About the Ministry
"More than a school, we're a family"
Wears Valley Ranch was incorporated in 1991 to provide a Christ-centered home and school for children who come from difficult home situations. In June 1991, we received the deed to just over 100 acres of land in a magnificent setting adjoining the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In September 1992, we opened our first home for eight boys, Christopher House. In August 1994, we opened a home for eight girls, Laurel Ridge. In October of 2000 we opened our second boy's home, Oak Rise. Our fourth children's home, Pleasant Hill, was dedicated during our ten-year anniversary celebration on October 19, 2002. Future plans include two more homes and additional school and recreation facilities. Currently, we have developed an on-campus school and a counseling center with two counselors. By providing therapeutic counseling and taking an individualized approach to education, we have seen remarkable progress in our children. Typically we have a waiting list of boys and girls. The Tennessee Department of Children's Services licenses our homes and our school is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International.
As well as being a home and school year-round, the Ranch also has camp facilities and a dynamic summer camp program, Camp Arrowwood, which is open to children everywhere. During the rest of the year the cabin facilities are used for special group retreats.
Each year groups of volunteers come to the Ranch for short-term missions projects. Generally, their efforts are focused on property improvements. An even more vital need for volunteers is through our Volunteer Family Program, which provides a home away from the Ranch for children who are not able to stay with their families during holidays and on occasional weekends. We are also always looking for college-age interns to assist in our school and in group homes. We hope that you will continue to pray for us as we engage daily in spiritual warfare to reclaim the lives of children who have suffered unimaginable abuse and tragedy. Without a doubt, our greatest need has always been and will remain the faithful prayers of God's people.
Purpose and children served:
Wears Valley Ranch exists to provide Christian homes and Christian education for children from difficult situations. The phrase typically used to describe our students is "deserving young people with a problem in the home not of their own making." The circumstances, which this phrase describes, are various. The situation may involve a single parent who is conscientiously concerned about his or her inability to provide adequate supervision for the child due to work schedules. It may involve a grandparent's concern for a child whose parent is in trouble with drugs (most often alcohol), or it may involve a case of neglect or physical or sexual abuse. Although we accept children from across the United States, the need in east Tennessee is staggering. Every year thousands of children enter the foster care system in our region. In Knox County alone, there are dozens of medically confirmed cases of sexual abuse annually. These cases are only the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds more go unreported. The state will not remove a child from the home except for the most dire circumstances. By that time, the child has endured unspeakable trauma. Wears Valley Ranch provides an early intervention alternative with voluntary placement and help for the child and other family members.
Obviously, we are not the best place for every child who cannot live at home. The children we admit understand that we are not a reform school and we are not equipped to handle intensive psychological therapy. We admit students who understand that their cooperation is essential in the kind of help we have to offer. They are here as participants in a community, not as prisoners and not as patients. We seek to refer children who need reform or more intensive therapy to other ministries whose mission is focused in the area of that child's particular needs.
Each child receives the opportunity to function as part of a family on campus in one of our homes. Each home is staffed with a happily married Christian couple that serves as houseparents providing nurture and discipline as well as custodial care in an atmosphere of unconditional love and aggressive affirmation and encouragement. Each student also receives individualized education through the ministry of St. Andrew's School and participates in both recreation and work activities designed to cultivate positive attitudes, good self-esteem, and useful work skills. Children receive spiritual nurture and have opportunity for individual and family counseling.
Each school day begins with an hour of Bible study and each child's curriculum plan emphasizes Bible memorization. Many of our students have advanced several grade levels in a single school year. Our goal is for each child to hear the gospel in a setting that makes the story of God's love believable. It has been our joy to see many of our students come to personal faith in Jesus.
Parents are asked to commit to a one-year plan of care for their child at the time of admission. The average length of stay is eighteen months, although some children have stayed as long as forty-three months. The average age at the time of admission is eleven for both boys and girls.
We are primarily funded by donations from churches and individuals. We do not receive any tax dollars, and do not incur debt. Although we offer more comprehensive services and are more therapeutic in orientation than many similar programs, our cost per child is less than the regional and national averages. This is possible because of a highly committed staff who carry on this ministry as unto the Lord.
Most of the children referred to the Ranch have little or nothing in the way of financial resources. While we do seek to involve the parents in their monthly support and allow the children to contribute to their care through chores, the vast majority of our expenses are born through the generous and even sacrificial gifts of individual donors.
How can YOU get involved?
*Anyone local interested in volunteering to help us with the general weekly or monthly upkeep of our grounds please call 429-5437 and ask for Pat Brown! Tasks would include mowing, pruning, gardening etc.
Wears Valley Ranch is located on 100 acres bordering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just over the ridge from Metcalf Bottoms picnic area, seven miles from Townsend, eight and one half miles from Pigeon Forge, just off Highway 321. We are twelve miles from Gatlinburg through the park.
Wears Valley Ranch and St. Andrew's School
3601 Lyon Springs Rd.
Sevierville, TN 37862
Phone: 865-429-KIDS (5437)