Is it morning already? I’m jarred awake by the cell phone alarm of one of my two counselors, who quickly silences it and begins speaking loudly so that we will all wake. “3 minutes to make your bed and join us in the den!” What he means is, we have a few moments to shake off the haze, make our beds and get dressed, and then move to the area of couches in the cabin. Fortunately I’ve set my clothes out in advance, like I do every night, and this buys me some time.
We’ve made it to the couch. The counselor are assigning chores, although we all have the schedule memorized by now. It’s my turn to sweet the cabin before someone else can mop the floor before we leave. The chores are assigned and we have a 3 minute moment of silence for prayer or meditation. Most of my group mates fall back asleep during this time even though it’s still very cold because someone again did not wake up and stoke the fire again.
Off to the Bath House!
Chores are done and we’ve lined up two by two on the cabin porch. One of us is carrying the group backpack, the two at the front of the line share the carrying of the water cooler, and we’re off! The bath house is not far from our cabin, just down the trail and to the left about 100 yards.
We get there and another boy’s group is still wrapping up, so we wait on the benches and talk and yawn and breathe the fresh air. Soon it’s our turn and we enter. We do our hygiene routine of brushing our teeth, using the restroom, shaving, etc. Showers are at night time, though. Soon, we are done and we all take part in the bath house chores. We always clean the sinks, mirrors, toilets, and urinals before we leave, every time. We’re done and get ready to march across campus to the cafeteria.
We’ve marched two at a time in silence across campus, watching for cars and generally practicing safety. We arrive at the cafeteria and line up one at a time with the other boy’s groups to receive breakfast. This morning, it’s sausage, grits, biscuits, and milk or orange juice. We have about 15 minutes to eat before it’s time to clean up and head to the school. We wipe down the tables and chairs, sweep and mop, and line back up to walk to the school.
School is what you’d expect. We have one large open schoolroom for all classes, which are situated in differing sections of the floor plan. All of the group counselors are there to help tutor and maintain correct behavior while the teachers perform the main tasks of mini-lectures and helping with personal studies. We rotate classes and subjects every 30 minutes until lunch time, which is very identical to breakfast except we are all a little more energetic. Then it’s back to school for another couple of hours before we head to vocational work.
This big campus of cabins and buildings and woods and fields don’t maintain themselves. We all, including the patients and counselors, head to the tool shed to gather up shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, or whatever else we need to perform the assigned task of the day. Sometimes we clean up the laundry room. Sometimes we clear the weeds and roots from trails. Sometimes we build a greenhouse. The main idea is that we are busy and learn to perform work that benefits the group or society as a whole and not just ourselves. We also better get used to the idea of working because everyone has to after they graduate.
Vocational work is over and we either head to the cabin or to the parkour course of workout bars and what not outside. It just depends on the vote of the group, but you can relax or work out either way. We have about 45 minutes before it’s time for dinner, which functions the same as breakfast and lunch. No surprises there, except the mystery meat!
AA, NA, or other Meetings
Depending on what is available, we’ll load up in a van and head off to an Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Emotions Anonymous, or any other group meeting with random adults from the community. This is important as we meet functional adults who are contributing to society who have conquered some of the problems I or my group mates might be facing currently. After a couple of hours of this, we head back home and march to the bathhouse again for showers.
Bath House, Relax, and Bed
We head to the bathhouse, shower up, clean up and do the chores, then head back to the cabin to relax. Hopefully we’ve charged up our lantern batteries at the bathhouse because the cabins don’t have electricity. If we want to read or write, we use lanterns. Or we sit by the fire indoors. We have a stove which keeps the cabin toasty warm at least until we fall asleep (and longer if someone stokes the fire).
And that’s a day in the life of a residential treatment center group!