Since 1965, Rawhide Boys Ranch has been helping at-risk youth and families turn their lives around. Rawhide’s helps at risk youth change by offering, support, and opportunities they need to create a better life. We have therapeutic programs for every level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, starting with most basic needs first and working up the pyramid:

  1. Basic Physiological Needs – Food, water, shelter, bodily comforts, etc.
  2. Safety & Security – Physically & emotionally safe environment, out of danger
  3. Love & Belonging – Family, sense of belonging, friendship, be accepted
  4. Self-Esteem – Sense of accomplishment, respect for self and others, confidence
  5. Self-Actualization – Purpose, realize one’s potential, morality, problem-solving ability

Our houseparents and youth care workers help in more ways than we could count. Yet here are 25 ways we do count that Rawhide helps at risk youth change course.


1. Provides a Solid Home That Meets Physical Needs

Youth in Rawhide’s Residential Treatment Program live in sturdy, well-built homes on the ranch grounds. They receive home cooked meals, ample water, seasonal clothing, and comfortable beds. Bedrooms are single or double occupancy depending on individual circumstances. Each student has his own bed and dresser, and each room has its own bathroom. Homes are furnished with:

  1. Large dining room table for family meals
  2. Fireplace
  3. Patio
  4. Family room
  5. Laundry room
  6. Large kitchen


2. Provides a Stable and Secure Home Life With Parent Figures

Rawhide’s Residential Care offers a family living model and philosophy. This is called “The Rawhide Difference.” The family structure is complete with a housefather and housemother and focuses on two goals:

  • To ensure it does not feel like clinical therapy
  • To provide a crucial element that may have been missing in their lives to this point

3. Ensures a Safe Place To Heal Emotional Wounds

Many guys come from environments where they’ve been stuck in survival mode. Through residential therapy and a judgment-free setting, Rawhide offers a safe, loving environment for guys to heal. Guys can let their guard down and learn more about themselves and why they behave a certain way. As former Rawhide guy and current Rawhide Board Director member Steve Bender said: “When you come into Rawhide, you’re given love unconditionally and you start to heal.” View his statement on video below. This aspect of Rawhide also meets needs of the next level: LOVE & BELONGING.


4. Creates a Healthy Family Environment

The family living philosophy at Rawhide includes family dinners. A 2012 Cornell University study found that regular family meals can create feelings of closeness and comfort towards parent figures. Many guys have left Rawhide’s residential care full of memories from new experiences and family-like bonds that last a life time.

5. Gives Guys the Chance to be a Kid

Many Rawhide guys never had the chance to be a kid. Rawhide has many fun activities and events that allow them that opportunity! During Winter adventure camp, Rawhide guys experience activities they’ve never tried before while summer adventure camp does the same, only without the snow. Starr Academy offers numerous fun electives in which they can also partake during the year.

6. Presents Positive Role Models

Many guys landed at Rawhide because they followed the wrong crowd just for a sense of belonging. They’ve emulated unhealthy behaviors and got in trouble. Rawhide youth care workers and houseparents work closely with the guys to create trusting relationships and provide positive role models that inspire better choices after they leave the ranch.

7. Provides Ongoing Support

Rawhide’s motto is: “Once a Rawhide Guy, always a Rawhide Guy.” If a guy is placed at Rawhide, Rawhide provides ongoing support after they leave and offers numerous resources for help along the way. Rawhide wants guys to know they will always be loved.


8. Nurtures Creativity

Rawhide offers a variety of ways for guys to discover their creative talents. The Art class creates a safe, judgment-free environment in which guys can heal through art while exploring their creative side. Woodworking class also incorporates hands-on learning where guys create items that amaze themselves and others like the diamond-shaped table in Rawhide’s Bart Starr Museum.

Diamond Table Crafted for Bart Starr Helps At Risk Youth Change

9. Improves Social Skills

Rawhide teaches guys to make eye contact, create better body language, listen, and respond. Guys may come to Rawhide lacking social skills, but they leave with the tools to better communicate with others. Stronger social skills improve their chances for building healthier relationships and connections.

10. Teaches How to Improve Concentration

We all know someone like the dog in the video above. It’s safe to say that a teenager’s attention can wander. They need to improve concentration skills if they move on to higher education and for their future workplaces. So Rawhide teaches guys to focus by:

  1. Prioritizing tasks
  2. Limiting distractions
  3. Breaking tasks down into small chunks
  4. Moving to a quiet location
  5. Teaching relaxation techniques such as deep breathing

11. Instructs on Anger Management

Rawhide offers a variety of methods to teach guys how to handle their anger. Equine assisted therapy pairs a guy with a horse with a certain temperament best suited for his issues. Guys experience other types of therapy as well that teach them how to calm down and understand their triggers.

