Services for Kids

"When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Just Like You!"

"When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Just Like You!"

I received a very sad letter in the mail today. It was from Maxine Beckwith, a Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Board Member. Maxine is the last remaining Board Member who had joined the board prior to the introduction of term limits. As such, she has been on the board for nearly 40 years. And she has made every moment count. Her letter says she is choosing to retire from the board at the end of this operational year.…

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Something We Can All Agree On?

Something We Can All Agree On?

I was working on a blog post that was truly in sync with all the unsettledness in the world. It seems important to talk about the pandemic and the death of George Floyd and racial injustice and political derision and how the Ranch views and deals with all these "things." I wrote a couple drafts, and then sent it to several people — from different political leanings, races, educational levels, and life experiences — to ask them for their thoughts and input. I don't usually do that, but the message is so important and I wanted to make sure I stated things well.…

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Our Four-Legged Staff Know a Little About Unconditional Love

Our Four-Legged Staff Know a Little About Unconditional Love

At the Ranch, the four-legged staff that work with our children know a little about unconditional love. The horses like Odin and Lena and Starbucks listen to the children's pains and fears and hurts. They gently walk with them. They carry them and their troubles without complaint. The therapy dogs like Bailey and Mack nuzzle and snuggle and love being petted. And they listen too.…

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Do You Believe in God's Elves?

Do You Believe in God's Elves?

What is your position on God's elves? Before we get too deep into that, I want to be forthright about two of my beliefs. I am a big believer in science, and believe that science is one of God's gifts to humanity. I also believe in miracles.…

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Kitchen Staff Present Silver Spatula Award to Young Man at the Ranch

Kitchen Staff Present Silver Spatula Award to Young Man at the Ranch

The culture at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is based in caring, purpose, and learning. Lately, I have been asking folks to share stories of the greatest example of caring they have witnessed in their time at the Ranch.…

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Now Is the Time to Accept our Imperfections

Now Is the Time to Accept our Imperfections

At the Ranch, we work to help each child see they are perfectly themselves. That the best self they can be is exactly who they are meant to be. Not like someone else. Through treatment and programming and individualized schooling, they learn to be their own strongest advocates. They learn to be in their own skin.…

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A Child's Incredible Act of Caring

A Child's Incredible Act of Caring

I work with really great people here at the Ranch. Frankly, this is not a place you come to work if you are, at your core, a jerk. The people who commit to being Ranchers are truly interested in leaving the world a better place. They come together to help heal children who, through no fault of their own, have had to learn to navigate a world that has not shown itself to be on their side. These remarkable Ranchers use the best scientific medical and therapeutic practice, educational practice, faith in God, and good old fashioned kindness to make a difference.…

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Tolley Couple Opened Their Hearts and Home to Ten Challenging Boys

Tolley Couple Opened Their Hearts and Home to Ten Challenging Boys

Louis C. Butt, and his wife, Ida Mae, are legends in Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch history. They farmed and ranched outside of Tolley, ND, and were one of the first couples to open their home to the boys who needed a place to lay their head. Their home became the first physical location of Dakota Boys Ranch when the family donated their farm and ranch.…

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Therapy Revives Hope

Therapy Revives Hope

As I interviewed Ranch therapists for this article, I was struck by a few common themes. The first was the importance of the relationship between the child and the therapist. Every therapist said the relationship comes first. Without that, nothing the therapist says or does will work. While each therapist has his or her own way of connecting to children, they all stressed that building a trusting relationship is their number one goal.…

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Love Languages Open the Door to Healing

Love Languages Open the Door to Healing

We understand our world and each other in so many ways. At Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, that means finding the set of constructs that resonate for each particular child. Each of these precious children is unique, with their own experiences, traumas, and defense mechanisms. In short, they are like all the rest of us as far as how we take in information. There is no "one size fits all" way to communicate.…

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Chicken/Bacon/Waffle Sandwich with Homemade Maple Sriracha Aioli Sauce

Chicken/Bacon/Waffle Sandwich with Homemade Maple Sriracha Aioli Sauce

Do you remember when your mom or Grandma would try out a new recipe and it was really wonderful? I remember how it felt. I didn't have all the words then, but I felt cared for and special and loved. I saw how hard my mom tried to make every part of my life as good as she could.…

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God Carries Our Stories

God Carries Our Stories

Every person we meet has lived a life only they can truly understand. Like the children at the Ranch, some of us can tell our stories, and some cannot. Each of us carries our experiences in our own way. And, when they are too heavy, God carries them for us.…

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If We Do the Possible, God Will Do the Rest

