One of the greatest joys of being on staff is watching our staff family grow. We’re not just talking about new hires either! We will be welcoming 4 new babies this spring at the Ranch! One has already made his appearance. We just love watching all of the little ones running around camp, and for myself, it brings back memories of my own children in their younger years. Cowboy boots of all sizes have littered our mudrooms and my girls have outgrown many prairie dresses. At present, there are 28 staff kids under the age of 18.
The Ranch can be a place of wonderous adventures. When my own kids were little, a whole bunch of them would take advantage of a former excavation area, playing in the puddles and dirt mounds for hours. They fondly named this particular place L.A. Upon returning to the house covered in mud and showing off the frogs they had found, I inquired what L.A. stood for. I was informed it meant Large Area. Though I admit I thought it stood for something more intriguing, I always loved seeing these times of creative play.
Being raised on staff has its own unique challenges and blessings. They are given the opportunity to witness many aspects of working in ministry with all of its joys and struggles. They have the blessing of experiencing God at work, hearing testimonies throughout summer camp, the School of Discipleship, retreats, etc., but as parents, it can be easy to bring your work home, and sometimes even bring your kids to work. Staff kids have the challenge of sharing their parents with the public, but also the chance to serve alongside them. One former staff kid shared with me that their greatest struggle was seeing their parents, but not feeling like they had access to them. Sometimes they desire to serve in anonymity instead of being seen as “the son or daughter of …..” My own children have shared that they love their relationships with the other families, that they feel there were, and still are, many looking out for them. They grow to love the student body and often these students have become “adopted” big brothers and sisters to our kids. Yearly goodbyes are hard.
Each one of them views their childhood through their own experiences, personality and set of lenses. They reap so many blessings though we know the front lines can also be a hard place to grow up. Our prayer is that they would take the precious years of memories here and use them to build a foundation of dedication to the Lord. Would you join us in these prayers?