Expanding adventure opportunities at Boys Ranch

Adventure is a key to success at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch. We know every child needs adventure in his or her life. The leaders of this therapeutic organization know that only through opportunities to explore new areas and experiences, taking controlled, discernible risks and through challenging the mind and body, will the children we serve ever reach their God-given potential. 

That’s why we work very hard to ensure every aspect of life at Boys Ranch involves an element of adventure!

There’s always a need for new places to explore and different activities for the hundreds of children at Boys Ranch. 

Recently, the boys and girls at Boys Ranch gained an exciting new outlet for their innate desire for adventure. In 2016, the adventure and recreation staff at Boys Ranch began to dream about repurposing approximately 150 acres of the old Bivins Ranch property into a series of trails, campsites, biking courses and waterfront area for additional youth recreation. 

Of course, they knew taming the overgrown land to make it safe and enjoyable for our children would be a labor-intensive endeavor, but their goal was worth it.

The Youth Activities Department took on the project and has since made some wonderful progress. There is much left to do, according to Luke Benton, assistant administrator of intervention services. 

“We’ve spent a lot of hours mowing and clearing out debris,” Benton said. 

The acreage had several very old structures that weren’t salvageable. Turning the obstacle into an opportunity, the Boys Ranch Volunteer Fire Department used the structures to train our Junior Fire Crew Experiential Learning Program group on burn-control tactics. 

Benton said Boys Ranch staff cleared out hiking paths and made a recreation area. They carefully prepared several campsites, standing teepees and fire pits for our residents’ use. A one-mile bike loop trail system with terrain features is already proving very popular with our kids. The area is now home to outdoor games including volleyball, tetherball, horseshoes and nine-square. There is an original homestead on the property with an old barn that is used as a staging area and storage for recreation equipment. 

“We have had a ton of interest from the homes,” Benton said. 

He has led bus tours of the area for houseparents and donors to showcase the work that has been done. 

“Last summer, the area was scheduled for use almost every day,” he said. “The group homes have gone there to camp, stargaze and ride the bike trails. We have a lot more work to do before the water areas will be accessible and useable, and some of the other areas are still very rustic, but that is part of the appeal.”

Benton said he and the youth-activities team see this new area as having potential for some specialized use, eventually, including space for trainings and group gatherings.

“We want to make it versatile and well done so it will have an impact on the residents, staff, and alumni for years to come,” Benton said, smiling. “The work we’re doing in itself is quite the adventure!”

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