Rainbow Bible Ranch: Sharing a love of God, family and agriculture with youth
Thirty-five years after first opening the doors of Rainbow Bible Ranch, the Reinhold family continues to follow the path the Lord has made their passion and lifestyle. A path of faith, family, kids, horses and agriculture rooted in western South Dakota.
“My grandparents Emmanuel and Hazel Reinhold homesteaded here in the early 1900s. They raised their eight children here and my mom and dad, Tige and Vicky Reinhold, continued the ranching tradition following their marriage in 1956. They had five children, one died as a baby, and the other four of us were all raised here as well,” began Larry Reinhold of long-standing tradition in his family of ranching and raising kids east of Sturgis, S.D.
Larry also noted that while the original homestead has grown from 160 acres to over 4,000 acres today, the breed of cattle has remained constant.
“We’ve been raising Hereford cattle for about as long as we can remember. We had registered cattle and sold bulls for quite a number of years. But just run a commercial herd now,” noted Larry.
In the fall of 1978, Larry’s brother approached the family with a dream of starting a camp for kids in western South Dakota – Rainbow Bible Ranch, and asked if the family would join him in that dream.
“We really felt it was the Lord’s leading to go ahead and do the camp. Then, in May of 1979 my brothers Lyle and Lee both died in a drowning on the ranch. At that point we, as a family, considered what God wanted us to do, and we felt strongly that we should still go forward with the camp, and three months later we started building. This summer marked our 34th season,” explained Larry of the rocky road that lead to amazing opportunities to help young people learn about God, a solid family structure and agriculture through the ranching industry.
During the 2013 summer camp season, Rainbow Bible hosted young people from 19 states, reaching from San Diego, Calif., to Newtown, Conn., and from Washington state to Georgia. Multiple camps are offered each summer, providing the chance for kids of all ages to experience the ranch firsthand.
“We have a camp for 6 to 7-year-olds that is two days and one night. Most of our ranch camps have kids arriving on Monday night and leaving Friday evening. Then, we have our legacy building camp series. Legacy One is for 11 to 13-year-olds and lasts one week. Legacy Two is two weeks long and focuses on a smaller group of kids who have been to camp before. Legacy Three is more of our training program, where we work on bible studies and other training aspects with potential future staff,” noted Larry, adding that the family takes on 10-15 young people who have completed Legacy Three as staff to help with the camps each summer.
From the first hour to the last, horses play a significant and prominent role in the camp’s structure, and are a means to teach kids important life lessons and skills according to the Reinholds.
“Horses are a huge part of our camps, and a big draw. We get them on a horse the first day, and give each kid an hour of individual riding instruction to teach them how to handle the horses. The next day we take them out to ride the range and start incorporating different ranching activities into the camp as much as possible – there are no trail rides here. But, if we have to check water or move cows, we get the kids involved. A huge part is teaching our ranching lifestyle to the kids and showing them our way of life and the stewardship we have over God’s creatures here,” noted Larry’s wife Robin of the opportunity to show kids several generations removed from agriculture what actually happens on a family ranch.
Larry added that to wrap up each camp, the camper’s families are invited to a rodeo, which is kicked off with each camper demonstrating their riding skills to the crowd. He noted it’s an unprecedented good time for kids and parents alike.
“We also really enjoy giving them that working family ranch atmosphere, because in this day and age so many families have been stressed or broken, and for young people to see our family and this way of life is very refreshing and encouraging. It provides that glimpse of hope that family life can be attained and can be solid and fun all at once,” continued Larry of one benefit of having he and Robin’s six kids involved in the camp and ranch as well.
Trying to run a ranch while also hosting up to 50 kids per camp over the summer months can be challenging, but also offers rich rewards.
“How do we get everything done? We don’t. But, we have learned to prioritize, and our children and the kids that come to camp are our top priority. It’s a challenge to get hay put up when you have 50 kids in the backyard, but you come to a place where you realize its ok, and you do what is put on your plate for the day and realize the satisfaction from that. But, yes, it can be trying at times,” stated Larry.
Robin added that within those challenges are also the family’s greatest blessings.
“The joy and privilege of raising our own family in this same great way I was brought up, on a ranch, and just training them up and watching them grow and love the agriculture way of life is a great joy. With the camp, just watching God work in the lives of kids he brings to us and seeing how he can change a life is a joy to watch. We get to see him at work and that is truly amazing,” she explained.
Going forward, the Reinhold family is working to expand opportunities through their sister ranch in Hungary, and also have another ranch in Mexico wanting to work with them that could provide camping opportunities during the U.S. winter months. They are also striving to recover from the 2013 Atlas blizzard, which their cattle survived fairly well, but which devastated their horse herd.
“This storm certainly looked like a huge blow to us, and the camp lost 20-25 good saddle horses. That seemed big, but I can honestly say that none of us had an inkling in our heart that we wouldn’t be operating next summer. We believe it is God’s will to keep going and we have that as our determination. There is a future, and it looks very bright to us,” stated Larry.
“There are challenges in everything we do. But, we feel this is our calling, and our calling has become our passion and that passion has become our lifestyle. We are all counting down the days until we open our camp for next year,” concluded Robin.
Jennifer Day-Smith is the owner of Knotty Equine and founder of the art of equinitryology. She spends many of her days checking cows and yearlings on her and her husband’s ranch, and the rest of…
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