My Cookson Hills Experience by Stephanie Knight

Ten hours and fifty-seven minutes from my house is a place called Cookson Hills. This place is for kids that need a home. Cookson Hills is a ranch that has more than 1000 acres which is located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in rural northeastern Oklahoma. Cookson Hills has been helping take care of children and families for over 50 years.
On the way to Oklahoma, I got to see the topography – it was very flat. We drove from Kentucky through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas before with made it to Oklahoma. At Cookson Hills, they have thirteen horses for the kids. The horses help the kids have a friend or someone to tell their thoughts to. Some of the kids live there because their parents could not afford them and they wanted them to have a better life, so they brought them to Cookson to live. Others were there because they had been abused or neglected or their parents had died. All the kids had one thing in common -- they needed a place to live and feel safe. The horses provided something that some of the kids never had and it does work because when I went there, the horses reminded me of home and my friends. I was nervous when I first got there not really knowing what to expect from the other kids or how they would act. The horses provided me with something to take some of my fears away. Once we met with the families, I realized that these kids were not much different from me. They just needed a family to love them and take care of them. That’s what Cookson Hills did. It provided parents for 75 kids to call mom and dad.
On Friday morning, we started setting up for the Jamboree for the families to enjoy Friday night and all day Saturday. We had a pumpkin-painting contest and a costume contest for the families on Friday. I was the judge for the costume contest and it was hard to make a choice for the winner because all the kids were so cute in their costumes. Then on Saturday, we had a tractor pull, a pig catching race, lots of carnival games and gave out candy to all the kids. The other thing we helped do was to raise money for the senior mission trip with an auction.
This trip was an eye-opener to me because it showed me how some kids live and get along with others even if it’s not their natural families. There were seven families living on the ranch and they all got along as if they were all related. I am sure the kids missed their real mom and dad but they seemed to be happy living at Cookson Hills. I hope that I help out with the trip next year. The time I spent was short but it made me want to do more for others that do not have as much as I do.

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