By Bennett Owen
It’s the brainchild of our favorite hometown that we’ve yet to visit, Ellensburg, Washington. A program to instill the next generation with the same qualities as their cowboy grandfathers. Words mean things, whether scribbled in crayon or chiseled into granite:
1. Respect Parents
2. Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
3. Work Hard in School
4. Be Nice to Others
5. Be Kind to Animals
6. Set Goals for Yourself
7. Say no to Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol
8. Do Something Nice for Another Person Every Day
It’s the "Cowboy Way," as envisioned by Leann Adams, a local parent eager to make a difference. She’s the driving force behind the children’s code, based on the works of James Owen.
Leann’s daughter, Dakota, was chosen queen of this year’s Spirit of the West Cowboy Gathering in Ellensburg. In that capacity, she’s been visiting school assemblies, awing the Cowgirls and dazzling the young Bucks.
Image courtesy of EllensburgCowboyGathering.com
She’s a powerful role model for the youngsters and judging by her bio, embodies the “Cowboy Way.”
Of course, all the codes of the west, east, north and south won’t stop kids from being kids.
Image courtesy of Montana Heritage Project
Consider the following event at a one-room schoolhouse in Polaris, Montana. It’s taken from my Uncle Jules’ journal…recorded around 1940:
“The older boys trapped a packrat in the barn and what better place to put it than in the teacher’s desk? ...After about an hour as the schoolroom became quiet Miss Kelly heard a noise in her desk drawer and upon opening it the packrat jumped out. She literally had a heart attack! Aunt Wilda was summoned for first aid. The teacher survived but I don’t know about the fate of the two boys.”
Child Psychology, by Norman Rockwell. Image courtesy of Art.com
For all that’s been written about rearing children, it still boils down to a few simple ingredients…love, direction and discipline…and hopefully never apply the latter two without generous doses of the former. But about 90 percent of parenting is leading by example. As if ranching isn’t a fulltime job, my uncles were on school boards, even though the schools had one room and never more than 15 kids. They’re members of 4H and the Farm Bureau and the Stock Growers Association and are fiercely proud of their heritage.
Image courtesy of Gordon Berry Collection.
And they’ll readily admit that their wives are by far the better half.