Working at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch is the dream job for me that, before this year, I never knew even existed. The combination of playing with horses, hanging out with kids, working outside and serving in ministry makes the work I do here both fulfilling and enjoyable. I love that every day on the ranch presents a new and exciting way to serve my Lord Jesus Christ!
One of my favorite things about being a Session Instructor is working with kids who are shy, unsure or maybe a little scared of the horses. It becomes a challenge, or even a little bit of a game, to slowly work on getting that child to come out of his or her shell. Whether they are overwhelmed by being in a busy, new place, or they are intimidated by the horses, I love watching the transformation as a quiet, reserved child realizes that they can be a kid here. Sometimes the transformation is quick and noticeable, and other times it takes several sessions. But our horses are patient and forgiving, and our God is quick to show His love through both the four and two-legged staff members. And when I see a kid who first arrived hiding behind his mother and clinging to her hand for dear life end up running around the ranch with a huge smile on his face, the reward is immense!
I also appreciate and enjoy the time I get to spend working, actually working alongside the families who come out to volunteer. I have spent numerous hours digging holes, scooping manure and stacking hay along with parents and kids who graciously donate their time and effort. And even though a five year old with a manure fork is not always the most efficient method of manure removal from the paddock, the time spent is more about fellowship than efficiency. Not to mention the fun we have chucking morsels of manure at each other.
What do you like most about Central Oregon?
My favorite thing about Central Oregon is the climate. I never realized how obnoxiously dreary rain can be until I moved to Central Oregon. While I am a native Oregonian and will always appreciate the beauty that comes with rain, I do not miss the long months of low, dark clouds and incessant rain that are common in the Willamette Valley where I grew up. Once I spent a winter in Central Oregon, I learned that the sun does exist between November and June and it will come out to play! I enjoy being outside both for work and play, and living in this climate provides a welcome balance of weather that allows me to spend as much time outdoors as I want.
What is your most embarrassing moment at Crystal Peaks/what is your nickname?
A friend had sent me a letter that included a picture of him with a raccoon in the background that he and some others had tamed and could hand-feed. He wrote the names of all the people, including the raccoon, on the back of the picture. I thought it was pretty cool that they had a “pet” raccoon and was showing the photo to everyone in the office. As the photo was being passed from desk to desk I was explaining the story behind the photo. I couldn’t remember the name they had given the raccoon and just blurted out the first cute name I could think of, which was “Sparkles.” Everyone in the office laughed and pointed out that her name was actually something much less flamboyant (I still don’t remember what it was). But then people started calling me Sparkles, and it has stuck ever since!