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Archives for January 2017

23 indoor family fun ideas

Has cabin fever plagued your home? Are your kids restless, listless, and looking for something to do? Are you fresh out of family fun ideas? This isn’t a fever you just sweat out!

We’ve compiled a list of family fun ideas to beat the indoor blues and help kick start some good times. Be sure to comment below with things you plan to try, or let others know your favorite family activity. Here’s to some family fun!

DIY craft time!

There are many do-it-yourself craft ideas out there on the internet (over 31 million on Google alone). It’s what keeps “pinners” filling their boards on Pinterest! Good Housekeeping offers a variety of fun and interactive craft projects for all ages. Some of our favorite creations:

Buzzfeed also has wonderful craft ideas including:

  • Glow-in-the-dark play dough
  • Rainbow fan blades
  • Confetti paint
  • Sand slime

*Not everything has to be gooey, sticky, or silly (though it is preferred).

Heat up a cold day with games

If your kids refer to board games as “bored” games, spice it up! Today’s Parent compiled an impressive list:

  • Building games
  • Card games
  • Puzzles
  • Treasure hunts

Or get really wild and combine DIY time with game time. Kids’ Activities Blog provides exciting DIY games such as:

One of these board games is sure to generate hours of fun family time. You could even incorporate a craft by creating trophies or ribbons for the winners.

Thinking outside the box

Think digital for some creative family fun. These parents made headlines by getting creative with Photoshop or video editing software.

A dad in Utah Photoshopped his son as a flying superhero.

Daniel Hashimoto turned his son’s playtime into magic by using video editing software.

Though Daniel is a professional (he’s The After Effects artist for DreamWorks Studios after all), he does provide walk-through videos for other parents looking to give their children the movie star treatment.

Other unique, family fun ideas:

Add your own family fun ideas

Are there family fun ideas we may have missed? Let us know by leaving a comment below. We’d love to share them to encourage unity and family fun. Our houseparents might find use from your ideas as well.

Another option is to visit the Go Valley Kids Family Fun Expo Sunday, January 29th from 11 am to 3 pm. Many participants will be on hand to share creative, family friendly ideas. Rawhide will be there too! Come race cars with us! Hope to see you there.

Heroin use in Wisconsin skyrockets [INFOGRAPHIC]

Much like heroin use across the nation, heroin use in Wisconsin has become a significant problem. Heroin addicts in Wisconsin are often introduced to opiates through prescription painkillers. Once the painkiller prescription runs out, addicts look for a more affordable option: heroin. The following post will show the prevalence of heroin abuse in Wisconsin and how to spot signs of heroin abuse in a loved one. Heroin can affect anyone, and the odds are higher every day.

(click to enlarge graphic)

Heroin Use in Wisconsin Skyrockets Infographic

Heroin use in Wisconsin TwittericonClick to Tweet Infographic

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Heroin use in Wisconsin skyrockets

Many addictions heroin begin through prescription painkillers. As the addict looks to continue the fix, they often turn to heroin because it’s affordable and accessible. In fact, heroin is most accessible in the Northeast and Midwest. Heroin is cheaper than any other drug in many parts of Chicago. But the affordability brings with it dangerous strains that may be cut with rat poison, laundry detergent, or other harmful chemicals.

Heroin use in Wisconsin

Heroin availability is highest in the Northeast and areas of the Midwest. Chicago is a big reason why, as it provides a convenient location for drug cartels to disperse their product throughout the Midwest.

In Wisconsin, heroin-related drug deaths have drastically increased in the last decade. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services:

4 out of 5 heroin addicts in Wisconsin are introduced to opiates through prescription painkillers.

Heroin accounts for 80% of drug addiction treatments in parts of Wisconsin. Milwaukee County experienced a 500% increase in heroin and other opioid overdoses between 2005 and 2015, with 888 overdoses in 2015 alone.

Signs of Heroin abuse

Heroin users often leave behind specific items like:

  • Tiny baggies
  • Syringes
  • Small glass pipes
  • Rubber tubing
  • Burnt spoons

There are also numerous physical signs such as constant runny nose, slow breathing, flushed skin, tiny pupils, as well as:

  • Slurred speech
  • Failure to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Covering arms with sleeves

Find treatment for Heroin use in Wisconsin

Rawhide Boys Ranch offers numerous outpatient counselling options across Wisconsin for those struggling with heroin use and heroin abuse. Please consider Rawhide or another organization for help with heroin addiction. Heroin abuse can lead to one of two things if not treated: incarceration or death. Please help your loved ones avoid these outcomes by finding help.


Thousands affected as heroin use skyrockets [INFOGRAPHIC]

Heroin use in America is an epidemic. Heroin abuse, and subsequent heroin overdoses, have risen higher than any other drug and grow exponentially every day. The only tragedy comparable to the explosion of heroin abuse is the HIV epidemic in the late 1980s.

