BATESVILLE — Sheriffs across the state hope to make the Indiana Sheriffs' Youth Ranch a reality.
“We’re at the beginning stages” of the project, reported Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth.
It will be at 5325 N. Indiana 59, Brazil. The 62 acres, which were purchased with private funds in spring 2016, include three lakes.
Cumberworth said camp amenities will consist of a zip line, baseball/softball field, fire pit, obstacle course, horseshoe pits, youth cabins, swimming pool, beach volleyball, basketball courts, horse stables, picnic area, information center with restrooms and first aid, youth multipurpose center, amphitheater, training center for sheriffs’ departments, Sheriffs’ Office Memorial, fishing dock, lodge and conference center, canoes/ kayaks and a K-9 training center for law enforcement.
The purpose of the camp is to enhance social skills in youth, provide summer learning, build self-confidence, encourage respect and promote physical activity, he announced.
“The state sheriffs’ association has provided two summer camps in the past, one in the north and one in the south. We want to combine it into one big camp,” which will provide a year-round facility for field trips and overnight and weeklong visits for youth from all 92 Indiana counties.
The first annual Founders’ Day and the grand opening of the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch Resource Center is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 23 at 5401 S. East St., Ste. 117, Indianapolis. The guest speaker will be Indianapolis Colts placekicker Adam Vinatieri. There will be a complimentary lunch and free parking and coat check.
It will be hosted by the Youth Ranch Board of Directors: president John Layton, Marion County sheriff; Secretary Reggie Nevels, Grant County sheriff; Treasurer Steve Rogers, Howard County sheriff; and trustees Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen, Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden, LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd, Putnam County Sheriff Scott Stockton; and Cumberworth.
Participants will learn about fundraising efforts and how the ranch will impact future generations.
Persons interested in attending may make a reservation by emailing to SKeating@IndianaSheriffs.org by Feb. 16.
Naming rights for various ranch entities are available, according to an Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch brochure.
Youth cabins (10 are needed) will house 10 campers and two adult counselors. Amish instate construction will offer treated wooden exteriors and metal roofs. Inside furnishings will include quality Indiana-built dorm-style bunk beds. Slab foundations, insulation and hotel-style HVAC units will allow for year-round use. Each handicap-accessible restroom will be equipped with a shower, sink and toilet. The architect design will comply with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and American Camp Association accreditation standards. Sponsorships for each turn-key cabin, including furnishings, are $50,000 plus a $5,000 endowment for its future maintenance.
Naming rights are also available for the lodge and conference center; sheriffs’ and deputies’ memorial; horse stable and riding trails; K-9 Academy - tactical training facility, kennels (35 needed) and classroom building; community building — youth dining hall, kitchen, first aid center, restrooms, gift shop and office; youth ranch road, parking and fencing; amphitheater; confidence course; zip line; baseball/softball field; basketball court; volleyball court; horseshoe pits; archery range; hiking trails; pool and pool house; soccer field; arts and crafts classroom; computer lab (12 stations needed); and outdoor classrooms (four needed).
There are also plans to add an interdenominational peace chapel.
“Religion and spirituality may already be a big part of the lives of our young campers or may be exactly what they are looking for,” said Scott Minier, youth ranch deputy executive director. “Adding a peace chapel will provide our teens a place to go to for quiet and voluntary worship. We do not foresee organized services — simply a place for private prayer.
“Our two-story chapel would be slightly larger than the cabins that will surround it. Picture a small western town with a little white church at the end of the street. Our primitive inside furnishings will include a pulpit, altar and about 50 white wooden chairs, which will allow us layout flexibility for small-group discussions and counseling. In years to come, I can envision the peace chapel being used for deputies’ weddings and sheriffs renewing vows.”
Minier said no tax dollars are being used for the purchase or construction of the non-profit youth ranch.
“We rely solely on the kindness and generosity of Hoosiers — parents, grandparents, educators, farmers, attorneys, doctors, manufacturers and other business owners,” he said. “For 38 years, sheriffs and deputies have hosted youth leadership camps for future deputies, police officers and state troopers. During the 1990s, at-risk kids also became a focus for the camps. The new Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch, now being developed in Clay County, will serve as the permanent home for the camps. Owning, rather than renting facilities, will allow sheriffs to expand their camps to more days per week and more weeks per summer — effectively quadrupling the number of teens reached. In addition, sheriffs hope to someday offer weekend retreats for young witnesses and victims of crime.”
Persons can call 800-622-4779 for more information on sponsorship opportunities at the ranch, Minier said. Personal or business checks may be sent to the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch in care of ther Indiana Sheriffs’ Association, 147 E. Maryland St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.
Cumberworth pointed out, “This is an exciting project and, if completed, will be one of the top camps in the nation ... Any donation is great and will help the youth of Indiana.”