Choteau Youth Ranch, located 50 miles northwest of Great Falls, MT, is a private, non-profit organization providing a long-term, group home environment for troubled boys age 13-17. The ranch accepts adolescents who have low self-esteem, lack of motivation or poor attitudes, seem depressed or withdrawn, and/or dishonest, manipulative, rebellious, defiant or deceitful. They also help boys who are sexually promiscuous, underachieving in school, recovering from drug or alcohol use, have adoption, divorce or abandonment issues, and/or struggle with anger management or temper control.
Utilizing a bio-psycho-social assessment tool, Choteau Ranch performs an assessment on each boy as he enters the ranch, allowing the staff to create an Individualized Educational Program and determine the level of treatment needed for each student. Choteau teaches family values, spiritual enrichment, basic education and recreational development, through classroom work, counseling and practical exercises. This program is "designed to develop and refine the student's leadership and communication skills, confidence and self-esteem." They also offer vocational skills such as woodworking, automotive maintenance, landscaping and animal care, and help identify careers that may be rewarding to the boys once they leave the ranch.
Choteau Youth Ranch also utilizes a wilderness component that combines therapeutic work with wilderness training and adventure. Full-time counselors facilitate both cognitive-based therapeutic intervention and an outdoor leadership development program. The students and their counselors remain together the entire length of the program "to develop deep levels of safety and trust within the group."
Other challenges offered at Choteau Youth Ranch include nine-week courses in field skills, mountaineering, map reading, land navigation, physical fitness, environmental science, and medical and leadership training. These courses "build camaraderie and teamwork among the students, and enhance self-concept by fostering individual leadership skills."