Many of the ranch's teen and preteen residents came from broken families where they had to take care of their parents or younger siblings, and generally came to view adults as useless sacks of meat that just got in the way and occasionally yelled for their cigarettes. For those kids, just being on the ranch was already a huge help.
"Some of the boys had to learn to let the adults worry about provision," Nathan said. "They came to the ranch and the adults had food plans, and the adults cooked dinner and made sure there was breakfast food. After a while they learned to relax and only worry about the things in their life."
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty
"Ohhhh, so that's why you use milk ..."
"Other kids came from homes that were very strict about what they could and couldn't do. For them, getting to play outside and climb trees and go swimming or fishing helped a lot. It helped them loosen up and enjoy the simpler things in life. Similarly, some of the boys were from the inner-city and had never really had a chance to experience the outdoors. Some of the most fun canoe trips I've had were with boys who had never been on a river. These teens acted like a bunch of 10-year-olds. They were giddy with excitement and horrible with canoes. They spent more time flipped over than in the boat, but they had a blast."
It's like the old saying goes: Nobody can look thug on a canoe, so why try?
"There was a pair of brothers that hated each other," Nathan said. "Whenever anything bad happened in the family, their mom would pin it on the younger brother, 'Achilles,' so the older brother, 'Diogenes,' associated him with all the bad things in life. They had to be put in different houses after a while because Diogenes was so caustic. Well, over the course of several months apart working on their own issues separately, things started to be less icy between them. One day, Achilles and I had hiked down the hill to get some things from storage, and on our way back up, Diogenes threw his brother a football. The two played catch and shared some small talk for a couple minutes, and then Diogenes gave Achilles a hug and said, 'I love you, bro.'"
"I tell you, I almost cried. To see these two overcome the hate that had been ground into them was amazing. It still warms my heart to think of it."
If you'll excuse us, there's something in our eyes.
Told you you'd want these.
Oh, it's tears. Big, wet, sloppy tears.
That makes sense.
Nathan wants to tell you this: "Please, if you can, spend some time with the kids in your life. Most of the kids I worked with just needed adults in their life who weren't awful. Get to know the kids around you, and try to make a difference in some small way. Something as small as a smile and a compliment can make a WORLD of difference to a hurting child. And, as always, if you see something wrong, say something. They're kids, not boxing bags, and pretending 'that's just life' only hurts them all the more."
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com.
Psst ... want to give us feedback on the super-secret beta launch of the upcoming Cracked spinoff site, Braindrop? Well, simply follow us behind this curtain. Or, you know, click here: Braindrop.
For more insider perspectives, check out 6 Shocking Realities Of The Secret 'Troubled Teen Industry' and 5 Shocking Realities Of Working With Disturbed Children.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out The 4 Worst Lessons Disney Movies Taught Us As Kids, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also, follow us on Facebook. Or, you know, don't. We aren't in charge of you.
Did you know cats modeled their "meow" after the cries of human babies, just because they knew us humans care about that noise? Did you know dogs can read your mind (emotionally), and live in constant suspicion that you know where the good food is (you totally do)? In the next LIVE episode of the Cracked Podcast, host Jack O'Brien leads Cracked's team of pet-loving/fearing comedians through all the ways our dogs and cats are more powerful, creepy, and awesome than we ever could have imagined. Jack will be joined by Carmen Angelica, Dan O'Brien, Alex Schmidt, and Jake Weisman at the UCB Sunset Theatre on Wednesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. Purchase your tickets here!
Have a story to share with Cracked? Email us here.