After many phone calls with people asking , ‘How do I put the food down so I can do the steps? Any suggestions?’ And so, I created boot camp. It’s a Big Book intensive designed to get people reading the AA Big Book systematically and highlight the first three steps. Boot Camp consists of a daily reading, listening and writing assignment. The sick, suffering and struggling addict is instructed to read about two chapters daily, for three days, of the AA Big Book, then listen to a special edition from the web site, A Vision For You (avision4you.info). Finally, each day includes a writing assignment designed to challenge the student to identify their God concept. In the words of Pg. 72, “We have been trying to get a new attitude, a new relationship with our Creator, and to discover the obstacles in our path.”, the goal of the assignments are to get the student really thinking about what their God looks like? What would they like their God to look like? And so, boot camp prepares the fertile soil of the mind. I’ve done it so I know it’s hard work and requires some discipline, some thing hard for a lot of addicts. (Pg. 88) It doesn’t have to be completed in three days but it should be completed in no more than five days and should be done in the order its written as this produces results.
So, after giving boot camp to a lot of people (I have no head count but would guess that at least 200 people have done boot camp. Suddenly, about 18 people came to me within two or three days asking, “I just finished boot camp. Now what do I do?” One of them was a dear friend who said, “Why can’t you sponsor all of us?” To which I responded, “Yea, Right!” She proposed to set up a line, a telephone conference line, and encouraged me to read and teach the Big book to every one interested. So we began a few days later. Within four days, with 20 people on board calling, texting and emailing me their food and questions, I was swamped! I started to pray. Suddenly, recovered people who heard about ‘The Life Boat Project’ came along side and asked if they could help. In three days, all 20 people had a sponsor to take their food and meet with each of them for about 15 minutes, three times a week. A calendar was developed and we completed step 12 in three months (pausing in the middle of the class for about a month for step 4, 5, 6. and 7. When we were finished, 15 people were recovered.
These 15 people became the sponsors of the next life boat that launched just under a month later. This time, 50 people (in fact 52 was the number for a few days but right away, a few dropped away.) got started on the journey heading for the land of recovered. When all was said and done, about 37 were recovered.
Before each journey, in fact, on the first night of each life boat, (We met three nights a week for two hours a night for three months.) I told this story. It’s an allegory of sorts, a visualization of the process of taking the twelve steps.
“Picture yourself sitting on a beach, covered in sand and wet and sticky, even a little pickled in salt water. Stand up