What does Teen Ranch mean to me?

By Collina McCulloch

The McCulloch family moved to Perth from Bishopbriggs, Glasgow in 1981.  In 1984 Teen Ranch started.  Bob Ockenden, director of Teen Ranch met my dad at Perth Convention while he happened to be having a wee visit to Scotland from England, where he had originally moved to with the idea of starting a Ranch, like the one he worked at in Australia, in Britain.

My dad, and a few others from TCF showed interest – the most interest Bob had received so far since arriving in Britain.  Bob told them of his idea of starting a Christian youth camp with a Western style theme. The gospel would be preached, and fun would be had.

Before long the property Ballindean House and Estate at Inchture was acquired, in a derelict state; and Bob and Jen, with their baby boy Ben in tow, began the work of founding Teen Ranch Scotland. 

The McCulloch teenagers were involved from the very start – spending every Saturday there as volunteers, knocking down walls, putting up walls, cleaning, painting, etc.  On work party it was called.  The Ranch acquired their first horse, Heather, which we rode bare back in the field, because we didn’t yet know how to put on a saddle!  Ah to be young and brave again!

Without Teen Ranch I wonder what kind of person I would have become. I learned many practical skills; I learned all about horses, so much so that I ended up in the position to now be the owner of a beautiful Clydesdale.  I learned how to live my life with God at the centre – being taught basic Christian principles – giving of time, of money, rejecting worldly aims.  Sharing thought for the day at staff devotions; or a favourite verse with your campers as a dorm leader.  Being inadvertently taught how to share your Christian faith.

I miss the good old days, as a volunteer, being on horse staff, being on full-time staff for 10+ years. Thankfully I am still involved now – for example, the Clydesdale connection.  I run the Clydesdale show part of the annual October fundraising day at the Teen Ranch Show.  The Clydesdale buddies still call me the lass from Teen Ranch.  I am blessed.

Article published April 2023