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What I learned at Arivaca Boys Ranch

An Alumnus of Arivaca Boys Ranch wrote this essay reflecting on the change he experienced in the program. Names and personal details of this essay are changed to protect the privacy of our clients.

"I never thought I would have made it this far my first few months here. My Mom sent me a quote by Confucius and it says, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”This quote really set into my head... I believe that quote describes my stay here, when I first got here I started off by moving small rocks.


When I first arrived at Ranch I was a very lost, mad, and confused boy. I was losing the battle against addiction, I never thought I could stop.


I was using hard drugs and getting in a lot of trouble with the police. I wanted nothing to do with my parents and I was bringing down my younger brother with me. I refused to talk to my parents my first few months of being here. I was so self centered that I was tearing apart my whole family. I was trying to replace drugs here with other addicting behaviours or huffing gas. I fought the staff members and I was instigating other boys because I was mad at my parents. I was very resistant and not willing to change myself at all.


The major thing that helped me start to move forward is the fact that my homies back at home aren’t getting better they are only getting worse. I was the only one changing. I wanted to have a future after this program. I didn’t want to end up in jail or on the streets. I really started to turn around after my first parent visit. The visit gave me hope to having a better relationship with my parents. It showed me that I could actually be successful after this.

My Mom was going through some tough stuff, my Dad was on the way to losing his job because of how much stress I was causing, and my brother started using drugs because he wanted my acceptance. I realized that drugs did nothing but ruin my life. It did the opposite of what I wanted. I wanted my family back. I wanted what drugs took away from me.

Looking back on all this I wish I could take it back and make things right. But the good thing about the past is that it’s in the past. The only thing that I have been doing since coming here is moving forwards a day at a time. I now have a really strong relationship with my parents and my relationship with my sister has never been better. I feel like my work here now is going to consist of me moving mountains. I have seen my impact on boys with their sobriety and how they now see another side of being sober.

The Wednesday night AA has been helping me out a lot and hopefully it has been impacting the others that attend. I have been motivating boys to follow schedule and to try advancing. I stand up for what’s right and for what I believe in even when no one else will. I have been helping staff out wherever it is needed. I have been helping out boys when they are having a hard day. They shouldn’t feel like they are going through this alone.


I believe that my way of being has contributed to a lot of my progress. I have been able to help boys work through conflict with their peers. Being able to understand someone’s burdens and their humanity helped me see myself more as a person I have grown as a person being able to help others obtain that heart at peace."


If you know a struggling teenage boy who needs help and healing, email admissions@arivacaboysranch.com for more information.

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