- Ranch Life
We hope you enjoy the following photos of our Summer Wrap Up Party. Thank you to everyone who joined us for this Hawaiian themed afternoon of fun!
By Zac Bruckner
It was a surprisingly cool day on Saturday, July 25th for Crystal Peak Youth Ranch’s annual Hoedown. Several people returned to their vehicles to grab jackets or sweatshirts to ward off the brisk wind blowing across the Ranch. However, a little bit of cool weather wasn’t enough to stop over two hundred people from enjoying the cowboy/cowgirl event.
Those who came were greeted at the Main Yard by staff and volunteers dressed in their finest country outfits. Adults and kids alike were given new, slightly more interesting names more befitting for a country event: Outlaw Annabelle, Ramblin’ Rose, and Pecos Bill were just a few of the folks roaming about the Ranch that evening. Fresh popcorn and lemonade awaited the newly christened cowboys and cowgirls, as well as apple bobbing, a milking ‘cow,’ target shooting, lariat throwing, and face painting.
A live band starting to strum their strings called everyone back to the center of the yard for the ever-popular country dancing time. People laughed, stomped their feet, clapped their hands, and swung arm in arm with partners.
While everyone else was working up their appetite, a group of staff and volunteers heated up their grills. They prepared a smorgasbord of hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, potato salad, and watermelon. Their work was well appreciated.
After eating, everyone settled down on the lawn. As the band began to play again, they turned the focus onto a good God who allows us to have such fun and fellowship together. A message of encouragement was shared afterwards. Then when it was time for dessert, everyone packed into the barn. Ice cream with fudge or caramel sauce, bits of candy, maraschino cherries, and whipped cream, helped to finish the night on a sweet note.
We had a blast at our Summer Kick Off Party last month! Boot camp themed games, an obstacle course, and a giant slip n slide framed our afternoon of fun. We hope you enjoy the images of our time together.
By Amy Naegeli
Most days here at Crystal Peaks, there’s a beautiful dance that goes on. Children are met by their leaders and they proceed to the paddocks to find their equine ‘dance partners’. They walk lead rope in hand to the arena and begin a waltz that’s characterized by trust, sometimes a missed step, but ultimately the delight of finding a mutually beneficial moment between rider and horse.
On very special days, there’s a different type of dance that takes place.
Weeks before a Harvest Day, the staff begins to research, plan, create and test projects that they desire to teach the kids. When the day finally arrives, it’s a tossup as to who’s more excited; the staff or the kids!
Like a little whirlwind of excitement coming up the hill, kids of all ages show up to start learning something new. A flurry of paper cutting can be seen in the corner of the barn while the smell of Elmer’s glue and cinnamon wafts through air. Moms congregate near the inviting wood stove, still within ear shot of their younger children at the craft table. Busy little hands make invaluable art for their adoring parents. There’s always something for everyone on Harvest Day, whether it’s making a plinko board in wood shop, creating bees wax candles into colorful shapes, treasure hunting for potatoes in the garden or learning to sew a cozy hat for the winter.
Even in the height of this wonderful hullabaloo, there are intentional conversations that happen between leaders and kids. A special depth of discussion unfolds as creativity flows and the love of Jesus is spoken and taught. Harvest Day also affords the opportunity for many volunteers and staff who don’t normally participate in horse sessions, to share their wisdom with the kids. The blessing of these days is mutually enjoyed by everyone.
As the day winds down and classes come to a close, there’s an undeniable sense of accomplishment in the kids. Scattered groups of smiling faces with arms full of crafted treasures begin to trickle down the driveway. None of this happens without knowing that something really good was cultivated on those days…in the dance.
By Nora Seale
The final day of our summer season had arrived. Hordes of young people dressed as pirates swarmed up the driveway. Shouts of “Arrrrrrg!” and “Ahoy, Matey!” greeted them as a pirate-themed celebration commenced.
Buccaneers of all shapes and sizes were divided into teams to test their piratical skills in a variety of games. As with all Summer Wrap-Up parties at Crystal Peaks, water play ruled. Super Soakers, hoses and water balloons were the ‘weapons’ of choice for a host of young adventurers.
A hunt for hidden treasure sent teams roving around the ranch on a careful search. Happy smiles were seen by all when the pirates discovered their prize: goodies of ice cream and popsicles.
The festivities ended with all buccaneers congregated on the grassy hill to zip down the water slide. Sounds of laughter and screams of delight filled the air as one pirate after another sailed to the bottom of the hill.
As families and kids headed home, joyful chatter could be heard drifting up the driveway. Staff smiled with the knowledge that, once again, they were able to share the Lord’s blessing with others—and had a great time doing it!
By Nora Seale
Strains of country music floated through the air as eager children rushed up the driveway. The big day had finally arrived—CPYR’s annual Hoe Down!
