Summer means a change of pace and new challenges for our kids. They look forward to summer! And why not? It’s a time for hands-on learning, fun outings, swimming, and lots more. And, best of all, most of it happens outdoors in the warm North Dakota sunshine.
That’s important for our kids, especially those who have endured dark days of failure in school and difficulty at home. Summertime is a chance to “catch up” for children who missed out on the activities most of us take for granted.
After a morning in the classroom, the kids can take a field trip, go canoeing or build something with their hands. These are fun, character-molding days that help our boys and girls regain their balance in life.
Ranch alumni often visit or write and let us know how they’re doing. Many say that summers were a time of self-discovery, learning and healing that helped them find peace and prepare for a new and better life.
Leslie spent time with us back in the late ’90s.
Lack of parenting at home . . . friends who introduced her to drugs . . . it was almost assured that Leslie would get tangled up in the juvenile justice system by her early teens. The Ranch was the place she could get the help she needed with structure and anger management.
“I got so angry that one day I punched a wall. And after I did, a picture of Jesus fell on my head. I think it was a sign!” she jokes.
Although Leslie admits she didn’t have an open mind about it at first, she now realizes how crucial the Ranch was to her redemption.
Leslie says, “At first, I resisted the spiritual emphasis of the Ranch. I didn’t have an open mind, because so many bad things had happened to me. Thankfully, a special youth director came into my life. He wasn’t willing to let me sit on the sidelines. He helped me see that God allowed me to experience pain to help me learn to depend on Him.
“It took me a long time to understand why God would give me this kind of life. But now I know He did it for my benefit — and to show people what He has done in my life.”
Leslie is now married and the mother of three young children. She works as a licensed practical nurse.