Blog

A Thank You Luncheon in Minnesota

A Thank You Luncheon in Minnesota

At the Ranch, we pride ourselves in being upfront and honest about the work we do. We share actual real-life stories of children we have known, loved, cared for, and helped to heal so they can realize their true potential. My job is to tell the story of our ministry and then get out of the way. The Holy Spirit will move you to the level of support He wants you to be at. It is not my job or desire to "strongarm" anyone into doing something they don't want to do. As the hymn goes, "I love to tell the story..."…

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Spending the Summer at a Treatment Center

Spending the Summer at a Treatment Center

Now, imagine what it's like to be a kid in residential treatment during the summer. All their freewheeling plans are put aside as they work towards their treatment goals. Life at home—including family reunions, outings with friends, and days at the pool—moves on without them. Therapy and psychiatric care continue just as intensely over the summer months as during the school year.…

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Going to the Pool

Going to the Pool

I walked into the lunch room and decided to sit down with a group of young boys and their staff. The boys were "chomping at the bit" to get going because they were headed to swim at the outdoor pool for the first time. Staff said they would leave after lunch but then needed to clarify that they first needed to get swimsuits and sunscreen from their rooms.…

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Clinical Psychologist joins Dakota Family Services

Clinical Psychologist joins Dakota Family Services

Dakota Family Services is a group of compassionate, practiced experts providing trauma-informed care for children, adolescents, and adults with substance abuse, psychiatric, and behavior issues. Our staff are truly committed to their work and the care of children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of behavioral health issues. For more information, go to http://dakotafamilyservices.org/…

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Coming Full Circle

Coming Full Circle

Last week, I took a call from a woman I'll call Cindy* who wanted to transfer stock to our ministry. I gave her the instructions she needed and asked how she first became aware of the Ranch. Cindy told me about her son Jeff*, who had been a Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch resident around 2001. He came to the Ranch after he started struggling in school and getting into trouble in the community.…

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A Child's Prayer

A Child's Prayer

I was sitting in silence before chapel last week. Our Minot chapel was built many years ago with beautiful stonework serving as the backdrop for a carved natural-wood cross. The pews are arranged in a semi-circle around the altar. Taking a deep breath, I could almost feel the thousands of prayers that have been said and the tears that have been shed in this sacred space.…

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Where the Coolest Kids in the World Hang Out

Where the Coolest Kids in the World Hang Out

It's summer and kids are out of school! At the Ranch, just like anywhere else, kids relish the beginning of summer break! Of course, Ranch kids take part in summer programming and many scheduled activities, but still, summer is summer. One of the first indications the kids are out of school is all the chalk art on the Ranch sidewalks! It makes me smile to walk to my office through all the flowers and rainbows and hopscotch and "welcomes"...and all kids of Ranch child wisdom. Some of the words are happy, some profound, some grieving...…

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Live Long and Prosper

Live Long and Prosper

I truly love the Ranch kids. They surprise me every day with their courage, resilience, desire to be their best selves. This morning as I walked through the dining room at breakfast time, several of the girls stopped me to teach them how to do the Star Trek “live long and prosper” sign with my hands. Much giggling and goofing later, we settled for them making the peace sign. For many of the children, their journey also includes their first real consideration of God and His role in their healing. Tara, whose story follows, was a child who opened her heart to the work of treatment and the word of the Lord. These children are remarkable.…

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The Dynamics of Dementia

The Dynamics of Dementia

During a recent lecture, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Medical Director and psychiatrist at Dakota Family Services, clearly explained the science and statistics of different types of dementia. For the professionals in attendance, he shared new research on the medications that enhance brain functioning, and the limitations of those medications, new findings on the prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury as a contributor to dementia, and much more. The takeaways, for my own life and for those I love, were in the powerful information he provided about building protective factors against dementia. We can establish behaviors (for ourselves and for the youngest of our Ranch kids) that can delay or impact the effects. Diet, exercise, brain-stimulating activities, sauna, caffeine – each in appropriate doses – have great research-based impacts on the prevalence of the disease. It was fascinating.…

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Finding Your Way Without a Map or Compass

Finding Your Way Without a Map or Compass

If you took away my map and my compass, I wouldn’t be able to find my way out of a paper bag, let alone navigate the places we hunt; so I was enthralled by the stories in the book. The author’s premise is that simply looking at the details others miss enables a person to successfully navigate even the most desolate terrain. No doubt it was pretty amazing, even awe-inspiring stuff. But, I still believe if you threw ME into the middle of the wilderness to find my way without a map or a compass, you would be asking the impossible!…

