We at the Ranch take our work very seriously and understand the importance of what we’re doing. We want this to be the last placement for our boys and we know learning who they are and growing is the way to accomplish that. In trying to make this happen we occasionally do expect too much. We are often heard saying things like take this serious, stop being immature, this isn’t the time to play around, etc. Although those sayings do serve us well and are necessary, there are times when it is just about “being a kid”. Here is an example:
Several staff and boys attended a sporting event called the H’Olympics. It was held in Covington, VA and took place over several days. Since the Ranch’s focus is on sportsmanship and teamwork our boys often don’t do well in competitive sports. They do, however, do well in enjoying the games, new experiences, and being together. After the event we traveled on to Virginia Beach to see the ocean, tour the Naval Base at Norfolk, and visit Washington D.C. We arrived at our campground on the beach very late at night. We were all tired from the long trip so we decided to just throw our bags on the ground and sleep out in the open air. In some places that would be a terrific idea; terrible idea when you’re close to the shoreline in Virginia! Mosquitos, mosquitos, mosquitos…. Quickly everyone put up their tents and escaped into their mosquito-free space. One by one we began to fall asleep to the thumps of the very large bugs attacking our tents and to the giggling of boys as they slapped at the mosquitos and whispered funnies to each other. Early the next day we grabbed our towels and sunscreen, and headed to the swimming beach. When we got there, it was just us and the lifeguard. Our boys who had never seen the ocean were quite excited and hardly able to wait to swim. The wait, however, turned out to be worth it as suddenly the boys began to squeal and jump all around—the sand crabs had made their appearance. Boys chased them, caught them, followed them, and let them nip their toes until finally the ocean drew their attention. As suddenly as they began to play with the crabs they stopped and were off running to the ocean. The squeals, laughing, and jumping up and down were now taking place in the water. We adults stood back feeling good about ourselves and the program that allowed these types of moments to happen when the lifeguard approached us. He looked at us very seriously, nodded his head towards the boys, and asked, “first time at the ocean?”
During this trip, there were lots of “kid” moments. They ate ice cream, drank lemonade, over ate, laughed, and looked at things (Smithsonian, White House, underground subway, etc) in amazement. Trips like this and moments sharing new experiences with the Ranch boys always seem to help me stay invested and interested in helping them move forward. Seeing through the eyes of kids……..