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Archives for May 2016

Troubled teen finds peace at Rawhide

When Josh arrived at Rawhide he had only one thought, “How can I get myself kicked out?” As a troubled teen, Josh felt uncomfortable with structure and being held accountable. Plus, he was away from his family and friends. Josh was not accustomed to following rules, and felt unsure of what lay in store for him.  He said, “When I first got here it was pretty rough because I didn’t know [what to expect]. I [had] never been that far from home before.” He was an angry young man who was ill-equipped for facing his strong emotions.

By his own admission, Josh “was always the person who would cause trouble.” He displayed anger aggressively. He quarreled, initiated fights, and lacked empathy for those around him. Josh’s misbehaviors caught up to him and he faced disciplinary action from both his school and law enforcement. He was sent to Rawhide for the opportunity to change his behavior and lack of emotional control. What he found surprised him.

Learning to navigate life

Initially Josh thought, “Rawhide’s a Christian place and that’s not me.” Josh learned the staff merely wanted to share what God meant to them. Rawhide is faith-based and believes in demonstrating God’s love through day-to-day living—to lead by example rather than words alone. As a result, many troubled teens learn to put their trust in God, and so did Josh eventually. He opened up a little and disclosed that he had difficulty trusting people. The hardships he endured earlier in life forced him into a shell with only anger and aggression as protection. Through constant interaction and encouragement, Josh found safety and learned to trust the youth care workers. They remained by his side and never gave up on him, which up to that point was a rare occurrence in his life.

Through faith he discovered how to deal with problems and navigate difficult situations without anger, leading to a happier life. But some lingering issues remained.

Josh left Rawhide after 2 years, equipped with new skills to cope with his anger. He had hope for the future as he started to apply lessons from his education and training. However, he ran into some trouble. As he puts it:

“I did something stupid and was sent back to Rawhide.”

For Josh, going back to Rawhide proved to be a blessing in disguise. As much as he wanted to get back to living life as a normal teenager, he still lacked certain skills to fully integrate into a  community without external guidelines.

Transition to “formerly” troubled teen

The second time around, Josh had to atone for some poor choices. He worked full-time on the ranch and volunteered, envious that the other guys had more free time. Once he completed the majority of his reparations, Josh had a moment of clarity. He grasped the vast amount of time and money he wasted. Specifically, he mulled over the things he could do with the money he lost because of bad behavior.

He finally understood where he went wrong and cautioned new guys at Rawhide to avoid his missteps. He advised them to put their energy into improving, and not merely going through the motions. He said,

“You can truly do it to get outta here or fake it to make it. And faking it to make it is not going to get you anywhere. It’s just going to get you in a worst situation or back here… If you really want to do good and change, you will take their advice and let them help you.”

Josh truly enjoyed his life at Rawhide. He fondly remembered feigning wrestling, joking with staff, and recalled laughing uncontrollably after running into a pole after a wild tube ride down a ski hill during Winter Adventure Week.

Evolution through self reflection

Josh recently left Rawhide and is enrolled in a new high school away from his former life and distractions where he plans on playing basketball and football. He is most thankful for the staff at Rawhide because of their “support and ability to work with you through all your issues and all the problems you have.” Without the opportunity to improve his life at Rawhide, Josh believes he would be on a path towards destruction. He suspects he certainly would still exhibit aggression and have trouble maintaining composed behaviors. He concluded, “The odds are I would be dead.”

Josh’s experience exemplifies the perseverance, acceptance, and determination Rawhide’s staff dedicates to helping guys. However, his transformation emphasizes that troubled teens will only truly overcome their difficulties when they personally identify their shortcomings. The safe environment and constant support from our staff provided Josh the chance to make that identification.

For Josh, the surprise outcome was the emotional calmness that comes from faith and believing he had the ability to control his feelings and actions. For a troubled teen, that is an enormous accomplishment.

Rawhide draws at-risk youths from across the state of Wisconsin and helps them turn their lives around. These services would not be available without the support from the many generous donors who help fund our mission. Please consider helping us help them.

Teen Smartphone Addiction: It’s Physical [Infographic]

Can you read this entire article without checking your phone? Most teens can’t. The majority of teens have a growing smartphone addiction, creating fear or anxiety when not using their devices. Repetitive smartphone use has led to health issues and new medical terminology such as “nomophobia,” “text claw,” and “iPosture.” Unfortunately, many teens text or check social media while they drive, endangering themselves and others.

