Outside Summit’s View Boys Ranch in Walnut, a family oriented boarding school, twenty-one pairs of shoes sit lined up. Inside, twenty-one pairs of bare feet hasten across the floor. The boys, ranging from ages eleven through seventeen, play a game of basketball.
“Doc” and Terri, the husband-wife team, are the head of the family-style boarding school. “We aim to cultivate childhood. We want these boys to come here and revive a childhood they have had stripped from them,” says Terri, the maternal force guiding her small army of boys onto a better and more rewarding path of life.
Terri has worked with young teens alongside her husband for many years. Doc, a certified doctor in Psychotherapy, counsels each boy and helps them cope with any past abuse or trauma. He has been a pastor since he was only twenty-two years old and has spent his entire life in the ministry. After Doc’s daughter was killed in a car wreck, his view on life changed and he knew he wanted to devote his work to young people. He began working with other boy homes and later started Summit’s View Boys Ranch.
Boys come here from across the nation, from different religious backgrounds, different beliefs, and different families to heal together in a community of brothers. They come to the home for a nine month process of family oriented learning and discipline. None of the boys have a criminal past, which is a huge misconception of the ranch. These boys come from families that may be lacking a paternal figure or come from a background of abuse.
Some of the boys just need boundaries in order to heal from media addictions or substance abuse. Many of their problems have stemmed from a lack of boundaries, boundaries which are restored at the ranch. With love, discipline, and counseling the boys have found a new way to handle the things life throws at them. They are given the tools needed to thrive in their challenging situations back home. For many of the boys, this is their first look into Christianity. “We want these boys to leave as good men, and if they choose to, Godly men,” say the Lovelys. They attend local churches to raise awareness of the ranch and give the boys a chance to build a relationship with God.
A day on the ranch starts off with an hour of physical training. This is not a military style camp, but physical health is expounded upon. Next, they sit down together for breakfast and then it’s on to a devotional with Doc. Even if the boys do not have a faith of their own, the morals set forth are still rewarding for them to implement in their own life. Afterwards, it is time to move on to their schooling as they are academically accredited and advance in their school careers while at the ranch. The boys meet together for lunch before finishing their school work and learning vocational skills such as mechanics, car care, and carpentry. The ranch then provides time to enjoy the outdoors. They can swim in the pond, spend time with the ranch horse, or play a muddy game of football after a rainy Mississippi day. They eat dinner then end the day together, sharing their thoughts and talking about the memories they are creating on the ranch.
The ranch has transformed the lives of these young boys and a few of them actually shared with me how they have grown while being on the ranch.
“Before I came here, I was using drugs everyday and constantly lying. I lived a double life between home and school. Coming here has taught me to be honest. The biggest change I’ve made is asking Jesus Christ into my heart. I don’t have to lie anymore and worry about having to keep up with the stories I would tell.” – Sam, 14
“I was on the baseball team back home and the entire team was using drugs. I got in with the wrong people and started abusing drugs too. Being here has helped me with my anger and given me the skills I need to be a better person when I go home.” – Brett, 16
Cowboy meets Native American.
Joseph (left) , a full blooded Native American, unites with a new friend. Joseph has lived in twenty-two homes over the past eleven years. Social workers say they have never seen him smile or show any sign of joy. Things changed for Joseph at the ranch. “I look forward to seeing his smiling face everyday. My heart broke when I heard his story but here at the ranch, we are restoring the childhood he had taken away from him while teaching discipline.” Says ‘Aunt’ Tracey, a member of the Summit’s View family.
The ranch is not only changing the lives of boys from across the nation, but it is changing our community too. You can find the boys volunteering to help build homes or paint military vehicles. They clean up litter alongside the roads near the ranch and strive to leave everything better than they found it. They are always looking for houses to paint, yards to mow, and trash to pick up. They leave a positive impact everywhere they go, whether it be Walmart or a local church.
You can find Summit’s View Boys Ranch on Facebook and drop by any time for a visit. Doc and Terry want the community to understand the work they are doing and how it is bettering the area while healing the lives of many boys.
“These boy’s lives are like the back of a tapestry. It’s messy and the strings are all intertwined . All of these boys have pasts that are like a tangled labyrinth, but on the other side there is a beautiful picture that living at the ranch has created.”
-‘Aunt’ Tracey Tomlinson.