Many know the stress today’s teens face during the school year. However, summer can come with its own set of challenges. With Americans spending more and more of their time indoors, nothing can upset a parent quite like watching their teen sit inside on a nice summer day. But getting teens out of the house and off their electronics can be about as difficult as making a horse drink water.
At a recent natural horsemanship clinic put on by our founder, Brose Mcvey, he said, “If a horse is goofing off, you’ve got to put him to work – redirect his energy.” I find that this same concept applies to people as well as it does to horses.
As human being, feeling like we can use our energy to make positive change is integral to our wellbeing. This is why the part-time, paid jobs (“internships”) on farms and ranches, made possible by Ben’s Ranch Foundation, are so effective. Teens see their effort make a difference in the natural world around them. They care for horses and farm animals, plant and harvest produce, drive a gator around a farm, or show sheep at a fair, fix a fence, or show sheep at the local fair.
They see first-hand, and in real time, their efforts produce results – often in the eyes and reaction of an animal. Their work on those farms taps into a natural source of growth, healing, and nourishment that is becoming ever more difficult to access in our urban world. These experiences reconnect teens in ways that technology cannot hope to replace.
Through technology, our species has never been more connected. And yet, we’re also becoming more and more isolated from the natural world, physical labor, and real relationships. At the same time, teen suicide rates are at their highest levels in 20 years, and is currently the second leading cause of teen deaths.
Internships created by Ben’s Ranch are different from other forms of change because of the empowerment and connectivity they offer to teens. In an age when we relegate our communication to 100 characters or less, Ben’s Ranch is reconnecting teens with living things they can touch, see, hear, and smell.
Our interns aren’t told that they are sick or have a problem. They make meaningful connections and become part of the solution. And when they believe that they have something important to offer the world, their outlook on life improves and their momentum carries them into their future.
To find out more about Ben’s Ranch internships, call 877-663-2767 ext. 1, or visit www.bensranch.org.
Rob Kern, LMHC, Program Director at Ben’s Ranch Foundation