Story by Roger Edison
Bill White of Wilmington, North Carolina is the founder and president of a 501(c)3 public charity called "The Easy Does It Ranch." Established over ten years ago, the sole purpose of the ranch is to enhance the recovery possibilities of teenagers age 12 through 19 years old who have grown up in an alcohol and drug addicted family or as a teen, suffer from substance abuse themselves.
"The ranch provides summer camps where youth can experience a cowboy adventure where each participant has the opportunity to take on responsibility, learn leadership skills, the value of hard work, discipline, while still having lots of fun," states Bill as he continued, "The combination of being responsible for animals, working ranch chores and the 12 step recovery meetings in the romantic environment of the Old West helps build a good foundation for the newcomer and greatly enhance the teens recovery and life."
Bill was first introduced first hand to a cowboys life in 1996 when he went out west working a cattle drive between New Mexico and Southern Colorado. He learned to camp cook and was hooked ever since. Several years in a roll, he return to help cook during the large round ups witnessing a change in the city slickers who participated.
Incorporating in 2000, it took two additional years before the Easy Does It Ranch held their first summer camp. Ten teenagers from the Raleigh, and Cary, North Carolina area attended a one week camp. Since, the camps have grown with teens coming from Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and the Washington DC area.
As the summer camp needed a means to prepare and serve meals, Bill purchased a beat down farm wagon converting it into a fully working Chuckwagon. Bill stripped the wagon down to it's running gear of wheels an axles. After a full month of rebuilding and restoring, that wagon was ready to add the other gear to finish the project. A local cabinet builder helped build the chuckbox, using plans which Bill obtained through Hansen Wheel and Wagon Company. Piecing items needed to complete the wagon, Bill located the wagon bows through John Stewart in Tennessee who has an on-line web page www.muleskinner.com and the canvas top and fly through Edwards Canvas Inc. located in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. The wagon was finish and put to use for the next decade.
Last April, Bill was going to replace the wagon. He had planned to travel out to Colorado where a friend had a wagon on extremely good running gear that he could build back up. At the last minute, he received a phone call from a friend telling him about a guy two hours away having 20 wagons for sell. Before Bills trip to Colorado, he decided to investigate what the man had to offer. Arriving, most of the wagons had been sold, but Bill was able to find one for $500 and remove the other items of his existing wagon and place them on the new frame.
"Most people think this is a Hackney wagon," states Bill.
The Hackney roots date back to 1854 when Willis Napoleon Hackney became partner in a carriage shop in Wilson, NC. Son's George and W. D. Hackney, incorporated Hackney Wagon Company in 1903. George Hackney was also president of Hackney Brothers, the company that traced its roots to Willis Hackney’s carriage shop. With the earlier business focused on carriages and buggies, the 1903 venture was set up to manufacture farm and delivery wagons. It became known as the “wagon company” while Hackney Brothers was the “carriage company.” The wagon company’s primary competitors were Nissen in Winston-Salem and Piedmont in Hickory, NC. "This one has the 5th wheel front end so I think it is newer than the previous wagon. I would say both are early 1900-1920, possible even later" states Bill. The Hackney Wagon Company continue to build wagons and farm equipment until 1942 although suffered bankruptcy in 1930. The business reformed and today operates under Hackney and Sons, building truck bodies in Washington, North Carolina.
Along with learning how to prepare great meals from cast iron dutch ovens and working from a chuckwagon, the teens also learn how to care, groom and maintain for the horses at the ranch. They first learn about the animal, their needs for food, water, then how to use and remove the necessary riding tack. Each teen is then assigned a horse which they will care for during the week stay. Normally after lunch, the teens groom the horse, saddle up and head for the trails on the ranch with supervision and support riders. Checks are made too ensuring proper saddling, fit and matching skill of horsemanship with each horse.
A typical day begins at 6:30 AM as the teens head to the barn for wrangler duty. Once feeding their assign horse, filling the water trough and mucking the stall, they quickly clean up and sit down to breakfast at the Chuckwagon. After eating and cleaning up, the teens participate in a meeting of the "12 Steps." By 10:00 AM they head to the barn and saddle up for the trail followed by lunch at noon. Adding an afternoon ride in after lunch, the teens return to the barn at 3:30 PM when each teen, cleans, grooms, inspect hoofs and cares for their horse before turning out or placing back into stalls. Then it's time for each teen to personally clean up with showers before the evening dinner held at 7:00 PM and aloud free time until 9:00PM when they have a speaker. Upon the meeting completion, teens are release to there cabins and lights out at 10:00 PM.
The week remains the same rotating wranglers to chuckwagon duty. As the assistant cook, they rustle wood, help in the camp kitchen, prepping and preparing meals and cleaning up. Friday, they perform a range rodeo consisting of three events, Musical hay stacks, water to a dying man, and calf roping on a straw calf. The winner is presented an awarded of Rodeo Champ during Saturday's awards presentation. Friday Night concludes with a trail party and talent show.
"Each camper is proclaimed a Drover for the Ranch and given a plaque with a picture of them and their horse. We also give awards for Top Wrangler chosen by the barn staff, Rough Rider Award chosen by the Trail Guides, and Top Hand chosen by myself and the adult sponsors that come with the kids," Bill explained. "Top Hands are invited to be the Ramrod for a week the next year. The Ramrod is responsible to oversee that everyone is where they are supposed to be and on time. We have had good success keeping them in school graduating and attending some form of higher education," states Bill.
The kids we serve are all in recovery groups in or around their home towns. The recovery program they follow is that of Alcoholics Anonymous as adapted for the children of drunk or addicted parents. Their program is called Al-ateen/Al-anon which is for spouses of alcoholics and addicts. The twelve steps are the actual program of recovery they follow and "Easy does it Ranch" helps build personal confidence and strength with each individual.
Bill White frequently caters western events to raise money for the non profit program assisting these teens. For more information about "Easy Does It Ranch" whether attending this summer's schedule or submitting donations, contact www.easydoesitranch.org
-Twelve Steps as published by Alcoholics Anonymous:
Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out
Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid movement which was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (Bill W. and Dr. Bob) in Akron, Ohio. AA says its "primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety". With other early members, Wilson and Smith developed AA's Twelve Step program of spiritual and character development. AA's Twelve Traditions were introduced in 1946 to help AA stay unified and grow. The Traditions recommend that members and groups remain anonymous in public media, altruistically help other alcoholics and include all who wish to stop drinking. Today, these step have been added to many other groups with addictions.
For information about al-anon family groups contact http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released; Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. In 2008, there were approximately 190,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.
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