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Schools & Program Visits - Dec, 2001 Issue #88 

Mount Carmel Youth Ranch
Clark, Wyoming
Gerald and Mickey Schneider – Owners
(307) 645-3130

By Kristie Vollar
[Lon and Kristie’s visited on May 21, 2001]

Driving through the deserts of Wyoming, I could see nothing that looked remotely like a ranch that could help boys who are struggling. All I could see was wide-open ranges of brown dirt, sage brush and tumbleweeds. We turned from the main road on to a primitive dirt road that apparently led nowhere. Smack dab in the middle of the road stood two antelope, staring at us as if we were in their way. We waited for them to mosey across the road before we continued driving, over the first hill and around a corner. There was still nothing but dirt. We speculated that a boy on his first trip to Mt. Carmel would probably think that running was not something he would consider. Not only would he be lost and isolated, he would stick out like a sore thumb, with nowhere to hide. We crested the next little hill, turned a few corners and there, spread out in a little gully, was the small oasis of Mt. Carmel Youth Ranch.

As we pulled into the driveway of Mt. Carmel, the campus was busy with boys doing chores, weed eating or tending to horses or cattle. Inside we found Gerry and Mickey Schneider, owners and founders of Mt. Carmel Youth Ranch, which was formerly known as Schneider Family Ranch. They were being helped by a few of the boys who were tending to last minute preparations for the grand opening and dedication ceremonies of their new The Studer Family Bunkhouse.

We had arrived a couple of hours before the dedication ceremonies were to begin in order to have the opportunity to tour the campus, visit with Gerry, Mickey and the boys. We even got a chance to hop on a horse for a quick ride.

My first impression of the house was very clean and cozy with a small industrial kitchen and a large room that served both as a dining hall and a living room. There were four dinner tables on one side, with plush couches and chairs for group discussions on the other. From the living room, a hall lead us to the boys’ rooms and the small apartment where Gerry and Mickey live when not at their own home that was located just 100 feet from the new bunkhouse. The basement of this bunkhouse included a movie room, a weight room, a few more bedrooms and a large laundry room where the boys do their own laundry.

Stairs off the living room lead up to the boys’ classroom, where many books lined the walls. The boys are allowed to advance at their own pace according to their individual educational plan, as long as their homework and studies are completed. They work independently with the help available from Matt Schneider and Justin Kempf when needed. They are also responsible for mailing the boys’ tests to the Lady of Rosary Home School Correspondence Program that is used by Mt. Carmel, to ensure that credit requirements are met. Many of the boys eventually attend Northwest College in Powell before transferring to the university of their choice.

After touring the new bunkhouse, Gerry sent a couple of the boys out to saddle up some horses for us to ride upon our return from our drive around the property. Gerry showed us the cattle, horses, pigs and buffalo, as well as the many cattle dogs that help with the chores during cattle-drive season.

When we returned from our drive, the horses were ready to be mounted. I was excited. I had not been on a horse since Mission Mountain School. We rode across the arid open fields, crossed a small brook, then onto the flats, where we could see sage and cattle grange forever… I asked Gerry for a piece of the sage to take home for a new fireboard. We found a dead piece that had seasoned for over a year and cut a chunk for my souvenir.

When we returned to the campus, we saw people arriving for the dedication ceremonies. The campus was a buzz both with local community supporters of the Mount Carmel program and people who had traveled across this state and sometimes other states as well. The boys took the horses and Dad and I went over to the front steps of the bunkhouse to socialize with the locals.

The ceremony to dedicate the bunkhouse to the families who had donated money and supplies for its construction, went smoothly. Dad gave a speech, the ribbon was cut and neighbors and friends were invited inside to see the beautiful bunkhouse while enjoying cookies and coffee or juice.

Dad and I decided to let Gerry and Mickey entertain their guests while we took about a 45 minute drive into Cody, Wyoming where we stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum for a quick look before returning to the Mount Carmel Ranch.

Most of the guests had left by then and Angie Schneider, who works for the ranch, came to watch the boys so that Gerry and Mickey could take us up to their summer cabin where the boys stay during cattle runs. The cabin, located at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, was still surrounded by small amounts of snow - quite a contrast from the desert terrain surrounding the main campus. The first cabin we visited had enough room for a small living room, about eight beds and a small loft. Out the back door was another small cabin called the cook shack. Gerry explained that the boys had run pipes from an underground spring to the cabins to supply their water. They were also responsible for the crisscross fencing that surrounded the cabin and the pastureland and in fact, the boys were learning all about cattle ranching even during their trips to the cabin.

When we finished touring the cabins, we decided it was time to return to the ranch; the sun was setting and the mountains cast shadows across the plains. We stayed for a wonderful pot-roast dinner, thanked Gerry and Mickey and climbed into our van for the long trek home. It had been a long day, but very pleasant, and we drove off into the night.

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