Bio:  Teenage Dude, 1968
Descriptor:  Dude with Westward HO Episcopal Church, Memphis, who came to WG with 35+ teenagers for a retreat to learn about themselves, others, the outdoors and their own spirituality. See Share Your Story postings by Father Dan Matthews and Julie Bonds Green and White Grass Oral History by Clare Leach.

Betty’s Story: My intro to White Grass Ranch was in the summer of 1968 when my cousin, Julie (Bonds) Greene invited me to join her pastor from Holy Communion Episcopal Church in Memphis, TN-Father Dan Matthews and his wife Deener-on a summer venture called, “Westward Ho”. I lived in Atlanta, Ga. We were also attending the Cathedral of St. Phillips Episcopal Church. I was so excited to be not only going with some 35+ teenagers on a trip out west, but to be spending time with my cousin, who was only 9 mos. older and like a sister, to go ride horses. She owned her own horse, Sheba, and I had been riding myself for a few years, and read any/all horse stories I could get my hands on such as: Adventures of Trixie Belden, or Justin Morgan had a Horse; but, to be out west and on a ranch-my dream come true! I invited my best friend, Betty Ann Turner, along for the “ride” who had literally never ridden before who had not ventured west of the Mississippi, who was apprehensive to say the least.

Needless to say, for us the bus ride out to Wyoming and back would have been adventure enough for us gals from Atlanta, Ga. However, little did we guess how much more was in store for us! What with riding “wild” horses, going into the town of Jackson Hole for the show at the Pink Garter and seeing a shoot-out in the center of town with an arch of antlers and riding into church to dismount and enter the most spiritual place I’d ever experienced with the wood pews, log cabin building with the alter superimposed in front of the backdrop of God’s Grand Tetons-who could not have felt God’s presence in this place!

The best and most important part of all my memories of our Westward Ho experience was not just sharing a cabin with 4 teens and a pot-bellied stove, but sharing our hearts as Father Dan lead us through incisive and revealing thought provoking and heart-growing talks relevant to the various places we found ourselves in as we were developing a greater world view and relating to grown-ups as well as other teens emotionally, spiritually and mentally through various exercises, one of which was writing down positive affirmations to one another and sharing those in the form of little notes we could read, re-read and carry home with us and which for my friend as well as myself as ‘outsiders’ made us feel so at home with all these teens we’d never met before.

This experience made me grateful and willing to seek out other teens when I got back home to fellowship with in a way I’d not experienced before. It changed my outlook on what was important and critical in life-to love, appreciate and accept others where they are and not limit myself to first impressions or assumptions. In addition to the talks heard, stories shared and experiences lived while out at White Grass Ranch with wranglers, other teens of all faiths and other races, and grown-ups who listened to us as if our opinions mattered meant the world to me and changed my perspective of how I fit into this grand picture God had created called planet Earth.

I will forever be thankful the experiences: feeling the freedom of galloping horseback across the open clearings as we trail rode and just living, breathing the fresh air of Nature and all it’s glory under the stars and shadows of the Grand Tetons-I knew I was alive, God was real and life, in all it’s forms, matter!! God bless and keep these miraculous adventures going for all teens from generation to generation and preserve our world in the glory and beauty and splendor He meant us to all experience it in.  Betty Bonds Hatfield