Life has been different for the precious boys and girls at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch this summer. Fortunately, the quality of care and the amount of attention they receive hasn't changed.
I asked our amazing Wellness Coordinators how they are keeping the kids engaged physically and mentally this summer—despite the challenges created by COVID-19.
Christian Kjelland, the Wellness Program Coordinator on our Fargo campus, said he creates summer programming that will stretch the kid's legs and minds. He loves serving and working with our (his!) kids, and always has a smile on his face. They've played flag football, slip-n-slide, bean bag toss, frisbee golf, kickball, floor hockey, volleyball, and ladder golf. Other Ranchers have also taken the kids fishing, which for some was a new and learning experience.
Talbott Pollert, the Wellness Program Coordinator in Bismarck, said he tries to find fun activities to keep our kids active and engaged. One of these activities is Therapeutic Gardening; where our kids dig in the dirt, learn about planting, watering, and weeding, and see the fruits (or vegetables) of their labors. Tal said our kids have been very involved in our Therapeutic Gardening Program this year.
One of our boys loves working in the gardens. As they were breaking up and fluffing potting mix for our sub-irrigated planter boxes, he told Tal he wished he could get paid to dig in the dirt all day!
"This young man came to us with some tough issues to work through," Tal said. "But he is honestly the most pleasant and well-behaved kid when we are in the gardens. He says he is now interested in working on a farm in the future!"
The kids on all three campuses are learning and playing this summer.
"In 'Food & Fun,' the kids learn some basic cooking skills and recipes," Tal said. "In 'Theater,' they learn about the techniques and processes involved in putting together a production, and practice and present their own short plays. In 'Pop Culture,' they learn about the fun and interesting trends and events—from the 1920s to the year 2000, that have shaped the world we live in today. And in 'Discover Dakota," they not only learn about the different animals and habitats of North Dakota, but experience them by going to the Dakota Zoo, taking a Habitats Trail Tour put on by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, and hiking through Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora."
We are blessed to have such dedicated and caring team members. And we are blessed to have amazing donors who care about these kids.
Thank you for making a difference in the lives of the boys and girls we serve.
P.S. If you need prayer or are feeling lonely, feel free to contact me via phone, text, or email. My contact information is below.
Tim Unsinn, Senior Development Officer
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
Learn more about Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch at DakotaRanch.org.
You can also follow the Ranch on Facebook.
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Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is a Christian residential treatment and educational center for children and their families. We help the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care, where we look kids in the eye, walk with them, and help them become their best selves.