Images of parents passed out in their vehicle while their children watch in horror is now everyday news. And it could happen to anyone.

There is no longer a “typical heroin user.” With heroin’s availability higher than ever, users come from every race, ethnicity, age, tax bracket, etc. The following infographic is meant to start a conversation and inform you of the rising heroin problem and the steps to take if you know or suspect a loved one is using heroin.

(click to enlarge graphic)

Heroin Use Skyrockets Infographic

Heroin use Twittericon Click to Tweet Infographic

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The History of Heroin Addiction

Heroin was first synthesized in Germany in 1874, and introduced as a “safe, non-addictive” substitute for morphine. First produced commercially in 1898, heroin was considered a wonder drug and became widely available for over-the-counter use.

It wasn’t until 1920 that congress realized the dangers of heroin and enacted the Dangerous Drug Act, making heroin illegal. It was too late for many. By 1925, there were an estimated 200,000 heroin addicts in the country.

Heroin Use Skyrockets

The heroin addiction rate fluctuated over the ensuing decades, but the rate of abuse often remained low and localized. In the 1970s and 80s, heroin use rose again, though it was largely confined to urban populations. Then the emergence of AIDS made heroin users switch to a different drug of choice (one without the use of needles): cocaine.

Around 1999, heroin abuse climbed yet again and deaths from heroin overdoses increased over 562% between 1999 and 2015. In 2015 alone, 12990 individuals died from heroin overdose.

Today, heroin use is at its highest level in 20 years. Many feel the re-emergence of heroin started with doctors prescribing less opiate painkillers. For recovering heroin addict James Fata, heroin was a solution after his doctors cut back on his pain pills.

“The pills were hard to get. They got to be very expensive. Heroin is cheap. Almost everyone that I was close to, anybody that was doing pills with me, typically they would at least get to the point where pills were not an option. You were either snorting heroin or shooting heroin.”

James is part of a younger group of heroin users. Use has more than doubled among young adults aged 18-25. Though there are trends, identifying a typical heroin user is almost impossible.

Nearly half a million Americans are addicted to heroin. More Americans now die from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes or gun related homicides.

Effects of Heroin

The first use of heroin releases an overwhelming amount of the feel good chemical dopamine. This can start a compulsive cycle and lead to addiction. The first use may cause sickness, but after a short period of time, the user will crave more and quickly develop tolerance.

Heroin acts as a central nervous system depressant, which produces sedation. Heroin is fatal.

Heroin also causes:

  • Permanent chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Deterioration in cognitive skills such as decision making and memory
  • Chronic heart and lung problems
  • Frequent illness and infection
  • Exposure to blood borne diseases
  • Infections or abscesses

In recent years, numerous cases of parents overdosing in their vehicles while their children are present made headlines.

There is an increase of needles left in parks and other public areas. This causes unsuspecting individuals to accidentally stick themselves with dirty needles, a problem over 850,000 people experience every year.

Signs of Heroin Use

Heroin users often have distinguishing traits or possess specific items related to heroin abuse. Many heroin users will have on them:

  • Burnt spoons
  • Tiny baggies
  • Small glass pipes
  • Syringes
  • Rubber  tubing

Heroin users often display common physical traits such as:

  • Tiny pupils
  • Sleepy eyes
  • Tendency to nod off
  • Slow breathing
  • Flushed skin
  • Runny nose

They may also act in certain ways such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Scratching
  • Slurred speech
  • Complaints of constipation
  • Complaints of nausea
  • Neglect of grooming
  • Failure to eat
  • Covering arms with long sleeves

5 Tips for Helping a Heroin User

Helping a heroin addict isn’t easy, but there are ways to show heroin addicts that their behavior is destructive.

1. No “negative enabling”

Don’t give a heroin addict money or resources that allows them to feed their addiction.

2. Make other family members and friends aware of the situation

Inform all loved ones that they can offer help. Encourage them not to negatively enable, but rather use their time to search for treatment methods and ways to support the loved one to overcome the addiction.

3. Offer an opiate addict the opportunity to change

Let your loved one know you care about them, but that you cannot continue to contribute to their addiction. Let them know your desire for a change, and that you’ll help them find treatment.

4. Understand the risks of incarceration, overdose, and death

Many addicts will go to great lengths to get another dose, often putting themselves at risk of incarceration, overdose, and possibly death. Family and friends need to be aware of the four stages of addiction:

  • 1st stage: Experimentation
  • 2nd stage: Social and/or regular use
  • 3rd stage: Problematic use
  • 4th stage: Addiction/chemical dependency

5. Seek outside support

Family and friends should seek outside, professional support from qualified individuals such as therapists, or support groups like Al-Anon.

