Nathan: The Road to Adulthood

Nathan Hopes to Help Others as He Was Once Helped

As a child, Nathan was rescued from Hurricane Harvey.

Now, the senior hopes to become the kind of person who rescues others who need it.

He found his purpose through involvement with Junior Fire Crew, a program that allows teens to practice such skills as controlling water hoses and nozzle patterns.

When Nathan came to Boys Ranch, his first houseparent was a lieutenant in the Boys Ranch fire department.

“I didn’t have a passion at the time and he’s like, ‘You’re coming with me,’” Nathan remembered. “I started to like it after a couple of practices and trainings. And then I started going on fires as part of the Junior Fire Crew, and I learned to love it.”

At Boys Ranch, Nathan found himself and his passion.

Pursuing Perfection in Firefighting

At one of Nathan’s first fires, Assistant Fire Chief Leon Hollis tested Nathan on the correct nozzle pattern procedure.

“We were following the maintainer, and he got us placed between two mounds of dirt,” Nathan said. “The fire was coming from one side, but Mr. Hollis knew he could get out. He just wanted to see what I would do.”

The improved dirt road was wide enough for two vehicles, Hollis said, and the fire was at eye level.

“It was pretty intense for a first fire experience,” Hollis said.

Nathan took one of the hoses and opened it on full blast with a full cone.

“I did the same thing on the other side, and I made sure that the truck didn’t get burned at all,” Nathan said. “And then I went back to the left side where the fire was coming and made sure it didn’t get closer. And it didn’t.”

Nathan found his passion in pursuing perfection and battling blazes. More than that, he found his career path. After graduation, the senior plans to go to the fire academy and become a firefighter himself, with the goal of becoming a wildland firefighter.

Nathan rows a Cardboard Boat with his teammates.
Nathan captains a boat made of cardboard during the annual Cardboard Boat Races.

Finding Boys Ranch 

Hurricane Harvey was just one of the hardships Nathan endured during life in a sometimes dangerous neighborhood. Looking for a path out of his situation, he found Boys Ranch online and asked his mother to send him. She agreed.

When Nathan arrived at Boys Ranch, he was failing most of his classes. At Boys Ranch, he became a straight B student. He still doesn’t love school, but he loves the sense of accomplishment he gets from doing well. He also loves helping others.

When youth worker Linda Kauk fell from a porch and broke her ankle. Nathan heard the 911 call on his pager. He rushed to the injured woman, held her hand and prayed with her until the ambulance arrived.

“I didn’t know it was her when I heard the call on my pager,” Nathan said, adding that he just ran to help a person who needed it. “It was kind of special because she’s really close to me, and instinct kicked in halfway through.”

Nathan at the entrance to Boys Ranch
Nathan found Boys Ranch himself and thrived within the community.

Genuine Faith

The prayer was genuine, he said, not something manufactured just to keep a patient calm.

“I always had a bumpy road with Christ,” he said. “I constantly asked myself, ‘Why would You let this happen to me?’ It was just a question every Christian’s going to ask eventually. My faith journey is still growing.”

Nathan’s dedication to his journey toward adulthood has included regular participation in Junior Fire Crew.

“Nathan has been one of our more dedicated Junior Fire Crew members and has been on more calls than most participants,” Hollis said. “He has found his way and has become a leader with the team.”

Nathan plays drums in high school pep band.
Nathan plays drums in high school pep band.

A Bright Future Awaits Thanks to Donors

Boys Ranch donors, Nathan said, have been a critical part of his path to adulthood.

“This place couldn’t be made without them,” he said. “Boys Ranch helped me work through so many problems. It couldn’t have been done without them.”

The future is bright, he said.

“In 10 years, I could see myself having a good job, even if firefighting doesn’t work out,” Nathan said. “Something that requires me to be in a uniform, because I feel like I was born to have some type of importance in the world.

“So hopefully it’s some sort of uniform with a nice family and money in my pocket. And food on my plate every night. That’s how I see myself in 10 years.”

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