Rustic Penikese Island offers refuge for troubled teens

In the midmorning of a cool and sunny September day, Noah, a 17-year-old Virginia native, is losing badly at Scrabble while camped out at a picnic table in the kitchen.

Clad in a fleece pullover, pajama pants and a pair of Crocs, he could fit into a scene from any home in America. But the cooking here is done by wood-burning stove. At night, the building is lit by kerosene lanterns. Much of the produce is from the garden outside, and the fish come from the cove.

Noah is one of two residents on Penikese Island, which for years has been the rustic backdrop for teenage boys getting control of their lives. Formerly a school, it’s now a treatment center where boys age 14 to 17 with mental health conditions and burgeoning substance abuse problems can get focus and clarity in a therapeutic setting. Read more.

Island treatment center will cater to teenage boys

From the Penikese Island boat dock to the main building, it’s about a 250-yard walk over sand and dirt paths. Pass between the boat shop and the pole barn, and the main building beckons: a gray, two-story saltbox with wood-burning stoves, kerosene lanterns and composting toilet.

For 38 years, boys headed to the Penikese Island School made this walk after taking the 12-mile, hourlong boat ride from Woods Hole. Soon, the voyage will start again, this time to Penikese, a residential treatment facility for boys ages 14 to 17 with certain mental health disorders coupled with substance abuse problems. Read more.