The average life span of a heroin addict is considerably less than that of a healthy person.

There is help for Heroin Addiction

If you are worried that a loved one has a heroin addiction, there is help. Contacting a professional who specializes in treating drug addiction can help. American Addiction Centers will answer questions you may have. Heroin.net provides a wealth of information to help understand possible rehab programs and the heroin withdrawal and detox process.

Heroin is a dangerous drug, but with the resources provided, you can find light in seemingly deafening darkness. If you know someone in the state of Wisconsin who is struggle with heroin use, consider Rawhide’s Outpatient Counseling or some other form of treatment. Please find some kind of treatment for your loved one before it’s too late.

Rawhide alumnus records tribute song, I’m a Rawhide Guy

Download “I’m a Rawhide Guy”

Download “I’m a Rawhide Guy” lyrics

David Claus spent two years growing up at Rawhide Boys Ranch in the mid 1970’s and has never forgotten the impact the program and experiences had on the future direction of his life. To acknowledge the program and people he credits for his full and productive life, including a cherished wife of 31 years and their two children, he put his heart and soul on paper, writing and recording a song he’s proudly entitled “I’m a Rawhide Guy”.

The band’s all here

David dedicates this song to Rawhide Founders John and Jan Gillespie, Bart and Cherry Starr and his horse at Rawhide, “Smokey”. David reached out to noted local artists and recorded the song at Rock Garden Studio in Appleton, all of whom donated their talent and services. He lined up:

“I had already lined up one of the best studios and producers in the Midwest, Rock Garden Studio in Appleton, and now to hear the song is beyond my wildest dreams,” stated Claus.

I’m a Rawhide Guy music video

In true Rawhide fashion, members of the ranch went to the recording of “I’m a Rawhide Guy,” creating a music video for David. We encourage you to like the video and share it with your friends. Dave has put a lot of time into this song, as has the team at Rawhide.

We would love to see this go viral!

Stream or download I’m a Rawhide Guy

Rawhide and David Claus have made this newly recorded song available for local radio stations to play.  You can stream and download the song below. Please share it with friends as well!

Contact Dave for an interview

David Claus and Rawhide Founder John Gillespie will be available for phone interviews to share details of David’s s song and his childhood as a boy at Rawhide. David Claus can be reached at (920) 922-2473 between the hours of 10 AM and 12 PM. John Gillespie, Rawhide Founder and the man who raised David while at Rawhide, can be reached at 920-427-9000. Rawhide Executive Director John Solberg can also be reached at 920-470-4250.

11 safe driving tips that help prevent accidents

Cars are really smart these days. They tell you when you change lanes, self-park, and some even automatically brake if the road is obstructed. But even with recent safety advancements, driving is still dangerous. Read on to discover what to do in driving emergencies and general sound driving practices. These safe driving tips can keep you and your car out of harm’s way.

1. Accelerate slowly if your tire explodes

When you feel a tire give out, your first reaction is to slam on the brakes. Not only is this a terrible idea if there is traffic behind you, but it could also cause your car to fishtail and lose control. According to Popular Mechanics, accelerate moderately to bring your car under control and then coast to slow down, coming to a stop off the side of the road with your hazard lights on.

2. Test your emergency brake regularly

The emergency brake seems like an unnecessary feature with most automatic transmission equipped cars. But what happens when you’re barreling down the highway and your brakes go spongy? You’re going to want that emergency brake. Your emergency brake works separate from your hydraulic brake system, using steel cables to pull the brake pads tight. Those cables can rust and deteriorate if not used occasionally. So the next time you park, pull on that unnecessary lever between the front seats.

3. What to do if your brakes fail

It’s one of those safe driving tips you hope you never need. And in reality, brakes rarely completely fail. It may feel like they’re gone, but if you really push hard on the brake pedal you should have something left. You can also slightly apply your emergency (or parking) brake. If a true emergency, downshift in a manual and, if an option, do the same on an automatic. You will remain safely in control of your car while slowing down. Slowly migrate to the side of the road with your hazard lights on.

4. Properly adjust side (wing) mirrors

We have all come to accept that there are certain blind spots on every car. Side mirrors just cannot capture everything. But what if I told you, they’re just adjusted inappropriately? To gain a better view, turn those mirrors so your own car is just out of view. Voila! No more cranking your neck before every lane change. And more importantly no blind spots!

Wing mirrors: Safe Driving Tips

5. Keep your headlights on at all times

Many newer cars have daytime running lights. This feature drastically improves your car’s visibility to other drivers and pedestrians. If you do not have running lights and the weather turns cloudy, rainy, or foggy pop on those headlights.

