Here at Wild Ones, we have an amazing youth mentorship program called JUMP (Join-up Mentorship Program). The JUMP program gives us the opportunity to work weekly with almost 30 incredible young people, ages 10 and up. We hope they are blessed because we know we are certainly privileged to be able to teach them about Jesus and horses and to just love them a whole bunch!
Working with our wonderful horses while under the direction of loving adults often produces some profound heart changes in these young people.
Jessica is one of those amazing young people. She has worked her way up through the JUMP program and is now a hard-working and dedicated wrangler. This is Jessica’s story, in her words.
It was August, 2008, when I realized there is more to life than living, breathing, and making it through another day. It was during that summer that I came upon an ad in the local newspaper advertising about a weekend horse camp. My mom and I checked out their website and we decided that if I did chores and earned half of the money needed for the camp I could go. I worked my tail off the next few weeks and earned my way to that horse camp. It wasn’t until I got to the camp that I realized that this wasn’t just another horse camp, but a Christian camp that used His creation, the horse, to teach kids about God. This place was called Wild Ones Youth Ranch.
That weekend in August, 2008, changed my life forever. I was taught how to ride a horse, and learned that God gave us this creation, and all other creations (including me), for a purpose. When I went to this camp it was during a critical point in my life. My parents had filed for divorce, I had no friends, and I didn’t know what do. I went to this camp expecting just to have some fun for a weekend, just to get away, but God had a different plan for me. I was over joyed at this camp; I knew that I would be back to this place. I had fallen in love with the horses, the people, and wanted to know more about this God.
After that camp in the summer of 2008, I couldn’t stop thinking about that place. How it made me feel loved, like I was worth something, and how I just fit there. I kept asking my mom when I could go back to that place and after irritating her, she signed me up for horseback lessons. Once a week I went to Wild Ones for my lesson, and I looked forward to that day every week. I got to ride the horses and talk to people who didn’t judge me or make fun of me. They helped me, understood me, and got me through lots of things. I got really sad when lessons started coming to an end, but what I didn’t know was that I wasn’t done coming to Wild Ones.
It was the a bit after lessons ended that I was asked if I would like to help with the upcoming summer camps, the very ones were my life at Wild Ones had started. I obviously said yes, and couldn’t wait for that upcoming summer. When the summer of ’09 started, I found myself out at WOYR all day, and every day, and it was amazing. It was also that summer that I was adopted into the family of WOYR. The girls treated me like their own flesh and blood, a little sister. I had finally had a stable family and a place to run to when I didn’t know what to do with my messed up life.
One day during the summer one of the girls at WOYR invited me to her church youth group, and I said sure. It was a little awkward at first because I didn’t know anyone there, but everyone was so nice. I started talking to people, and ended up having a really good time. I went again and again after that one time, and really started to understand this whole aspect of God. I eventually became a regular at Crosslight youth group. Again, I was adopted into another family at this youth group, but a much larger one then that at Wild Ones. It was at this youth group I choose to be adopted into the family of Jesus Christ, and finally understood that God was my savior, and paid it all for me.
If it wasn’t for that ad in the paper that one evening in August, 2008, I don’t think my life would of happened the way it did. I believe that God uses every little thing, including an ad in a paper to bring us to him. I believe that if it was for WOYR and God I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am still a part of Wild Ones Youth Ranch, and now attend not only Crosslight, but Sunday school and church services weekly.
– Jessica (with Cassie)
“It wasn’t until I got to the camp that I realized that this wasn’t just another horse camp, but a Christian camp that used His creation, the horse, to teach kids about God. This place was called Wild Ones Youth Ranch.” -Jessica