First things first: growing boys need plenty of food, a safe place to live, compassionate and compassionate guidance, a structured routine, and a lot of exercise. These are all provided by our dedicated Residential Staff, whose leaders average a decade of experience at ‘the Brae.’ Bonnie Brae’s main campus is situated on a beautiful 100 acres, which includes a lake stocked with fish, an outdoor swimming pool (where boys learn to swim), high and low ropes courses, two gyms, a weight room, a theater half a dozen outdoor basketball courts, football and baseball fields, and plenty of open green space. Especially for our residents–most of whom have lived in cycles of abuse, neglect and violence and arrive after an average eight out of home placements—Bonnie Brae is an ideal place to grow through residential living.
New residents live in one of four state of the art LEED Gold certified cottages (renovated in 2012), where they are guided by mentor cottage supervisors and assigned a roommate, attend daily peer groups that facilitate personal growth, share chores, and have a consistent routine that encompasses every aspect of their lives. As the boys stabilize their presenting issues and make tangible progress, they move into one of the ‘remote’ cottages, where they cook some of their own meals and are given more freedom and responsibility. Finally, young men who have progressed significantly may move off campus into one of two community-based transitional living homes—in New Brunswick or in Bound Brook—where they live with a handful of other young men, prepare all their own meals, attend local schools, work, and volunteer in their community.
The residential aspect of Bonnie Brae live allows us to see the boys holistically—in variety of circumstances 24/7—which a non-residential educational or therapeutic context simply cannot replicate. When personal crises do emerge (“crises” are called “opportunities” by our residential staff) these issues are addressed in real time in real life situations, and resolutions are taught and practiced in the context of these real life settings. Our residents learn personal growth through the residential experience.