On our way home from Thanksgiving in Arkansas, Ben and I traveled the northern route through Missouri.
We stopped first in Branson. My aunt had recently visited the College of the Ozarks for a weekend trip with a friend. It sounded so fun, we wanted to visit, too.
This school is also known as "Hard Work U." It is a small, Christian, liberal arts college, with this vision:
. . . to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.
To that end, students:
- Don't pay tuition
- Work for education
- Graduate without debt
- Develop Character
- Value God and Country
C of O has a work education program, where students work on campus 15 hours a week (and 2-40 hour work weeks). This, along with any federal or state aid for which they qualify, plus a cost of education scholarship, means that students graduate without debt, well-educated, and with work experience.
To provide work experience for the students, the college has a lovely lodge, working farm, dairy, mill, and two museums, one of which houses artifacts exploring the history of the Ozark Mountains (including the original Beverly Hillbillies car), and the other, a tractor museum. While there, Ben and I spent the afternoon in the Ralph Foster Museum and had a great tour of the dairy with Hannah, one of the student workers. Click here to take a peek at the campus map.
As a side note, when doing a little research on the school for this blog post, I discovered it is ranked #6 in The 25 Best Colleges for Homeschool Graduates list published by The Best Schools. This list ranks colleges based on Christian Education, Socio-Political Conservatism, and Science and Faith Integration. I've always said I'm going to homeschool college, but this is a school I might consider looking at again when Ben is ready for college. Of course, we'd have to move to the Ozarks region for that to happen. The school is primarily for students who hail from that area, and could not otherwise afford a private Christian college education.
Here are a few pictures from our visit to the Ralph Foster Museum -- The Smithsonian of the Ozarks . . .
The coolest thing was definitely that original car from the Beverly Hillbillies! Also pictured above is a Civil War era Gatling Gun, a very old washing machine, and an Edison phonograph.
Should you ever get the opportunity to visit museum, you should, and don't miss the movie that runs on a continuous loop. Three years ago, 20 C of O students and 10 WW II vets shared a visit to Normandy. Their stories (the veterans and the students) are heartwarming and inspiring. Those kids lives will be forever changed by this "field trip." It made me sad that this is likely not an opportunity Ben will ever have. I'm not sure how many WW II veterans are still alive, but surely by the time Ben is in college there won't be many. I am, however, inspired to find some NOW for him to talk with.
Right next to the museum is this adorable one-room schoolhouse. It was locked up for the season apparently. I wish we could have seen the inside. It's called Star School.
And across the way was this beautiful chapel . . .
Such a lovely campus.
There were lots and lots of bicycles. This contrasted greatly for Ben with the Vespas he noticed when we took a quick drive through the campus of the University of Arkansas earlier the same day. It was a significant difference not lost on him. Even at just 11 years old.
Our next stop was the dairy. Hannah gave us a great tour of the facility, including the milking stations, but our favorite part was visiting the baby calves. There were a couple just days old, but Ben loved this one that was about 2-3 months old. These sweet animals are like puppies -- they will lick you to death.
The next day, we visited the Titanic Museum. The Titanic review will be coming some time in the next couple of weeks, so I will be sharing more about that later. I will tell you right now that we loved it! If you get the chance to go, do it!
While in Branson, we also ate at a couple of fun restaurants, Lambert's Cafe and Mel's Hard Luck Diner. Of course, Ben at burgers at both. The boy loves his burgers (as long as they don't come from a nasty fast-food restaurant. Both have their special claims to fame.
At Lambert's, they make the best yeast rolls ever, but instead of bringing you a basket full, they throw them to you from across the room! They also have what they call "pass arounds." These are dishes they come by and serve to you, no matter what you ordered off the menu -- fried potatoes, fried okra, macaroni and tomatoes, black-eyed peas. They also have very yummy sorghum molasses for those rolls.
At Mel's Hard Luck Diner, the severs double as entertainment. They all sing while you eat. Unfortunately, we ended up in a back corner of the dining room, and the singers never came close enough for a photo (though we could hear them just fine). I think Ben is probably cuter than any of them anyway :). And I did get to sit next to Elvis! Of course, you probably have no idea how much I love Elvis. Shhhhh . . . it's a secret crush.
Our final stop before heading home was in St. Louis. Leslie lives there and we don't get to see her very often at all. Who's Leslie you ask? Well, 25 years ago, when I was in nursing school and she was in seminary, Leslie was my roommate and bestest friend. And 15 years ago, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding. Now, we only get to see her every couple of years of so, anytime we're near St. Louis. Leslie's birthday was this past week, so we took her out to lunch and to Ted Drewes for some frozen custard :). It was so great to see her, even if we only had a couple of hours. Next time, I think we'll need to spend a night or two in St. Louis!
We had a great trip, but 2 weeks is a long time to be away. Ben and I were both happy to get home!
I have more to share about our time in Arkansas, but I'll save that for another day. And be sure to watch for my review of the Titanic Museum, coming soon, probably sometime next week.