The Peace in Wild Things

Beth Black - Co-Founder Cherokee Creek Boys SchoolThe 50th anniversary of Earth Day has come to a close. I found it a challenge to shift my focus from the immensity of the pandemic to the challenges facing our Mother Earth. During the past weeks I’ve been comforted by the guidance of the CCBS mission and the lessons of the medicine wheel. We are all on a lifelong journey “to discover what is real and true about ourselves and the world around us.” … to understand our inner Warrior, Healer, Visionary and Teacher.

Even amidst the tragic deaths of thousands, we have seen, like the cycles of nature, the miracle of renewal. We have witnessed the emergence of leaders, expressions of love and compassion from strangers, amazing creativity as people share ideas coping with the stress produced by the unknown… and the brilliance of scientists as they work around the clock to create treatments for this disease. We’ve seen the Warrior, Healer, Visionary and Teacher all around us.

The Earth Day celebration also highlighted an unexpected gift from the epidemic… a reunion with nature. In a recent interview in the Los Angeles Times, journalist Alan Weisman, author of numerous classics on the state of the global environment, said:

“People are suspended between terror and wonder. They’re terrified that this is all so fragile, but they also realize there are things we have been missing — the birdsong everyone is noticing, the beautiful skies — and that those things are important.”

One goal of the CCBS experience is to immerse our students in the wonder of nature and build a deep respect, if not reverence, for our planet. We are blessed to be able to keep our boys nestled in the woods of Cherokee Creek, away from the “terror” of the pandemic and surrounded by trees, birds, rivers and fishing, hiking, canoeing and playing outdoors! They are amazingly resilient… being rambunctious and yet, simultaneously, at peace.

We’re grateful to you for your trust in us. We all eagerly await the moment with you can have reunion with your son. Until then, take a deep breath and give gratitude to a tree for the gift of the oxygen we breathe. Take care of yourself and take care of the planet! Blessings to each of you…



Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least of sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and like down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of the wild things
who do not tax their lives with for thought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

posted by jleslie in Nature and have Comments (2)

From STOP and GO to MEDIUM to SLOW

by Beth Black, Co-Founder, Cherokee Creek Boys School

Beth Black - Co-Founder Cherokee Creek Boys SchoolI took a walk today… my usual coronavirus exercise. Partly cloudy, pleasant breeze… perfect. I stopped halfway to tie my shoe and decided to sit for a while and on a bench to enjoy the grey clouds racing across the sky. It reminded me of my childhood in West Hartford, hiding in the tall grass in the field behind my house… just watching the clouds and being in a world of my own imagination.

After a few minutes of musing I thought “time to go”. Then I stopped myself! No, you have all the time you want…nothing pressing, no place you need to be… coronavirus has put a pause button on all the “normal” events of my day and given me this gift of time. A great blue heron landed near me… a fish jumped in the lake near me… a moment of clarity.

Angeles Arrien tells us to live our life in “nature’s rhythm which is medium to slow.” I realized that my life was really more like “STOP AND GO” than “MEDIUM TO SLOW” … Go, go, go, then completely shut down. Gear up and do it again. Sound familiar to any of you?? It’s a pattern learned over years of working against deadlines, raising two children and, frankly, enjoying the activity. But the gift of this pandemic is a new pace and I need to remember it when the “real world” returns!

most important things in life I created a little mantra for myself:





For years I have loved the StoryPeople books by writer and artist Brian Andreas. The illustration to the left is a “story” that sits on my desk as a daily reminder.

From now on, I will pay more attention to it and move more slowly.

How about you…what are your “medium to slow” stories?

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Sweet Sixteen for Cherokee Creek Boys School

March Madness is in full swing, and as the Sweet 16 begins we want to reflect on 16 sweet things that have taken place at CCBS over our 16 years.

Beth and Ron Black - Founders of Cherokee Creek Boys School (1) A dream of a place where boys can be boys. Thank you, Beth Black, for following your true heart’s calling!

(2) 2 boys completed a 50-mile hike for Boy Scouts.

(3) 3 International Student Trips.

(4) Entering our 4th year of transition services.

(5) Our student Trek Program visiting 5 different states. (NC, TN, AL, GA and SC).

(6) Family Center Programming now includes Father/Son Treks, Mother/Son Treks, Family Treks, Women’s Retreats, Father’s Retreats, and Quarterly Family Seminars.