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Never Give Up

Never Give Up

The Senior Banquet is truly a wonderful experience for our graduates. They invite a table full of family and friends for a delicious meal. Then teachers take turns reading biographies of each student and sharing stories that highlight these great kids. Some stories brought tears to my eyes, some made me laugh, but in all of them, I saw mutual care and respect.…

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Playing for a Purpose

Playing for a Purpose

Ranch Wellness Coordinators address each child’s needs and meet with them one-on-one to determine their wellness goals and help them stay on track.…

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Seeing Through a Different Lens

Seeing Through a Different Lens

When Adam, a Dakota Memorial School (DMS) day student, took his first art class a couple of years ago, he fell in love with photography.…

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A Father's Mission—a Family’s Commitment

A Father's Mission—a Family’s Commitment

Marlys and Wes Kuntz are touching young lives through their support of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.…

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Summer at the Ranch

Summer at the Ranch

Summer means a change of pace and new challenges for Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch kids. They look forward to summer! And why not? It’s a time for hands-on learning, fun outings, swimming, and lots more. For kids who have endured dark days of failure in school and difficulty at home, summer is a chance to “catch up” on the activities most of us take for granted.…

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Graduation from Dakota Memorial School

Graduation from Dakota Memorial School

Like every other child, our Ranch kids are excited for the end of the school year. This week is graduation! We have six young men and women graduating from Dakota Memorial School (DMS) and we are honored to help them celebrate.…

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Until We Meet Again

Until We Meet Again

Spring in North Dakota is really a transformation. One moment the entire state is shut down due to a horrible storm with a foot of snow. Seven days later, the snow is gone, it is 75 degrees, the grass is already turning green and the trees are budding. It always makes me think of my Mom because she really loved this time of year. She would have turned 88 this past April.…

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When Your Child Gets Angry

When Your Child Gets Angry

All children have occasional temper tantrums and outbursts. Because they don’t have the internal infrastructure to deal with big emotions, they get frustrated and angry. It’s likely that other emotions—sadness, irritability, shame, guilt or embarrassment—lie at the root of your child’s anger. Anger is the fallback emotion when a child doesn’t have the vocabulary or awareness to explain other more complicated emotions.…

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A Tale of Two Graduates

A Tale of Two Graduates

Shawn and Maddie share their inspiring stories--how they came to the Ranch, the barriers that got in their way, their ultimate success, and their plans. Read their stories of courage and perseverance.…

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A Sense of Family

A Sense of Family

When I think about the many ways I have been impacted by the Ranch, I keep coming back to the overwhelming sense of family and belonging that surrounds everything we do. I immediately felt welcomed by everyone I met, from coworkers and board members to the children we serve.…

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What is Attachment Disorder?

What is Attachment Disorder?

Regardless of their age, children with attachment issues can learn to build trusting relationships and live successful lives.…

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Compassionate Care: Medicine and Healing

Compassionate Care: Medicine and Healing

Many of our children are in so much emotional pain they think they'd be better off dead. North Dakota's suicide rate has increased 57% since 2000, and the state has one of the highest adolescent suicide rates in the nation. If we can alleviate some of this intense pain and despair with medication--if we can keep kids alive--Dr. Wayne Martinsen believes we are obligated to do so.…

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The Value of Good Work

The Value of Good Work

Through childhood chores and later on, high school jobs, children gain skills they need to be successful in the world. Some of our Ranch kids come from great families who give their kids chores, show them the value of work, and encourage them to find a job. But, most of our kids haven't had those same work experiences. To give them these important work experiences and a sense of belonging, we give Ranch kids on-campus jobs.…

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Easter Baptisms

Easter Baptisms

Children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch celebrated Easter this year in many special ways. VP of Spiritual Life, Chaplain Rick Jones, has a tremendous gift for making the Word come alive in a way that resonates with our children. At the beginning of the Easter Morning service on our Minot campus, he came running out from the chancellery yelling, "He's alive! He has risen!"…

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The Many Roles of a Ranch Nurse

The Many Roles of a Ranch Nurse

Nursing care at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is unlike any other nursing job. I am often asked, “What do the nurses do at the Ranch?” and I am never quite sure how to answer. One day, nursing staff can be found scheduling appointments and managing medications. The next day, we might be out playing a softball game with the kids. No two days are ever the same!…

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