What services are offered at Northwoods?
How does communication work while in the program?

It is requested to write at least weekly while attending the Wellness & Life skills portion of programming. (Note that not all follow this and writing may be more or less depending on the individual)

When appropriate we schedule a Family Outing. This is the first opportunity for families to reconnect and share the great changes and progress that they have made.

Once entering Transitional Step 1 weekly calls are offered.

In Step 2 phones are returned and regular communication begins and is tested.

At anytime families are welcome to email with questions or concerns.

It is very important to remember that we are an adult program and the focus is on the individual first. Helping them make the necessary changes without outside influence provides the quickest and most sustainable outcome.

For information necessary for all families, we utilize nwrr@northwoodsrr.com.

With the challenges of this process and recognition that the change occurring is not solely to the student, we highly recommend each family member seek appropriate help to process their thoughts and feelings

Important Note

As a general rule, we do not provide our personal cell phone numbers or information. It is important that when not doing work, we have time to recharge so we are able to continue to provide our students our best selves.

What activities are you doing during the winter months?

During the winter months, little changes.

We shift our fitness and sports related activities and participate in things such as basketball and skiing.

Our wilderness continues to include hiking and camping as the weather allows, and we add in activities such as snowshoeing and ice-fishing.

Farming focuses on animal care and pruning of the trees, along with various projects that are needed.

How much does the program cost?

Wellness & Life Skills

Monthly fee is $8,500

Upon admission, the initial month is prorated based on the date of admission at $317 per day. For each month thereafter, payment is due on the 1st of the month.


Transitional programming is broken into four steps and tuition is reflective of the level of support required for successful progress through each step. The fee are listed below.

Step 1: $8,500 per month – Acquisition of employment and/or attendance in school

Step 2: $7,500 per month – Re-acquainting with phone and social media

Step 3: $5,500 per month – Independent living and budgeting

Step 4: $2,500 per month – Maintenance

Family Outing

$1000 per couple, additional $250 per addition person

Sober Living

Sober Living Membership: $175 per week, does not include food, hygiene or personal items, or other basics personal needs

Day Program

$100 per week

Kenya Experience

Starting at $7500

Experience 2 weeks in the beauty that is Kenya, get outside of the fixed thinking of our world and shift your perspective.

What is the minimum stay?


Residential Program

Minimum of 3 months with additional stay as determined appropriate and necessary for sustainable change.

During this time, we assess each student, observe attitudes and behaviors, and begin working on the goals they developed during their intake.

Unlike other facilities, we know there is not a magic number in terms of student development and progress. Some students may only require 3 months, while others may need more.

Be wary of facilities that require longer or more arbitrary time frames for students’ successful completion; since every student is different, so are their therapeutic needs.

Transitional Services

This typically requires a minimum of 3-6 months. This includes a slow progressive step toward independence, accounting for the needs of the student and seeking the highest likelihood of success.

Check out the Transitional page for details of the process and steps we utilize.

What is your success rate?

Many folks ask us what our success rate is. We have always found this to be a challenge- to give a percentage or attach a number to the success of an individual and their various areas of struggle.

Do we do as many other programs do and pick one criterion? No.

What is that criteria? Holding employment? Reduced anxiety? Depression? And then from whose perspective do we view this? Parents? Family? The student?

Rather than looking at our students and choosing any singular area to judge their successes, we look at the overall progress and changes made and assess how long they have sustained those changes.

With this in mind, from our start in 2012 to now in 2021, we have served approximately 180.

Of that number of students we have found less than 10% who do not meet our high standard of sustained change.

This means approximately 90% find themselves in a better position to continue improving their lives.

This is not to say that those students have not had bumps along their progress, but more importantly, they have pushed through and continued forward toward their life goals and stability.

There is so much more to factor in with an individual and that is the difference at Northwoods Ranch and Retreat.

Our students are not numbers. They are people  we come to care greatly for and are willing to go above and beyond to help.

This is why Northwoods is the best option for young men needing a chance to change and improve their lives.

What is a normal day like?

6:30 am: Wake up

7:00am: Animal care

7:30am: Gym

8:30 am: Breakfast

10:00 am: Project / Activities

12:00 pm: Lunch

1:00 pm: Project / Activities

6:00 pm: Dinner

7:00 pm: Evening chores

8:00 pm: Rest / downtime

10:00 pm: Lights out

Each day varies at Northwoods.

Days include agricultural projects, sports and fitness activities, group and individual counseling, wilderness outings, and a variety of both physically and mentally beneficial activities.

As a small, individualized program, we are able to adjust what we do to fit the needs of our students, better targeting their areas of concern and guiding them through the process of change.