Cherokee Creek Boys School soccer team(7) Open 7 days a week and having helped over 400 families!

(8) In 2018, we had one of our first alumni become a full-time staff member.

(9) Our athletic teams have participated in 9 different sports (flag football, soccer, lacrosse, karate, cross-country, basketball, golf, disc golf and softball).

(10) Expanded our academics to now offer (PE, English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Vocals, Band, Art, DBT and Spanish)

(11) 11 wonderful years with our fearless leader, David LePere!

(12) More than 12 specialized kayak clinics.

(13) Boys completed a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) in March 2019!

Lego League Champs(14) Boys competing in 14 Lego League competitions.

(15) Nick Linscott (our Math Teacher) and Phil Fairbrother (our HR Director)’s 15th year anniversary in 2019.

(16) Celebrating 16 years of “Challenging Boys and their families to discover what is real and true about themselves and the world around them.”

Happy Sweet 16, Cherokee Creek Boys School! Here’s to many more!

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Classroom Learning is a Roller Coaster Ride

Designing roller coasters at Cherokee Creek Therapeutic Boys Schoolby Ben Briggs, Social Studies Teacher, Cherokee Creek Boys School

Have you ever thought what it would be like to design roller coasters? Doesn’t that sound like an exciting job? What if it’s done in a classroom learning environment?

Our boys have been doing just that in our Social Studies class this week. They have been using a program created by Disney to design roller coasters. This is intended for students to connect science and engineering to their imagination.

While they are having fun creating roller coasters, little do they know, they are also learning about physics. While the cool look of the ride is one thing, the boys must also measure the force, velocity, and trajectory to make the roller coaster work.

Designing roller coasters at Cherokee Creek Therapeutic Boys SchoolAt Cherokee Creek Boys School, we are fortunate to have teachers that use creativity and fun to teach the boys something new everyday. Projects like this not only excite the students, but they also energizes the staff, as well.

How special it is to walk into a classroom and see students having almost as much joy learning how to design roller coasters as they would be with riding one!

Who’d have ever thought that classroom learning could be so much fun!

It was Walt Disney himself who said (and it couldn’t be more true), “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”

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1st Annual CCBS Trail 5K

Trail 5K a Blazing Success

Cherokee Creek Boys School, a top therapeutic boys school in Westminster, SC, recently organized, publicized and administrated the 1st Annual CCBS Trail 5K on 1st Annual Trail 5K at Cherokee Creek Boys Schoolthe grounds of the campus. The mission of the school for middle school-aged students is to “challenge boys and their families to discover what is real and true about themselves and the world around them.” The words in this mission statement is dutifully and daily practiced by CCBS staffers and students, whether they are on campus or out in the community. The Trail 5K was a huge challenge for the school, but one in which they were up to taking, and one in which they were successful in helping make a difference in themselves and in the community around them.

The Cherokee Creek Boys School Trail 5K originated because several of the students wanted to find a fun way to raise money to give back to the local community. They thought of a couple of local charities, but one really stood out to them… Dot’s Kitchen. Students at CCBS volunteer at Dot’s Kitchen in Westminster every month. Volunteering at Dot’s has given the boys so much joy by helping serve a free lunch to those in the community who are less fortunate.

1st Annual Trail 5K at Cherokee Creek Boys SchoolAfter the starter’s gun went off, 29 runners faced the challenging, rigorous trail. As each runner successfully navigated the course and crossed the finish line, there was a wonderful, uplifting atmosphere filled with cheering. In talking with many of the runners after the race, the common theme from the experience was that the course was “a blast to run”.

1st Annual Trail 5K at Cherokee Creek Boys School supports Dot's Kitchen in Westminster SCIt was also really nice to have Truman Holbrooks, CEO of Dot’s Kitchen, come out and cheer on the racers. As a result of the sponsorship efforts garnered by the racers, $1000 was raised to help support Dot’s Kitchen. What a privilege it was to be able to combine fun and fund raising together to help feed more folks through the love and devotion shown by the team at Dot’s Kitchen. To learn how you can help Dot’s Kitchen, call (864) 647-4409.


