For the first time, we have 12 boys at Whetstone Boys Ranch. 12 sweaty, energetic, hormonal, emotionally-charged boys. 12 boys to serve, love, teach, mentor, counsel, feed, support, discipline, challenge, comfort, and console.
This has been the plan for this campus since we opened in the fall of 2011. 12 was the magic number.
12 tribes of Israel. 12 apostles. 12 boys. It’s a nice number when you’re trying to change the world.
And since we have 12 boys, we have needed to create a little space, some elbow room for all of these teenage elbows. So, thanks to our donor’s generosity, an increase in revenue, and a matching grant from the Christ for Youth Charities Foundation, we have broken ground on a new sports court. It will be a place, right outside the back entrance, where boys shoot hoops, compete at four-square, shuffle board, handball, volleyball, hopscotch…well, maybe not hopscotch, but who knows? We get some crazy fads around here sometimes. (Talk to me about “finger-boards” next time we meet. Or google it if you want to be amazed at the lengths boys will go to release their overabundance of energy and competitive drive.)
As I watch the jack hammer and bull dozer work outside my window, I find myself reflecting on the phrase “breaking ground.” It feels like a poem title, but I’ll stick to prose…for now.
Breaking ground is what it takes to build something. Break up the old caked clay, the sun-bleached and cracked concrete. Haul out or grind up the debris for fill. Bulldoze and level out what remains. (Oh, I forgot to mention. Hire some hard-working Ukranians early on. They will descend upon your campus and get the job done like nobody’s business.) Build a perimeter to frame the concrete and then bring in the mixers. Pour, and level, and smooth, and let it sit. Before it hardens, press your hands in the wet concrete and sign your name.
Breaking ground to build something new is expensive, and risky, and time-consuming, but you can’t pour new wine into old wineskins, right? And if you’re planting a vineyard of grapes, you’re going to have some new wine.
Pray that Whetstone Boys Ranch and Therapeutic Boarding School will be a good steward of this vineyard we have been entrusted with and with all of this new ground we are breaking.