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Teen Smartphone Addiction: It Gets Physical

Smartphones have been called “the world’s smallest slot machine,” and teens are hooked. 60% of teens will admit they’re addicted, 50% say they couldn’t live without their phone for a week, and 1 in 5 teens will wake up specifically just to check their smartphone for updates or to post status updates. 94% of teens also worry about losing their smartphones and 74% panic when they can’t find their smartphone. Teen smartphone addiction has even led to new medical issues and terminology such as “nomophobia,” “text claw,” and “iPosture.” But the addiction has turned physical. Many teens turn to their smartphones while driving, endangering their lives, and the lives of others simply to send a text message or check their social media accounts. 77% of teens say they’re confident they can text and drive, even though 11 teens die every day because they or someone else was texting during the time of the accident.

Nomophobia: New Medical Terminology

Nomophobia is the fear of being without a mobile phone or the anxiety from sudden loss of cellular connection. The term originated by combining the phrase “no-mobile-phone-phobia.” 77% of United States teens are nomophobic, making it the biggest phobia effecting teens.

How Bad Is It?

Teens are smartphone addicts. 60% of teens even admit it! Additionally:

Most teens constantly access their phone:

Even worse, regularly checking their phone isn’t enough for many teens. Teens need smartphones by their side all the time, regardless of where they are:

Smartphones also interrupt sleep. 1 in 5 teens will wake up specifically just to check their smartphone for updates or to post status updates.

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Separation Anxiety

Because teens develop strong emotional connections to their smartphones, they experience anxiety when their smartphones are out of reach. 94% of teens worry about losing their smartphones.

What happens if they misplace their smartphones?

  • 74% of teens panic if their smartphone is misplaced
  • 14% of teens feel desperate when away from their smartphone
  • 7% of teens feel physically ill when away from their smartphone

This anxiety can be classified as withdrawal. Florida State professor Russell Clayton summarized the panic and anxiety:

“We no longer see the phone as just a device. Now we see it as a part of ourselves.”

The Brain Chemistry Behind Smartphone Addiction

Dr. David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, explained why smartphones are so addictive:

“Smartphones are essentially the world’s smallest slot machine. … It’s very neurologically addicting. When you get a hit – finding something or hearing from someone, you get an elevation of dopamine, and it compels us to keep checking.”

Dopamine: The Feel-Good Brain Chemical

Smartphones alert users to electronic activity with clever sound effects, music, graphics, messages, and icons; like a slot machine signals a win with the “ching ching ching” sound of coins falling. When the phone sends an alert (a “hit”), the brain releases dopamine—a chemical known to elevate moods. As a person receives more alerts, the brain releases more dopamine, increasing the likelihood of that person repeating the behavior. Thus, the birth of an addiction. This is similar to the classical conditioning or Pavlovian Conditioning physiologist Ivan Pavlov performed during his famous study involving dogs, food, and a bell.

10 Signs of Smartphone Addiction

Baylor University professor James Roberts believes:

“It is incumbent upon researchers to identify the all-important ‘tipping point,’ where cell-phone use crosses the line from a helpful tool to one that enslaves both users and society alike.”

But where is that line? For full “addicted status,” Dr. Greenfield believes smartphone use has to impact major life areas such as: work, academics, home life, and relationships. Below are 10 signs that may indicate a teen is addicted to their smartphone:

  1. Looking at their smartphone upon waking and last thing before going to sleep
  2. Checking notifications during the night
  3. Losing interest in activities that don’t include a smartphone
  4. Interrupting face-to-face conversations to answer calls or texts
  5. Using their phone to avoid social interaction
  6. Turning to their phone when things get awkward
  7. Checking their smartphone constantly for no reason
  8. Feeling phantom phone vibrations
  9. Being on their smartphone during study time, class time, or work
  10. Experiencing panic attack or increased anxiety if their phone is left at home

Serious Health Side Effects

Smartphone usage may cause poor posture, creating physical issues such as wear and tear on muscles and joints, and degeneration of musculoskeletal system. It can also create psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, may interrupt sleep patterns, and cause shorter attention spans.

Smartphone Addiction Leads to Risky Behavior

Smartphone addiction in teens can lead to risky behavior such as texting while driving. A survey conducted by AT&T found that while 97% of teens agree that texting while driving is dangerous, 43% of those surveyed still text while driving. Interestingly,

The risky combination of smartphones and driving goes beyond texting:

  • Smartphone-related crashes accounted for 27% of all automotive crashes      Click to Tweet!
  • More than 90% of teens admit to posting on social media sites while behind the wheel      Click to Tweet!
  • 3 in 4 teens admit they’ve watched a video while driving      Click to Tweet!

