Black Hills Family 2

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ISSUE 2 2023
Text or Call 605.377.6400 Rapid City • Black Hills Area
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No gift is greater than an education. To learn how to start saving today visit

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the CollegeAccess 529 plan before investing. This and other important information is in the Plan Disclosure Statement, available at Read the Plan Disclosure Statement carefully before investing.

Before investing, you should consider whether your state of residency, or your intended beneficiary’s state of residency, offers a state tax deduction or any other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in that state’s 529 savings program.

The CollegeAccess 529 Plan is issued by the South Dakota Higher Education Savings Trust. The Program Manager and Underwriter for the CollegeAccess 529 Plan is VP Distributors, LLC, One Financial Plaza, Hartford, CT 06103, 800-243-4361.

Certain of the investment management firms that manage underlying mutual Funds in the Program, including Virtus Investment Advisers, Inc., are affiliated with the Program Manager.

Only South Dakota residents and Account Owners who designate a South Dakota resident as Beneficiary can invest directly in the CollegeAccess 529 Plan. Certain Portfolios are not available to those who invest directly. Residents of states other than South Dakota can invest in the CollegeAccess 529 Plan only through a financial professional. Additional fees apply for investments made through a financial professional. Please see the Plan Disclosure Statement for details. State taxes may apply for residents of states other than South Dakota.

Notice: CollegeAccess 529 Plan accounts are not insured by any state, and neither the principal deposited nor any investment return is guaranteed by any state.

Give your child the freedom to dream with CollegeAccess 529


If there’s a message worth repeating after reading this issue of Black Hills Family, it’s this: mental health is not a one-and-done fix. It’s what we heard from experts and community leaders – mental health care is akin to the physical body – it’s a lifetime pursuit and equally important.

May marked Mental Health Awareness Month, but if the statistics and anecdotal evidence is any indication, the Covid-19 pandemic drastically raised the awareness that mental health wellness is an ongoing and ever-present need. Mental health is the undercurrent of so much happening in our community because it touches every person from all walks of life, and as we continue in the wake of the pandemic, the message is clear: It’s a priority.

In these pages, we’ll address mental health from multiple angles – the simple ways to tweak a negative attitude to the much more sobering suicide statistics. From discussions about how sleep and exercise affect your mind to an insightful piece from one of our staffers about how dads can help during postpartum depression. All of them - a reminder that mental health affects all of us, whether we are struggling or it’s someone we love.

In our work to gather these stories, we heard time and time again that mental health is no longer a topic with a sticky stigma, it’s also nothing to shy from, to ignore, to relegate to something you will deal with later. It’s a here-and-now daily priority for every individual.

We realize these stories just scratch the surface but it’s our hope that you will be encouraged to continue important conversations and maybe even start some new ones, whether it’s in your workplace, with a friend, or around your dinner table.

Blessings, Kayla

Mental health is such a crucial topic — we hope that the stories we’ve told in these pages will serve to inspire and guide you and your family to more full and whole lives.

26 A Dad’s Guide to Postpartum Depression

One dad shares his experience and insights on PPD.


10 Our favorite self care tips

The Black Hills Family team shares their mental health tips.

12 A Counselor for Chloe

We chat with Spearfish counselor and author, Becky Funk, to talk about her book.

16 A brief guide on school counselors

What do parents and students need to know about school counselors?

20 Sylvan Rocks Climbing School

The climbing possibilities in the Black Hills are endless. Take advantage of them with Sylvan Rocks Climbing School.

36 Finding yourself on the other side

A local counselor experiences firsthand the healing power of therapy.

40 It’s going to take everyone

This local organization is taking the mental health needs of the Black Hills seriously.

18 Changing Tires and Changing Lives

Black Hills Tire is a business on a mission.

25 Code Ninjas

Let the science and tech experts at Code Ninjas be your guide to healthy gaming.

30 Your Mental Health Regimen

Find what works for you! You’re worth it.

42 Summer calendar

Some of our favorite events of the year happen in summer.

46 Suicide prevention resources

Who to call for this serious subject.

47 Finding mental health help

Taking the first steps in asking for help can be intimidating.

Photo © Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation


Parents may feel overwhelmed by the cost of a college education, but savings can add up in a big way — especially over time.

It’s easy for parents to feel overwhelmed by the cost of a college education. Just one look at the headlines covering college expenses, and it’s easy to see why parents could potentially feel defeated, even before their little one is walking. The cost of college has more than doubled since the 1980s (not counting the impact of inflation) and the life-long benefits of a college diploma are still established facts.

For parents, it all seems like a perfect recipe for stress. But, with a little planning and intentionality over the course of time, parents can make huge strides in paying for the college

education of their children — and may even be able to reduce some of the stress of parenting in the process.

Even if it’s a small amount, regularly investing funds into a 529 college savings plan can add up — especially over time. The compound interest and tax-advantages of these special accounts can multiply your saving efforts, too. Take a breath. You got this.

To learn how to start saving today, visit

CollegeAccess 529 Plan accounts are not insured by any state, and neither the principal deposited nor any investment return is guaranteed by any state. Furthermore, the accounts are not insured, nor the principal or any investment return guaranteed, by the federal government or any federal agency.

Before investing, an individual should consider whether their state of residency — or their intended designated beneficiary's state of residency — offers any benefit, such as state tax deduction, financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors or any other benefits that are only available for investments in that state's 529 savings program.

An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the CollegeAccess 529 Plan before investing. This and other important information is in the Plan Disclosure Statement which should be read carefully before investing,

CollegeAccess 529 Plan

The is issued by the South Dakota Higher Education Savings Trust. The Program Manager and Underwriter for the CollegeAccess 529 Plan is VP Distributors, LLC, One Financial Plaza, Hartford, CT 06103, 800-243-4361. Certain of the investment management firms that manage underlying mutual funds in the Program, including Virtus Investment Advisers, Inc., are affiliated with the Program Manager.
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We hope you find some guidance and inspiration in these pages. Mental Health is a huge topic and an important one. We have even more content on the subject online. Here are a couple of our favorite articles from the archive:

Parenting can be isolating. Here’s a few tips for moms to discover that special group of friends who will always have your back.

Mindfulness is a practice that can benefit anyone — even kids. Here’s our guide on how to cultivate mindfulness in kids.

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I think we probably all know what a margin is — it’s the empty space around the edge of a page. It’s the extra money in a budget. It’s the bonus time we give ourselves to get ready in the morning. Yes. Margins. Moms and designers alike love a good margin.

Margins give words and pictures the space they need to breathe. Our Creative Director, John, told me about how he uses margins when he’s laying out a magazine — like this one! “Margins define space, create balance. Intentional white space guides the reader’s attention with

Oh. One more thing. The people who helped to make this magazine have some great advice on mental health. That’s below — with lots of margin around it, of course.

Publisher Rick DenHerder: “Be intentional.”

Creative Director

John Edwards: “Make your bed every morning.”

Senior Content Editor

Stephen Simpson: “Make date nights a priority.”

Editor Kayla Gahagan: “Every day, do one thing that brings you joy.”

Photographer Jesse Brown Nelson : “Wake up early.”

Communications Manager

Dolsee Davenport: “Use all of your vacation days.”

VP of Sales and Growth

Ruth Rossbach: “Spend time outside every day.”