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A Field Trip Back in Time

Andrew Stevenson, Cherokee Creek Boys School Teacherby Andrew Stevenson, Social Studies Teacher, Cherokee Creek Boys School

We just completed a field trip that was in conjunction with a unit covered in class on the Industrial Revolution. In class, we’ve been focusing upon on individual entrepreneurs, inventors, and political figures from the late 18th century to the early 20th century. On the field trip we delved more into what life might have been like for an individual who lived during this time period.
Field Trip to Agricultural MuseumWe did this by visiting the Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina in Pendleton.


Activities for our students included:
  • assembly line basics while mass producing paper airplanes;


  • removing seeds and cleaning actual cotton by hand, followed by seeing the machines that were developed during the 19th century to clean cotton;


  • using a basic loom to weave by hand, then studying the much larger industrial loom;


  • students created timelines of inventions from Eli Whitney’s cotton gin up the flight of the Wright brothers as our guides walked us through these inventions’ impact upon society;


  • Field Trip to Agricultural MuseumOutside, students were tasked with removing corn from the kernel by hand versus doing it with simple machines. They also ground the corn into a usable product;


  • Finally, we were taken to their gardens and animal pens where students interacted with American Guinea Hogs and various heritage poultry breeds while learning about animal care.

Field Trip to Agricultural Museum

Throughout all of this students were exposed to various other exhibits including farm implements, water systems, and local exhibits including a list of South Carolina Century farms (farm ownership by the same family over 100 years), including the farm they recently picked muscadines at (shameless plug for the Stevenson farm!).


Also of note, the staff at the agricultural museum were incredibly impressed by our boys and specifically complimented their firm handshakes and inquisitiveness. Our students were great ambassadors of Cherokee Creek Boys School during this trip.

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Life Lessons from a Rock Tumbler

rock tumbler at therapeutic boys boarding school provides life lessonsAt Cherokee Creek Boys School we welcome the opportunity to interject new projects and experiments for our students, especially ones that can mirror the important values and lessons we want to convey to the boys.

With funds we received from a grant our science class was able to purchase a professional grade rock tumbler and mineral specimens (including fossils and geodes) from around the world. The boys have been learning about the mechanical weathering that occurs within a rock tumbler, and how a rotary device causes the rocks to “tumble” around inside of it. As it turns, the rock tumbler causes pieces of rock to break off, ultimately smoothing them out so we can polish them. This is the same process which occurs naturally when water circulates in potholes on rivers, and when waves break along coastal beaches.

Rock Tumbler at Therapeutic Boys Boarding School This scientific project helps our boys find joy in seeing the transformation process of taking something rough and broken, and watching it become polished and beautiful. We can readily observe similar transformative processes occurring within our boys. Many of them come in rough around the edges due to school frustrations, trauma, defiance, and many other things. When they take time to ponder, learn, and “tumble” with the lessons we teach from the CCBS Medicine Wheel, after a Rock Tumbler Illustrates Life Lesson for Therapeutic Boys Boarding Schoolwhile we see smiles of true joy surface from the inner souls of our boys, much like how the sparkles and brilliant colors appear on those rocks.

Take a moment today to reflect upon something in your life that was once rough around the edges, but eventually turned into something amazingly beautiful.

To learn more about the CCBS Medicine Wheel visit


  • by Christy Swafford, Assistant Admissions Director, Cherokee Creek Boys School
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Wilderness Leader Empowers Young “Warriors”

Christy Swafford, CCBS Assistant Admissions Directorby Christy Swafford, Assistant Admissions Director at CCBS

As we enter a new academic quarter, we are focusing upon what it means to be a “Warrior”. A Warrior makes a choice to “show up and be present”. There are four “I am” statements we teach at CCBS that coincide with being a Warrior:

I am a leader
I am courageous
I am responsible
I am powerful

There are different assignments the boys at Cherokee Creek Boys School are given as they learn about and live out each part of the CCBS Medicine Wheel. One of those assignments includes journal questions for personal reflection. The question that most stands out to me is “Who are the leaders and people who have inspired me, and how have they been sources of empowerment in my life?”

Liz Lucarelli - Wilderness TherapistA few boys had the opportunity to take a trip to visit their wonderful wilderness therapist, Liz Lucarelli. It was a perfect day for them to be Warriors and to focus upon one person who has been powerful in their lives. Each of these boys have said repeatedly that she has been a powerful person in their lives. She has influenced their therapeutic growth. She has empowered them on their journey of healing. She has helped them and find the best version of themselves.

