Home on the range
Largely unnoticed by local residents, Wears Valley Ranch has provided a comforting, nurturing residential environment for kids in troubled situations for 20 years. While many are unaware of it, those who are marvel at how it has succeeded in a challenging and stressful situation.
Pastor James P. Wood is founder and executive director of Wears Valley Ranch, a residential and educational facility for children from troubled backgrounds. Its Lyon Springs Road campus, next to the national park, sprawls over 125 acres.
The ranch can house up to 32 children, from 6-year-olds to high school seniors. Currently 17 kids live there. They share bedrooms in houses that are managed by live-in married couples. The arrangement lets the children see what healthy families are like.
These are not juvenile delinquents. What they have in common, Wood says, “is a problem that the child did not create: a health crisis, a financial crisis. Or the child suffered some kind of abuse.”
At the ranch, children study, worship, receive biblical counseling, manage livestock and garden. Those are tasks designed to help them heal and become restored, Wood said. That means it is providing a service for youngsters who, without such an environment, might degenerate into the kinds of adolescents who do cause societal problems and wind up in the court and penal system.
To Wood and all the others who have made this a success story, we say congratulations and thanks. It’s great to have such a facility in our county.