Social Media Manager

Aftin Eich: “Affirm yourself.”

structure to what’s important.”
Maybe we need to lay our lives out like that — plenty of space around the important things in life.


For a kid, setting foot into a counselor’s office for the first time can be a big step into the unknown.

“When parents call to set up an appointment for their kid, they’ll almost always say something like, ‘How should I explain it to her? How do I tell them who you are and what you do?’” Becky Funk is a licensed therapist and an author from Spearfish. Her children’s book, “A Counselor for Chloe,” was inspired by this recurring conversation.

Therapy can be a big step for people of any age, but especially children. The idea of revisiting those hurtful things in the past or present is a daunting proposition — made even scarier by the idea of finding healing in opening up to a stranger. For a kid, the unknownness of counseling can become overwhelming.

When Becky has that initial conversation with parents or guardians, she usually guides them to tell their kid that she’s not a doctor. She doesn’t give shots or medicine. She’s there to help kids with their feelings.

Building Trust

Becky says that children’s therapy, like therapy for adults, is built on the trust between the counselor and the patient. “We always want to nail trust down first,” she says. “That encourages sharing.” Building trust with a child might look like a counselor getting on the child’s level and playing with their favorite toys or game with them. This trust building can be a major process.

Becky’s heart goes out to these kids who feel jittery when visiting a counselor for the first time. This compassion spurred an idea in Becky’s mind — she needed to create a tool to help kids get a headstart on understanding that a counselor is a safe, friendly person who is there to help. This seed of an idea grew in her mind for several years, so, following some key encouragement from a colleague, Becky started writing a children’s book designed to help kids get a sneak peak into their first counseling session.

Photos: Jesse Brown Nelson


First and foremost, the better the parents are doing, the better the children are doing. Parents need to take care of their own mental health. If the parents are doing well, typically, the children are doing well.


The way children tell us about how they’re doing is their behavior — we look for changes in their sleeping patterns, their appetites, if there’s issues at school. A lot of times parents will say something like, ‘This isn’t the kid I had a month ago.’ Following a traumatic event, we’ll sometimes wait to see how a kid will cope before getting them into counseling. We are born with natural coping skills, so sometimes we’ll wait to see if those natural coping skills will kick in.


The Book

The result of Becky’s vision was “A Counselor for Chloe.” The cover of the book, covered mostly in shades of mellow greens, depicts an illustrated version of a counselor’s office set up for play therapy — a bookcase lined with boxes of toys and games, a short table built for kids. The item that stands out the most on the glossy cover is a dress-up princess outfit that’s bright pink worn by a young girl. That girl is the star of the book, Chloe.

Chloe has to go live with her grandma because something bad happened to her when she was “little, little.” That’s how Becky begins her book. She drew the inspiration for Chloe from a familiar place. “When I was young, there was a stretch of my own life when I had to go live with my grandma,” she says. “So parts of this book are definitely personal to me.”

The story follows Chloe’s first visit with her counselor, Ms. Sarah. “I thought she would have looked like a doctor. She didn’t though,” Chloe reflects. “She didn’t have a white coat and there were no shots or medicine anywhere. She was wearing a green blouse with flowers on it. The kind my grandma grows in her garden.” Chloe finds her new counselor’s familiar appearance comforting.

Familiarity is the key to the effectiveness of this book. A parent can sit down with their child, read the pages of this book, and they both can find comfort in having a clear picture in their minds of what counseling is. “A Counselor for Chloe” takes the unfamiliar and works to make it just a little bit more familiar. “The book is very kid-friendly,” Becky says. “A lot of the kids who have read it have said to me, ‘Did you write this book about me?’”

Becky Funk is a licensed counselor and author. Her practice, Funk Counseling, is located in downtown Spearfish. Her practice serves individuals, families and children. She recently started a position at Black Hills State University as the Director of Student Health and Counseling.

To learn more about Becky and her counseling practice or to purchase a copy of “A Counselor for Chloe” visit



What do parents need to know about school counseling? Why do we even have mental health professionals in the walls of nearly every public school facility in America? How can these professionals be a resource to you and your family?


Guidance counselors are such a mainstay in schools that we hardly ever take the time to think about why they’re there. But school counselors can be a lifesaver for some students — sometimes literally.

Individuals who help guide students in schools aren’t anything new. In fact, the presence of counselors in schools coincides with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. People were moving to urban areas in droves, and the demands of this new kind of life left many children feeling emotionally vulnerable. So, to better prepare them for the changing needs of their students, teachers began to receive mental health training during their formal education.

School counseling really started to take off during the Cold War when it was becoming more clear that the United States needed to bolster its place in the world of science and technology. With a huge boost of federal funding for guidance counselors, schools were almost universally staffed with a qualified and dedicated person to help guide students to these STEM careers.

This funding was intended to make an impact on America’s scientific advancement, but another huge impact was made

with this increased support — students now, almost invariably, had access to abundant and capable mental health help within the walls of their schools.

Today, a school counselor’s day may look like speaking with a group of kindergartners about making friends, helping connect a high school senior with career opportunities or guiding a middle school student in navigating their emotions after a major trauma. School counselors are here to stay, and have become an integral part of the development of students in school. Students and parents can lean on these mental health professionals for guidance and help in a wide array of issues. Never be afraid to reach out to your school counselor — they’re there to help.


The technicians at Black Hills Tire stay up to date on the latest in the everchanging world of automotive repair and maintenance.“We wanted to create a place that our staff would be proud of,” Tenise Chapman explained.


Black Hills Tire is all about building relationships and giving back.

When we show kindness, we impact the world in ways we may never know. We might go through life never actually realizing how giving a person an opportunity or a bit of encouragement might have altered the course of their life.

That’s the story of Black Hills Tire. Sure, it’s also a story of entrepreneurship and some of the best customer service in the area, but the Black Hills Tire story, most of all, is a story about the power of kindness and how that’s able to impact a community.

Lessons in Leadership

Weston and Tenise Chapman bought an auto repair shop in Rapid City four years ago. As the couple set out on this new adventure together, they decided that they would look for their leadership inspiration from the past.

“Weston’s family has owned their own business for over 40 years,” Tenise said. “ And my grandparents had a gas station in North Dakota for 42 years.”

In other words, Tenise and Weston have service, relationship and kindness in their DNA. “My grandpa would fill your car with gas or check your oil or wash your


windows. He would just build relationships. He would always be talking to people about their kids or their farm or whatever. My sister and I would get to hang out there all summer while grandpa was doing that.”

Giving Back

The team at Black Hills Tire builds relationships in a few different ways. Obviously, this shop on Jackson Boulevard is serving its customers with a caliber of work that the team stands behind. Serving the community with stellar work is one way to give back, but for the Chapmans, they’re always on the lookout for new ways to give back and build relationships with the community they love. Because of that, Black Hills Tire has given away over $100,000 in the last four years to several nonprofits and other causes. “If it wasn’t for the Black Hills community, we wouldn’t even be here, so we wanted to give back,” Tenise said.