Liz Lucarelli - Wilderness TherapistHere are a few quotes from these boys about Liz:

“Liz has impacted my life in so many ways. She has made me more courageous when I stood up for myself.”

“She has inspired my creativity.”

“Liz has empowered me when she pushed me to succeed.”

“She related to my emotions. She taught me unique way to cope with my sadness and anxiety.”

Who have been the leaders in your own life that have inspired and empowered you? Be sure to tell them thank you.

Here’s to a great 2017!

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Celebrating Our Elders

Beth Black - Co-Founder Cherokee Creek Boys Schoolby Beth Black, CCBS Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board

We just finished a wonderful family seminar that was devoted to the importance of family storytelling. Below is a story that was shared with me by my friend Jack Levine, and inter-generational advocate with 4Generations Institute in Tallahassee. With his permission I am reprinting it for your enjoyment. I highly endorse his final statement which is to record your family histories. They are truly the legacy that you leave for your children.

Celebrating Our Elders – A Legacy of Living History

Jack Levine - 4 Generations InstituteAs Sunday September 11th is Grandparents Day, I’m eager to reflect on the importance of grandparents in the lives of our families.
For most of us, no one provided a more vital link to our heritage and family history than our grandparents. Wherever they were from, and no matter their background, our grandparents provided a first-person connection to our past.

Whether by birth or through adoption, grandparents are treasures deserving of honor and respect. Like all of us, none were perfect, but most were there for us when we needed them most.

The wisdom of our elders is irrefutable. I distinctly remember so many ways my elders, especially my dear Grandma Minnie, influenced me by example.

Here are a Baker’s Dozen Life Lessons I learned at Minnie’s kitchen table….

“Love knows no boundary.” Keeping close to the people you love, and learning to love them without having to love everything they do, is the key to family strength. “You don’t have to be perfect to be loved.” Minnie held tight to those she needed and those who needed her.

Grandparents Day“An open door is an open heart.” Minnie’s kitchen table was a place where others came to eat and be fed spiritually. If a neighbor or their family had a problem, she was there for them. “If I needed them, I’d hope for the same treatment.” The golden rule does not tarnish.

“Waste not; want not.” Finishing our meals or saving leftovers for another time is one of the most compelling constants for our elders. Many remembered the pangs of deprivation, so therefore valued the food on their plates and the treasure of having enough to eat for everyone. Minnie always made a little extra, just in case an unexpected visitor came for dinner.

“Charity begins at home.” As little as they had, our grandparents always seemed to find a way to help others in need. Minnie had a tin can in which she would drop coins…”a little something for those with less than us.” Their example of giving, both through volunteer time and money provided the family a clear sense of appreciating the value of what we had. Reaching across the street as a way of helping others is good for them and us, too!

Grandparents Day“Cleanliness is next to godliness.” A clean home is the symbol of how we should conduct our lives in the sight of others. Minnie swept the sidewalk in front of her house almost every day. “When our guests come to our door, they should have a clear and welcoming path.” Picking up after ourselves so those who follow us have a clean path is a great lesson personally and environmentally.

“Progress comes in little steps.” Expecting too much too soon is unreasonable. “A drop plus a drop fills up the pot” was among Minnie’s favorite phrases. Every day is another opportunity to take positive steps…for family and for community. Her crocheting and knitting prowess proved that each stitch is essential to make a beautiful garment.

“Laughter is the closest distance between two people.” It’s a pleasure to enjoy the company of others and to hear a good joke, tell a witty story, and listen to the folk tales of the old country. These are among life’s great gifts. “Frowns make more wrinkles than smiles,” Minnie would say with glee.

“Honest compliments are among our most valued possessions.” Giving credit when credit is due, and honoring the leadership of those whose energy and enthusiasm helps others, is important. “People shouldn’t assume you know about their good works. Tell them they are appreciated.” And if someone compliments you, accept the gift with gratitude and grace.

“If there’s a problem, try to fix it.” Minnie knew that “you’ll sit a long time with your mouth wide open before a roasted chicken will fly in.” Ignoring a problem is neither smart nor sensible. Even a failed attempt at solving the problem is better than not doing anything.

