What would your life look like if every day were the same? No birthday cakes to mark another year of life, no Christmas trees or warm family gatherings. Gone, too, are the fireworks that celebrate our independence. Even that weekly lunch meeting or phone call with friends is just a wistful memory.
Let me challenge you to stop for a moment and consider the role these and so many other traditions play in our lives.
Like the changing of the seasons, these traditions, be they large or small, become the milestones by which we mark the passage of time. They provide context to our existence and provide a common foundation for our familial, social, religious and national cultures.
In other words, the traditions we recognize reinforce our values and serve as an external affirmation of our way of looking at the world around us. Everything from the type of food we eat to what we wear, what we find funny and even Who and how we worship — all find some root in cultural traditions.
So, given Cal Farley’s nearly 80-year history, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Boys Ranch has quite a few traditions of our own.
Our recent Boys Ranch Rodeo, which marked its 74th annual occurrence this year, is one of the longest-running traditions for our young people, but it’s far from the only one. There are many other traditions at Cal Farley’s, so many this simple publication could never hope to detail them all.
Some, like the presentation of a pair of brand new Boys Ranch-branded cowboy boots to each of our graduating seniors, have roots that date back many years. Others, like our annual Independence Day fireworks display, are much newer developments. And, naturally, there are plenty in between, such as the unorthodox, yet exciting practice of building boats out of cardboard and racing them across one of the lakes on our beautiful campus.
While it’s no surprise Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch recognizes a number of traditions, what you may not have thought about is the help they represent for many of our youth.
Two of the most important foundational elements to the environment we create for young people at Boys Ranch are consistency and predictability.
Consider the all-too-common child who has experienced frequent shuffling of living environments between parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends — who may have attended seven or eight different schools in a single academic year. For this child, being able to count on predictable life events has a very tangible benefit.
‘Normalizing experiences,’ as they’re called, is a concept that’s deceptive in its simplicity. By providing recognizable, predictable and positive events for the youth we serve, Cal Farley’s goes a long way toward helping our boys and girls move from a heightened, defensive emotional state to a place where they are free to mature into the productive, functioning members of society they are fully capable of being.
Traditions, then, become a vital part of life at Boys Ranch. I’m happy to be able to share a few of them with you in this issue of The Roundup. After all, these celebrations of life are always best when shared with those you care about.
President and CEO