Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Ranch Reason from our Concordia Interns

Ranch Reason from our Concordia Interns

This week's blog post highlights the experiences of the interns from Concordia College, who blessed us with their energy, creativity, and kindness this summer. Be sure to check out the link at the bottom to see the video they created! -Janet…

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Showing Up for Kids at the Ranch

Showing Up for Kids at the Ranch

It is almost impossible to overstate the caliber of people I have the honor of working alongside. The level of compassion and decency they bring, meeting each child in the midst of their pain, is inspiring. One of those remarkable people is Gladys Skinner, who is a Residential Supervisor in Challenge Cottage, a Residential Child Caring Facility for girls 12-18 years old. Gladys has been at the Ranch for over four years and she simply exudes, "I got this," in her daily work.…

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Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms: Through the Eyes of the Teachers Who Create Safe Spaces for Kids to Learn

Trauma-Sensitive Classrooms: Through the Eyes of the Teachers Who Create Safe Spaces for Kids to Learn

We've been talking about trauma-informed care and trauma-sensitive classrooms for a long time at the Ranch. But, for me at least, it's been difficult to grasp what exactly that means, and how to explain it. When I interviewed the teachers featured in this article, I saw very clearly that trauma-sensitivity is much more than talk and some cool furniture. Dakota Memorial School (DMS) teachers are trauma-sensitive from the tops of their heads to the very tips of their toes.…

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Walmart—Minot Grants $2,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Walmart—Minot Grants $2,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Walmart—Minot granted $2,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, through the Community Grant Program. The funds received will be used to purchase new windows for the cottages on the Minot campus, replacing the windows that are original to the cottages.…

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Creating a Culture of Learning: The Harmony of Health and Happiness

Creating a Culture of Learning: The Harmony of Health and Happiness

Last week, staff at Dakota Family Services and Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch had the chance to learn from Dr. Wayne Martinsen, MD, MSW, Medical Director at the Ranch, who traveled to all three campuses to present “The Harmony and Health of Happiness.”…

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Compassion and Mercy

Compassion and Mercy

Recently, the reading in church was from Luke’s gospel where Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan. When I reflect on this lesson, I think about how I can be a better neighbor to those around me. I think about times I could have let someone go ahead of me in line, stopped to listen, offered encouragement to someone, or engaged in conversation with the grocery store clerk or the person bagging my purchases. This time, I stopped to think about the definition of the neighbor referenced as "the one" in the phrase, “The one who had mercy on him."…

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"Perfect" by Dr. Monte Selby; A Song About Ranch Kids

"Perfect" by Dr. Monte Selby; A Song About Ranch Kids

One of the most important things children discover in their time at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is their "voice." Most of our trauma-affected kids have been told what they are, what they think, why they are failures, and why they will always be failures. Through hard work, determination, and a commitment to their treatment and education, they begin to discover their strengths. They begin to tell their own true stories, in their own voice.…

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Outdoor Adventures at the Ranch

Outdoor Adventures at the Ranch

This has been a busy week for kids at the Ranch. Kids on every campus had the chance to get outside and experience nature.…

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Sam’s Club—Bismarck Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Bismarck Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Sam’s Club—Bismarck granted $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, through the Community Grant Program, to underwrite the cost of materials for the Gardening Program and Greenhouse on our Bismarck campus. The donated funds will be used to purchase various gardening tools, tables for the plants that are grown, topsoil, and seeds.…

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Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation awarded $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch for the purchase of guitars to be used on our Fargo campus.…

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Great River Energy Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Great River Energy Grants $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch

Great River Energy awarded $1,000 to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch to underwrite the cost of new flooring for Dakota Memorial School (DMS), Bismarck. DMS, the on-campus school of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, educates residents at the Ranch’s psychiatric treatment facility and day students (students who live at home but come to DMS for school). The flooring will create a quieter learning space for children who are highly sensitive to noise and other distractions.…

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Belief in the Power of HOPE

Belief in the Power of HOPE

When it comes to overcoming challenges, Helen Keller (1880-1968) set the bar quite high. She was a lifelong learner, teacher, inspiration. She danced, laughed, wrote, and loved. She was deaf, blind, and had great difficulty speaking. And, she changed the world and the way we view the potential of those with special needs. Her teacher and best friend, Anne Sullivan, who was herself blind and parentless, instilled a sense of hope in the young Helen. Anne had a persistent hope that guided Helen into her future.…

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Mending with Gold

Mending with Gold

I love the kids at the Ranch. They are young and amazing and broken. They are open about their mental health and, most of the time, they tackle their struggles head-on.…

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The Many Faces of Ranch Kids and Staff

The Many Faces of Ranch Kids and Staff

All of us at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch are humbled and grateful each day. First, by the opportunity to serve the Lord by serving others. Second, that the “others” we serve are precious children on a journey of hope and healing to become their best selves. Third, that so many people, like you, support our work. The attitude of gratitude we carry into each day is more than a clever rhyme, it is a worldview based on the honor we feel. We try to find every way possible to share our thankfulness with everyone.…

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Open Hearts and Compassionate Spirits

Open Hearts and Compassionate Spirits

If you have had kids, or been around kids, you know that trips to urgent care or the emergency room are part of “the deal.” With my own children, we had the requisite ear infections, occasional stitches from a variety of boo-boos, and a very exciting dislocated thumb that happened on the school playground. As they got older, we moved onto sports injuries. Ranch kids are kids. They have these experiences, too. And sometimes, an acute psychiatric issue may lead to a hospital visit.…

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A Work in Progress

A Work in Progress

A few weeks ago I was going through our cafeteria line for lunch on campus when there was a commotion at the other end of the dining center. Something had agitated one of our children, a young boy, and he threw his lunch tray on the floor. It hit with such force that the unbreakable plastic dish shattered and, of course, milk flew everywhere. Staff quickly helped the young man leave the environment and helped him use some of his coping and calming skills. In a few minutes, he was able to re-set his emotions and finish lunch.…

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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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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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