Kids and parents, ready for a fun day, were greeted by a host of ranch staff dressed ‘country’ style. After choosing a down-home name like Bobbie Sue or Jimmy John, families proceeded to the festivities.
Nearly 300 people congregated in the main yard to fellowship and try their hands at a variety of homespun games. Some went bobbing for apples, while others jumped into roping contests. Many played the marshmallow shoot or bean bag toss and colorful designs were painted on faces young and old. CPYR’s famous family ‘pig-tures’ were created with taped-up noses. This comical pig-like effect always achieves huge smiles!
The Independence Arena became the site of a wacky three-legged, egg-carrying obstacle course. Sounds of cheering rose as teams of families and kids valiantly finished the race. With egg shells scattered in the dust, everyone was beckoned back to the main yard to ‘strut their stuff’ for some line dancing. Hilarity accompanied the melody “Boot, Scootin’ Boogie” while countless folks moved in a variety of directions. The ‘Grand March’ was triumphantly completed to allow presentation of prizes for the best dressed cow-kids and cow-family.
The aroma of grilled burgers and brats proved irresistible when dinner was announced. Everyone gathered to enjoy the sumptuous barbeque. Baked beans and various salads rounded out the delicious meal, and cold lemonade was welcomed by thirsty cowpokes.
After dinner, families congregated on the grassy hill to worship their Creator. As daytime heat gave way to a cool evening breeze, Troy shared an uplifting message from the Word.
Before heading down the driveway to go home, tired yet happy families devoured ice cream sundaes topped with lots of goodies. It was a joyous event! A day infused with fun and laughter—but most importantly—a day filled with the knowledge of God’s great love for His wonderfully diverse family.
By Jeff Gorham
The staff arrived at the ranch by 8:15 a.m. to get ready for the 4th of July parade—ranch style. We milled around the main yard until Kelsie sung out “5 minutes!” Then a loud clanging of the bell called us to gather as a group. We paused for a moment of prayer and remembrance of what Independence Day is all about. As Troy ended his prayer with an “Amen,” Kelsie picked up the lead calling out instructions for the day. The ruckus of preparations began. Brush buckets clinked, squeaky paddock gates opened, and decorations emerged from storage. The hay trailer was loaded and horses were groomed. Troy hollered, “Let’s roll!” We all piled into vehicles and headed down the driveway turning toward the small but patriotic town of Redmond located to our northeast.
When we arrived, familiar faces greeted us. Friends and families of the ranch had come to help decorate the kids, horses and the float. But most of all, they came to show support and to celebrate our great nation. Everyone’s faces revealed a childlike anticipation for what the day held. Excitement filled the air as the horses stepped out of the trailer one by one. The decoration boxes were unloaded and opened. Laughter bellowed as kids and adults carefully chose patriotic accessories for themselves and the horses.
Great care was taken to make sure that the horses were dressed to the nines, yet comfortable enough to make it the entire parade route. Remnant sported a huge pair of sunglasses and was draped with garland. Robby donned a red, white and blue top hat, bells dangling off every foot. Glitter and sparkle were the requirements of the day. There were grand smiles and joyous laughter all around.
Once the decorations and floats were completed, Troy called everyone to gather together. He and Kim took turns speaking about why we celebrate the 4th of July. The small town of Redmond was lined with American flags, each bearing the name of a fallen soldier—reminding us our freedom was purchased through the sacrifices of our service men and women. This day was about honoring them and thanking the ones still with us. Troy and Kim gave instructions to look for veterans in the crowd. They encouraged us to make direct eye contact with them and to shout—”Thank you!”—or even better to shake their hand. After a quick prayer, Troy directed riders to mount their horses and others to find their places on the float.
Amidst the cacophony of pony drawn carts, funny cars, fire engines, muscle machines and marching bands we took our place in the parade. Strolling through the heart of Redmond, the crowd cheered as the Crystal Peaks banner rolled out. “Happy Fourth of July” and “Thank You Vets” sounded from CPYR participants. Our horses walked along gallantly with young riders wearing their reds, whites and blues waving little hands and flags as they passed by.
There is nothing better on parade day than to see the community come out to support our great nation. It is an incredible opportunity to remember those who have fallen, and to say thank you to those who serve to defend our freedom. It was a day of joyous celebration and we are already anticipating next year’s parade!
By Katherine Teague
Stillness permeated the air at the bottom of the hill. Blue sky soared overhead stretching to the towering mountains in the distance, and fresh snow frosted the ground and sparkled in the radiating sunlight. It wasn’t going anywhere soon—not when the thermometer read only 5 degrees Fahrenheit!
Boot prints sunk deep into the white-laced drive, and the snow crunched under foot. With every drawn breath the cold air was icy to the lungs and bitter to exposed skin, but it did not deter the mounting anticipation of what this day would hold. Turning the corner at the greeter’s station the scene changed. The stark, cold stillness of the day was abruptly transformed by warm smiles from a large team of CPYR staff and volunteers. Groups from the ranch rushed around in a concerted effort to make sure everything was just right, each feeling high expectation of something special.
Warmth flooded the space as broad grins flashed from faces, fragrant smoke poured forth from the barn chimney and other fires bellowed within the confines of three outdoor pits. Inside sugar cookies, brownies and holiday treats were laid out with care. Throughout the barn candles lit up windows and old fashion lamps washed the tables with warm light. Garlands graced the walls and the tree stood tall in the corner with stars, boot ornaments, lights and a burlap ribbon draped around for decoration. Smells of Christmas filled all senses—gingerbread, pine, sugar cookies and peppermint. It was a special day. For the second year in a row, the staff and volunteers of Crystal Peaks had the honor of hosting a Christmas celebration for our regional military men and women.
Members of the Pacific Northwest National Guard Unit poured into the barn. One could nearly watch families take a deep breath and relax, remembering the joyous time they spent in the same place last year. Food was eaten, kids and their parents sat around the tables playing games, conversation and laughter filled the room; and all the while, the fire roared in the wood stove. Upstairs featured a fun variety of things to do such as cookie decorating, rope tying and woodworking stations. Soon, many ventured outdoors to try their hand at roping cow dummies, while others visited with the horses and then warmed frigid fingers while roasting s’mores. It wasn’t long before kids discovered the sledding hill—even the commanding officer joined in for a hilarious ride!
Once again, this time together filled our hearts with a renewed sense of joy and hope. We are so grateful for all that the military men and women—and their families—sacrifice to serve our country. Preserving freedom comes at great cost—we do not take that lightly. What an honor it was to say thank you while laughing, playing and sharing a meal with those who impact our lives in such a powerful way.
In part because of the freedom earned for us, we look forward to many more years of celebration to come!
By Katherine Teague
Each summer families gather at the ranch for our annual Hoedown, a fun and unique event. For many, it’s quickly added to the list of “must attend” occasions for years to come. This July we had close to 200 attendees. As each man, woman and child passed through our welcome center, they were given an authentic country-western name of their choosing, a name they would answer to for the rest of the evening. Nearly everyone spoke in their best southern accent and was dressed in their finest hoedown attire.
The afternoon was spent in a whirlwind of activities. Families first participated in old west type games such as bobbing for apples, roping the wooden bull and a cow-milking contest. All were encouraged to take family “pigtures,” a hilarious scene of everyone snuggling together with their noses taped up to look like pigs! Then, a large crowd of parents and kids congregated in the arena for a cherry pit-spitting contest, egg toss, three-legged race, manure-pitching contest and more fun than should be had in one day! Just before the yummy BBQ dinner was served, a big group of lively line dancers made merry our main yard.
As the air cooled and the sun lowered behind the towering mountain peaks to our west, families nestled together on blankets and in chairs on the grassy hill. In triumphant voice we sang songs of praise and worship to our King. Troy then spoke a message of encouragement to those gathered. To top off the evening, everyone returned to the barn to enjoy delicious ice cream sundaes.
The ranch holds this event year after year for one main purpose: to bring families together for a day of fun. Pictures from the Hoedown tell the story of the day well and bear evidence our mission was accomplished! We sincerely hope that you and your family will be able to join us next year.
By Katherine Teague
Sunshine, smiles, laughter, horses, kids, parents, floats and decorations of RED, WHITE and BLUE all united in one purpose: to celebrate our great Nation and those who’ve faithfully served it with their lives.
Annually, the staff and many families and volunteers of Crystal Peaks participate in our local 4th of July Parade. This year was perhaps the most exuberant bunch we’ve ever had. Kids joined with our staff to adorn our horses with colors and decorations worn in celebratory salute to all veterans and military personnel. The result was spectacular as members of our herd sported glittering streamers in their manes and tails, painted stars and stripes, dazzling hats and even giant sunglasses. Kim led Hero with a banner laid over his back emblazoned with the words “‘Formerly Trooper’, Now a ‘Hero.’” As Crystal Peaks was announced at the mike, she shared his story of continuing hope with the crowd.
As our float glided along, the masses gathered as close to the action as possible on both sides. The CPYR staff, volunteers and families sitting atop proudly sang songs honoring America. As “God Bless America” joyfully rang out, our horses marched along carrying children on their backs who excitedly waved their gratitude to the troops of past and present in our midst. One of our staff, Jeff Gorham, walked along with the express mission to seek out those who’d served our country to thank them face-to-face for their valiant service. Troy drove the ranch’s red 1956 International truck in the parade, and he too would often stop—parking right in the middle—to get out and shake the hand of many of our nation’s heroes.
The parade was an event we were humbled to be a part of; a day hailing remembrance that our freedom is bought at a price. To all veterans and soldiers, and their families, we thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made to protect our country’s independence. We stand mightily blessed by each of you.