6. No tailgating

Remember that pesky 2 second rule your driving instructor kept reminding you about? Turns out he/she might have actually known a thing or two. Nearly 33% of all crashes are at least partially caused by tailgating and following too closely is illegal in most states. So keep some distance in front of you.

You’re not auditioning for The Fast and the Furious 17 (seriously, they’re still making these?).

7. Check your oil every two weeks (or sooner)

Back when gas station attendants filled the gas tank for you, they also checked your oil. This was not just done as a way to get extra tips. Driving with a low oil level or dirty, cloudy oil is extremely dangerous. Check your oil monthly, at the very least. Wipe your dipstick on a white cloth/rag/paper towel. Note any color other than amber or light brown. This is the most basic preventative maintenance everyone should practice.

oil maintenance: Safe Driving Tips

8. Assemble a proper emergency kit

Even on short trips around town, an emergency kit can come in handy. Some basic items could save your life, or at the very least some precious time, especially if you live in a harsh climate.
What to pack:

Foam tire sealant | Flashlight | Jumper cables

Blanket | Kitty litter (for getting unstuck in snow/ice)

Industrial strength tape | First-aid kit | Basic tool kit

Reflective traffic triangles (place behind and in front of your vehicle if stopped)

9. Never drive drowsy

Driving might seem like an easy thing to do, but it becomes a bit trickier when you fall asleep. Drowsy drivers are responsible for over 72,000 car crashes and 800 deaths every year. If you find yourself blinking or yawning excessively, or if you cannot remember the last few miles, pull over immediately.

10. Don’t text and drive

We’ve all seen the commercials and ads about tragic outcomes from teens texting while driving. And they’re not just to scare you: texting and driving is a borderline epidemicOver 40% of teens admit they text while driving. Just put that phone down when driving; it could save your life considering 1 in 4 accidents are caused by texting behind the wheel.

11. Most important safe driving tips: Give yourself ample time

This is one of the most overlooked safe driving tips. We all know that driver, weaving in and out of lanes, slamming on the brakes, riding two feet behind your bumper. That’s just an accident waiting to happen. Relax and let them zoom ahead.
And if you find yourself wanting to save five minutes off your commute by recreating a scene from Smokey and the Bandit, just know it probably won’t end well.

Love Cars? Want to help America’s at-risk youth?

Sign up for our newsletter below to join the Rawhide family. We always have fresh content, like Safe Driving Tips, and updates about life on the ranch. Whether you like classic cars, information on social issues, or are interested in supporting at-risk youth, we have something for you.

Happy Birthday Bart Starr!

When you think of Bart Starr, “America’s Quarterback” or “Super Bowl MVP” likely comes to mind. And on January 9th, you can add birthday boy to the list! That’s right. Bart Starr is turning 83, and to celebrate we’d like to give him a special surprise. But we need your help! So can you help us out and either…

  1. Record a video wishing Bart a happy birthday and post it on our Facebook Page
  2. Leave a comment below wishing Bart a very happy birthday

Together, we can make this an extra special birthday for one of the greatest Quarterbacks in Green Bay Packers history!

What Bart Means to All of Us

For some, Bart Starr personifies football in its grittiest years, captaining the Green Bay Packers to two Super Bowl victories and five NFL Championships. For others, he represents a kind soul that would do anything for anyone. Bart Starr is a one-of-a-kind person who has impacted the world in so many amazing ways and for that, Rawhide Boys Ranch and thousands of impacted lives are forever grateful.

What Bart Means to Rawhide

Without Bart Starr, there would not be a Rawhide Boys Ranch, at least not the one that stands today. During Rawhide’s formative years, John and Jan Gillespie recognized a glaring issue: Rawhide needed funding and an iconic face to help raise awareness.  John, on Jan’s insistence, took a chance and called Bart Starr. This wasn’t before Bart became famous either. This was right after Bart’s third NFL Championship. Imagine calling Aaron Rodgers right after Super Bowl XLV and asking for his support!

To John’s delight, and astonishment, Bart invited him to dinner. The Gillespie’s laid out their detailed plan to help at-risk youth and Bart and Cherry Starr agreed to support Rawhide on the spot. And not just for one year, but for 50+ years. In that time, he’s supported numerous fundraising efforts and donated his Super Bowl II MVP prize: a Chevy Corvette.

Happy Birthday Bart Starr!

Bart has helped Rawhide help thousands of at-risk youth over the last 50+ years, and for that, we are incredibly grateful. Please wish Bart a happy birthday and thank him for everything he’s done.

We’d love if you recorded yourself saying (or even singing) happy birthday to Mr. Starr. For the camera shy, comment below with a personalized birthday message. Let’s make Bart Starr’s 83rd birthday his best one yet! Happy birthday Bart Starr!