Each year Montana Academy conducts two three-day work-shops for parents. These take place at the ranch, and there is always great excitement, because all parents attend, and all the staff and students participate, too. The central purpose is: to teach parents what they may need to know about adolescent development and its disruptions, about immaturity and its remedies, and about family dynamics, so that parents can better help their sons and daughters to grow up and get on with their lives.

Accordingly, the workshops take the following general form: morning lectures and discussions with parents led by clinical staff; group discussions, each student team’s parents together with their sons’ or daughters’ therapists; communal lunch in the lodge and on the grounds; afternoon special lectures from academic and addictions-prevention directors; individual meetings with teachers and therapists; and a lot of hanging out with students and staff.

On the second afternoon there is a communal walk—all the hundreds of parents, staff and students crossing the valley floor like an Old Testament multitude—and then a community dinner with live music (played and sung by students and staff), and a “coffee house” cabaret or musical put on by the students.