We have been busy at Wildwood Hills Ranch this autumn season! Despite the pandemic, we have found creative and safe ways to still serve vulnerable youth in the community and surrounding areas.
During each of our September and October leadership retreats we had over thirty youth join us for development, leadership, education and fun!
Participants carved pumpkins, visited a fall festival with a corn maze, tractor pull and many other activities, learned about interest and credit in financial literacy education and how to write stories of gratitude in the writing workshop. In addition, they took the innermetrix which taught them about who they are and how they interact with others in leadership and life. Personal stories were also shared and hope, healing and love were present in abundant ways. With the pandemic, students have expressed feelings of isolation and loneliness which we were able to address and help with at our retreats.
At our Fall Family Festival at The Ranch in October, a student stayed after the retreat to help lead the apple cider making activity at the event as well as be one of our program speakers sharing their story of of how Wildwood has helped them be an overcomer in the struggles they have faced in life. It’s always a joy to watch students grow in confidence and be able to share their story with others.
Speaking of stories, below is a story from a volunteer, Gary, who got involved a year ago with our leadership retreats and has continuously served our youth in exponentially impactful ways since.
“I have been extremely, extremely blessed to be able to volunteer at Wildwood Hills Ranch’s leadership retreats since the fall of 2019. Each of these retreats provides the attending youth with important life skills and also opportunities to dialogue and engage with adult leaders who provide loving encouragement and positive feedback. With every single one of these leadership retreats I have attended, there is always some special moment or situation that occurs (usually more than one!). A moment might be a simple, meaningful statement that one of the youth makes – or a deep discussion during a study session – sometimes it is seeing a young person smile for the first time – sometimes it is just someone saying “Thank you”! But, there are always these special moments.
At one of the fall retreats earlier this year, near the end of the day when things were wrapping up, I was having a discussion with one of the young ladies and one of the young men. The discussion between the three of us weaved its way into how long they have been attending Wildwood. Both had first started attending when they were 9 and 11 (they are now both 16 and 17). Somewhere in the discussion the young lady made the remarkable statement that “Wildwood is like a second home to me”. The young man, in agreement, followed her statement up with a strong confirmation that “Wildwood is also like a second home to me”. I was, and still am, touched by these very personal statements from both of them because it reveals the deep, love-based connections that Wildwood Hills Ranch builds over the years in the youth they serve!”
From all of us at Wildwood: wishing you and yours a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Please enjoy these photos from our fall leadership retreats: