The Mission of Fort Hope
When a little boy describes his first day at Fort Hope as “the best day of his life”, he states the mission of Fort Hope. When a little girl sits down with the doll that she made herself, the look in her eyes of fulfillment and happiness demonstrates the goals and dreams of Fort Hope. The goal of a day at Fort Hope is to help kids to make memories which they will never forget. This is done through giving kids the chance to do things they’ve never done before, in an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement.
A fully functional fishing pond, beautiful oak shaded acreage, and an old western town including a gold-panning brook, petting zoo and other attractions make Fort Hope a fantastic destination for kids to experience the old west in person. The place has been called many things—“the ranch”, a “healing place”, a “hands-on history lesson”, but it seems that words can’t capture it. The best concise description for Fort Hope is a “frontier mentoring museum,” with the ultimate goal is to offer mentoring to the kids who visit. There is nowhere in the world quite like Fort Hope, and no day quite like one spent there.
How it Began
The idea for Fort Hope began over 10 years ago with a man called Pat. He was inspired though his faith to invite disadvantaged children – especially those from single-parent homes – to enjoy some of the activities that he loved as a child at his family’s ranch. He wanted children to be able to try out fishing, archery, shooting and other activities which are gradually fading into history as they disappear modern daily life. Pat had many fond memories of frequent gatherings at the old “Ghost Town” which his uncle, father and friends made from reconstructed buildings from the city of Arroyo Grande. There were thousands of visitors in those days—from groups of Marines to family friends. The old fashioned activities like singing and playing the piano helped to maintain the historical Old Western essence of the place that helped to inspire Fort Hope.
The dream of building Fort Hope was made real when Pat and his wife Leigh Ann were gifted a part of Pat’s family’s ranch in 1999. While raising five great kids, they were able to follow their vision and make Fort Hope into a really amazing place. Donations of time, money, supplies and labor from the local community have also been crucial in bringing Fort Hope into existence.
At last, Fort Hope can welcome visitors with a bubbling stream and pond, and an amazing, miniature old western town. Like the old Ghost Town, Fort Hope is a place to gather and have fun away from the contemporary, less personable world of computer screens and media. At Fort Hope, kids can attain a sense of fulfillment while learning about history through unforgettable hands-on activities.