Retreat for Young Men Who Are Experiencing a Failure to Launch

The Associated Press recently reported on a mountain retreat in Colorado aimed at helping young men ages 18-23 who are having trouble getting going in life. Called Insight Intensive at Gold Lake, the program is not for addicts, violent, or criminally rebellious guys, but for those who are simply “depressed, anxious, overwhelmed and underprepared,” those who feel unmotivated, adrift, and lack “an early adult life plan.” Guys that may have dropped out of college or are still living with their parents. Because of the expensive tuition, these are typically middle to upper-class guys, the ones who should have a wealth of opportunities at their fingertips, but are still failing to thrive.

The camp tries to get the young men ready for the “real world” by giving them a little structure and discipline:

They have been eased into this routine. At first, the goal is to get them to go to sleep when the clock still says “p.m.” and to rise when it says “a.m.” — something most of them weren’t doing at home.

They also get used to sharing their living quarters — three-bedroom cabins housing six — and pulling their weight, by doing tasks such as their own laundry.

As they show they can be responsible, they work their way up in levels within the system. Eventually, they write a life plan, then take basic steps toward achieving it — putting together a resume’ and applying for a job or an apartment with the help of a life skills coach.

“This is practice. This is training,” David Krayeski, Insight’s program director, says, comparing it to preparing for a race. “These are guys who’ve been paralyzed, for lack of a better term. So we have to get them moving.”

Many of the young men also work — as kitchen or ranch hands, or on the housekeeping staff.

“You’d be surprised at how many choose housekeeping,” DeNucci says, recalling one client from a wealthy family who confessed, “I have to learn how to clean.”

While the retreat is supposed to help the young men get going with life, it’s hard not see it as further coddling. The young men do yoga in the morning and have therapy sessions, while living in a place that is “rustic, but comfortable with its wood-paneled walls, stone fireplace, sauna and massage rooms and outdoor hot tubs.” It costs $350 a day and lasts up to four months, and parents foot the bill. Which means it costs mom and dad an eye-popping $42,000 to teach junior basic life skills.

It seems to me that if a young man wants to turn his life around, it has to come from within, from some bootstrap pulling, not from a retreat like this. I know that reading this article would have made my Grandpa spit his coffee out in utter surprise.

Read the whole article: “Retreat Aims at Young Men’s Failure to Launch” (@Yahoo)

Hat tip to Joel D. for this link.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason November 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm

This looks more like a place where rich parents ship their sons when they drop out of college. It’s a shame there’s a market for this kind of place. I don’t want to make a snap judgment on their content, but I agree that this kind of “education” should be built in to our society somehow if we’ve lost it.

Lee Nelson November 14, 2011 at 6:58 pm


A nice, swift kick in the ass would work better and cheaper.

John Leonard November 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I’m just saying, Uncle Sam needs a few good men….and considerably cheaper, heck they even pay you to become a man. Ah I think I hear a cadence now….”Momma, momma can’t you see; what this Corp’s done to me….”

Alec Moore November 15, 2011 at 11:25 am

They drop out of college because of high tuition, but theres 42 grand laying around for them to go to sad camp? @ John Leonard, you speaketh truth, the service does motivate like no other.

Rob November 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

Man, am I ever glad I was a scout. You learned all this and more very quickly in the BSA.

Anon November 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

I can see where it has a place. And who says mom & dad have to pay for it? Make junior pay and he may figure out a way to get in and out in week instead of 4 months. Who knows? Besides, they are already paying for meals, rent, entertainment, etc anyway and depending on the family and the young man, this might be a deal.

I agree that there are cheaper options, like the service or teaching your kid as he grows up. At the same time I know at least one young man who could use some dedicated help like this. Since I know he and his parents can’t afford something like this, I’ve got my work cut out for me. It may not cost $350 a day but it’ll be expensive for me and my family I’m sure in more than just the monetary sense. This young man is my brother-in-law so there’s a vested interest from me and my wife.

Anon November 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Actually my brother has similar issues as well and he’s in the service. So he has a combination of the failure to launch thing combined with the struggles associated with those who been in combat. He’s learning and he’s coping and he’s trying. Interestingly, he does a retreat sort of thing already in the form of fishing.
My point is don’t knock the method right off the bat. There is usually some basis in truth behind the method as is the case here. The implementation could be a little better or broader though.

andrew November 15, 2011 at 10:32 pm

put them out on the street and see if they sink or swim…wow “life coach”…I am my son’s life coach.

Stephen November 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Everything old is new again. It’s a finishing school.

Justin November 16, 2011 at 9:54 pm

“It seems to me that if a young man wants to turn his life around, it has to come from within, from some bootstrap pulling, not from a retreat like this.”

What happened to the whole attitude about manliness needing to be taught? How can you promote mentorship and rites of passage one moment and then go on about change coming from within the next and saying that all these lost young men just need to get over it and pull themselves up.

I think a retreat like this could be a good thing for many people, maybe even myself, but this particular program charges so much that it feels more like a scheme to scam rich parents out of their money. It reminds of those expensive “tough love” camps that were popular a few decades ago.

Fortunae Meae November 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I don’t necessarily think assisting men who have had a “failure to launch” – whether it be because of drug addiction or quarter-life crisis – is an ignoble endeavor. Nobody is perfect, and let he who is without sin cast the first stone. This is probably a scam though, as I feel said assistance could be achieved so much cheaper. And yes, pain is going to have to be a part of it, or at least firm discipline and responsibility.

Levi November 21, 2011 at 12:42 am

I knew a guy a year older than me… I asked him his senior year when he was moving out. He said, “Move out? I’m just gonna wait for the old man and momma to die and move my stuff to the big bedroom!” I was appalled. It never occurred to me, not even once, that someone might stay home after high school.

I graduated and, since I had nowhere else to live, couldn’t sit through college, and would have to work five jobs to make enough for an apartment, I joined the Corps. After 5 years, I came home, signed up for college, and moved back home. Hated every minute. As soon as I graduated, my girlfriend and I bought a house together. Married a year later, baby a year after that.

Think of this: in the 1800′s, there were land grants that were divided among a man’s children. Now there aren’t. The war booms of the early 20th century are long gone. It’s just more expensive to get a place than one person can afford. To get a 90k house, my wife and I had to have excellent credit (each), put down 20 percent, and somehow get hold of 5,000 bucks worth of appliances and furniture. Not to mention an 8,500 dollar wedding and honeymoon. That means to have the American dream, we needed the ability to obtain over a hundred thousand dollars worth of cash and credit. How did we do it? Careful planning, self-denial, the GI Bill, and discipline. And that discipline will have to stay strong for us to ever have a house we’d want to be found dead in.

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