Capturing Hearts (and Flags)
Stepping onto Rawhide Ranch is like taking a step back in time, to a place in your childhood you wish you still had unlimited access to. Bonsall, California is home to a very special piece of land that thousands of children consider to be home away from home every year. Equipped with everything from covered wagons and tipis, to western arenas and baby goats, chickens, and sheep, to archery ranges and rock walls, this place is rich ground to grow the imagination! We took this opportunity to host our 5th Valor Adventures here, creating a wonderful blend of western history and competition. This combination resulted in the ULTIMATE game of Capture the Flag.
In addition to capturing each other’s flags, our Gold Star mentees and their veteran mentors were also tasked with navigating throughout the western town in search for 100 bags of gold coins, 10 gold bricks, and 7 golden feathers…all before the other team reached it, outwitting the town Sheriffs as they went along.
Watching 62 Veterans and Gold Star children strategize, use teamwork (and frankly a bit of creativity) to get into each other’s camps was one of the most entertaining things we’ve seen to date. There was running, sprinting, barrel rolling, and contorting to escape flags being pulled. We have to commend our veterans for their extreme performance. They gave it their all. When we say ‘their all’ we mean THEIR ALL. These men, regardless of age or usual level of activity, spent 2 hours in a straight sprint. They pushed past their own limitations, and helped their mentees pass through theirs. There was strategizing, lesson teaching, pep talks, leadership, and lots of motivating.
One of our favorite things about these adventures is they always tend to feel like a massive family reunion. It’s a chance to slow down time and just ‘be’. The moms get a little bit of time together to relax (and in this case, enjoy a rootbeer float bar in the saloon!), the kids get to see their mentors, their mentors get to see their kids, and they ALL get to see each other. Everyone put in a hard day’s work and learned the value of teamwork, accomplishing MUCH more together than they ever would apart. At the end of the day, everyone was richly rewarded by Rawhide Ranch’s delectable BBQ dinner spread, complete with bacon wrapped hot dogs and slow roasted ribs. There’s almost nothing better than sitting down to a family style dinner with the people you love, have gone to war with, have bonded with, and who provide such great comfort. As the sun set on a perfect day, for a moment, everything was perfect ‘back at the ranch’.
We are already counting down the days until our next adventure, and we’re so ready to make some more memories.