Monthly Archives: June 2011

Update 7

Well, this was by far one of the most stressful but fun shifts yet. I cannot explain it, but I just felt anxious the whole time. I couldn’t relax. I just felt stressed out the whole time.

Wednesday was exhausting. Mostly because I had just come in from Tomball after spending time with family. I was just beat. Work was simple. There is more of a routine during the week, so the kids are more in line than usual. We did have one try to escape, but he didn’t really get anywhere. He then pitched a huge fit about how bad this place sucks. Good news is that he is leaving soon.I also had to run to the health dept. to get a TB test as well as shots for a handful of the boys. It went well enough, but I still get nervous having to take a large group alone. I get uneasy because some of them want to run.

Thursday was more of the same. The boys did a good job on their weekly lodge chores, so they earned a free day for Friday. This is good news to all of us because everyone gets to sleep in. The kids we relatively well-behaved because they knew how easily the free day could be pulled. Staff was on edge though because we had difficulty keeping an accurate count, so we had to keep stopping and re-starting everything.

Friday was nice at the start. We got to sleep in until 9 a.m. because of the free day. The kids didn’t have school or anything, so we got right into the activities. There was basketball, X-Box, Horseback Riding and other activities to relax. Then, the big boss brought up plastic sheeting and soap and baby oil and made a huge Slip-N-Slide for the boys and followed that up with ice cream floats. It was nice to be able to go easy on the kids and just enjoy the day. I also had to take two trips to the health dept. to get TB tests read for the boys who got them on Wednesday and nobody ran. The night was rough though. It got way too loud and I tried to clear the bathroom of everyone acting up. One of the boys got pissed, so I put him on Work Detail. He then cussed me out and continued to scream, obscenities at me from his bunk for 30 minutes. He even tried to attack me, but he was surrounded by staff. He calmed down enough that I could sleep in the dorms that night,  but I have not spoken with him, so I do not know how he is doing. Sleeping in the dorms sucked because the A/C had not been turned down and my fan died after about an hour or so. I had to lay there sweating until 8 a.m. when I could get up and leave.

Saturday shift change was short and sweet. No issues to address, so I didn’t have to waste hours there.


This job is pretty frikkin’ sweet, even with the hiccups. I can’t wait to see where this goes.




Update 6

This past shift was pretty good. I was surprised how well the boys acted and worked. We only had a few on Work Detail, so staff was not spread so thin this time.

Thursday was a simple shift. We didn’t have any huge issues out of anyone, but I got to spend some time working with a few boys one on one. It is pretty cool having a couple of them who look up to me and come to me when they are struggling. Of course, I try to encourage them to speak to others as well, but I am always willing to help. The two that constantly come to me are struggling with anger management. Since I have been down that road, I am pretty well-suited to tell them how to deal with anger. I still struggle, but I have it under control.

Friday was a nice day. I didn’t have to do Work Detail, so I wasn’t sweating my ass off in the sun all day. We also did a full facility General Inspection or G.I. During G.I., everything is turned upside down and cleaned from the ground up. The place was spotless just in time for Saturday visits. The kids even worked so well together that we allowed them to stay up late to watch a movie.

Saturday was a busy day. We had family visits and that always taxes staff. We also had a Father’s Day campout planned for about 8 of our upper level residents. That took away two staff members and we were all very apprehensive of how that would work out. It was very evident and we ended up having to have a staff sit down to re-focus ourselves. As it turned out, everything went off without a hitch and we had a pretty good night.

All in all, this shift was pretty good. We are still learning to work as a team while trying to maintain personal sanity. We had to have a meeting with the Program Director where he gave us a few observations and tips on how to work better together. I hope we can all manage to do it because we work together well and I really enjoy a job for the first time ever.

Until the next one,





Update 5

This weekend was something else. It was completely up and down the whole time. We have a couple of boys who are “suicidal” and a couple others that are trying to encourage people to run. We also have a problem with some of the boys because they hate those of us that are new staff because we work pretty much by the book.

