Everything we do at Ranch Ehrlo, we do with a plan and with a purpose.

The youth that live in our group living programs partake in several activities outside of their homes and classrooms. Staff make a strong effort to have youth engage, explore, and experience the world around them through activities in the community, in nature, and in their own backyards.

When youth are exposed to new opportunities and exciting experiences through thoughtful sequential planning, they have the freedom to discover a new part of themselves – perhaps they grow confidence, develop new skills, or discover new interests.

While a hiking trip may look, on the outside, like a group of teens loaded with snacks, swimsuits, and sunscreen it’s in fact the result of a staff’s sequential plan. For what we don’t see among the hiking packs and hiking boots is the thoughtfully conceived packing list; the snacks that were carefully planned, portioned, and prepared; the weeklong lesson on compass navigation and wilderness safety; or the entire team’s effort to work together despite many differences and personal challenges.

“What makes sequential planning so fun, and important to implement, is that it has purpose – and we know that spending time with participants engaged in an activity is what helps to build the connection and relationship – which is ultimately what helps a participant feel loved, included, and cared for,” said Tandi van Tol, director of group living at Corman Park. “With a sequential plan having lots of steps, working toward an end goal – this allows the participant to hopefully experience what it feels like to accomplish something and to feel success and we know that the feeling of accomplishment is what builds confidence for any human being.”

While Ranch Ehrlo encourages staff to introduce their own hobbies and interests to the work they do, we also provide several prepackaged resources to assist our staff. Available at their fingertips, staff can access pre-planned activities and templates to integrate into daily programming and modify to suit the needs of their participants. These well-established plans include sequential planning activities, crafts and creative activities, cultural activities, holiday activities, physical and recreational activities, and camping activities.

As we come upon the warmer months, both staff and youth are turning their attention to the new adventures and experiences that summer will bring.

Some youth will experience magnet fishing for the first time, others may tackle a northern hike, while some may keep it sweet and simple with a supper night out.

It’s easy to simplify an activity and not consider what makes it possible, what makes it worthy, and what makes it challenging, but our staff make every effort to plan these activities with therapeutic outcomes and success in mind. So, while supper at a restaurant may seem like a simple task, our staff know that for youth in care it can translate to challenges in conversation, compromise, and courtesy. Let’s take a closer look and see just what it takes to plan a successful supper night out for a group of 10 youth: