It has been 9 years since Rusty first donned the blue and gold uniform of the Cub Scouts. Since then he has spent endless hours learning skills, earning merit badges, camping, hiking, building fires, attending Scout Camp, and participating in service projects, all with the end goal of earning his Eagle.
Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the Boy Scouting program of the Boy Scouts of America. The designation “Eagle Scout” was founded over one hundred years ago. Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill.
And we are proud to say that Rusty is one step closer to joining the 4 % who have earned that rank.
One of the final steps in earning the rank of Eagle comes when the scout develops and executes a plan to lead a service project that will benefit the community. This large project is the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, prepping and presenting the planned project to gain approval for their proposed Eagle Scout project.
As Rusty considered possible projects he decided to approach the good people at Ready Yourself Youth Ranch, a non-profit organization that he and his sisters volunteer at two mornings a week to see if they had any possible work projects on their wish list that he and his scout troop could bless them with.
Our family was introduced to Ready Yourself Youth Ranch a year ago as a possible resource for the older kids as we navigated the challenging/explosive behaviors that Ozzie was presenting at the time. Our family based therapy team thought the ranch could be a place of refuge that the older kids could escape to on hard days and allow them to benefit from the therapeutic affects of serving and blessing others.
My kiddos fell in love with the ranch and since that day have committed themselves to waking up early two mornings a week and driving to the ranch to care for the horses from 7:00- 9:00 am. Their responsibilities include feeding/watering the horses, moving them to the pastures, grooming horses, and mucking stalls.
It not the most glamorous work, but my kids love it. They have found a place of refuge and peace among the dusty stalls of Ready Yourself Youth Ranch…
And they aren’t the only ones.
“Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is a non-profit, Christian ministry that connects horses in need of rescue with children dealing with challenges and difficulties who need to learn about the hope and healing found in Jesus Christ. In 2010, the founders and directors, Micheline and Mathew Barkley desired to combine her broken childhood and his equestrian experience to rescue horses and mentor children facing conflicts and challenges of their own. When God blessed them with fifty acres of land, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, they gathered a dedicated group of volunteers and mentors to bring their faith, time and talents to make RYYR a place where God’s love and grace enables horses and children to trust and love again.
Ready Yourselves Youth Ranch is for children, ages 6 through 18, who are dealing with challenges and difficulties. We connect one child, one horse, and one mentor for ninety minutes of interactive experience, free of charge. Learning to care for and ride rescue horses, many who have come from environments of abuse or neglect, increases a child’s trust, faith and love. The overall aim of our session program is to love and encourage children which in turn will foster hope and joy.”
When Rusty approached Micheline (the owner and visionary of the ranch) about projects on her wish list she quickly produced a list of possible projects Rusty could undertake for his Eagle Scout project. He decided that he would present the plan of constructing an outdoor riding arena for the ranch to the board to get approval. Once he received approval the dates were set for his Eagle Scout project.
The project took two Saturdays.
The support of many made lighter work of what would have been a very arduous task!
Dozens of fellow scouts, leaders, siblings, and friends from church answered the call and showed up ready to work.
It was quite the undertaking but the arrival of many helpers was inspiring.
Rusty couldn’t have done it without the generous support of so many helping hands.
Here are photos of the many happy helpers and the project they tackled over the course of two Saturdays:
In Rusty’s attempt to bless others, he too was blessed.
We are so proud of this young man we call “son.”
A BIG “thank you” to all who have helped mold Rusty into the man he is today.
He is who he is thanks in part to leaders (both current and past) who have taught Rusty scouting survival skills and basic life skills that will benefit him as a man. We are grateful for the wonderful troop of boys who have grown up with Rusty, and the many friends and families who have cheered Rusty on as he has blossomed from a silent and timid little boy into a confident and caring young man.
It truly does take a village to raise a son…or at least an incredible Boy Scout troop.
How thankful I am for troop 558!