"I expect to keep up my end of the bargain"
Erin was in the ninth grade and having problems with drugs, truancy, and dealing with authority figures at school and at home. Erin says she brought all of that attitude toward authority with her when she came to Arrowhead. She tried to hide it in the beginning because she thought that if she acted "good" she would get to go home sooner. It didn't take her long to decide that her act wasn't getting her anywhere, so she began to display her real values.
Erin got tired of hearing that she was making no progress. When her grandfather passed away, she realized that she was missing important things by being away from home. She finally decided to start making some changes.
Seeing Erin change prompted her father to make some changes too. When Erin lived with him before she came to Arrowhead, he had a drinking problem, and he began working on his issues in order to be a better parent to Erin. During her stay at Arrowhead, Erin was able to reestablish a relationship with her mother that had been nonexistent for a long time. She now has weekly contact with her mother, and they plans to eventually live together again.
Erin says that there are a lot of people supporting her in the positive changes she has made. Family, friends, and the Arrowhead staff who work with her have all pushed for her to do well, and she expects to keep up her end of the bargain.
"I knew I was headed in the wrong direction."
James was a high school dropout at the age of sixteen. He was involved with gangs in his home town, so it was not uncommon for him to participate in behaviors ranging from drug and alcohol use to shootings. He and his friends thought being in a gang made them cool. "It fed our egos," he said. "We were encouraged to do the negative things."
When he was three months short of turning seventeen, James ended up in detention for a gun charge and mob action. He got jumped and decided to retaliate with a group of his friends. One of them had a gun, and someone was hurt in the incident. Once James turned 17, he was transferred to an adult jail. However, the experience did not alter his mindset. "Detention, jail, doesn't change you," he said. "You play cards and sit around."
James was evaluated for his appropriateness and accepted to Arrowhead. At first, he did not want to change his lifestyle, even though he admitted he had no long-term goals, and he was resistive for the first three to four months. However, he eventually came to realize that he could be positive and help not only himself but other kids in his group also become decent people. The peer group taught him that everyone is equal. They held each other accountable and learned personal responsibility together. Arrowhead helped James establish many lasting friendships and focus on his future. "Arrowhead Ranch gave me direction and changed my attitude," he said.
James is now a student at Western Illinois University in Macomb. He is involved with student government and is studying to be a lawyer with the goal of helping juveniles like himself. Last year, he achieved a 3.5 grade point average and was Big Brother of the Year in his area. He is able to meet his financial obligations through a scholarship given to him by Arrowhead Ranch.
"I would be in prison until I was 21 if it weren't for Arrowhead Ranch," James said. "I would be looking to the gang for protection. I would have been just another statistic!"
"I was trying to impress people. I had no real friends."
Harry's dad was a nuclear engineer who moved around a lot, so Harry was not able to develop lasting relationships. He found himself trying to impress people, and his attention-seeking behavior extended into drug use and credit card fraud. He was in and out of detention. He had no direction and gave no thought to his future. His family finally decided to place him at Arrowhead when he "hit bottom."
When Harry first got to Arrowhead Ranch, he thought he could manipulate and scam his way through program. He and his group members got on each other's nerves, but they slowly learned to tolerate their differences and embrace their similarities. Over time, he began to develop genuine friendships with his fellow group members. They recognized one another's problems out and worked toward resolving them.
Harry earned a positive release from Arrowhead Ranch in February of 1998. He went on to join the Marines, and he noted the parallels between military service and Arrowhead Ranch. He completed his active duty in April of this year and plans to attend college for industrial drafting. He is now married and has a son, and his wife Devon feels they would not have been married if it weren't for his stay at Arrowhead. As she remarked, "He got his life together."
"Arrowhead Ranch helped me in a big way," Harry says. "I was at the end of my rope. Coming to Arrowhead Ranch showed me you just have to be a decent human and everything will fall into place."