How many other young men will be in the program with my student?

Northwoods strives to maintain a low student to staff ratio.

Wellness & Life Skills = 4

Transitional = 4

Sober Living = 12

As part of our unique program, we understand the more personalized attention each student receives, the greater their opportunity for success.

Can students get a job or go to school during the wellness & Life Skills portion of their stay?

Students may not obtain a job or attend classes during this part of their stay. It is important that the issues bringing the student into the program be the primary focus.

Can students have electronics?

Personal internet accessible devices are not permitted at Northwoods  (iPods, iPads, PSP, etc.).

Phones are not permitted at Northwoods Ranch & Retreat during attendance in residential services along with Step 1 of their transitional programming.

Students are encouraged to write their families regularly to update them on their progress.

Once students enter the Transitional Program, they may have a cell phone, as well as all electronics (limited during initial transition).

The residential period is a crucial time for us to understand the inner processes, socialization, needs, and development of our students. It is our experience that this is complicated by outside influences and distractions. In order for us to achieve the most comprehensive and thorough assessment possible during this time, complete attention to our curriculum is required.

Do students get to go home for visits?

Home visits are not permitted during wellness & life skills portion of their stay.

Students continuing into our Transitional may be permitted to return home for visits after discussion and determination by the family and Northwoods Counseling Services.

This depends on job search, work schedule, and health of family dynamic.

Can families visit?

During the wellness & life skills portion of our service, visits are not permitted.

Families are invited and encouraged to attend the Family Outing.

This does not occur until:  the student has completed the residential program and readiness for next steps has been determined by clinical staff.

Does Northwoods offer therapy?

The short answer is no. The longer answer requires that we look at Therapy versus Counseling.

Therapy is clinical, applies diagnosis and formatted treatment to mental health issues, where as counseling looks at the individual, what are they facing that are barriers to success and what are the in the moment issues that must be worked through to help them learn necessary skills to overcome those barriers.

That is what Northwoods offers, that is what we are, we counsel our students and help them develop the necessary life skills to be a successful and health individual.

Are there any disorders or behaviors that will disqualify a student from enrollment?

Yes, due to the unique nature of our program, there are disorders and behaviors that are not conducive to the environment provided by Northwoods. Each potential candidate is thoroughly assessed and information gathered to determine appropriateness

We will not accept students who exhibit behavior that has the potential to diminish that environment for other students.

Our Student Submission is one tool we utilize to gather necessary information for admission, and is designed to help us determine if a student will benefit from our program.

If Northwoods is not a fit for your son/family member, we will be happy to recommend a program that may be more appropriately suited for his needs.

Can I send a package or letter?

Student mail is sent to:

PO Box 99

Orrington, ME 04474

All mail must be labeled In Care of Northwoods.

Packages mailed through UPS or FedEx can be mailed to a separate address that will be given when package is approved – No packages will be accepted without prior approval, this is for all mailing services.


What do the students eat?

Students get a balanced diet consisting of foods that are both healthy and realistic to what they would eat in the real world.

Please click below to see an example menu.

Meal Menu

How can I connect with Northwoods on social media?

Click the links below to connect with our social media pages:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • We also have a private Facebook group for families and loved ones, which can be provided once the member has started the program.
Do you accept insurance?

Northwoods Ranch & Retreat does not accept or bill insurance.

Is Northwoods licensed?

No, as a wellness & lifeskills program we do not require licensing in the state of Maine.

Other states have what they refer to as finishing schools, which closely mirror what we offer. There is nothing quite like Northwoods though :)

The owner of Northwoods does however hold Masters in Clincial Mental Health Counseling and an MBA. These educational achievements are utilized in the life skills counseling and structure of Northwoods.

Why is Northwoods not licensed?

This is a great question and important for families to understand.

First, as in the previous related question, there is no specific licensing for life skills in Maine.

More importantly, we chose to stay outside of the box. This allows us to offer services that truly helps, that spend more time focused on being with our clients then appeasing some state regulation about checking ✔ boxes on X form.

Years in mental health taught me that the more the state is involved the worse the service becomes…those providing direct care end up spending more time meeting the primarily redundant and ambiguous regs than being able to do what they really should…care for the client.

This is why we see the positive results we do, why we are nontraditional, and why we will continue to strive to stay that way.

Note: the owner is individually licensed as an LCPC. While this licensure is not utilized at NWRR the education and certain counseling techniques are.


What if a client has mental health issues?

Northwoods is aware that some clients come to us and sturggle with both life skills and mental health issues.

While we do not treat meant health with in Northwoods we do have connections in the community to ensure our clients receive all necessary care for their success.