Scholarships to WDT

Weston and Tenise are on a mission to give back, and a lot of times that looks like creating opportunities for others. Like many amazing professionals in the region, the Chapmans attended Western Dakota Tech. They’ve both experienced the way an education can change your career trajectory, so they decided to do what they could to share the educational opportunities that they had. The couple has started three scholarship programs to help people attain their educational goals. One scholarship, the Jim Schnaible Memorial Scholarship, is named after one of Weston’s former teachers and mentors who passed away unexpectedly two years ago. He taught at WDT for 34 years. “So we created a scholarship on his behalf, so every year a new student in the automotive program at WDT gets a $10,000 scholarship,” Tenise said. The Chapmans have kept in contact with Jim’s wife, Judy, who helps to choose the recipient of this scholarship each year.


Another way that Black Hills Tire is giving back to the community and building relationships is helping young people discover a career in the automotive industry. And the way that Weston and Tenise have devised to accomplish this is pretty ingenious. “If kids are in sports, music or science, there’s camps for them,” Tenise explained. “There’s nothing for kids who maybe want to get into cars. So, we decided to create this thing called Camp DRIVE.”

The camp is kicking off this summer for the first

time. In this inaugural year, campers can expect a day and a half of hands-on activities. Tenise gives the run down on just some of what the campers will be up to: “We’re going to have five stations where they can come in and actually put a set of brake pads on and take them off. They are going to get to see and touch car parts and see how they move on the alignment machine. They’re going to get to take a tire on and off. They’re going to see how you find a leak in a tire.”

Never finished

Tenise and Weston credit a lot of their philosophy on life to watching how their families conducted themselves in life and business — relationships first.

The first year of Camp DRIVE was completely full, but next year and going forward, the Chapmans are hoping to expand the camp and create more opportunities to invest in the young people of the Black Hills. Because that’s what giving back to a community and building relationships looks like. And for the Chapmans, helping people is sort of the family business.

To learn more about Black Hills Tire, visit

To discover more about Camp DRIVE,

DRIVE stands for Determination, Resourcefulness, Innovation, Vision and Enthusiasm.


Sylvan Rocks Climbing School is ready to help the whole family experience the joys and thrills of climbing. People of any experience level and kids as young as 5 can embark on an adventure of a lifetime as a family. Discover more at


Sylvan Rocks is the longest operating guide service in the area (34 Years), and is the only guide service in South Dakota and Northeast Wyoming accredited by the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). Brandon Emery is the owner of Sylvan Rocks, and we recently had the opportunity to ask him some of our questions about climbing.

couple years of college. I lost touch with the stuff I enjoyed doing. I was depressed. I didn’t want to be in school anymore. As a junior in college, I joined a freshman interest program, and I got back into climbing. Getting back outside and being around people with similar interests really helped me. I don’t think I would have finished school without that.

What do you want to say to Black Hills Families?

You guys are a climbing school. What are the issues of trying to learn climbing without a guide or teacher?

There’s a lot. When I first started trying to climb in high school, we would do stuff like watch a YouTube video on how to use a new piece of equipment, and then we’d go and try it. But when you do that, you don’t have someone there to double check things for you. That can be really dangerous as you’re learning to climb. Your margin of error in rock climbing — especially as you’re starting out — is incredibly small.

So this is our issue on mental health. Can you tell me about how mountain climbing can impact your mental health?

I really struggled during my first

I was depressed and didn’t want to be in school anymore. I tried meditation and that didn’t work. The only way for me to get to that clear mind is through climbing. When I find a route that’s the perfect amount of challenging — it’s not too hard, but it’s not too easy, that’s when I’m really mentally engaged. That’s when I can enter a flow state.

That’s interesting. What’s flow state?

That’s a really interesting concept to learn about. It’s really meditative. Your brain almost goes on autopilot. You can find it in a lot of different activities — cycling, knitting, almost anything. Both your brain and your body have to be almost totally engaged, and then your mind just starts to be totally relaxed. That can be super helpful in your life, but especially when you’re going through something rough in life. To have something where your mind can just slow down and relax for 30 minutes is huge and incredibly therapeutic.

I’ve been thinking back to when I was in high school. I remember everyone was talking about how living here was so boring and that they couldn’t wait to move. I never thought that. The accessibility to outdoor activities here is unreal. You can live anywhere in the Black Hills and you’re within 2 hours of over 3,000 established rock climbs. A lot of people here don’t realize the opportunities that are all around them.

Climbing in the Hills can be big for families. We’ll bring whole families out and they’re usually a little nervous. But then we’ll teach them how to tie in and even how to belay each other. This leads them to feel more confident and trust in one another. By the end of the day, they’re doing all of that themselves (we’re double-checking, of course). I feel that the consistent hands on activity and mental focus which rock climbing requires is highly beneficial to youth struggling with ADHD and other similar mental health issues. It requires them to focus, and channel their energy in a positive way which is highly beneficial to them. It’s such a great trust building activity, too, and it’s such a great way for families to get outside and stay active together. We have access to world class climbing. Why not take advantage of it as a family?



For all of those dog parents out there looking for the optimal food for their canine companion, the answer might be found in the past. Our pups are designed to eat raw — that’s how their ancestors ate, and that’s still how their bodies are built.

Healthy Paws in Rapid City is the area’s leading carrier and expert on raw and lightly-cooked dog food. Owner Linda Ingalls explains that making the switch to raw food can have some observable benefits. “Switching to raw food can result in less tartar build-up on dogs’ teeth, fresher breath, a shinier coat and their poops end up smaller and don’t smell as bad.”

These are just a few of the amazing benefits of feeding your dog a raw or slightly cooked diet. There are even more ways this natural feeding style can help the furriest member of your family live a happier and healthier life. Linda or another Healthy Paws can help you select the human-grade raw food product that’s right for your pup.

Healthy Paws has the biggest selection of raw and slightly cooked dog food in the region. So, if you’re ready to make the switch to raw food, visit the experts at Healthy Health

City, SD 57701 healthy TEETHINGTIME Teething Time Tips! Scan the code below for helpful do and don'ts when # Call (605) 341-3068 /TeethingTime
425 Bentley Lane Rapid


We are fortunate to live in the beautiful Black Hills, and there are accessible hiking trails throughout the region. If hiking isn’t right for your family, you can still enjoy a change in environment — take a drive through Custer State Park, skip rocks along Rapid Creek or even take a walk.

Parents often think summer will be a great time for teens to relax and enjoy a carefree break, but for many that’s just not the case. Adolescents are often overwhelmed by an expectation to get out and post social media worthy moments — which can transform fun summer activities into additional stress.

It’s also challenging for some teens to be away from their normal social group. Kids often lack control of when they can see their friends when school and school-related activities are on summer hiatus. Loneliness can lead to anxiety or depression, as well as excessive screen time. Parents, guardians and trusted adults should watch for changes in attitude and behavior. Sometimes adolescents express stereotypical teen angst, but it’s important to be on the lookout for more serious problems.

One of the best ways to change your mood is to change your environment.

If your child is mature and old enough to be home alone during the day, make sure they have some responsibilities, but don’t overload them with chores. Instead, empower them to safely explore the neighborhood once they have completed their daily responsibilities. Giving your child age appropriate tasks can boost their self-worth and provide them with purpose. Being outside provides exercise, a break from technology and a chance to soak up that allimportant vitamin D.

I encourage my patients and their families to use summer as an opportunity to reset. Set a goal to do a family barbeque or nature walk once a week. Use that time to bond with your teen — even if they insist on posting pictures or videos on social media.


Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Take the mental health test, or find additional resources by going to

After a long and snowy winter, many of us have summer vacation expectations that sound exciting, but can often be unrealistic. For teens, the reality could actually be a weeks-long stretch of boredom, isolation, anxiety, fear of missing out and depression.
Erin Adkins is a clinical social worker at Monument Health LeadDeadwood Clinic.


Screening the screen

A recent Common Sense Media report showed that 13- to 18-yearolds are spending an average of 6 hours, 40 minutes on “screenbased recreational media.”

It’s one of the many lessons taught at Rapid City’s Code Ninjas – an educational-based center in Rapid City to help kids learn how to code video games. Students as young as 5 and as old as 14 come to Code Ninjas to gain an introduction into the world of STEM and coding.

“Gaming can be a really wonderful outlet for creativity,” said assistant director Renee Troiani. “Kids can create their own game and it’s freedom. Some kids come and have a passion for it already and it might be something they want to do for the rest of their lives, and others just come for something fun to do.”

Troiani said one of the aspects of their work is educating kids and

families about appropriate games, length of time to play and how to be a good sport.

“We definitely see both ends of the spectrum,” she said. “The games can be a way for them to bond with friends or learn new things. But then there are also some kids who get obsessed and it’s devastating to them if something goes wrong. It deeply affects them,” Troiani said. “It’s a balancing act to allow kids freedom to play and learn but also protect them.”

According to the American Heart Association, kids are spending less time in front of the TV but screen time, as a whole, has increased and is likely to grow.

Kids as old as 14 or as young as 5 can grow in their passions for science and technology — and gain some valuable life skills — at Code Ninjas.

That includes watching TV content and other movies and videos, browsing the internet, spending time on social media, and playing video games. Age plays a role in the length of time kids can play, Troiani said, but even the oldest kids should not have more than two hours of screen time a day.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends no screen time for children birth to two, one hour or less for children ages 2-5 and “healthy usage and activities” for children six and over.

According to the AHA, the increase in screen time has had an overall negative effect on children, including less sleep, higher rates of obesity and decreased social skills.

“It can be super tricky,” Troiani said because access to video games is much easier now than it was ten to 15 years ago. “No longer does someone have to go to a store with their child and pick out a game. Now, the internet gives kids access to all sort of games, a lot of them free. It is important to pay attention to how your child is using their screen time.”

A lot of games are actually designed to be addictive. “Besides addiction, there can be violent games

Screens are more present than ever; that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how parents respond.

What to play?

Top 5 safe, educational games/franchises for a variety of ages

(Code Ninjas)


Mario games

LEGO games

Kirby games


How much screen time for each age?

0-2: No time

2-5: one hour or less a day

6-18: healthy usage according to age, Code Ninjas suggests no more than 2 hours daily (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry)

Need a game plan?

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a AAP Media Plan (

– a tool for parents to create a customized plan for their family. It includes setting up a plan for privacy settings, screen-free zones in the house, setting priorities and how to better communicate about technology.

and some with very questionable content,” she said.

Games for consoles are typically rated to help parents discern material, but not all games on-line are rated.

Play together

“Be aware of what your kids are playing – a little research never hurt anybody,” she said. “Sit down and look. Or, even play together. Talk about what is beneficial for them and what is not.”

Screens aren’t going away, Troiani said, but with a little guidance and boundaries, kids can enjoy games, learn and develop friendships in the right environment.

“There are real positives,” she said, including learning teamwork, honing eye and hand coordination and developing problem-solving skills.

And they do it all at Code Ninjas without getting obsessed with the

screen, Troiani said, because they adhere to a strict screen time limit for all participants. Students are required to stop playing or working at screens after an hour.

A balancing act

“We step away and have them do something physical,” she said. It’s exciting, she said, to watch students learn.

During the summer, they offer a variety of camps, including Minecraft, Roblox, and LEGO Robotics to Stop Motion Animation, encryption and decryption, and circuits.

“While these camps do require our students to be in front of the screen, we make sure to incorporate lots of off-screen activities to keep the balance,” she said, “so it’s a great opportunity for students to learn and have fun in a safe, monitored environment. Kids always leave here with something they didn’t know before they came in.”


After giving birth, one in seven women will experience postpartum depression. That means, statistically, dads should be on the lookout for the signs of this pervasive condition. Knowing just a tiny bit

Will you be ready?

Bringing home a new baby is a wild experience. Simple things you don’t ever think about — like a set schedule or any sort of control in your life — just seem to woosh away in an instant like the pine trees at the foot of Mount Saint Helens. My wife and I have embarked on this ridiculous venture not once, not twice, but three times.

This is not to say our babies are not three of the greatest treats of our lives. They are. I look back on those early days, each time we came home with one of these new bundles of joy, with fondness. Diapers, 3 a.m. feedings, the little footie jammies, the cavalcade of weird and wondrous smells. And most of that fondness was found in the deep, cozy companionship

about postpartum depression and mental health can make all the difference in the life of your partner.
Story: Stephen Simpson Illustration: Mary Long

of two people who love each other, doing their darndest to care for these tiny, little creatures they made. If ever there was a perfect picture of having someone’s back, it was this.

Something Stupid

I’m going to try to write about postpartum depression (PPD) from a dad’s point of view. Maybe that’s a stupid thing to try to do. Empathy, after all, has its limits; certain things just can’t be understood unless you’ve actually lived them. But maybe this little picture I’m going to try to draw is, in fact, for the dads. I’m not going to be my wife’s biographer — that sounds like a terrible idea, but I’m going to try to relay my experience and a couple of things I learned during that time.

I think we, as dads, have a choice to make the moment we have that pregnancy test with the two pink lines waved in front of our faces. I’m not going to mince words: we can either step it up or we can be lumps. Now, no one is perfect (I certainly was not or am not), but we can at least make the decision to have our family’s back — and that can mean recognizing that mental health plays an important role here.

Something Smart

A lot of women will experience some level of depression following childbirth. One study says that one in seven will experience PPD. So, new dad or dadto-be, keep this on your radar.

According to doctors and researchers, there’s a spectrum of symptoms, from waves of emotional numbness, to feelings of hopelessness, dread, guilt, irritability and a whole other slew of life-altering emotions. Treatments can involve counseling or medication, depending on the type of symptoms and severity. The rule of thumb is to seek help if the symptoms don’t go away in two weeks. But, if it’s really bad, don’t wait that long.

Something Wrong

Remember the opening scene of Twister? Picture that when you’re thinking about the emotions surrounding a new baby coming home. Highs, lows, everything in between – all changing in a millisecond. It’s nuts.

That was the experience with the first two babies. Laughing, then crying. Screaming, then calm. And everything cranked up to 11 because no one is sleeping. What a ride.

That was the deal with the third baby, too. But something with my normally vivacious wife was off for number three. All of that same nutzo baby stuff was happening, but it seemed like there was no color in life for her anymore. If existing was her favorite meal, it was like the cook forgot the salt. It was flat. Things that shouldn’t have bothered her, shook her world, and things that really mattered lost their oomph.

I knew something was wrong. More importantly, she knew something was wrong. I look back at that time and think how lucky we were to have had at least a small understanding of PPD — how common it is and how big of a deal it is.