Friday wasn’t a bad day. My supervisor was gone, so we had one of the more senior guys stand in. He is a great guy and is really enthusiastic about the work we do. He also makes sure he finds constructive criticism for us every day. He pulled me aside and pointed out a few things I could work on to be more effective in this job. Most importantly, he encouraged us and said to call him at any time for help. He also pointed out that I sometimes come across as a little to overpowering because I am such a naturally loud person. He said some of the kids can take this wrong, so I need to learn to tone it down a notch. We didn’t have any major issues on Friday and the kids were in relatively good spirits. There weren’t many on Work Detail and they were obviously trying to avoid it at all costs. The only exception was one kid who decided he wanted to in trouble all shift. He actually told me he was going to be a problem. He ended up being very disrespectful to me and other staff and he kept trying to instigate fights with other residents. He ended up being restrained for quite some time until he calmed down.

Saturday was a different story. The day started out ok. We had to keep reminding the boys to keep the noise down and follow instruction because we had a number of family visits going on in the building. We also saw a couple of the younger residents stepping up and leading. It is really impressive to see a 14 year old boy step up and lead his older peers. Then the fun started, we had one kid who was being defiant yesterday finally got what was coming when he got punched in the face. This led to him being restrained again and the other boy getting sent to jail. Assault is not tolerated here and it results in an immediate trip to a cell.

Sunday was pretty laid back. The boys were relatively calm and cool. We even had time to let them watch the NBA playoffs. It seems like they are slowly learning that following the rules will actually get them what they want. My supervisor was back on site, so we had someone to work with some of our more problematic kids one on one. I even found a way to get out most irritating (in my mind) resident to do something I wanted. I found that if you can trick him into thinking he is in control of the situation, he will do whatever you want. So…it is good to know how to do that now.

Anyway, the weekend was mostly good. I got to cut out early to go to an Astros game. They won.


More later


Update 4

This past week was one of the most frustrating yet. Apparently, weekend shifts are always like this. The boys have arranged visits with their families. This means the ones who get visits are happy and in a good mood while the ones that don’t become more angry or depressed or whatever than usual. This leads to a lot more problems.

Saturday was the first day this shift and it was initially going pretty well. With all of the visits going on, everyone else basically gets a free day. So, we played games and watched t.v. for most of the shift. However, I was outside with my work detail guys again. This time, we were digging out a hill so that an outdoor amphitheater could be constructed. As you can imagine, nobody wanted in on this project. As the day wore on, we began having more and more problems with the boys. They became belligerent and, though nobody was on work detail when I arrived, I ended up with 10 before the day was over. It is frustrating that these kids just can’t figure it out. Also, we had one kid get picked up by his parents, so that kind of threw a wrench into everything.

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. We pretty much brought the hammer down on bad behavior on Saturday, so the kids acted much better. They were cooperating and did the work they needed to. I even had time to sit down and play a game of chess instead of having to watch everything like a hawk. We still have to stay pretty attentive though. The lead supervisor told us he believes one of our boys is planning to run. The thing is, he already tried once and got to Dallas before capture, so he knows it can be done. We also have 7 news residents, so we have to keep a sharp eye on them. None of them really want to be here at all and let everyone know it.

Not much to say about Monday. It was just your average day. The food was bad though and it made me sick. The kids are finally picking up that the new staff members are not going to let them run wild, so they are slowly becoming more mindful of what they do and more obedient to what we say. I told them in a group session that my goal is to not have to hand out a single zero for one whole shift. I told them there will be a reward for the community if this happens. We also have one kid who has the desire to continue to cause problems. He is a social outcast and the butt of every joke at work. However, he seems to enjoy it as he always antagonizes and ends up bringing a healthy portion of ridicule on himself. I try to work with him, but he doesn’t seem to want help, so I continue trudging forward and looking for any indication of what I can do to help.This night, I got to talk with one of the higher ups for a few hours. He says he sees a passion in me and wants to start training me in operating outdoor interventions because of my love of nature and my experience. I am excited to see where this leads.

Shift change was longer than needed on Tuesday. We had a “brief” training session for new staff. Though it was all great information, I could not force myself to care because I was so tired.   I was glad to get home and finally sleep and put this week behind me. Please keep all of us up there in your continued prayers.


