Ironwood Maine features three distinct programs; Frye, Farmhouse, and Lakehouse. The Frye campus is a highly structured, rules-oriented environment, intended to establish acceptance and reinforce respect for one’s self and others. The Farmhouse focuses on developing the internal character traits of honesty, integrity, and motivational values. The Lake House campus was created for residents preparing for transition to a job or traditional educational environment. All three campuses use routines that encourage residents to become more self-directed, responsible, and emotionally mature, ultimately working toward the successful application of Ironwood Maine’s mission.
Frye Campus – “Getting Back to Basics” (Levels 1 & 2)
Every Ironwood resident begins their journey at Frye, which is designed to provide a safe, supportive, and natural setting that assists residents in diffusing anger, and to willingly and proactively help them engage in the program. Residents are encouraged to remove excuses for their past behavior and accept responsibility for their future.
The rural and rustic setting of the Frye wilderness component of the program brings residents face-to-face with what farm living was like 100 years ago. Many of the creature comforts we take for granted do not exist at Frye. Residents learn the importance of feeding and caring for animals before they take care of themselves and allowing life to slow down long enough to get comfortable with silence and reflection.
Someone once said, “You never truly appreciate things until they are gone.”
Often young people benefit from having less of the things they are used to – which creates a fresh appreciation for the things they do have. The rustic log cabins, lodge, school yurt, and cafeteria yurt nestled within the surrounding 400 wooded acres make up their new environment. Residents progress through the first two levels of our program during their stay at Frye. Here is where they learn important leadership skills, as well participation in team-building activities and various community projects. The care of the animals is a priority for the residents and it helps them to develop care and compassion for something besides themselves. Work ethic and the rewards of a job well done are often new experiences for teens at Ironwood.
Life begins early at Frye. A typical day starts at 7:00 am and begins with a brisk 30-minute exercise followed by personal hygiene, chores, and breakfast. Each resident has school each weekday, followed by therapy groups, community projects, hiking, life skills, and team-building activities. They cook their own dinner with staff support. In the evening there is a dedicated quiet hour built-in for them to write in their journals and write letters home which is followed by bedtime at 9:00 pm.
With a 90-day average length of stay, Frye is a critical first step as it lays the foundation for the rest of the program. Therapists help each resident recognize and take responsibility for the behavior that brought them to Ironwood. Additionally, each resident experiences a range of “aha” moments that give them insight into their past and present choices and to learn new skills to produce healthy and appropriate behavior. Residents develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence as they find success in achieving more than they thought possible. Such success does not happen by chance but through the nurturing efforts of trained staff who not only directly support each resident, but also chart resident behaviors and activities on a daily basis. These notes are used to produce progress reports for the multidisciplinary team and are used to measure consistency from one day to the next and to ensure that key behaviors and treatment plan goals are met. The Frye academic program is a truly empowering and educational experience for adolescents. Residents at Frye become more self-aware and confident. Upon accomplishing the goals set at Frye, the residents are ready for promotion to the Farmhouse.
Frye Program, Level 1:
- Program Concepts:
- Gains an understanding of Ironwood Maine’s program, level system, and expectations
- Participation and Work Ethic:
- Stays actively involved and make an effort in the program, school, and therapy
Frye Program, Level 2:
- Demonstrates psychological and emotional growth through consistent behavior
- Investment and Engagement:
- Begins to emotionally and socially invest and focus on the present and future
- Identifies and develops physical, emotional, social, therapeutic, and educational goals
Farmhouse Campus – “Becoming Internally Led” (Levels 3 & 4)
At the Farmhouse, residents build upon the foundational lessons they have learned at Frye regarding work ethic, personal responsibility, caring for others, and becoming internally directed. From a therapeutic standpoint, residents work on a more cognitive approach and look at their behaviors through recognition and response. Residents also participate in various therapeutic activities utilizing animals for equine-assisted psychotherapy, riding lessons, and daily care of the animals. To round out their learning and experience, resident teens participate in book groups utilizing a variety of books such as What Happy People Know, The Book of Virtues, and The Road Less Traveled. Team building and learning about healthy relationships is a critical emphasis of the program. Our resident teens are also given the opportunity to participate in off-campus adventure activities such as white-water rafting, skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and hiking.
Teens graduate from the program as they demonstrate integrity and accountability, which is after 6 months on average. While at the Farmhouse, residents learn respect is to be given, integrity is a necessity, and civility is a must. When residents transition to their home, these values translate into respectful and meaningful relationships and a greater ability to manage their own moods, attitudes, and behaviors.
Farmhouse Program, Level 3:
- Personal Responsibility:
- Develops a comprehensive understanding of the impact one has on those around him/her/them
- Takes ownership of individual expectations and responsibilities
- Demonstrates a commitment to personal honesty
- Cultivates an attitude of learning, including lessons about living and feedback for personal growth
- Begins to be conscious of the reasons for every action
- Begins to be thoughtful in all areas of life
- Social Relations:
- Develops skills and demonstrate appropriate interactions and relationships with peers and staff
Lakehouse Campus – “Preparing for What’s Next” (Levels 4 & 5)
Ironwood developed this transition program in response to the need to provide an ongoing structured environment and therapeutic support for residents preparing to transition home or to a more traditional educational environment. Residents are expected to hold a stable and consistent standard of behavior before being accepted into the program. Lakehouse consideration requires a willing, collaborative spirit, who is ready to engage in growth. The treatment team, in conjunction with parents, determines if the program would be a good fit for the resident. Many emerging young adults benefit from the additional transitional programming.
The Lakehouse program is intended to inspire core confidence, authentic passions, motivation, and the desire to pursue a significant purpose in life. The approach is individualized, holistic, and strengths-based. Individual tendencies, talents, and strengths are explored through life experiences, scheduled enrichment activities, educational and vocational options, regular physical activities, volunteer community involvement, life management skills development, self-assessment tools, as well as weekly individual and group counseling opportunities.
The 44-acre Lakehouse campus is located just outside Augusta, Maine, about 30 minutes from the main Ironwood Frye and Farmhouse campuses. The lakefront log home offers a retreat-style setting with recreational options that include: boating, swimming, fishing, water sports, in addition to a tennis court, baseball field, and a half basketball court. There are indoor spaces with ping pong and pool tables, a woodshop, and multipurpose rooms for exercise and group meetings. The Lakehouse campus also has access to many state universities, a community college, and internship opportunities in the greater Augusta area.
Lakehouse Program, Levels 4 & 5:
- Leadership and Work Ethic:
- Demonstrates appropriate behaviors and attitudes toward peers and staff
- Considers the impact, both positive and negative, a strong leader has on those around him/her/them
- Continues to develop leadership skills
- Identifies and develops personal reasons to continue making positive changes in life
- Transition Planning:
- Begins to seek ways to apply lessons learned at Ironwood to “real life”
- Begins to consider returning to home as a major upcoming change that requires considerable psychological and emotional preparation