Something to think about

Here’s the sick trick with mental health issues: having them makes you want to avoid the treatment. If you’re depressed, you isolate. So, treatment, a lot of times, takes some cajoling from loved ones. That’s why it’s important to find your people. There may come a day when they become the voice guiding you through the fog. Or you might be the one shouting out to them in the middle of the storm. That’s a thought for everyone. I’ve needed that throughout my life, and maybe that opened my eyes to taking the pain of others seriously.

So that’s what I did; I took it seriously. And that’s one of the most vital lessons here: clear the path so your partner can get the help she needs. Step in where you can — take care of the house work, the cooking, whatever. And don’t hesitate to say, “The kids and I will be fine. Go.” She needs time to get better, and that time is probably outside of the house.

My wife needed to talk with a counselor. Each session was 90 minutes to two hours long and usually in the middle of the day. Prehistoric dads fought saber toothed tigers and hunted wooly mammoths for dinner. Watching the kids for a couple of hours and unloading the dishwasher was the least I could do.

This was the other thing that could have been easy to say: “You’ll get over it. This too shall pass” and other stupid aphorisms. She was getting told


that elsewhere. She didn’t need to hear that from me. This might be an obvious thing to say, but your wife will know her own emotions best. And, that goes for you too. You know if something is off. Trust that. Don’t let other people try to tell you how you’re feeling. If you feel like you need help, get help — that goes for new parents or anyone.

Something Extra

And here’s a bonus thing I learned during this experience. Dads, take care of yourself. The old airplane cliche about putting your own oxygen mask on first and then helping other people is true.

Don’t disengage with your friends. Pick up the phone. Invite them over. Keep them in your life no matter what. And keep your outlets. If you hike, keep hiking. If you cook, keep cooking. You’ll probably have to modify your hobbies to accommodate your new crazy life, but keep that flame going in whatever ways you can. Do it for your family.

Something Serious

Because of counseling, my wife got through PPD. She’s the hero of this story. I hope that’s obvious. If you boil down my brilliant lessons, you can probably see that many of them were really about me getting the heck out of the way.

Despite my blunders, knowing just a tiny bit about the seriousness of mental health really did help. I mean, if her leg was broken, wouldn’t I have done everything in my power to get her to a medical professional? Why should we treat mental health any differently?

So here’s how we land this plane: bringing home a new baby is going to change everything. Just accept that. Will it be a bumpy transition? Yeah. But that’s OK. Sometimes plane rides get bumpy.

Here’s the question, though, are you going to be a source of reassurance during those bumpy patches? Dads, you can do it. Take care of yourselves. Be proactive. Have her back. Your little families are bright, shiny gifts to this world. To quote Leslie Nielson’s character in Airplane!: “I just wanted to tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you.”



Anyone who’s kept a consistent fitness regimen will probably tell you that one of the big keys to doing so is discovering those exercises that you really enjoy. Doing activities that benefit our mental health is similar. Find those mental health exercises that you really enjoy. We’ve compiled a list of our favorites here.


Mindful Breathing

Breathe in. Breathe out. Mindful breathing is a simple stressreduction practice that anyone can do. It’s a quick and easy way to momentarily reduce stress or prevent it in the first place. An easy way to get started is to use an app like Headspace as your guide.


Feel your shoulders loosen and your heart rate slow down while you dive into your favorite book. A 2009 study from the University of Sussex showed that participants’ physical symptoms of stress decreased with reading — either from reading a traditional book or by listening to an audiobook. Experts have also pointed to literature as a way to grow our empathy. Literature lets us enter into the lives of characters who may be starkly different from us, thus increasing our understanding of the experiences of those around us. And spending time with characters who go through similar experiences as us can help us process those events in our own minds and hearts.

Fiction has been shown to be particularly beneficial in helping to ease some mental health issues such as depression, but nonfiction can play a role in helping with mental health, too. Several autobiographical books have been published that recount the author’s battle with mental illness.

Your therapistfurry

Dog, cats and other furry (or scaly or feathery) friends have been shown to help reduce anxiety and depression. A study has shown that our bodies release both of the feel-good chemicals, dopamine and oxytocin, when we play with a dog. In fact, another study has shown that working in a place with dogs or cats lounging around can reduce work-related stress and actually make workers more productive. People working from home benefit from their faithful animal companions, too. The same stressreducing effects take place at home. Furthermore, in a recent study people working remotely who had their cat or dog in frame on their webcam were rated by their colleagues as more trustworthy.

Play it your way

Both playing and listening to music has been shown to be associated with the feel-good hormones, dopamine and oxytocin. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, pop on those headphones or tune your guitar. Let the tunes take you away.



Things like earthing or negative ion exposure have minimal scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of the practices, but many people swear by them. Earthing (also called grounding) involves making physical contact with natural surfaces in order to be exposed to the electrical flow of the earth. Proponents of this idea believe that the natural electricity that courses throughout the earth has healing and restorative properties. Purported benefits range from a reduction in chronic pain to higher quality of sleep.

All you have to do to start earthing is to take a page out of the toddler play book and ditch your shoes. Walking through the grass with bare feet on a regular basis is the most basic way to start earthing. The science that backs this practice is very scant, but regardless of what is actually going on, being outside is undoubtedly a plus for your mental and physical health.

The same can be said of seeking out negative ions — a phenomenon that is said to occur near specific natural features like waterfalls. Are the ions you’re being exposed to while you’re near a waterfall really healing your body? It’s hard to say. What’s not hard to determine are the benefits of getting outdoors, hiking to a waterfall and being immersed in the sights and sounds.


Stay Social

Isolation is one of the greatest threats to mental health. Social isolation takes an immense toll on both the mind and the body. Research has shown that both cardiovascular health and dementia worsen in individuals struggling with social isolation.

Meaningful social interaction can especially become a challenge when you become a parent. The demands of parenthood put a strain on a parent’s needs and wants at times. It’s easy to put things like social interaction on the back burner. But becoming isolated takes its toll on anyone. And the more isolated we become, oftentimes, the more we want to avoid social interaction.

It’s important for parents — and everyone — to seek out and engage in social interaction. No matter how awkward it might feel, take the leap. Meet new people. Make new friends. An easy way to do that is to find groups designed for parents. Organizations like MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) and others are able to help parents make friends with other parents.

Water you waiting for?

The mammalian diving reflex is an involuntary reaction that every mammal (including humans) experiences whenever their faces come in contact with water. Among other reactions, a mammal’s heart rate drops when its face comes into contact with water.

You can hack this bioresponse next time you want your heart rate to slow down before that big speech or other nerve-racking event. All you have to do is expose your forehead and nostrils to cold water — either by splashing cold water on your face or holding a wet towel on the area. That’ll trigger an automatic reaction in your nervous system to slow your heart rate down.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Research supports the idea that the most important meal of the day can have an impact on the stress hormone, cortisol. In one study, participants were fed a simple and consistent breakfast of cereal each morning to a surprising result of lower stress levels in individuals.

And don’t forget the protein

Inadequate intake of protein has been linked to irritability, fatigue and other negative emotions. A simple solution to prevent these mood zappers is to switch up your breakfast, lunch or snack with foods that contain a higher level of protein.


Staying Active — no matter your age

Exercise puts you in a better mood. Research backs this up, and so does anyone’s experience following a run or a weight-lifting session.