Parents Are Concerned

61% of parents worry their teen is spending too much time on their smartphone. Parents are also concerned about what their teen might be doing on their smartphone, who they might be talking to, and what the conversations are about. As a result, parents often set limits on how often their teen uses their smartphone.

What Parents are Doing

  • 50% of parents set limits on what time of day their teens may use smartphones
  • 25% of parents set text limits on their teen’s smartphone
  • 33% of parents inspect teen’s phone content, such as address book, call log, texts, and pictures

Helping Teens Kick the Smartphone Addiction

  1. Create “No Phone” Zones – Place phones by the door or charging stations to limit phone use while at home. Consider allowing phones in common areas, but forbid them in bedrooms, bathrooms, or other private areas.
  2. Reclaim Family Dinners – Eating at the dinner table allows families to reconnect after a busy day. Add the table to the list of “no phone zones”.
  3. Designate Specific Times to Access Smartphones – Enforce a house rule that allows access during certain times only.
  4. Monitor a Teen’s Cell Phone Activity – Be upfront and tell your teen you will be monitoring their phone usage and holding them accountable for their time online.
  5. Forbid Driving and Texting – Teens are inexperienced drivers and are more likely to be involved in accidents, including fatalities. Block your teens’ smartphones while they are driving.
  6. Seek Out Cognitive Behavior Therapy – Addictions are difficult to beat, especially when the stimulant causing addiction surrounds a person daily. Professional counselors and therapists can support teens and help overcome temptations without creating family tension.

While smartphones are a useful tool, overuse may create issues. Teens are developing addictions to their devices, essentially turning smartphones into an extension of themselves. Teens are so hooked, they’re using smartphones while driving, putting their lives and the lives of others at risk. Simple steps can help teens detach from their phone, as can leading by example and showing teens appropriate times and places to use smartphones.

The Evolution of Dylan – a Rawhide Alumnus

The moment Dylan found himself sleeping on the bleachers of his old middle school was the moment he realized something needed to change. He took out his phone, called his mother, and asked for her help one last time. Dylan’s mother told us “I didn’t want to bury him before I die.” So she reached out to Rawhide, and a pivotal moment in Dylan’s life began. He needed help out of his life of deception, stealing, and drug use. Rawhide has a long history of successfully helping such troubled youth. This is one Rawhide alumnus story of a changed life.

The Rawhide Difference

When Dylan arrived at Rawhide, he expected a twelve-step treatment plan like he had completed many times before. Rawhide proved to be different. The first evening, his housefather, Gary, opened a Bible and read to the guys. Dylan didn’t quite know how to handle that. “To me, being a Christian was just about dressing up for Easter and Christmas Mass.”

His adjustment to Rawhide took time, and Dylan admits it wasn’t always easy. “The first week at Rawhide, I was having withdrawals from drugs. By the second week, I wanted a cigarette. By week three, I started to miss my friends. In the fourth week, I opened my heart to God.” Dylan’s new path truly began when he and Gary read sections from the book of Romans together.

Dylan credits Romans 10:9-10 as the most influential during his rehabilitation, and the time Gary took to explain it to him. When he heard this passage, he decided to let God in and see what His power could do for his life. “That night that I decided, Lord, if you’re going to do something with my life, then let’s do something.” After all, his ways lead him to sleeping on a school bleacher.

Continuing the Healing

When Dylan’s stay at Rawhide came to a close, he knew he wasn’t ready to return to his hometown with old familiar habits and friends. So he found an outpatient rehab house in a new city to continue his recovery and grow his self-confidence. He worked odd jobs and lent a hand at homeless shelters. Three years later, Dylan was confident in his ability to make better choices and felt comfortable going back to his hometown. So home he went.

Going Home

Dylan joined a church immediately when he returned home. Within weeks, the pastor asked Dylan to teach the high school Bible class. Dylan felt unprepared and unqualified. “These kids know more than I do!” he insisted. But the pastor could see Dylan’s natural ability to teach. Since the pastor had confidence in him, Dylan gave it a try and found a new passion.

Moving Forward

After a year of teaching Bible class, Dylan was accepted at Nicolet Bible Institute near White Lake, Wisconsin. He studied theology and Christian leadership and had the opportunity to minister to Langlade County Jail inmates.

Upon completing his second year at the Bible Institute, Dylan moved to Ontario, Canada for a pastoral internship. As he progressed in this internship, his confidence grew even more. From there, Dylan enrolled at Crown College in Minnesota to study Pastoral Ministry. He met his wife there, and after completing his coursework at Crown College, Dylan and his wife married.

