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Teen ranch brings creative approach to reaching and teaching youth

It’s a taste of the Wild West helping young people discover and follow Jesus …

It’s a taste of the Wild West helping young people discover and follow Jesus …

Bob Ockenden, who together with his wife Jen founded Teen Ranch in Scotland, explains. "Round-ups in our western-themed activity centre are jam-packed with a variety of fun.

"Horse riding, canoeing, outings and games are all popular. Individuality also matters. In the leather craft hut, campers make a variety of items. Their creativity in making something uniquely theirs from design to completion gives them a great sense of achievement.

"Yet the twice daily Time Out sessions present thought-provoking reflections on our Christian faith. It’s all geared to the age groups, of course. And fun is very much part of the fellowship with lively action songs on offer."

An inter-denominational Christian charity, Teen Ranch depends on volunteers who make their work possible. For years, evangelists from OAC Ministries (Open Air Campaigners) have taken part.

Roger and Rosemary Gray of OAC regularly take part in round-ups with children and teens of different ages. This year they were active in the Round-up for 13-14s in July.

Their teaching included campers and staff. "During the week, one young lady came to faith and many took literature wanting to think things through," said the Grays. "One lad told us that he had become a Christian last year when we were the speakers. A number of youth had been to camp before and it was lovely to see how they have grown in their Christian faith."

Round-up in Romania

As Teen Ranch also holds round-ups in Eastern Europe, some OAC evangelists travel farther. Dave Glover joined Teen Ranch workers and young volunteers in Romania.

"I had prepared a series of talks Keys on being useful to God, said Dave. "What I hadn’t bargained for was the scale of the work programme we were set." That meant everything from cleaning the paddocks to concreting logs which needed to be stripped of bark.

"All in rain and cold barring the last few days! I was exhausted," said Dave. "Was it worth it? Here’s an excerpt from a letter I received: A massive thank you for the talks you gave. I found all the sessions very challenging and relevant and have really helped me get a clearer understanding of my relationship with God. They also highlight how that relationship would shape my character and influence my decisions for the future."

This sums up how Teen Ranch enables young people to revel in the Christian faith wherever they are situated. Youngsters who cannot afford to attend are helped by charities. Also, some round-ups are geared to campers with autism and to their siblings.

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