Bio: Lead Episcopal Teen-age Retreat to White Grass 1964-68
Descriptor: Westward Ho for Senior High, the experience.
Father Dan Matthews’ Story: I was a young Episcopal priest in Memphis serving as a youth minister in the 1960’s. I became aware that my teenage kids needed a more exciting summer camp experience. The Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee provided a routine age-related camping venue. I had recently been to visit some Young Life camps in Colorado and vowed to create a racially integrated faith-based summer adventure for my affluent senior high Tennesseans.
I received the name of Frank Galey and his White Grass Ranch from Bob and Clair McConaughy, operators of R Lazy S Ranch nearby. Frank agreed to open his ranch early in June, before the Dudes arrived, for over 35 kids to take over the entire property.
Each camper was assigned his/her own horse – depending on past riding experience. The morning was usually saved for riding and the evening for teaching. The activities included The Exum Mountain Climbing School, floating the Snake River, the Rodeo in Jackson, an all-day trip to Yellowstone, and a trail ride to a picnic on Phelps Lake. A special highlight was a worship service on Sunday morning at the Chapel of the Transfiguration in Moose. The campers rode horseback to the church service, tied up to the fence, and rode back for a late lunch.
The Episcopal Church based program was called Westward Ho for Senior Highs. Several African American campers were on scholarships we provided. Some wound up after college moving to Wyoming. The program lasted five years with the non-stop Greyhound Bus ride (before interstates) eventually taking its toll. It is not an exaggeration to say it was a profound life changing experience for every teenager who attended. As we boarded the bus to head home, we would leave each year saying to our host and by this time our cowboy idol, “Thank you Frank Galey for sharing your ranch with us.”
The Reverend Daniel P Matthews
188 East 76th St #22A
New York, NY 10021