If you haven’t exercised in awhile, you might be nervous about jumping back into any strenuous activity. Some activities are better than others for those looking to get back into an exercise routine. Pilates is an excellent choice for those looking for a safe way to return to physical activity. “Pilates is an ageless exercise that everyone can do. It’s low impact, it meets you where you are, and anyone can start it today,” Jan McGrath from Pilates Whole Body explains, “You don’t need a lot of equipment, just a basic mat and exercise clothes and you are ready to go.” Jan is ready to help you get active and stay active. You can learn more at


Getting enough sleep is crucial to mental health. People suffering from mental illness often struggle with getting enough sleep, and that can create a self-feeding cycle of not sleeping because of a mental illness and the mental illness worsening because of a lack of sleep. Sleep is the mind’s opportunity to repair and organize. Some key neurological functions require adequate sleep.

Gratitude Journal

You may have noticed gratitude journals for sale in stores and gratitude apps available on your phone’s app store. The increase in gratitude tracking accessories might be a marketing ploy, but the merits of reflecting on gratitude is grounded in research. In fact, some research suggests as much as a 25 percent increase in sleep in those practicing gratitude journaling. So, get the fancy journal if you want or pick up the 75¢ spiral bound number. The important thing is getting those wonderful things in your life to the front of your brain by jotting them down consistently.



Speaking of writing, studies have shown that writing your way through a past traumatic event has a certain way of “draining” that negativity from your mind. And that claim isn’t just sentimental — it’s connected to the way the brain works. One study that set out to understand this phenomenon followed a group of people who all met the criteria for clinical depression. This group was instructed to write about past trauma and stressors for a six week period. At the end of six weeks, 35 percent of the participants no longer met the criteria for clinical depression. Another study suggested that a likely cause of this reaction may be that trauma, which damages brain cells, is stored differently in the brain when we have to craft the words to explain it to someone else. Fire up Google Docs or grab a pen and paper, and get to writing — turn that stress into a story.



Lisa Porisch has long counseled children and their families in dealing with emotions in a healthy way. Last summer, she found herself on the other side. Diagnosed with a brain tumor, Porisch underwent surgery. Afterward, she had to learn how to walk again.

“It’s really been quite a year, and I learned a lot,” said Porisch, who owns Lisa Porisch Counseling in Rapid City.

Part of the growth included guiding her own children, 17, 14 and 11, through the difficult emotions of watching their mother experience a serious medical issue. That included helping them navigate their feelings before and after her surgery, when she was in pain or needed to sleep often.

Porisch and her husband brought the two younger children on the trip out of town for Porisch’s surgery to remove the tumor, which was a difficult decision in itself. During recovery, she struggled with her vision and fatigue.

“I didn’t really know how hard it was going to be for them,” she said. “But we also wanted them with us as we walked through that together as a family.”

Porisch’s experience with cancer and her road to recovery reaffirmed her belief in her lifetime of professional therapy work, specifically in the area of

children and families. Play therapy has been a staple of her practice for years, an area of expertise she pursued after college.

Play therapy is a form of counseling that utilizes play to help children express or communicate their feelings. She is one of the few registered play therapists in western South Dakota.

“So many life experiences affect children,” she said. “Through play, they can work through their emotions so they don’t bottle them up. I would send my own kids to see someone because I know how powerful it is and how much it helps.”

Porisch took a play therapy course while pursuing her Master’s degree in counseling at the University of South Dakota. After graduation she moved to Missouri where she attended play therapy training at the Kansas City Play Therapy Institute.

It combined her love of teaching and psychology, and Porisch is glad to see it gaining acceptance and popularity as a regular form of therapy. South Dakota State University now has a play therapy training program.

“It’s really growing and becoming more well known,” Porisch said. “People are understanding how play therapy works versus talk therapy. Kids are very

Lisa Porisch is a counselor who is passionate about supporting her clients. Recently, though, she discovered that her expertise was needed a bit closer to home.
Story: Kayla Gahagan Photos: Jesse Brown Nelson

In The News

Dr. Porisch attributes some of her success in the field to her father, Dr. Robert Arnio, of Rapid City, who will be inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame this year for his impact on mental health services at the state and national levels. Arnio, who grew up in Deadwood, earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of Iowa and founded the Psychological Associates of the Black Hills and Learning Solutions. Arnio helped craft state and federal legislation to increase the number of qualified mental health providers in South Dakota and has instructed and mentored hundreds throughout his 32 year career.

He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in September alongside nine other individuals from a variety of career fields.

active, and they don’t always have the words to say what they feel. Behavior speaks louder than words.”

Porisch said play therapy can help children adjust to life stressors, including abuse, social skill deficits, divorce, death, relocation, illness and natural disasters.

It typically works best for children between the ages of 3 and 12, and can include drawing, reading together, playing with others or hands-on toys like board games and clay.

Porisch said partnering with families is key. She also works with parents on nurturing behaviors, alongside kids if it’s needed.

“If the parent has a hard time regulating their emotions, the child likely will too,” she said. “And for parents, issues from your own childhood can come up when you’re parenting.”

Therapy, Porisch noted, is not a quick fix. Most families schedule 5-6 play therapy sessions before evaluating whether they need to continue. It’s about helping kids and their families develop tools to handle the ups and downs of their circumstances.

“We are really asking, what are they missing and what do they need to help their life go smoother?” she said. “Especially after the Covid-19 (pandemic), people are realizing that mental health is so important.”


What exactly is play therapy?

It is a specialized therapeutic counseling modality that utilizes the natural language of children—play—to help them express themselves, explore their feelings, resolve conflicts, and develop healthy coping skills.

The basic principle is that play is the primary medium through which children communicate and process their experiences. It allows them to express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences that may be difficult for them to express through traditional verbal communication.

If I sat in the room to observe, what would I see?

A trained counselor uses play therapy techniques to engage the child in various forms of play, including art, puppets, sand trays, dolls, and games. The therapist may observe the child’s play, participate in the play, or guide the play to facilitate the child’s self-expression and therapeutic growth. The counselor creates a nonjudgmental atmosphere, providing unconditional positive regard and empathy, which encourages the child to feel accepted and understood.

What are the ages for play therapy?

Generally based - ages 2 – 12

What is the greatest benefit of play therapy?

It provides emotional expression in a safe environment with a professional

trained to elicit their experiences and feelings. It allows the child to work through unresolved conflict and problem solve in a therapeutic environment. Play therapy assists a child to learn communication skills through play as they grow in their ability to articulate their thoughts and needs, as well as listening and responding to others. It builds a child’s self-esteem and confidence. The counselor celebrates the child’s successes and encourages mastery of communication expressions. These techniques improve relaxation, impulse control and self soothing. Social skills are also enhanced as it promotes sharing, taking turns, and managing conflict.

Is there a need for more of this type of therapy in the Black Hills and why?

Yes, there are already not enough mental health counselors and therapists, let alone those trained to specifically work with children and use play therapy techniques.

What kind of success have you seen with play therapy?

Lots of success with ALL mental health disorders, but specifically trauma, abuse, attachment relationships, anxiety, depression, and ADHD.

Dr. Stacy Keyser is a counselor with Rapid City Counselors and has offered play therapy since 2014. She shares what play therapy looks like and its benefits.