After taking a year off of school, he felt a new calling. He is currently in his second semester of a law enforcement program at a technical college.

Rawhide Alumnus Gives Back to Other Troubled Youth

It’s been a few years since Dylan first arrived at Rawhide. From the time he first set foot on the Ranch to now, he has become an example of the positive impact Rawhide can have on the lives of troubled youth. Dylan admits he is still growing and learning, but he is on the right path. He credits his amazing recovery to support from Rawhide and people around him, his mother not giving up, and God’s healing power.

While Dylan makes his way through school, he works with the About Face Program at Rawhide, helping guys just like he was. He understand where they are “coming from” and establishes rapport.


Dylan sees similarities in the guys he helps now compared to the guy he was when he was first at Rawhide. The same insecurities Dylan faced as a Rawhide guy are present as guys struggle to differentiate between who they want to be and who society wants them to be. Dylan offers the same support the staff gave him when he was here and strives to be a source of constant encouragement and a leader that guides guys down the right path.

He knows that without support from Rawhide, he would have missed college, opportunities to travel, and may never have met his wife. He shares this with the guys and reminds them nobody is perfect. “I allow myself to be personal with them, confessing my own faults and letting them know even the best of us fail.”

Every Day a Blessing

Whether as a guy, or a staff member, Dylan counts every day at Rawhide as a blessing. When he looks back at his friends from high school, many still lead the same destructive life or even passed away. Dylan believes that, without Rawhide, his life might have ended with a similar sad story.

Since joining Rawhide as a Youth Care Worker, Dylan has had the opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of at-risk and troubled youth. “Nothing else compares to Rawhide in its beauty, the love that you find with staff, and the care that’s here.”

Dylan enjoys knowing he is a part of something great. He proudly explained, “This is a place where the staff truly care.” Dylan leads by example, giving current Rawhide guys a role-model they can admire. We are grateful for the evolution of Dylan.

17 Car Care Tips for Summer

Flowers are blooming and the days are getting longer. That means it’s time for clear roads and summer road-trips! The salt, ice, and cold winter temperatures may have roughed up your vehicle, and a proper inspection can help you confidently cruise all summer long. But where to start? Maybe on the fast food wrappers piling up in the back? Or maybe follow our 17 car care tips for summer to help your vehicle run at peak performance in the summer heat.

1.     Wash Your VehicleCar Care tips: Wash salt off your car

Salt residue can cause rust; so as soon as the weather is above 33 degrees, wash your car. Everything from your brake lines to your engine is assaulted by the wintery mix of salt, ice, water, sand, and filth. Washing your car after winter can prevent underbody rust and help extend your vehicles life.

2.     Wax Your Vehicle

Waxing provides an extra layer of protection, helping prevent scratches and sun damage. Wax also makes it easier to clean your car when it comes in contact with dust, pollen, bird droppings, bug splatter, or other summer-related eyesores. Waxing also protects your car’s paint job from sun damage.

3.     Inspect and Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

Friction from snow and ice can damage your windshield wiper blades. Replace your windshield wiper blades after winter to improve performance during rain storms or other inclement weather. Consult your owner’s manual for the appropriate windshield wiper size.

4.     Check the Air Conditioner

Summer can get pretty hot in some areas. A properly working air conditioner will make driving more comfortable. Remove and replace your air filter to prevent dirt and dust from clogging the system and impeding proper air flow. Clean the outdoor condenser plus the condenser coils. Check that debris isn’t clogging the drain line. If the line is clogged, you’ll see water pooling around the bottom. If you’re not having any luck, contact a specialist to get your air conditioner functioning properly.

5.     Check the Cooling System

Check the radiator fluid levels regularly. Make sure the reserve tank or overflow tank are where they should be. Drain and flush the radiator, cleaning out dirt and contaminants built up in your vehicle’s radiator cooling system. Flushing pushes a high volume of water or other cleaning liquid through your car’s radiator, to remove unwanted debris. Check to make sure that radiator caps and hoses are secure and periodically check the radiator tank.

6.     Inspect Coolant Levels & Condition

Examine the coolant in the reservoir, checking both the level and the condition. Coolant is usually colored, so if it looks rusty, discolored, or has something floating in it, flush the cooling system and add new coolant. Having plenty of clean coolant prevents your engine from overheating in summer.

7.     Change the Oil

An oil change helps your engine combat the increased summer temperatures. Consider switching to full synthetic oil if you haven’t already. Full synthetic oil is less likely to breakdown at high temperatures.

