As we enter in to the second half of January, Ironwood remains fully enrolled and our campus bustles every single day. 40+ teenage residents, 60 staff, contractors, and dozens of animals (domestic and wild), make for a vibrant campus and community. And let’s not forget family members back home…hundreds more, when parents, siblings and key extended members are considered. At first glance, Ironwood presents as a tiny institution, but if it were much bigger than it is today, we would start to struggle to remember everyone’s name and story.
“Knowing” the group is an important element of the work that takes place on our campus. Understanding the struggle and history, appreciating the layered perspectives behind every resident and becoming a part of the growth and future goals, is what sets up our team for success. We are still (and just barely) an intimate environment where residents can feel known and understood, as they figure out their next moves towards a better and healthier life.
Family Weekend will be upon us next week and it never ceases to amaze us how quickly time passes from one Family Weekend to the next. Ten weeks here, feel like half of that, always, and we all know the reason behind the rapid passing of time…we are busy, engaged and YES, we are also having some fun. Earlier this week, I was talking to a new resident who was lamenting over his perceived “one year Ironwood sentence” and we discussed the many hundreds of residents who came before him. Sitting in his same seat, these prior resident impressions very similar to his, on how to deal with being in Maine for many months…only then to look back at graduation in wonder, on how quickly the time had passed. A motivated teenager can experience radical change during this period of time, when inspired by the right combination of education, structure and understanding here at Ironwood, combined with thoughtful love and support “back home”. We see positive transformations taking place at Ironwood, often and it never ceases to inspire our days.
We have received below average snowfall this winter but things are about to change. A large weekend storm is heading our way and we are making plans to receive it with gratitude, as a Maine winter is always better with fresh powder. Residents and staff will respond with shovels and plows first, then sleds second. This was being discussed at dinner last night and the group was looking forward to this change of scenery. As for those of you visiting next week, please keep these Maine weather conditions in mind. January is one of our roughest months to endure and personal planning goes a long way. Vehicle choice (4WD when possible), dressing casually and in layers, winter footwear/hats/ gloves, and VERY CAUTIOUS step taking will all set you up for the most positive experience possible. There have been fender benders, slips and falls at prior January gatherings and we want everyone heading home at the end of this weekend feeling optimistic and in excellent physical condition.
The emotions of your sons and daughters this week are comprehensive, to say the least. Some are excited, hopeful and encouraged while others are anxious, cautious and even angry. Many are feeling both positive and negative emotions and you likely already have a good read on how you child is feeling, these days. Our goal (as staff), is to help you to navigate through your current family struggles towards a better future, together. We tell your kids that they are loved back home and that there is great reward in remaining hopeful, considerate and honest…especially with your family.
We wish you a very pleasant weekend and if you’re joining us next week, travel safe!