If We Do the Possible, God Will Do the Rest

In this time of trying to separate the truly important from the normally important, I want you to know we are focused on one thing, "to help at-risk children and their families succeed in the name of Christ." Right now, helping these kids succeed means making decisions that keep them and our staff as safe as possible. It means delivering programming and education that creates a semblance of normalcy and predictability in a time when the world is neither. It means praying and laughing with our kids, and listening to their fears. It means accepting children from other facilities that have shut their doors. It means relying on Him, when we are not enough. He will give us the strength.…

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Helping Ranch kids get through the COVID-19 Crisis

Helping Ranch kids get through the COVID-19 Crisis

Almost overnight, COVID-19 has radically changed life as we know it...across the nation, worldwide, and now here at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. But one thing that hasn't changed: the need for a very special place where vulnerable children can find healing, hope, and shelter from the storms of life.…

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Keeping Ranch Kids Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic

Keeping Ranch Kids Safe During COVID-19 Pandemic

As we navigate the COVID-19 crisis, our first priority is the safety and security of the vulnerable children who come here for healing. While we know our plans will change day by day, sometimes minute by minute, we wanted to inform you of the things we are doing to keep our children and employees safe.…

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Uncharted Territory

Uncharted Territory

We are in uncharted territory. Although we are likely to start sentences with "it's like of like" or "I remember when," the reality is that the COVID-19/Coronovirus pandemic is a new reality for the entire world. Here at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, we, like everyone else, are navigating one day, and sometimes one minute, at a time.…

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The Mountains We Climb

The Mountains We Climb

At a meeting I recently attended, a young minister told a story about his honeymoon. He and his wife wanted to do something really special to mark the start of their new life together. They were honeymooning in New England and decided that climbing a mountain nearby would fit the bill.…

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"Why didn't you yell at me, or hit me?"

"Why didn't you yell at me, or hit me?"

Barry Backman has worked at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for over 18 years. He is a Youth Care Worker Team Lead, and works, along with his team, directly with the kids. As parents, most of us need to live through about seven teenage years. Barry has stood by at-risk teens for 18+ years, helping them discover their best selves.…

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And Then They Heal

And Then They Heal

Children’s brains are little learning machines. They learn from what we say and do, and what we don’t say and do. We must be intentional about what we teach.…

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Stories that Fill My Bucket

Stories that Fill My Bucket

Sometimes I am astounded by how we continue the work of the Ranch in spite of obstacles put in our way. In the last week, the basement of one of our thrift stores flooded. Then, someone cut the catalytic converters out of the thrift store trucks we use to pick up donations. At the same time, we are implementing new federal legislation affecting children's residential services. And to top it all off, we have some major plumbing issues with our main building, our oldest building, on the Minot campus.…

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Be a Giving Heart

Be a Giving Heart

When I heard that the theme for this year's Giving Hearts Day was "Count Me," it resonated loudly! Isn't that what we all want? To know we are seen. To know we are valued. To know we "count." That is why all of us at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch hold ourselves to a standard of the true presence. The children we serve through our residential and therapeutic programs, and in our schools, are often society's "unseen." They have been abused, neglected, traumatized, labeled, and misunderstood. At the Ranch, we are present to them, with exceptional, practiced, compassionate expertise. We see them, walk with them, and count them.…

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Waiting...and Waiting Some More...Helps Ranch Kids Learn to Trust

Waiting...and Waiting Some More...Helps Ranch Kids Learn to Trust

The children at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch often come to us without any volume control. The years they have spent abused, neglected, or misunderstood have broken that "button." Sometimes they are extremely loud and rapid-fire in their speaking...because they needed to hell to be heard, and they had to deliver messages quickly before they were cut off or ignored. Sometimes they are silent and withdrawn, either because they are exhausted from trying to speak up to no avail, or because the punishment they received for speaking silenced them.…

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When You Have NOTHING to Call Your Own

When You Have NOTHING to Call Your Own

My parents were products of the Great Depression. The real one, in the 1930s. The recession of the 1980s was bad, but a pretender compared to what people endured before. Many in the United States simply had nothing. Nothing.…

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The Ranch's "first family," Ida and Louis Butt

The Ranch's "first family," Ida and Louis Butt

In 1952, a group of remarkable women at a small country church in rural North Dakota were concerned about the number of boys who were "out on their own." Boys as young as 9 or 10 were in the workforce, particularly as farm labor, because their families did not have the means to support them. Many were "half-orphans," whose fathers had died in WWII, or whose mothers had died in childbirth or of illness. These children were in survival straits, just trying to make it from day to day.…

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Orchids and Dandelions

Orchids and Dandelions

So many things are all about perspective, right? I don't know if you've ever read or remember the Far Side cartoons. One of my favorites was a drawing of a car's outside rearview mirror from the driver's perspective. The words "Objects in the mirror may be closer than they seem" were clearly written across the bottom of the mirror. The only reflection in the mirror is one HUGE eyeball. The "reality" of what might be really close always makes me giggle.…

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