Overcoming Obstacles, On and Off the Course

As participants ran or walked through powdered color throughout the course, volunteers assisted them with where to go. The entire course was dubbed as “challenge by choice,” meaning participants could opt out if they wanted to do so. However, they were encouraged not to skip an obstacle, but rather to overcome it.

The idea for The Gauntlet came when Kale Dabling, Adventure and Youth Activities Coordinator at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, was training for events such as the Spartan Race and the Tough Mudder. Some of the residents would notice Kale and his teammates training and asked to also participate. Because residents could train but not actually take part in the events that adults were doing, Kale and his supervisor thought it would be a benefit to those at the ranch to host its own obstacle course race.

Adventure events like The Gauntlet are fun and exciting, but they also allow residents to test themselves and their abilities.

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch operates under its Model of Leadership and Service, which represents six universal needs. Those needs are safety, belonging, achievement, power, purpose and adventure. While adventure certainly applies to events such as The Gauntlet, Kale said that the Youth Activities Coordinators are not the only places on the ranch that provide those opportunities.

“It provides them with an opportunity to step outside their comfort zone try something new and thrilling, and possibly learn more about who they are, and what they are capable of and henceforth gain self-confidence and self-respect. We design the obstacles to be a mix of fun and easy to challenging, but not impossible,” he said. “We often tell residents, ‘Yes you can. You are stronger than you think.’ Knowing that with the support of the Boys Ranch staff, our residents are indeed strong enough, they can overcome difficult things and they are not alone. These things have life-long impacts on the residents, as well as the staff.”

Cal Farley’s is a leader in residential childcare services. For over 80 years, they have worked to meet the needs of children and families – at no cost to the people we serve, thanks to the continued generosity of their supporters, and without seeking state of federal funds to support their work.

Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch provides professional programs and services in a Christ-centered atmosphere to strengthen families and support the overall development of children. Throughout the years, our programs have expanded and changed to remain ever-relevant to the needs of the times, holding true to the values set over many decades ago. And, still, our goal remains to prepare and empower children to become responsible citizens. To learn more about Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch and how you can support their wonderful work click here.

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