“What kinds of kids end up at The Ranches?”

kids at the ranch hauling hay

I’ve been answering these questions my entire life and with good reason. It is hard to understand the need for a place like The Ranches unless you too were considered “at risk” at some point in your childhood. The truth is, the kids at The Ranches end up with us due to unhealthy and unhelpful coping mechanisms to difficult situations and emotional events. While politicians, pastors, principles, and others tend to use terms like “bad” and “troubled,” we tend to believe that kids learn to cope with the world that they are raised in and sometimes – often times it seems – negative and destructive coping mechanisms are easier to come by for many kids. Where adults may seek the counsel of mature and wise friends or even seek therapeutic help, many kids just decide to skip school for the first time and “take a break” from the stress of being young and misunderstood. Soon, they invite a friend and take a bottle from a parent’s liquor cabinet or score some easy “weed” from a friend.

For kids, just like their adult counterparts, escape is always easier than dealing with painful issues and difficult relationships in a “head on” manner. And what are they escaping?

For many of the kids at The Ranches, they are attempting to escape some very difficult…and very adult things. A few of the things that we deal with…


While not all kids at The Ranches have been abused, many have. We deal with a wide range of abuse issues in kids. From inappropriate physical discipline to sexual abuse to neglect and even abandonment. Sadly, abused kids rarely learn to hate their abusers; instead, they learn to hate themselves and learn to see themselves as deserving of abuse. This leads to a lifetime of self-esteem and self-worth issues.

Grief and Loss

Many of the kids at The Ranches have lost parents or relatives or friends. As in most cases, grief is difficult and, in many cases, kids try to handle their feelings alone and without a support system.

Adverse Childhood Events

While the term is a bit of a “catchall” for issues, Adverse Childhood Events are a significant source of problematic behaviors and coping skills. From divorce to frequent moves to poverty to school districts to personality conflicts with parents or stepparents, Adverse Childhood Events are often the precursor and starting point to behaviors that later require intervention in a child’s life. The Ranches offers that intervention and we work to address Adverse Childhood Events.

Generational Parenting Issues

If we are being honest, most of us parent similarly to the way that we were parented. In many cases this leads to generations of well raised and well-adjusted kids who are resilient and confident. Unfortunately, in other cases, this tendency leads to
generational dysfunction and generations who lack the resiliency and confidence to thrive when there are trials and tribulations in life.

Learning Challenges and Differences

Many kids today struggle both with learning and with their learning environment. While some of this is due to diagnosable learning issues, sometimes their school simply doesn’t teach in the way that they learn. Like adults, kids who are struggling with learning often feel stupid and worthless. If left unaddressed, kids start to feel as though they are a burden and inconvenience.

Attention Issues

All kids need a unique and consistent amount of attention. Many of the kids at The Ranches have either received too little positive attention or too much negative attention. We work to get to know each kid and to determine the unique amount of attention that each of them needs. We also work to provide that attention consistently.

Power Struggles

Whether or not we admit it, we all need a certain amount of power and independence in our lives. Our kids are no different. Many of the kids at The Ranches have either had too much power or too little power. In many cases, they either are the person who makes all of the decisions – either blatantly or subversively – in their home or they are micromanaged to the point of feeling that they have no personal power or influence.

So, what kind of kids end up at The Ranches? Kids who are hurting and who are struggling to navigate the difficult years of adolescence. In most cases, they have made some bad decisions based on their needs not being met adequately or because of some adverse childhood events that haven’t been adequately addressed or resolved.

Once kids get to The Ranches, we work to address their issues and meet their needs. Additionally, we offer:
-A Faith Based approached in a rural setting
-Equine Gestalt Coaching using our herd of horses
-A program that is 100% donor funded – We take
ZERO taxpayer dolllars
-Individual counseling and an on-campus school

If you’d like additional information about The Ranches, please
visit www.theranches.org or call 1-800-660-0289. You can also find us on social media or listen to our “Raise Them Up” podcast.