Of “Boy Ranches” and Beaches


For the next few days, I’m going to be on the gulf coast with some of my splendiferous amigos. Regrettably, this means internet will be fairly sparse. More importantly, that means there will be no MS paint in what few posts I will make this week. That puts the burden of humor exclusively on my wordsmithing skills. Oh dear.

Well, i’ll start off with a comment on my last post, in relation to the “go to church or the devil will get you” sign: I didn’t see it on the way down 65 yesterday. Given, it is / was positioned to be seen going north. I’m going to assume for now that I just missed it, as opposed to it being gone. Honestly, I think I would miss it. That was always one of my favorite parts of travelling in south Alabama. Actually, I would go so far as to say it is the only part of travelling in south Alabama that isn’t endless monotony (with the exclusion of our “almost as lovely as Florida” coastline).

Orange Beach/Gulf Shores is pretty much dominated these days by monolithic resorts and towering condomenium complexes. However, while driving around earlier today I spotted a beachfront baptist church nestled between two condo buildings. If ever there was a handy place to not pay taxes, huh?

Billboards in Alabama are typically open fodder for comedic ridicule: no where else will you find so many grammatical errors combined with bizarre messages. The problem with seeing them on road trips, however, is that you don’t get the opportunity for a double take. We spotted one on the way down here, for example, that appeared to say:

“Alabama Sheriffs Boy Ranch”

What the hell can that possibly mean? Maybe this is some sort of innocuous South Alabama slang for a…training camp? Personally, I think it sounds far more like…well, I suppose that is pretty obvious. In my experience, a “Boy Ranch” can only be interpreted as so many things. I’m hoping I am just mistak…Nope. Googled it. It is “Alabama Sheriff Boys Ranch.” I had the “s” in the wrong place. Still, that could really use an apostrophe. Y’know, for clarification. Better yet, just call it a “youth ranch.” Is that better? Is there any way to word that without giving out an ominous pedo-vibe on the road sign? Let me know if you think of one. Better yet, let them know. There has to be a better way to put that.

Now i’m reading more into what the hell this is…and i’m a bit taken aback. Basically, the system takes in “neglected” and “abandoned” children from the ages 6-18, and sets them up on a farm with “caregivers” and a “structured living environment.” Apparently they are “Christian, family-style residential homes” where the children can grow “spiritually and physically.” The more I’m reading about this, the more it sounds like an indoctrination farm. The kids are required to participate in “daily family devotionals and pledging allegiance to the American flag.” It sounds like church attendance is mandatory as well according to the website, which I suppose isn’t too surprising given everything else. Shockingly, it sounds like a decent portion of the operational cash flow is from churches.

I have a few questions about this: where/how do they get the kids for this program (it explicitly states that it isn’t a detention center: with all of that mandatory free labor, i’m sure it is hard for the kids to tell); and what exactly do the Sheriffs have to do with it? Are there any state dollars running into this thing through them? Are judges ordering kids to this place? Is the government placing kids there? What about the “Girl Farms?” Do they do manual labor there, or are they taught to cook and clean?

I want to know more about these suspicious child farms, and i’m keen to dig around about it…

…when i’m back from vacation. Have a good week, fellow heathens. King Heathen out.

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About Gordon Maples

Writer of the Misan[trope]y Movie Blog and the (Plot)opsy Podcast. A bad movie expert, if there ever was such a thing. Movie nerd, professional organizer, and political progressive.
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