“Mental health support has been a growing need in this community, and even more so since the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Kathy Cruse, the interim director of the United Way of the Black Hills.

A 2019 community needs assessment found that community members desired improvements in education, health and financial stability.

“The top one is mental health,” Cruse said.

The numbers alone speak for themselves. In 2019, suicide was the 8th leading cause of death in Pennington County. Suicide was the 6th leading cause of death in Meade County, the 8th in Fall River and Custer Counties, the 9th in Butte County and the 10th in Lawrence County.

In Lawrence County, the ratio of residents to mental health care providers is 632 to 1. In Pennington County, it’s 380 residents to 1 mental health care provider.

The pandemic ushered in new factors that impact mental health, Cruse explained, including job losses, financial challenges and a cut in services. Since then, mental health needs continue to grow not just among the general public, but in law enforcement, service providers and schools.

“We’re finding more and more young people struggling,” Cruse said, which is one of the reasons the United Way is in the early stages of administering a program called Everyday Strong Black Hills. Everyday Strong is designed to provide more resources for youth mental health in the Black Hills under the collective impact model.

“Everyday Strong is a handbook and a program that anyone can use,” she said, and it provides research-based tools in how to talk with youth about the importance of mental health.

Local leaders have received training in a trainthe-trainer model and Cruse said the United Way will move forward with additional training once a new director has been hired.

That’s the spirit behind the United Way’s effort to provide more resources for local mental health support.
Story: Kayla Gahagan

One of the overarching goals of the United Way is to help identify more local, affordable mental health care providers and to provide more diverse mental health programs, she added. It’s not enough to have isolated programs or efforts, she said.

During the most recent Black Hills United Way grant cycle, 14 applicants were awarded nearly $250,000 for mental health work.

“The whole collective impact model means that everyone is working together to figure out what our greatest needs are and also to make sure we don’t have duplication,” she said.

For families, friends, health care providers and the community as a whole, identifying mental health issues is often the first step, she said.

In 2019, Rapid City hospitals reported that 3 out of 20 patients were diagnosed with a depressive disorder, but 6 out of 20 patients showed symptoms of chronic depression.

Education and awareness go hand-in-hand, Cruse added.

“There still continues to be a stigma when it comes to mental health,” she said. “People don’t seek help and we’re trying to change that narrative. It’s OK to ask for help.”

Cruse said she’s encouraged by the recent efforts to mobilize more resources.

“We’re working together, and that provides hope,” she said. “There are great organizations out there doing great work around mental health.”




Outlaw Square Movie Night

Free movie night at Deadwood’s Outlaw Square. Deadwood.


Family Food Truck Night

The best food trucks in the Black Hills come together every week for family fun, live music and tasty food at Canyon Lake Park. Rapid City.


Music on Main

Sturgis hosts mountain bike races, vendor booths, food trucks, kids games and activities and live music. 6 p.m. at the Harley Davidson Rally Point downtown. Sturgis.


Outlaw Square Summer Concert Series

Free live music starts at 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday night from the Sue Lundberg Memorial Stage. Deadwood.


Rapid City Municipal Band Free Summer Concerts

Each Wednesday in June and July, the Rapid City Municipal Band puts on a free concert at the bandshell in Memorial Park. The concert for the week of July 4 will be on Tuesday to celebrate Independence Day. Rapid City.


Rapid City Summer Nights

Come downtown every Thursday night for live music, food and activities for the whole family from 6-9 p.m. Rapid City.


Food Truck Fridays

Every Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., stop by Main Street Square in Downtown Rapid City to check out some of the best food trucks in the area. Rapid City.


Black Hills Farmers Market

Rapid City.


Spearfish Farmers Market

9 a.m. - 12 p.m. at Brady Park in Spearfish


Custer Farmers Market

8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Way Park in Custer




Black Hills Playhouse Summer Season

Enjoy one of the best theater experiences in the Black Hills — right in the heart of Custer State Park. There’s a ton of wonderful shows to check out during the 77th season of this iconic playhouse. Custer.


1880 Train Old West Shootout

Experience an old west shootout aboard the 1880 Train!

A few bad guys board the train and hide their treasure. The train is stopped by cowboys and “held up” halfway between Keystone and Hill City. It's a good thing the sheriff is in town! Hill City, Keystone.



Mount Rushmore Lighting Ceremony

Every night at sunset, the Shrine of Democracy is illuminated. The faces of the presidents are particularly inspiring lit up.


Legends in Light® Laser Light Show at Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse Memorial® is excited to kick off their nightly light show for the summer: Legends in Light. This show will dazzle and amaze viewers of all ages as lights are displayed on the 500-foot face of Crazy Horse Memorial.


Spring Volksmarch at Crazy Horse Memorial®

Hike 6.2 miles to the top of Crazy Horse Memorial® and come face-to-face with a legend!


Bluey’s Big Play

Based on the incredibly popular Australian cartoon, this family-friendly show will be sure to delight any fan of the show — young or old. Don’t forget the beans, Rita. At The Monument. Rapid City.

JUNE 22 - JUNE 25

Sturgis Camaro Rally

Enthusiasts of the iconic muscle car gather in Sturgis. A perfect chance for any fan of these incredible cars to admire and learn more about them. Sturgis.

JUNE 23-25

Black Hills Bluegrass Festival

Toes will be tapping at the Rush-No-More Resort & Campground this summer. The Black Hills Bluegrass Festival brings together some of the region’s greatest acts in folk and country music. Sturgis.


Neutrino Day

This event is an immersive celebration about science and discovery. A group of fascinating speakers are set to entertain and educate visitors at this city-wide event. Lead.

JULY 8-9

Native POP

People of the Plains. This Native American fine art show features original artwork, a film showcase, fashion show and performing artists in Main Street Square. Rapid City.

JULY 12-15

Black Hills Corvette Classic

The Black Hills becomes a playground for Corvette enthusiasts. Drag racing, car shows and more. Spearfish, Sturgis and throughout the Hills.

JULY 14-16

Sturgis Black Top Tournament

This sanctioned soccer tournament will take place in downtown Sturgis and will feature both youth and adult divisions. Sturgis.

Photo © Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation


Moonlit Movies

Mainstreet Square and the historic Elks Theater will team up to put on a showing of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” Rapid City.

AUGUST 3, 19, 26

Mount Rushmore Rodeo Series

Take the family out for a night of good ol’ fashioned summer fun at the Palmer Gulch KOA. Hill City.


National Park FREE Day

Free entrance to our national parks and monments — including Badlands, Devils Towers and the Minuteman Missile Site.


Moonlit Movies

Mainstreet Square and the historic Elks Theater will team up to put on a showing of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Rapid City.

AUGUST 18-20

Black Hills Threshing Bee

Tractor and antique enthusiasts show off their masterfully-kept historic equipment. Sturgis.

AUGUST 23-27

Kool Deadwood Nights

The 29th annual Kool Deadwood Nights showcases some of the coolest cars in the region. Enjoy free concerts, too! Deadwood.


Sturgis Mustang Rally Muscle cars, races, cruises, a car show and more! Sturgis.


JUNE 23-25

Black Hills Con

Come to the Holiday Inn Rapid City-Rushmore Plaza for two days of comic book, pop culture, anime and sci-fi inspired fun. Dress up as your favorite characters and enjoy family activities and presentations. Events include cosplay costume contests, fan-art contests, fan panels, vendors, photo shoots and more. Rapid City.

