Founder’s Welcome


It’s the sea change, that is seeing a whole new change in lives.

Robbie-Smith Safe Harbor Directorschool for troubled boysHello, I am Robbie Smith, Co-Founder of Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor is unique because of its waterfront aspect; this is an important part of the regeneration of the individual boy. In 1982, when Doug and I took in our first boys for a short stay, we had no idea that this would become our life’s work. But what we were doing with the boys was working. God seemed to have a plan, so we decided to commit ourselves to the boys for one year.

In 1984, when we officially incorporated Safe Harbor, we had also committed our own financial resources to support the program. We trusted God that even after our own resources were gone, he would help provide the funding if He wanted us to continue. Because we felt that the government was not and never would be very good at raising children, we decided to accept NO government funding. God has been faithful. Through the time, talent, and treasure of countless individuals, organizations, and businesses, He has blessed Safe Harbor and all of the boys and families we have served.

boys home boarding school
Sailing and boating, and going to sea are often romanticized (and it can be romantic), but it also requires knowledge, respect, self-reliance, and perseverance. Knowledge of the ocean and river and the boat and its equipment. Respect for the elements and your equipment, its strengths and limitations. Self-reliance because out there, no government agency, parent or friend is available to bail you out of problems, think for you, or rescue you from the decisions you make. Finally, perseverance is because if you quit or give up, you die, and there isn’t someone else to do it for you.

These are the same principles and qualities that help at-risk boys get back on track. These youth need a broader view of the world (i.e., one that isn’t self-centered). They need knowledge; respect for authority, themselves, and others; self-reliance instead of the government or social agency dependence; they have to be taught to think and analyze and then act without depending on others to do it for them, and perseverance to change and overcome challenges that we all face in life.

All of these qualities require character and integrity. Character is built action by action. Integrity is doing what is decent and right and adhering to a standard even if it bears a cost. All these together lead to a vision for what is possible, for things that one never imagined they could or would do. 

This is what boys at Safe Harbor learn and practice day in and day out for the length of their stay. They have to be given choices in a controlled environment; once they begin this change process, their choices become a natural consequence or natural reward. Those, in turn, help build self-confidence, integrity, and character.

Safe Harbor helps a boy become a young man of character and integrity, with a vision for their own future. Once the boys have an “I can and will” attitude, they naturally branch out into caring for others. Therefore, community service is an important part of Safe Harbor’s program. Learning to give into a community makes it your own, and what we claim as our own, we take care of and have pride in. This is why each donor, sponsor, and volunteer makes a real difference at Safe Harbor; it becomes their own.

Since its inception, the Safe Harbor program has provided each boy with the mental, physical and spiritual strength to succeed in life. Water and boating have always played an integral part in our lives. Life on the water provides serenity and peace and unequaled opportunities for life.

Thank you to parents, guardians, donors, and others who are willing to sacrifice to turn a boy’s life into a ripple that becomes “WAVES OF CHANGE” as he impacts others throughout his life.

Robbie W. Smith D. Ministry, M.A.
Counseling Psychology

nancy travis“If it wasn’t for people like the Smiths, who do so much for others before they do for themselves, where would we be as people? It was really an honor to portray Robbie (in the Safe Harbor movie).”

Nancy Travis, Film, TV and Broadway Actress

boys home and boarding school

The Maritime-Based Boarding School

Safe Harbor Brings Sea Change.