12. Provides Trauma-Focused Therapy

Trauma-Focused Therapy is a treatment model that uses trauma-sensitive interventions. Rawhide guys learn new skills to process thoughts and feelings relating to traumatic life events and manage distressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

13. Trains Guys to Take Responsibility for Their Actions

Many guys come to Rawhide with problems taking responsibility for their actions and accepting the consequences. Rawhide teaches that it is okay to accept responsibility for mistakes and encourages guys to be honest about their mistakes.

14. Introduces Guys to Healthier Activity Choices

Poor choices lead many of our students to Rawhide. Therefore, we teach them that they have many more options in filling their spare time. Rawhide exposes the guys to athletic activities, possible hobbies like beekeeping, motor sports, events, art, and more. The better they feel about their choices, the better they feel about themselves.

athletic programs Helps At Risk Youth Change

15. Delivers Quality Education

Most students who come to Rawhide are below their age’s reading level and have not developed consistent study habits. Without these basic skills, they are simply not motivated in school. Many students make dramatic improvements in academics while at Rawhide. The teaching staff at the Academy work hard to help them catch up on their credits before leaving the ranch.

16. Teaches Self-Control that Helps At Risk Youth Change

“For God gave us a spirit not to fear but of power and love and self-control.”- 2 Timothy 1:7

Rawhide gives guys the tools to change their behavior or undesirable habits. It could be avoiding strong temptations that pull them back into old ways of living or breaking a bad habit. Their self-esteem grows with each successful change—no matter how minute.

17. Instills Respect for Authority, Self, and Others

Many of our guys struggle with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). ODD may have caused issues for our guys in the past, but Rawhide has an environment that generates respect for authority. Rawhide team members lead by example to show guys what respect looks like and how to treat others.

18. Offers Healthy Outlets for Burning Off Energy

Rawhide offers guys athletic activities such as zip lining, rock wall climbing, disc golf, track and field and basketball to expend excess energy. Athletics can also balance mood and behavior, build self-discipline, and improve self-esteem.

Helps At Risk Youth Change disc golfer

19. Shows How to Give to Others

Throughout the year, Rawhide guys work on community service projects such as storm damage repair, event set up, or delivering firewood to less fortunate members in the community. The guys learn compassion for others and experience positive feelings that accompany helping others.

20. Lessens Odds of Long-Term Mental Health Issues

Many American teens struggle with depression and other mental health issues. Rawhide helps guys battling mental health issues by providing the proper help to increase the likelihood of future success.

21. Teaches How to Handle Negative Situations

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”- The Serenity Prayer

Rawhide guys learn to recognize when they might be in a negative situation or environment and how to remove themselves from it when necessary. Rawhide empowers guys to trust their judgment and teaches them how and when to leave a situation if they realize it’s not good for them or if there is nothing they can do to turn it around.


22. Inspires Faith

Rawhide is a faith-based non-profit with a mission of:

“Being dependent on God, we inspire and equip at-risk youth and families to lead healthy and responsible lives through family-centered care, treatment, and education.”

Guest speakers and Rawhide alumni share many inspiring, faith-based stories with the guys. The faith-based mission is what drew youth care worker Fred Flagg to Rawhide. He believes “without God, there is no hope” and follows that model.

23. Develops Leadership Skills

Rawhide guys learn leadership in various ways at Rawhide, whether it’s in team sports, class projects, or community service. Every chance to learn how to successfully lead others prepares them for the future and gives them insight into their own abilities.

24. Teaches Job Skills

Rawhide offers guys work experience to build skills and help them discover passions. They can opt to make delicious desserts in the Frontier Café, learn office or basic car maintenance skills, develop new skills through community service, and so much more. Guys leave Rawhide with a resume full of enough skills and training to boost their marketability for jobs.

25. Encourages Goal Setting

Rawhide encourages guys to set goals. Attaining goals instills hope in Rawhide guys—a hope that they can achieve something worthwhile. Some aspire to attend college and become authors or pastors. Others aspire to get a steady job and have a family. No matter what their hopes might be, it is crucial that they learn how to set goals and create a plan to reach those goals. Hope motivates, and Rawhide certainly wants these guys to stay motivated and have hope.

These are just some of the many ways that Rawhide helps at-risk youth change their lives. If you would like to support at-risk youth, you may do so by making a donation below. Thank you and have a blessed day.