) where not an option here. im 900 miles away from all my friends and thousands of miles away from my family. Pleasant and supportive daily interactions with friends where replaced with a mixture of almost constant stress and hostility, which was only alleviated by brief moments of calm which quickly deteriorated into what i image the 5th circle of hell being like. Needless to say it was not an easy transition, but now i wouldn’t go back. All of those things that i used to get my jollies from (mountain biking, video games, pleasant interactions) while good, where just a shadow of Gods goodness and love. I so filled my life with these cheap imitations that i left almost no room for the real thing. The Bible says that man does not live on bread alone but on the very word of God. And in the lords Prayer we are taught to ask for daily bread. I have been learning to go directly to the source of sustenance in all areas of life.
  • Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Phil 3:12)
Special thanks to Sara and Danielle for their encouraging letters that i received today.
God Bless.
Brian F

The times they are a changing

Wow, it feels like forever since i have been in contact with the outside world. Shelterwood has a way of consuming your entire life, most of the time i am on coverage its like i completely forget that i have a life outside of this place. There has been a lot of change going on at Shelterwood and in my heart the last couple of weeks. We now have 10 guy bigs which is awesome. One of the littles had a neutral site visit last week which meant that his parents came here and interacted with him and after 2 days they pulled him because they felt he had changed enough. We also had two new intakes for a total of 21 littles.

I have posted a short album of pictures from shelterwood on my facebook page if you are interested in seeing a little bit of my world.

Even though things have been less crazy this job still remains pretty stressful. Now that i have been here awhile i have started to develop relationships with the littles but this also makes it harder when they make bad choices, or cuss my out. Its harder to not take things personally. I am struggling to find time to get away and to re-connect with the outside world. I have been able to process my days better with people on property and so when i sit down to try to blog i feel like it has been hard to write down things i have already processed. have to go to bed now.

Love you,

Brian Ferguson