Until the next round




As I sit  here after a good nap, I feel just totally drained. Emotionally and physically exhausted. Not something I have ever felt from work before. Those who know me know well enough that I am not one who tries to get emotionally close to anyone. I have become accustomed to playing the role of the hard ass. It feels safer. It is easier for me to remain emotionally detached from things. I cannot do that here. I spend hours on end listening to these kids tell me their life stories and, in turn, I try to use mine to help them grow. I try to help them become better. It requires me to use things I have never used before. It forces me to care even though I want to just try and look at this as a job. I just can’t do that. I want these kids to get the help they need. I want to be there to help them through their struggles. I also don’t have a sounding board, really. I don’t have much of a safe place to vent, so it will probably be here. Bear with me. If you see me and I seem out of it, just understand I am still trying to adjust and find some kind of happy medium here. I simply need the time between shifts to decompress.

Until the next one,



Update 3

Well…here I am, back from another fun week of work. I feel this job is a huge learning experience and we have all kind of hit the ground running. My entire shift is made up of new staff, so we are all kind of learning as we go along. At first, this seems like a huge oversight by our bosses, but we are more “by the book” than the guys who have been there longer, so we have begun to enforce policies and rules that have been forgotten.

Sunday was ridiculous. It started off really slow because it was a weekend. As usual, I was in charge of Work Detail. Lately, they have been tasked with removing stumps near our driveway. Now, this is a project that would take me and any one other person I know no more than 8 hours. However, it has taken these guys at least a month of “working” six hours per day to accomplish precisely nothing. Yes, they are at the Ranch for behavioral issues and yes, they end up on Work Detail for failing to follow the rules, but one would think they would eventually just get it done to be done. This, however, is not the case. We also had an incident happen late Sunday afternoon. Because of confidentiality, I cannot really get into detail on here, but I will say that I got electrocuted, got a foot full of mesquite thorns while sprinting through a pasture and got to ride in a police car before spending the entire night at the hospital. Yes, I am fine.

Monday was a pretty relaxed day. Since it was Memorial Day. the kids got to sleep in until 9 a.m. However, I got to stay in until 11:30 because of the previous night. They played games and had a generally good time. I still had my usual Work Detail to deal with and they continued “working” on their stumps. Everyone was glad there was no school. Even I get terribly bored sitting in that classroom. Every student is in an individualized program, so there is no reason for them to talk. Any discussion is met with discipline. Plus, the teacher is a self-important jerk who thinks we don’t do anything despite his absence for most of the hard parts of the day. So, yea, it was nice to not have to sit in there. That night, we had a problem with one resident that ended up earning everyone a zero. Of course, they were pissed, but I hope they are slowly learning the importance of accountability and processing anger.

Tuesday brought another morning of Work Detail. I get posted on it all the time because I would rather be outside than babysitting kids who are too lazy to do anything. See, the state licensing board does not allow us to challenge them when they call “sick bed” or say they have to use the restroom (for 35 minutes), so someone has to sit by the dorm door at all times. I hate it, so I volunteer to stand out in the blazing sun and get a tan. I did go to school during the lunch hours and I ended up placing 10 people on Work Detail. Many of them earned their zeros as a result of a group failure instead of on an individual basis. This, of course, is harder for them to accept since many of them do not possess the ability to understand group accountability. We keep trying to stress that they are a community and they will continue to be reprimanded until someone steps up and steers them in the right direction. We, as staff, are not going to do that for them. It just doesn’t help them grow. That night, we had a more difficult kid causing trouble at Work Detail. He is constantly belligerent and always causing problems. I would love to see him gone. This time, he tried to hit another resident with a shovel, cussed me and another staff out, threw a rock at my face, and punched another staff member. All in the span of an hour. He received a ticket from the police, but is on notice. Any further act will be taken as a threat and he will go right to jail. He is going to “Crash Camp” with the next shift. It will suck and it is a last resort. Hopefully, he fails and gets removed. I finished up with Work Detail while other staff dealt with that kid. Eventually, they began motivating each other and the FINALLY removed their stump just before sunset. They all worked hard and got it done, so I allowed them to take 5 minute showers instead of the usual 3 minute. I have learned that little things go a long way towards persuading them to work.

Wednesday morning was shift change. Today, I am supposed to be calling families of my case load to give progress reports, but I forgot their numbers, so I am waiting on a return call from the office. It was a good shift. A lot of hard work and frustration but still good. I would call it Baptism by Fire, for sure.

Until next time,