“Don’t leave politics up to someone else.” As an immigrant girl, Minnie felt the sting of discrimination and injustice. She was a suffragist as a young woman, and upon becoming a naturalized citizen, she voted for the first time in 1920. Minnie celebrated that right by never missing an election in her life. Even into her 90’s, when she had to helped into the voting booth, she did her duty with dignity. “Power is not given, it’s won with courage and hard work,” she said.

Boys Boarding School helps Dot's Kitchen“Words without deeds are empty.” Someone who makes a promise and doesn’t keep his word is an emotional thief. ‘It’s better to keep quiet than make a meaningless offer.” How many people set others up for disappointment by saying rather than doing? Our children learn from us not so much by what we say, but by what we do.

“Patience pays dividends.” Whether it was baking her famous cinnamon buns or preparing a full holiday dinner for 16, Minnie knew that the process required patience and persistence. Traditional food preparation may seem archaic, but the beauty of yeast-raised dough, simmering spices, and closely watched pots gave the family an appreciation of the love that went into so many meals. “I like to cook because when I see the faces of satisfied eaters, I’m happy.”

“Resting is a reward for working hard.” Minnie earned her rest, and made the time to relax, listen to music, observe nature, or read for pleasure. “Too much of anything isn’t good…including work.” When the Sabbath came, Minnie understood that rest provided the emotional and physical renewal she needed for a productive week ahead.

I’m not alone in receiving the gift from my elders’ life treasury. Family history is a living legacy. It’s not only the story of who our elders were, but it defines in many ways who we are.

Over the centuries, our nation has been and continues to be populated by those whose life’s story is worth telling.

Whether they came for freedom or by force in slavery, the values our grandparents brought with them are heirlooms which our children deserve to inherit.

Their sacrifices fueled our freedoms. Those who survived became advocates for causes and people who needed them…..their life’s mission was to make the world a bit better than the one they experienced.

While I’m not yet a grandparent, my appreciation of family history is translated to our sons, and I’m confident that someday, they will in turn have the opportunity to pass along the generational gift.

Never hesitate to exercise your advocacy voice…in respect for those who paved our path to a better future….our valiant veterans, ardent activists and champions for causes which deserved their passion.

I recommend you consider recording your family history, share the stories with your children and grandchildren, and make sure that treasured family photos are duplicated and records are kept safe and out of harm’s way.

posted by jleslie in Grandparents and have Comment (1)

Therapeutic Focus Groups at Cherokee Creek Boys School

By Christy Swafford, Assistant Admissions Director, Cherokee Creek Boys School

Therapeutic Focus Groups - PerseveranceWe have some wonderful therapeutic focus groups at Cherokee Creek Boys School. We rotate these groups every few months. The boys are learning important information and life skills from these teaching interactions.

One of the focus groups is named “Perserverance”. Perservance teaches our students how to preserve through some tough tasks which are exhibited in ‘hard skills’. Hard skills, for example, can refer to the survival skills learned in wilderness programs. Some of our students that haven’t been exposed to the wilderness in the past really benefit from acquiring these hard skills, which in turn teach resilience and perseverance.

Therapeutic Focus Groups - PerseveranceAs CCBS Therapist Christy Todd explains: “Perseverance teaches motivation, follow through with goals, and the thrill of success when you stay your course.  One of our projects is to ‘bust a coal’ with a bow drill set.  We gathered materials such as pine saplings and pine boards, created top rocks out of river rocks and quartz, and whittled materials into shape.  After weeks of preparation, the boys learned the most effective technique of moving the bow to turn the spindle, which creates friction, smoke, then, finally, a coal is busted and ready for a survival fire.  After a big workout of bow drilling, seeing smoke and then a coal is an amazing reward!  Perseverance is an essential ingredient.”

Therapeutic Focus Groups - Art of ManlinessAnother therapeutic focus group we are currently running is named “The Art of Manliness”. This group is lead by CCBS Therapist Jacob Hafkin and is a fun group where boys learn how to, for example, change a tire, talk to girls (respectfully, as gentlemen), and dress for an interview.

In addition to these two therapeutic focus groups, we also have a group that teaches relaxation through yoga. Many of the boys have a negative outlook on therapy upon arriving at CCBS. We try hard to break down those barriers and have fun in the midst of working through some tough emotions and hurdles.



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