(800) 765-3797  fsyr@youthranches.org

The middle school years of a young person’s life are sometimes difficult. The combination of growing up and wanting more freedom and responsibility, but still needing to learn, more often puts parents and children at odds. Families find that how they have functioned for years all of a sudden isn’t working. Clay’s family found themselves in that position.

Clay’s parents had been divorced for years. He lived with his dad and stepmom, whom he loved, but those challenging middle-school years came and the relationship changed. Clay began rebelling at school. He challenged authority and had a chip on his shoulder. His dad traveled a lot for work. This left a growing young man who needed his father’s guidance in a position of struggle. It began to affect his relationship with his step-mom. Clay and his dad were at odds when his dad was at home.

Living in Pinellas County, the Wick family knew about the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches. Their Sheriff was very active with the organization and suggested to Clay’s dad that maybe they needed a break from each other. Clay and his dad were encouraged to explore the Boys Ranch. 

Clay brought his hurts with him. He felt like he was being abandoned at a time when he needed his dad the most. He couldn’t see that his behavior was damaging his future, and his father was trying to save that future.

Clay made it to the Boys Ranch in Live Oak and did not expect the life he found there. The expectations for working, performing in school, having fun and attending chapel were laid out before him. “The daily structure set the tone for how life should be,” Clay said. Before Clay realized it, he found himself on grade level with better-than-average grades. He was a member of the football team that won the state play-offs the three years he was at the Boys Ranch. Clay also wrestled and the team won the state cup. Soon, Clay began to think of the Boys Ranch as home. The relationships he built on campus showed him could rebuild relationships with his family.

After he graduated, Clay became a firefighter but found his true calling in the building/site development industry. Clay is a project manager for a high-end residential construction company serving the entire state of Florida. Clay and his wife, Keri, have two beautiful children. Clay is one example of a life changed. His beautiful family and career are a testament to the ideals taught at the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches.