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Schools & Program Visits - Apr, 1999 Issue #57  

On the Trail
By: Jodi Tuttle, Roving Correspondent 
For Woodbury Reports Inc.
March Visit, 1999

(Jodi has joined the staff of Woodbury Reports as a Roving Correspondent. As such, she will be part of the eyes and ears as to what is happening in the Emotional Growth Schools and Programs Network in her travels.) 

My excitement heightened as I prepared for the first trip to visit schools and programs, with my sheep camp wagon in tow. Everyone asks, “Why a sheep camp wagon?” I once spent the better part of the summer in Utah’s Manti-Lasal National Forest in a sheep camp wagon. I enjoyed hiking, reading and watching the flocks of sheep nearby so much that I have since longed for a return to the sheep camp wagon and a more carefree lifestyle. While I’m not actually carefree, I did at least acquire a sheep camp wagon and can finally realize my dream: traveling throughout the U.S, visiting schools and programs, helping wherever I can. To say that my husband, who grew up herding sheep as a child, is less than excited about my new venture, is an understatement. However, being a good sport, he willingly acquiesced with my eccentric lifestyle. 

Many people have asked me why I would choose this sort of lifestyle. First, I feel that boarding schools and programs don’t deserve the negative publicity that has been in the media recently. I would like to create an awareness that the vast majority of these schools and programs are great places for young people and have been extremely successful in assisting students in building new lives from shattered ones. Second, I would like to see all the schools, programs and educational consultants working together in a network to help young people. Since my background includes expertise and experience in marketing, admission, and educational administration, I believe I can assist in furthering this project. 

When I first decided to do this, I knew I had to find a way to support the venture on the road. I am grateful indeed that I found other people who believed in networking and helping improve the image of the programs. This list includes Spring Ridge Academy, a girl’s emotional growth school in Spring Valley, Arizona; SunHawk Academy, a residential treatment center and specialty school in St. George, Utah; Cedar Ridge, a residential treatment center located on a farm in Roosevelt, Utah; and Woodbury Reports. Conducting an occasional Educational Consultant tour will also help financing. 

My first plunge included a short trip to Texas and Oklahoma. It was undertaken just to see what obstacles I would encounter as I learned what I would need to live on the road. This turned into quite an adventure. Not only did my electrical cord for brakes and signal lights leading from the sheep camp to the truck, fall out and drag on the ground until it was pulverized, the cap off the stove pipe of my camp also got knocked off!. For those of you who haven’t seen a sheep camp, they have a wood stove for the sheepherders to use so they can stay warm while they are in the desert in winter. The top of the stovepipe is twelve feet from the ground. I failed to pay attention to a tree branch when I arrived in an R.V. Park. 

So much for details, on to the trip. I left Spring Ridge Academy where my sheep camp wagon had been residing for the last two years and headed toward Texas (that’s when my brake problems occurred). When I stopped to call my friend in Queen Creek, Arizona, I realized that my electrical cord had fallen out and I had been driving at night with no lights on my trailer. So, after spending the night with my widowed friend and her mother, the two of us taped it back together with electrical tape. There it stayed, sometimes working and sometimes not, until I arrived at my son’s house in Oklahoma (thank goodness for Mr. Fix-it). 

I finally arrived at the home of Cristie Woodfin, educational consultant from Houston, Texas for a visit. I worried about what Christie’s neighbors would think about me having my sheep camp wagon and my rusty old 1980 GMC truck (Old Blue) parked in her circle drive. But, after the neighbors came over with their dogs to have a look at the camp, I decided they would spare me a few days in the neighborhood without calling the police to have it removed. 

Next stop was Austin, Texas where educational consultant, Carolyn Kocurek and her neighbors, got to enjoy the sheep camp for a few days while I toured the Brown Schools with Sue Forsberg. We visited San Marcos Treatment Center in San Marcos, Laurel Ridge in San Antonio, On Track in Mason, Hill Country Place in Austin, and the Apartment Living Program in Austin. These programs provided an array of psychiatric and psychological services for youth. 

After visiting my son, Terry, in Oklahoma, I headed back to Spring Ridge to drop off my sheep camp wagon and head home to Utah. It was a fun trip. I learned a lot of lessons, including how to repair my electrical connection and how not to drive into tree branches. I also decided that driving a 1980 truck was not so exciting. So, in Oklahoma I bought a new dually, power stroke diesel Ford Truck and drove it home. (I could pull the world with this one, not just a sheep camp wagon). There is only one problem, my husband is attached to his old truck and doesn’t want to sell it, so now I have to fly back to Oklahoma to drive “Old Blue” back home.  

Copyright © 1999, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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