Hello Ranch Friends! My name is Paul Krueger and I'm a Development Officer for the Ranch.
Last week, my oldest son and I were in his living room having one of our usual hunting and fishing conversations when I noticed a book on his coffee table. It was titled: Finding Your Way Without a Map or a Compass. It turns out this book is a classic textbook for survival training used by our military since the early 1950s.
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!
What an amazing picture of what we do at the Ranch. Through no fault of their own, our precious children have been thrown into some of the most desolate, and impossible “wildernesses” you can imagine—and then told to find their way! They have complicated histories of abuse, neglect, and instability. Many have multiple psychiatric diagnoses and suffer the effects of devastating trauma. How does an 11-year-old boy or 13-year-old girl navigate through such a wilderness of trauma? On their own, they have no map for this wilderness...they have no compass...as a child, they don’t even know where to GET the map...let alone FIND a compass to point them in the right direction. What chances do they have to navigate through such impossible trauma to a successful future?
A couple of weeks ago, six young men and women graduated from Dakota Memorial School (DMS). Together we celebrated their success in achieving what seemed to be an impossible milestone in their lives. They worked hard—completing assignments, controlling their emotions, managing troubling behaviors, developing and refining their social and interpersonal skills, and healing from past traumas. What a wilderness to navigate through—and yet they did it! Someone handed them a compass and helped them find a map—and that someone was you!
As a Friend of the Ranch, you helped them – and others yet to come – find their way! Your gifts, your prayers, and your heartfelt concern provided the therapists to process their pain; dedicated staff members to keep them safe; cottage care workers to listen to their tears; spiritual life specialists to help them see a compassionate God holding them in his hand; and so much more.
What happens in the lives of our children happens at the Ranch because of you. Together, “WE help at-risk children succeed in the name of Christ.” I love what one of our past Ranch kids said, “Without the Ranch, I would either be in prison or dead.”
Our kids may come to the Ranch without a map or a compass to guide them to new futures, but thanks to you we are able to do our very best to give them the tools to navigate the past and help them become their best selves. Thank you for helping us help them!
With sincere thanks,
Senior Development Officer
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christian residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves.