President’s message: Boys Ranch, where cutting-edge science meets timeless tradition

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the past. That tends to happen when you reach a major milestone, which is exactly what Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch has done in this, our 80th year.

When our founder sat down with an area rancher to discuss his donation of what would become the home of our residential campus, Boys Ranch was only a vision of a place for boys in need of that proverbial “shirttail to hang on to.”

There was no roadmap to follow, no established guidelines as to what a proper home for what we today call “at-risk” children should be. There were no experts in childcare, no developmental specialists voicing their input on the best ways to reach a developing mind that was coming to that early ranch already troubled by past trauma.

And, so, Boys Ranch began with an uncertain direction, but a lot of hope — hope that we could help society’s underserved, hope that people would support this vision of a place where hurting children could find a second chance at a successful life and, of course, hope that the organization itself could grow to become better to reach more children and serve the larger society.

Over the past 80 years, America developed an ever-greater empathy for those in need, and Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch evolved right along with it. In the process, our organization took on an increasing expertise in neurological development. After all, the better our understanding of a child’s developing brain, the better we could address the underlying causes of his or her behavior rather than simply trying to control it. This growing reliance on neuroscience has informed many areas of Cal Farley’s work, including who we hire, how we educate, how we prepare youth to enter the work force, even our recreational opportunities.

In some ways, the Boys Ranch of today would be hardly recognizable to someone who visited us 80 years ago. Beyond the obvious changes to the landscape and infrastructure, each of today’s Boys Ranch residents benefits from having an entire team of childcare professionals dedicated to his or her wellbeing. Virtually everything in our children’s lives is painstakingly dissected in terms of how it will benefit or hinder their development, what opportunities it provides to meet one of the six universal needs we recognize for our youth or what growth lessons an experience might provide each developing mind.

Through eight decades of change and transformation, though, the leadership of Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch has remained steadfastly dedicated to the values that have made this organization a leader in our field:

  • faith in a loving Creator Who desires relationship with and an abundant life for each of us
  • personal integrity that demonstrates an upright character which benefits every individual and community we touch, and
  • a persevering spirit that won’t buckle under life’s inevitable difficulties, but is capable of rising above to find success in the face of hardships

Change itself is inevitable. But, what’s important is that we make the right changes. I’m proud of what Boys Ranch is today, of the industry leader our professionalism and expertise have made us. I’m proud to support Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, and I’m honored you are, too.

Dan Adams
President and CEO
Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch

Dan Adams served as Boys Ranch President and CEO from 2004-2021.
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