Lessons in the Water, Life for At-Risk Youth

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In His Wakes, a national nonprofit organization, made a stop in South Jersey on Monday, June 19th, giving kids from a youth group in Millville and Salem County’s Ranch Hope a special day to remember.

King’s Pond in Dividing Creek was anything but calm, as kids involved with a Millville youth group and a few boys from Ranch Hope stepped off of the dock, into the water, and out of their comfort zones.

“Our main focus is really to help these kids overcome any fears they may have, and breaking down walls too,” Nathan Miller, director, and president of In His Wakes. “Sometimes it’s attitudes, it might be whatever. But we want them to see a genuine love in us for them.”

Once a year, the traveling nonprofit, faith-based organization In His Wakes visits this South Jersey lake.

They give kids a chance to forget about everything else for a day and give tubing, wake-boarding, and water-skiing a try.

“Every year we make this happen for our kids and giving them an experience that they would just never have in their life," says Dave Bailey, Jr., CEO of Ranch Hope. "And it’s just an awesome time for them.”

“You know, you bring these inner-city kids, or at-risk kids, you bring them out and show them love that they’re not used too, you put them actually in a situation where they have to trust you,” says Miller.

This is my first time doing it, and I’m pretty sure for most of the boys, it’s their first time doing it.

From the looks of it, it seems like many of these kids are experts on the water, but for many of them, this is the first time they’ve ever gone swimming.

“Me, along with the boys, it’s a fear,” says Brian English, senior supervisor at Ranch Hope. “It’s a fear thing. This is my first time doing it, and I’m pretty sure for most of the boys, it’s their first time doing it and you get out there and just go.”

“It’s really fun,” says Alexzander Stewart, of Pittsgrove. “I did a lot of stuff I've never really done before: water-skiing, being on the boat.”

As the day goes on and trust continues to build, the organization uses it as a chance to spread their message.

“We stress getting off the dock," says Miller. "It’s our saying: ‘Victory only comes when you get off the dock,’ and that’s what we’re encouraging them to do, and then we relate that to life, getting off the dock in life and overcoming and having victory in life.”

Lessons in the water turning into lessons of life.

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