What are the needs?
Generally, our needs fall into the following categories:
Because our needs are continually changing we keep a separate list of specific projects. Please call to ask about specific project needs.
How are projects supervised?
When possible, we try to pair some of the Ranch staff with our volunteers. This often provides a great time for us to get to know each other better while working alongside one another. However, we will rarely be able to provide enough staff to supervise a large group of youth. For middle and high school groups, we ask that you maintain at least a 1:4 ratio of adults to youth. This ratio helps ensure that you have enough leadership, even if someone is injured or must leave for some other reason.
What do I need to bring?
No matter what the project, we need you to bring or sign a volunteer release form. Volunteers under age 18 must fill out a volunteer release form for minors and the form must be signed by a parent or adult guardian.
For landscaping, construction, or other work projects, each person should bring a pair of work gloves and appropriate clothing. We can usually provide some tools for landscaping and cleaning projects. For specific projects, we can put together a list of necessary items and work with you to see that all of them are available.
One of our guiding principles is to build without borrowing. Thus, we can only take on a project when God provides the funding. For some projects, we have the funds and only need labor; for other projects, we need both funding and labor. We also have ongoing needs, such as landscaping and cleaning that are virtually all labor and little cost.
When funds are needed for a project, we often encourage the group who is doing the project to also raise the funds. Our experience has been that when a group is spending money that they helped raise, they are often more careful to do a good job. However, do not let funding get in the way of planning a project—if you would like to help, we can use you!
When can we bring a group?
We welcome groups any time, but we ask that you contact us at least a couple of weeks in advance so that we can be prepared to work with you. Our school and summer camp schedules will affect the timing of some projects and the availability of some facilities at the Ranch. Please call before planning your trip.
What age group should volunteer?
We welcome groups of all ages – from youth to adults. We have also had a number of families volunteer along with small children. Even children who are too small to be very helpful will benefit from seeing mom and dad serving the Lord.
How large a group should I bring?
Generally, we can manage groups of up to 25. With some advance notice, though, we can partner with other area ministries to accommodate larger groups. If you would like to bring a group of over 15 people, please call well in advance so that we can utilize your group to the fullest.
What activities can we do other than work?
In addition to work, your group can enjoy a number of recreational activities while you are with us. On campus we have tennis and basketball courts, a soccer field, volleyball court, a swimming pool, and hiking trails. If you would like to use on-campus facilities, please let us know in advance so that we can be sure they are available.
For recreation nearby, the Smoky Mountain National Park offers hiking as well as swimming and tubing in the Little Pigeon River. During the winter months, you may also enjoy snow skiing in Gatlinburg.
For spiritual enrichment, you are always welcome to join us for our morning devotions. Pastor Wood usually leads the study in the mornings on Tuesday through Friday. We would love to share this time of expository study and practical life applications with you.
How can we get to know and minister to Ranch students?
One of the best ways to get to know our students is to share a meal with them. You might plan a cookout at our picnic pavilion or join us for lunch in the Dining Hall. You might also join the students for their regular recreation period on weekday afternoons.
A third option is to plan a day of recreation or shopping for your group and invite our students and staff to join you.
Where can we stay?
We can usually accommodate volunteer groups in our camp cabin. The cabin consists of four units with 14 bunks in each unit (accommodating 56 people total). Each unit has its own restrooms and is climate controlled. If you are staying in the cabins, plan to bring your own sheets and towels.
Outdoor camping is another option for overnight accommodations. Plan to bring a tent, sleeping bags, and other gear—we’ll provide you with a relatively flat piece of ground and running water.
For larger groups, hotel accommodations may be the only viable option.
Near the Ranch, the Little Greenbrier Lodge is a great option. In Pigeon Forge, for groups we recommend the Mountain Trace Inn; for families in Pigeon Forge, we recommend Mainstay Suites. In Townsend, we suggest the Best Western or the Comfort Inn. Note that these are only suggestions; we do not have prearranged packages. The following are contact numbers for these hotels:
Little Greenbrier Lodge 865-548-5733 or 865-429-2500
Mountain Trace Inn 865-453-6785
Mainstay Suites 865-428-8350
Best Western, Townsend 865-448-2238
Comfort Inn, Townsend 865-448-9000
Where can we eat?
We encourage volunteer groups to plan and prepare their own meals whenever possible. You are always welcome to use our picnic pavilion and outdoor grill for this purpose. The pavilion seats up to 36 people comfortably and has running water available.
You may also be allowed to use our Dining Hall and kitchen to prepare your own meals. Please let us know in advance if you would like to prepare meals there so that we can coordinate the schedules with our school and staff.
If you are still reading, you must be ready to roll up your sleeves and pitch in! To schedule your project, call us at 865-429-KIDS or email our Volunteer Coordinator, Seth Houser at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you contact us, be ready to provide the following information:
Dates when you would like to come
Group size and average age
General type of project(s) you are interested in doing
Recreation options that appeal to you
General idea of meal preparation and accommodations you may need
Another vital need is for volunteers in 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. For information regarding this type of volunteerism please contact our main office (865) 429-KIDS.
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. Once again we thank you for your desire to serve the Lord with us, and we look forward to working with you. May He richly bless you as you follow Him!