Life on the Boys Ranch
At MRCA, a Christian boys ranch in Missouri, we operate as much as possible like a family, rather than an institution. We have one major advantage over the average American family, and that is on our boys’ ranch we can focus ALL our attention on your child because that is what you have asked us to do. A normal family is stretched so thin today with extra jobs, activities, responsibilities, and other pressing family duties. And troubled teens require so much more time, energy, and effort. So much of what we try to do is what do as a parent; to just walk through the hours, days, weeks, and months of life with the kids, using every moment as an opportunity for learning. We strive to present everything we do with a positive attitude that will benefit your child. With this in mind, we structure our Christian boarding school around many different areas:
We mentor the boys every day. Your boys won’t have the option to skip school, hang out with the wrong crowd, or not do their work. They may get more schoolwork done in a day here than they were getting done in a week. We will do our best to motivate your child to love school. We use an accredited Christian-based curriculum that will teach facts while saturating them with good morals.
Just like the old days, the kids here will have chores to do every day. Work won’t be presented as a four-letter word or punishment, but the privilege of every boy to work hard to provide for their family. We do this inside and out, from dishes to construction to milking cows.
We teach the boys special skills. From computer basics to carpentry, welding, cement, and plumbing. Your child will use many different hands and power tools. Boys will leave here conversant with doing “manly” things around the home and shop. We will build things your child can take pride in, perhaps even earning money doing it while they are here. If your child is old enough, we can even get him or her ready for employment outside. At MRCA, we try to raise men, not boys.
There is a God! We will do our best to inspire (not drive, or force) your son to get to know Him. Every child has a faith journey they must make. They have a spiritual nature and need a moral foundation for a successful life. The emphasis here will be to encourage your child to develop their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, through His word and prayer. And then to begin to allow God to mold his or her character into the person He wants him to be. We will attempt to model this in front of your child by living as honest and exemplary lives as we can. Then, through Bible study, church attendance, and devotions that are real and exciting, provide the information and inspiration your child can connect with on their own. Our model is purely inspirational and not compulsory. Their spiritual decisions are unique and personal, and we respect that. A choice to believe something presupposes the right to not believe anything. Every human being is a free moral agent.
Good clean fun is what has been missing from most at-risk children’s lives. They have substituted sinful pleasures and risky behavior for fun. We will play board games regularly, go swimming, ride horses, play basketball, softball, and football, go fishing and hunting and constantly remind your son or daughter how to laugh, be silly and have fun when it is appropriate to do so. How else will they one day play ball with their kids, if they don’t do it growing up?
As you know, most good counseling is just good listening. We want to hear from your son. What does he think? How does he feel? If necessary, we will try to correct erroneous thinking, and feelings not grounded in fact. We will always use the Bible as the standard for truth and clear thinking. But your child will need a friend to go to; someone he trusts and will talk to. That is a big priority for us. Your child’s confidentiality will be respected. We will also flow appropriate information to you so that you can make course corrections at home, if need be, to get ready for your reunion. We have experienced quality counseling staff working with your child.
Working with Animals
We have seen the value of connecting kids to animals. Children not only learn responsibility as they care for something that needs them, but they also make emotional connections. We will do this through cows, pigs, chickens, and dogs.
Please understand that not all the kids we see have a loving, supportive family at home. Sometimes we find ourselves feeling quite sorry for our boys after we get to know their parents. However, we are assuming that you are the former: a loving and supportive family that wants your child back better and in one piece. We will be your advocate. While your child is here, they will go through angry phases. He may lie and manipulate to gain our sympathy. They may tell us harsh things about you that are simply not true. Please realize, we have seen this before and are not affected by it. We believe in your authority and the honor due to a mother and father. We will stand up for you and the other authorities in your child’s life. If you have made mistakes that your child resents you for, you will have ample opportunity to get those right in time. We will work hard to see that your child is ready to make peace from both sides of the war: The things he has done wrong, and the wrongs they perceive to have been done to them.
What These Tools Will Teach Your Child
Your child will live in a structured and disciplined environment. Teens will learn to obey rules without argument. They will learn about delayed gratification and will be away from the harmful influences so readily available in real life, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, worldly music, violent or immoral movies, inappropriate physical contact with boys or girls, the internet, cell phones, etc. They will have to listen to calm words of instruction, not tones of anger. In a few months’ time, your child will seem like a new person. But beware: this is just the basic training phase. It is easier to conform to our environment than to retain good behavior. What we encourage is the patience to wait on the slower process of the development of good character. This is when they begin to do right, from the heart because they see the value for themselves.
Our boys ranch is not perfect. We are not their natural parents. But we will provide a sound alternative to a very imperfect situation. We hope to send your child home ready to start over with you. Can I be honest with you? It doesn’t always work. Though we can claim some of the best statistics of any child intervention ministry in America, your child still possesses a free will that God Himself won’t violate. But you and I had our kids knowing there was no money-back guarantee tagged to their toes when they came out. But we love them and give them our best anyway and ultimately are obliged to leave the results to them.
We will give you our best effort. God will always support you when you do the right things. Your child will have another chance to make a life for himself. What more can any of us do? I believe you will sleep at night after that, no matter what decision he makes. And please, lay your guilt and self-recriminations aside; your child has been doing the choosing for some time now. Masters Ranch may be the last choice you get to make for your kid. If you are motivated by love and right, it is a great choice. I promise you this; only you will love your child more than we will.