The song “Greatest Love of All” begins with “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” It’s so important that children get an opportunity to develop successful personal and professional lives so that they can become our future leaders. But they need guidance to achieve their goals. In today’s busy world, parents don’t always give kids the attention and time they need and deserve. And children don’t always take the time to really experience and enjoy life.
Quality interactions with peers ── away from televisions, computers, radios, cell phones, iPods and other distractions ─ can make a huge difference in a child’s life. That’s what we provide at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries’(DRMM) Wildwood Ranch in Howell, Michigan. Every summer, the 240-acre ranch offers a sanctuary for 1300 youngsters, ages 9 to 17. Most of the kids are from the inner city and have never experienced life on a ranch. They participate in activities designed to teach life skills, build teamwork and strengthen spirituality. Many go canoeing, tackle a high ropes course and ride horses for the first time in their lives. The activities build character and self-esteem.
“Terrell” has attended the camp for the past nine years. “I’ve gained leadership skills to be able to show younger kids in the neighborhood how to do certain things,” he says. “It does prepare you for the workforce because you are learning a lot of different training skills. The camp changed my life…it keeps you busy and active and away from trouble.”
Kids who are at-risk or from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds can benefit from experiences like those at Wildwood Ranch. They get exposed to ethnic diversity and can have a genuinely good time without all of the electronic gadgets that are so popular with young people today. They also learn about the dangers of drugs and alcohol in an attempt to keep the kids on the right path. The daily praise and worship services nourish their spiritual and personal growth. All of these things can lead to better leaders and decision makers. All children deserve a chance at being the best that they can be. We owe it to our young people to “teach them well and let them lead the way.”