To all of you who played a part in helping and supporting and teaching and showing our daughter that she is worthy of so much more, we, my husband and family and sister, thank you beyond words. I can never say how amazed and grateful and thankful we all are. She has gone from the saddest of places to hope and light.
- PRI Parent
Here's What Alumni STUDENTS AND Parents Have to Say About Pine River Institute
Is life after PRI perfect? No. But it is once again a life with possibility. For this, I am grateful.
“As parents we are thrilled with our babies and feel that their lives are filled with possibility. We hope for the best for them. We watch them grow into essentially good kids. Then something bewildering happens. We witness their lives collapse. They become dependent on drugs and alcohol, fail at school, become defiant and sometimes violent at home, get in trouble with the law, and begin to climb down the social ladder. Before we know it the arena of possibility we once saw as endless has shrunk to almost a single point. My only hope was for my daughter to survive long enough to pull out of this death-defying tailspin. A “good” day became a day with no bad news.
We shuttled from one social service agency to another.
Ultimately my daughter had been offered a number of short-term programs and rejected them all in favour of going to PRI. I believe she must have known in her heart that six weeks of group counseling was not going make a dent in her decline.
One thing that impressed me about the staff at PRI, from the rocky initiation in the woods, through the long residential phase, through to the aftercare, was their ability to see through the defiance, the layers of drama and deceptiveness and see that essential good kid within, with a heart and a head that I had lost track of in all the turmoil.
Doing the work that is done at PRI is difficult. You can’t throw dozens of these kids into a facility and expect things to go smoothly or flawlessly. It is not a single act performed on a given day that represents the turning point, although there are plenty of those along the way. What has made the difference for my kid, is the habit of excellence practiced at PRI.”
PRI Father, at his daughter's graduation
A life returned – that is what best describes the result of our son attending the treatment program at PRI.
“... we watched our son’s behaviour spiral at an increasingly alarming rate from that of an anxious and defiant young boy and pre-teen into that of a disrespectful, physically aggressive, substance abusing, truant. There had been both police and emergency room involvement and we were seriously concerned not only for his safety, but also for the safety and well-being of our 11 year-old daughter. We were in crisis and we needed help as soon as possible. PRI was recommended to us and to my husband and it gave us a glimmer of hope.
He spent his 14th birthday and the following 8 weeks in the woods with the amazing OLE staff. Before too long, we started to receive pictures from the woods of a smiling teen who looked like he was starting to find himself and perhaps liked what he found.
Back at Shelburne in residence, our son worked hard on his stage work and although he was one of the youngest participants in the program, he was able to build very strong relationships and gain the respect of peers and staff alike. After 7 months in the program, his success gave him the opportunity to go back to the woods to mentor some of the new participants to the program. This mentoring of peers is a big part of what makes the program so successful. It gives the mentoring teens the opportunity to take on a leadership role in a very positive way - something that most of them have never been able to do previously in their lives.
Our son is now living back at home with us and has successfully re-entered school life. One of the great discoveries that he made at PRI was the power of music and he continues to play guitar on a regular basis and he listens to music to relax. He has a gym membership and works out on a regular basis. We have all grown in so many ways. We are better able to communicate and hear each other and we now really enjoy being together, whether it’s watching a sporting event, having a family meal or just going for a walk.
We continue to work on building our new family story.
We consider ourselves so lucky to have been participants in the PRI program and we hope that others will have the same opportunity."
PRI Alumni Parent
“Everyone I have met here is grateful to have gotten the chance to be here. Sure sometimes it’s rough, but I guarantee the life that you’re living right now is worse.”
First let me start off by telling you how I was before PRI. I was doing an excessive amount of drugs, and drinking a ridiculous amount of alcohol every single day. I would go to work at 12 pm, get home at 7:30pm and instantly start numbing my body with substances. I also had/have a pretty bad relationship with my father, BUT each day I work to improve that relationship. PRI has taught me many things about my life.
When I was told that I had an assessment to see if I was the right fit for the program, my first thought was to bomb it. Make myself seem like I was a good kid. When I looked the place up, I instantly said I didn’t want to go. When my family made me promise to give the place a fair shot, I said ok, and truthfully I don’t regret it in the slightest. Obviously going to a therapeutic boarding school sounds terrible. But this place isn’t bad at all. Everyone I have met here is grateful to have gotten the chance to be here. Sure sometimes it’s rough, but I guarantee the life that you’re living right now is worse.
