Gator Wilderness Camp is one of the best things to happen for our son and our family. Before camp our son was struggling with major behavioral problems, as well as confidence and social skills. He had been in psychiatric units three times, was suicidal, and extremely defiant. This had taken a major toll on our family. We had prayed for years for help and God answered that prayer with Gator Camp. At camp our son made a HUGE transformation! He learned to be respectful, self-reliant, a problem solver, and how to handle his wild emotions. Being a team player is part of every moment at Gator Camp as well as having a positive attitude. We can't thank Gator Camp enough for all of their hard work and dedication! The staff at camp are truly amazing, kind, honest people. They became like our family and got us through every step.
With enormous gratitude,
Jeff & Stephanie
I am writing this letter to say Thank You! I have no words to even begin to tell you what a huge difference I see in Mason already and he just started this adventure with you all there at camp.
He is changing and it shows through and through more and more every time I see him and I couldn't be more proud of him. This is exactly what Mason needed and we are so glad he made
the decision to go to camp and we are glad we didn't try to hold him back from this experience.
I am looking forward to the future, having my son back, and having our family back together and stronger than ever before. This letter will never be enough to tell you how grateful I am that you
are all a part of his life and ours too and to tell you how lucky he is to have you all there for him, standing behind him to keep giving him the guidance he needs to become the wonderful young man I know he can be. There are miracles happening for Mason and for our family and I cannot ever thank you enough for the help you are giving to us to make those miracles happen.
A LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER
One of the more difficult situations to arise for a psychotherapist is when the safety and well being of family members
is compromised and the family setting is no longer the best placement for a child. The circumstances surrounding such an event are many and varied, but the need is the same, a safe, secure, nurturing environment that will hold the child accountable for his actions while ministering to his spirit and soul.
Gator Wilderness Camp School for adolescent boys surpasses the above criteria and is an answer to prayer. As
a licensed Clinical Social Worker in the specialized fields of trauma, child abuse, adoption, foster care and family therapy, a residential program as a means of saturated treatment and respite for the family is a valuable resource.
Gator Wilderness Camp is unique in the state of Florida as a residential program that shares the love of Christ while helping the boys make meaning of their every day struggles and fight to rise above their circumstances that often include extreme loss and trauma.
The boys and families I have referred to Gator Wilderness Camp are most often at the pinnacle of stress and drastic interventions are necessary. Common diagnosis such as ADHD, ADD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, and Conduct Disorder wrap the boys like a shroud. The level of dedication and sacrifice that is made on a personal level by the chiefs continues to amaze and bless me. Being punched, kicked, spit on and cursed at
is an ordinary occurrence in this unordinary life as a chief. The boys learn to embrace their lives and work through their trauma histories as the dedicated staff of Gator Wilderness Camp walk beside them every step of the way. It is a delicate balance of accepting the boys where they are while modeling and teaching the skills needed for them to rejoin their families and communities. Listening to the boy’s life stories is not for the faint of heart. Loving them through their behaviors is difficult at best. Thank you to the entire staff at Gator Wilderness Camp School for having a vision and
a mission that heals the broken hearted and charts a course of success for these young men when they graduate from your program.
Sheila D. Stiles, LCSW
FAMILY OF RECENT GRADUATES
My son Austin had many hurts that were changing who he was. I was losing my son to a deep anger and hurt within him. Through genuine love, concern, and consistency, the Chiefs patiently worked with Austin to help restore his self-confidence and laughter. I will never be able to thank all of the staff at Gator Wilderness for loving my son like only a mother can love. You have made an indelible mark on both Austin and my life. You are our family and we thank you for welcoming us into yours.
Gator Wilderness Camp has been a game changer for our family. Before coming to Camp, our son had some extreme and challenging behaviors that included angry and destructive outbursts, defiance, lying, stealing and more. Since he has been at Camp he has done a complete turn around and we haven't seen an outburst in months. He is now better prepared and able to problem solve, accept accountability with a good attitude, carry on a conversation even when uninterested in the topic, and for the first time ever he is on grade level across the board. Gator Camp has provided a consistent and structured, safe, nurturing environment in which he is able
to begin liking himself and using the skills he was learning in a 'real life' setting. It is such a blessing and a joy to see how he's grown through this program. Using much of the same structure at home and attending parent group meetings has also helped us evaluate
and grow as a family.
Jim & Rhonda
I frequently say that Gator Camp changed our family's life and it saved my son's. Dropping him off at Camp was both the best and the worst thing I have ever done. The best because he's not the same boy he was when he went to Camp. And the worst because I missed him so. He was 11 when he started Camp and two months away from 13 when he graduated. By that time, he had learned to talk about his feelings, fears, and frustrations, instead of acting out on them. Gator Camp doesn't eliminate the frustrations of all of the problems, but it did give all of us a new way and confidence to solve them. Most of all, it gave my son back the desire to want to succeed and solve his problems.
Our grandson Max lost his mother at the young age of three and without having a father image, he had many emotional problems. Oppositional defiance, separation anxiety, not being truthful, among many other problems. As grandparents, we adopted Max and his brother. After spending thousands of dollars with psychiatrists, psychologists, and medications which did not work, over a period of years we received a gift from God. We were introduced to Gator Wilderness Camp School by a friend. Max entered Gator Camp at the age of 12 and from the day he entered he began to change. Max graduated after 15 months and today is a totally different child, one in which we are proud of. He is doing well in school as a Freshmen, participating in school activities and happy. Without the help and guidance that he received at Gator Wilderness, he would not be where he is today and probably would have been walking down a different path.