I thought of Discovery Ranch a lot this past weekend when we dropped our son off for the beginning of his freshman year in college.

Like everyone of us, our son continues to be a work in progress. We are so hopeful for him. Because of his experience at Discovery Ranch, our son has a chance to achieve things that would never have been possible otherwise.

I remember when we took the steps to enroll him at DR. A brutally difficult, emotional decision. A huge financial sacrifice. Professionals told us it was the right thing to do. I’m glad we listened to them. Our son’s experience was most positive.

My son has learning differences that manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including frustration, anger and self-esteem issues.

He learned at DR that it will always be harder for him to achieve certain things that come easily to others; yet he could reach his goals if he stayed focused on key skills and techniques.

At Discovery Ranch, he found a very structured, yet nurturing and caring environment. Clear boundaries are identified. Personalized goals were set and performance against the goals was measured. I can not say enough about the professional staff. They deeply cared about our son.

Experiential learning, in the manner that DR successfully employs, is incredibly powerful. It was a completely foreign concept to us prior to DR, yet was very simple to understand.

Experiential learning is a process. It is not a “sprint”, it is a marathon, so you must be patient and DR will see to it that your child will choose to be diligent.

For some kids, things click a little faster; for others, it takes a while, but eventually…with few exceptions…the process makes a positive difference.

As far as amenities are concerned, DR provides the kids really nice accommodations that are far superior to other experiential learning programs we visited. No need to be concerned about how the kids are fed. Our son left home a picky eater but loved the food at DR and he became much more diverse in that area. And they had him eating healthy foods.

Parents weekends were very valuable so make certain you take full advantage. Along with visiting our son, we learned valuable parenting skills from the staff. We learned that we had to do certain things a lot differently if we were to maximize our son’s potential.

We experienced some powerful group sessions with our fellow DR parents; it was an opportunity to understand that others shared our plight, our fears, our frustrations, and our worries. It was therapeutic to know that others were in the same boat.

One last thought I will leave you with. The greatest Christmas our family ever spent was in a hotel near Provo, together with our son and his siblings. It was not in his best interest for my son to come home that year for Christmas. For us to be away from home represented a maximum sacrifice.

It was tough to accept at first. We never imagined it would happen this way, but we ended up with the greatest Christmas present ever: seeing the progress our son was making. I will never spend a Christmas Day again without thinking of the holiday season we spent in Utah.

We believe that Discovery Ranch made a huge difference in our son’s life. We will never be able to thank the people who shined light on the path for him.

John