Sometimes it is really disheartening to listen to the news. You see bad things. Good news just doesn’t seem to make headlines. And that’s too bad. You see and hear a lot of what is wrong with youth in this country. And that is worse than bad. But once in awhile you meet a young person that just brings a smile to your face and you realize that things are gonna be alright.
I met a kid like that this weekend. And wouldn’t you know it, it had to be a ranch kid in Harding County.
I’ll start at the beginning. For 20 years or so, I have announced the state high school finals rodeo. In Bowman. Last year, I announced that I had to hang it up. It was time to start going to youth rodeos and watch my grandkids tie goats and run barrels. And the youth rodeo in Camp Crook always coincided with the finals.
We spent a lot of years producing rodeos. And I guess we saw about every trick there was to sneaking into a rodeo. From hiding kids in the camper to covering them with hay in a horse trailer. I’ve seen people steal contestant numbers and copy contestant passes. And thinking back to my youth, I can remember hiding people in the trunk to sneak into the outdoor theatre at Minot. Sometimes it wasn’t the money, it was the challenge.
And I have a lot of friends who will tell you that, “Today, kids just don’t want to work!” Well, I’m here to tell you that not all kids are like that.
Yesterday, we pulled into the Camp Crook rodeo grounds. The home of Tipperary (legendary bucking horse), great steer wrestlers, football players, and ranchers. They raise great cattle and great kids in Harding County.
As Grandma and I pulled up to the rodeo grounds we were met by the ticket taker. Now, I’m not the greatest judge of age, but I’m thinking this ticket taker must be around eight years old. He had one hand full of cash and another full of rodeo programs. He greeted us with a broad smile. Had most of his teeth so I figured he was over six, and they weren’t stained by Copenhagen so I figured he was under 10.
He quickly explained that tickets were five dollars for adults and contestants got into the youth rodeo free. I looked him in the eye and explained I was a contestant. He didn’t even blink. Just asked what event I was in. I hesitated, that was my mistake, and said, “Sheep riding.” He calmly stated they didn’t have sheep riding this year. I quickly told him I was mistaken, I was in the flag race. Well, that didn’t work. He looked at the program and said he was in the flag race, and he knew all the other racers, and I wasn’t one of them. I gave him five dollars. I told him Grandma was in the barrels. He stepped up on the running board, looked Grandma over, and declared, “I don’t think she looks old, but I think she looks like an adult!” I gave him another five.
Then I asked him if we could get stamped so we could leave the grounds to look at some hay, and I didn’t want to pay twice.
Brayden gave me that big smile, said we didn’t need stamped. Shook my hand and said he would remember us!
If he lived in Dickinson, he could manage McDonalds!