8.     Inspect Overall Engine Performance

Inspect the PCV, fuel, and air filter, and consider changing if you didn’t while inspecting the air conditioner. Dirty PCV, fuel, and air filters reduce engine performance by dragging dirt and residue into your car’s engine. Monitor how the engine is running when you drive the vehicle. If your vehicle is accelerating slowly or is unresponsive, flush the engine to remove any dirt and grime. Also, check that your check engine light isn’t on. If it is, bring your vehicle to a mechanic to find out what is causing the issue.

9.     Clean and Test All Lights

Inspect that head and taillights are clean and shining bright. Salt and winter residue may cloud headlights. If so, clean head and taillights with a headlight cleaning product. You may even clean your headlights with toothpaste! Inspect that all lights are functioning, including license plate lamps. Having a light burnt out can make you less visible to other motorists.

10.     Examine Tire Tread

car care tips

Try the penny test to ensure your tires have proper tread depth. Insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, the tire’s tread is worn down too far. You may need new tires.

Rotating your tires can help evenly distribute wear and tear. Tire rotations are recommended every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Check that the tire pressure is at the recommended level. Look in your owner’s manual or on the tires for appropriate tire pressure.

11.     Inspect the Brake Pads

Listen for a screeching, metallic sound when you step on the brakes. This sound signifies brake pads that are worn too thin. If you hear nothing but still feel some grinding when you push the brake pedal, your pads are too thin. If you experience either issue, replace the brake pads before they cause a rotor problem, creating a much more expensive issue.

12.     Inspect Brake Fluid

Degradation of brake fluid causes reduced braking performance or even total brake failure. The brake fluid reservoir is often near the base of your car’s windshield. The fluid should be clean and near the full mark. Inspect the level and condition of your brake fluid as well. If you’re running low on brake fluid or the brake fluid is black rather than brown, replace.

13.     Inspect and Clean the Battery

Battery acid deposits may form on the battery terminals. To combat buildup, you can create a battery cleaning solution with baking soda and water. Remove the cables from the battery and brush the baking soda solution on the terminals. Find a brush and scrub the terminals until dirt-free.

Also, check the battery casing for any cracks and inspect for frayed cables. If your battery is four years old or older, it is recommended you get it tested. Consider keeping a booster pack or jumper cables in your vehicle in case the battery dies.

14.     Stock up on Emergency Provisions

Emergencies do occur, and NAPA recommends stocking your vehicle with these 19 emergency provisions:

  • Clear plastic bin – keeps everything on this list dry and orderly
  • Water –may also be used to cool off your radiator if it is overheating
  • Phone Charger
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Reflective Blanket- may be used for shade, or to signal to passersby’s if stranded
  • Visibility Equipment – equipment such as a bright vest or bright cones to catch the attention of other drivers
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Pocket Knife/Multi-tool
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tire sealant – handy if your tire can’t remain inflated
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Tow Strap – in case towing is necessary
  • Fuses – handy if fuses for lights or electronics burn out
  • Tool Kit – have a socket wrench, and screwdrivers with flathead and Philips heads
  • Duct Tape
  • Rag
  • Gloves

15.     Check Power Steering Fluid Levels

Low steering fluid may cause difficulty steering a vehicle and the power steering pump to fail. Your owner’s manual will have specifics on inspecting power steering fluid levels. If fluid is low or dark brown, have power steering fluid replaced.

16.     Inspect Belts and Hoses

Cold temperatures may cause your belts to contract. Likewise, warm weather may cause your belts to expand, causing fraying or damage. Inspect all belts and hoses for cracks or frays. Check that belts are securely attached, tight, and properly aligned. Especially check the coolant hose. They are prone to failure due to high temperatures and heavy pressure on hot days.

17.     Add Fuel-Line Cleaner

Adding a fuel cleaner when you fill up your vehicle with gasoline helps keep your fuel line stable and free from deposits. It is recommended you add one bottle of fuel line cleaner every 3000 miles to maintain peak engine performance, fuel economy, and prevent hard starts.

Car Care Tips to Enjoy Your Summer!

Whether you’re planning a road trip or just looking to extend your vehicles life, these 17 car care tips for summer are just what the mechanic ordered. After proper inspection, you are minimizing risk from poor maintenance so that you can enjoy cruising under the sunny sky all summer long.

If you encounter unrepairable issues with your vehicle while going through our car care tips, take a look at our eBay store. It’s full of vehicles that can get you back on the road in no time. Each vehicle comes with a full inspection report by certified mechanics.