At PRI they teach you how to cope with your specific issues in a HEALTHY way. The food is AMAZING and on top of that the people you meet here actually CARE about you. Your family learns how to become attuned to your emotions, and you learn to become attuned to theirs. Truthfully, being at Pine River has saved my life, and I would encourage anyone who has the chance to come here to do so as soon as possible.
“Pine River is like its own small community where people work and develop skills together, and support is always around from both staff and students whenever anyone is struggling.”
Pine River for me has been a tough but exciting and life changing journey in so many ways. I can finally say I have my life back on track after dealing with so many struggles, from failing high school to having trouble with the law.
When I first came to Pine River I was really anxious and didn’t know what to expect. But as the time went on I forgot about everything and started enjoying myself and making the most out of the program, starting in the woods and then at the school. I’ve experienced Pine River as an extremely safe place for people to open up and come out of their shells. Pine River is like its own small community where people work and develop skills together, and support is always around from both staff and students whenever anyone is struggling.
Pine River has benefitted me in many ways, from learning about myself, to repairing with my family and friends, and even learning skills for the outdoors in the woods program. Pine River has helped me manage and regulate my emotions when I need to, and has also shown me a healthier and safer way of living life. I personally would like to say the therapists here are extremely caring and supportive, and are dedicated to helping the students. They are incredible at what they do.
Pine River is structured and holds all the students to the same standard. Pine River has taught me how to maintain my relationships by accepting limits and setting boundaries. I also feel like I have a lot more self-confidence and I am able to hold myself to a higher standard. In general Pine River really helped me mature and align with adults. I feel like over the months you stay here you start to consider people on your team as your own family, due to how much you learn about each other and how you are literally always there for each other.
Pine River is not only a beautiful property but massive and supports all types of physical activities such as volleyball, basketball, soccer in the summer, and broomball, skating and hockey in the winter. I have also had the chance to experience all kinds of things I wasn’t exposed to before I came here, such as kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and cross- country skiing.
I am glad I came to Pine River because now I feel like I’ve actually found myself from all the past years. I can finally say I’ve developed the skills required to stand on my own two feet and be responsible and independent. I am proud to say I have now achieved a breathtaking 22 university level/academic credits, having started here with only 6 credits. My future plans are to go on to university next year and continue building connections that are important to me.
Piece of advice for new students: There are going to be struggles through the program but the best thing to do is keep your head up and stick to it. At the end you will be a lot more grounded, comfortable in your own skin and around others, and you will understand yourself a lot better. You will learn a lot about life and won’t regret your time here because every second is worth it. Trust me.
PRI Alumni Student
I can’t really put into words the gratitude I have for my parents for getting me here…”
On this Day last year, I left the woods and entered the school. I also had the plan to leave with my parents when they came to visit me on Christmas Day. Thirteen months and 21 days later, here I am. I didn’t want to come, and I sure as hell didn’t want to stay, but for what seems to be the first time in my life, I’ve actually seen something through.
When I came here last year I really didn’t know what I had agreed to doing, and I truly believed that I was perfectly fine just the way I was. I referred to myself as a princess, and it was pretty accurate. I didn’t care about anybody but myself, and would go to great lengths just to be okay each day, not matter who I hurt in the process. I did what I wanted when I wanted, and if anybody tried to set a limit with me I blatantly disregard it by making excuses for myself about why I needed to do what I wanted. I went to 4 schools in less than a year, and kept telling myself that every new school would be that fresh start I needed, the change to make everything okay. I couldn’t see that the problems I was having actually came from my emotions, or that I was using copious amounts of substances to try and push them back down.
I can’t really put into words the gratitude I have for my parents for getting me here, and my team [of students], and of course [my therapist] for supporting me every single day. I’ve actually been dreading this day because I hate goodbyes; I usually just avoid them altogether. Just another time this place is forcing me to face something I don’t want to!
To say I learned a lot would be a drastic understatement. I learned more than I ever would have imagined. Although I didn’t always agree with the Pine River rule book, it got me to this chair today and for that I can’t help but appreciate this place I used to refer to as jail. I’ve gotten to know some decent people, although some of you have driven me a little bit crazy at times, and I’ve got some ridiculous memories that will probably stay with me for a while.
Like any normal person it’s been a roller coaster of good and bad times. PRI isn’t easy, and if [you think] it is, like I thought until stage three, you’re probably BS-ing your way through it, and in the long run that won’t do you much good. To those of you who are new, stick with it, don’t bother AWOLing [running away], and be open.
If you don’t let people in, you can’t let yourself out, and that will be what makes the difference between staying the way you are that got you here, and making the changes that you are capable of making.