The VIP Program Connects Students To A New World
On Friday, April 29, 2022, the VIP program (which stands for value, independence, and purpose) provided by Blueprint Education, transported 22 students from Hope High School and Hope High School Online, to a wonderful outdoor retreat experience at the Flying E Ranch. The students, Blueprint Education staff, TDH coaching team, ranch staff, and the on-site cowboys all added to the positive, action packed day. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for many students and they will certainly remember this for years to come.
The day started out with an hour-and-a-half ride to Wickenburg, AZ completely outside of our student's geographic comfort zones. Upon arrival at the Ranch, students were greeted by the staff and each given a personalized bag of western goodies as well as their very own VIP swag. Cowboy pens, bolo ties, and beach towels for the afternoon beach party were just a few freebies that awaited them.
Horseback Riding and Swimming Out In The Desert
After 30 minutes of an exceptionally warm welcome, half of the students were whisked off to the stables to mount horses (most of them for the very first time), while the other half hopped aboard a ranch trailer and took a ride into the desert to experience their hand at archery, axe throwing, cow lassoing, and horseshoe tossing. This session ended, of course, with surprise snow cones that cooled everyone down. The two groups swapped out and the fun started all over again.
Then, after building up the courage to ride a massive horse into the desert, and taking pictures in a mock western town, the whole crew headed back to the main hall for some self reflection time. The life timeline project that TDH Coaching hosted was a phenomenal two hour social/emotional exercise. It gave our students hope and demonstrated just how resilient they truly are. Being completely "away" led students to be more open with one another. They learned that there was great power in their stories of overcoming the odds and they were taught the skill of "sitting with their feelings" as a means to work through them. The students received an excellent start to becoming the best version of themselves.
The students then raced to be the first to dive into the cold swimming pool located in the middle of the Ranch. Surrounded by ping pong tables, a life sized chess board, and several minute-to-win-it '' game challenges, the students relaxed poolside with an abundance of water noodles and leis around their necks. As the sun began to set, they enjoyed an open grill steak dinner, while still bopping to the beach party playlist and making forever friends on the terrace.
Campfires Bring Truths To Light
After the dinner cookout, the only thing left to do was gather around the campfire. Many of the students experienced making S'mores for the very first time, and took their shot singing legendary campfire songs such as "Sweet Caroline" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane". Even Cowboy Taylor and the ranch crew became a part of us that night. They jumped right into helping the students get comfortable by holding up lights for them to see the lyrics in their songbooks.
The night came to a close with students having the opportunity to share and then throw their “distorted” truths about themselves into the campfire, the distorted truths that had been holding them back. They spoke true words of affirmation to each other around that glowing fire. Memories were made, tribes were created, and their guards were let down under the sea of stars in the darkest of desert skies.
Everyone left feeling fulfilled, recharged, and grateful for the experiences and the opportunities that will launch them into their futures.