Today was our first full one here at Cran-Hill Ranch…and it was “full” in every sense of the word. We packed a lot into this gorgeous Sunday! Here’s a rundown:
After rousting the crew from slumber (with a heartily-bellowed version of “Rise and Shine” from the staff!), and herding the bleary-eyed downstairs, we were blessed by thought-proking devotions led by Patrick. Discussion was facilitated around the amazingly complex and overwhelming concept of God, His role as Creator and Master of everything and everybody…and what this could mean for each of us.
We broke for breakfast (everyone is seriously digging the buffet lines CHR has been throwing out every meal!), competed intensely on the gaga court, and then joined other campers and ranchers and staff members for church as the morning sun streamed in through the tall pines surrounding us.
Following another excellent lunch, we took a detour on the way back to the stone house and found ourselves gathered around a strange wooden structure tucked in the woods. Our fearless leader provided the boys with a scenario, and the group was tasked with getting everyone up one side of the structure to the top…without speaking a word to one another! It was pretty doggone cool to observe how quickly, collaboratively, and effectively the young men worked together to accomplish this goal…but they were FAR from done! Everyone was moved to the opposite side of the structure, which just happened to be much higher, and the group was again instructed to get each member of the team to the summit, with changing expectations for who could and couldn’t communicate verbally. This is where it got real! It was a true challenge, and although the activity closed with a few members still on the ground, the ultimate goal was achieved…learning. So many positive dynamics were observed in the groups’ effort to reach their goal…individuals stepped up to take leadership roles, all RR campers actively took part in the effort, and personal expectations were surpassed based on perseverance, hard work, collaboration, inclusion, positive encouragement, and grit! It wasn’t hard to draw parallels from the presentation of these skills in our activity to very real applications in life. It was unanimous amongst the staff that we were very, very proud of what we observed in the boys!
We then switched gears and headed to the barn, where we met the staff members who would be facilitating all of our interactions with the horses over the remainder of the week. They covered a great deal of information regarding gear, safety, grooming, behavior, tack, saddling, and mounting/dismounting. It was very cool to see the level of interest and care the group gave to their four-legged friends throughout this process. The staff was awesome, and soon it was time to for the boys to saddle up and ride for the first time. Everyone took a few trips around the arena on horseback as the CHR staff evaluated their riding technique and offered tips, suggestions, and encouragement.
(More pics of boys on our Facebook at @rranchmi.org)
When the time for riding was complete, the boys joined the staff members in unloading and spreading hay for the evening feeding.
Everyone was REALLY ready for dinner by that time, and after eating our full, we left the dining hall, crossed the street, and prepared for battle…it was time to shoot arrows at each other! Yes, of course the arrows had cushioned tips, and everyone wore a facemark, but the bows were real, the arrows were real, and the whole idea was to aim those arrows at another RR camper and let fly! We were divided into two team and the game was played exactly like dodgeball. It was a blast! We played a number of games, and there were no injuries, with the possible exception of the boys’ pride after coming together en force to take on a staff team of 5, and then getting wiped out with all staff members still standing! Chalk one up for the old guys!!! ;o) In all fairness, the campers stepped up in the next and final contest, and picked us off one at a time for the victory.
So that sums up the bulk of our day. All in all, God provided many blessings throughout the course of our schedule. Many were positive in nature. Others came in the form of challenges, and it is these blessings that we relish the most. The staff remains fully committed to the belief that God will place these challenges before us as opportunities to advance His work in the lives of these awesome young men, whom He loves like children. Please keep praying coming that His will is done through Remembrance Ranch this week.