JUNE 17-18

West Boulevard Summer Festival

Handmade arts and crafts, entertainment, food, beverages and family friendly fun for everyone at Wilson Park. Rapid City.

JUNE 23-25

Main Street Festival in the Park

This festival is a highlight of the summer in the region. Artisans from all over the area come and showcase their wares at Centennial Park. Hot Springs.

JULY 14-16

Festival in the Park

Enjoy one of the largest art and music festivals in the upper Midwest. Three days of vendors, food, artists and musicians all come together to support Spearfish’s Matthews Opera House. Spearfish.

JULY 15-16

Hills Alive

A free summer music festival featuring 20+ of the best Christian artists on two stages over two days. There is also a KidsZone with outreach ministry, on-stage shows, bouncy village, and children's tent. Rapid City.

JULY 21-23

The 100th Annual Gold Discovery Days

When gold was discovered near Custer, the gold rush began and the Black Hills were never the same. Celebrate with three days of arts and crafts, car show, carnival and one of the biggest and best parades in the region! This is the 100th anniversary of the celebration — it’s going to be a big one. Custer.

JULY 23-29

Days of ‘76

Deadwood hosts one of the best outdoor rodeos in the country to celebrate the gold rush that founded the town. Parades are on Friday and Saturday, with rodeo events and activities every day. Deadwood.

AUGUST 18-26

Central States Fair

Car shows, demolition derbies, rodeo events, livestock shows, food, carnival rides — the list goes on! Don’t miss the biggest fair in the region! Central States Fairground. Rapid City.


AUGUST 25-27

Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival

Watch dozens of hot air balloons take flight early in the morning, then spend all day downtown for sidewalk sales and family activities. On Saturday, be sure to catch the balloons lit up at dusk. Hot Springs.


JUNE 30 - JULY 4

104th Black Hills Roundup Rodeo

FIve days of rodeo events and competition and the region’s largest fireworks display on July 2 and 3 at 10 p.m. Belle Fourche.


Hill City’s Star-Spangled Independence Holiday Celebration

Head on up to the Hill City for a homestyle Fourth of July celebration. Enjoy a pancake breakfast, kids’ activities, music and more. Hill City.

JULY 3-4

Custer’s Fourth of July Celebration

Vendors, children’s fair, arts and crafts, flag ceremonies and a B-1 flyover. Fireworks July 4 at dusk on Pageant Hill. Custer.


Sturgis City Fireworks Display

Starts at dark at the fairgrounds on Ballpark Road. Sturgis.

JULY 2-4

Gold Camp Jubilee

Mining history, music, vendors, a parade, and an inflatable bonanza! Fireworks over the open cut mine at Sanford Lab on July 4 at 7 p.m. Manuel Brothers Park. Lead.

JULY 3-4

4th of July Celebration

Sidewalk sales, live music, and a parade from downtown Deadwood up to Lead on July 4 at 4:15 p.m. Outlaw Square. Deadwood.


4th of July at Devils Tower

Play mini-golf and cornhole, play in bounce houses, win door prizes, and listen to live music. Fireworks start at dark. Devils Tower KOA Campground.


Post 22 Baseball Game and Celebration at Floyd Fitzgerald Stadium

Fireworks after the game (approx. 10 p.m.). Rapid City.


Rapid City Independence Day Celebration

Fireworks start at dusk. Fireworks will be fired off from the Executive Golf course. Rapid City.


Hot Springs 4th of July Celebration

Firecracker races, community picnic, duck race and more. Parade starts at 10 a.m., fireworks start at 8:30 p.m. Hot Springs.


Spearfish Sasquatch Baseball

Games all summer long! Fun for the whole family! Black Hills Power Sports Complex in Spearfish. For the full schedule, theme nights, and other information, visit





A counselor is a licensed professional who is trained (usually with a master’s degree, but some have doctorates) to help people work through their traumas so they can cultivate healthy relationships. They use a variety of approaches to accomplish this. Counselors have different specialties — marriage and family, children and other areas.

One of the things that might put your mind at ease a bit is defining a few terms. Let’s start with the easy one. Therapist is an umbrella term that refers to any kind of mental health professional.

A psychologist is a professional with an advanced degree in the medicine of mental health — often a doctorate. They’re trained in psychotherapy and have the skills and experience necessary to help their patients through talk therapy, group therapy or other forms of therapy.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental and behavioral health. These individuals are able to diagnose mental and physical health needs and prescribe the medicine or other treatment necessary to help their patients. They are also trained in psychotherapy and can lead patients in these therapies.

Religious professionals might be a great fit for you, too. Most pastors have at least some training in mental health. A few pastors in the area are actually licensed counselors, too. Many pastors will meet with people during times of crisis and then might connect them with a counselor whom they know and trust.

If you’re worried about picking the wrong type of professional, don’t sweat it. Each one of these specialists will work to meet your needs. So, if you go to a counselor, for example, and they suspect that you’d benefit from medication, they’ll connect you with someone who can prescribe and monitor that medicine for you.

The important thing is to find someone whom you can connect with in a meaningful way. And you’ll be able to find that person when you do something. The one sure-fire way of not finding the right mental health professional to connect with is to do nothing.

You’ve realized that you need to sit down with a mental health professional. Figuring out which kind can be daunting.
48 BLACKHILLSFAMILY.COM 2-3 years old • Throw trash away • Put away toys – tip: have designated boxes • Help put away clothes • Make their bed and organize stuffed animals 4-5 years old • Take plates to sink • Put away clothes • Set table • Pick up toys – peek under sofa and chairs for things that don’t belong 6-8 years old • Feed & water pets • Fold & put away laundry • Take out trash • Make the bed • Wash floor – supervised • Clean toilets • Load the dishwasher • Unload dishwasher but need help putting things away 9-12 years old • Clean the bathroom • Teach them to operate the washer & dryer • Put away groceries • Set the table • Load & unload dishwasher • Take out the trash SAVE $100 $20 off each of your first 5 cleanings when you mention this ad. Got kids? Here are some easy ways to get your little helpers involved in keeping your home clean and organized. Add in a few rewards for a job well-done and you’ve got a recipe for a fun way to teach them habits that will last a lifetime.
Categorized by age 1141 Deadwood Ave., Suite 4 Rapid City, SD 57702 605-718-9064 Professional • Bonded/Insured • Guaranteed Quality New customers only. Not valid with other offers. Valid only at this location. Cash value of 1/1000 of 1 cent. © 2018 Merry Maids L.P.
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From Scratch

Gene Hufford started his insurance agency in an honest, hard-working way over 30 years ago. Today, his team is still serving clients with that same spirit.

Scratch agent isn’t a term that’s heard very often anymore, but that’s how Gene Hufford started his insurance agency in Rapid City in 1989. “A scratch agent is someone who starts out without a book of business,” Gene explained. “That just doesn’t happen anymore.”

Gene was 28 years old when he decided to start work on his college education. He first attended Black Hills State University. His first daughter was born during the final weeks of his first semester. He later attended the University of Montana School of Business. He started out as a pre-law major there, but finished with a business finance degree. He pursued a law degree after that from the University of South Dakota. Following a few years of law classes, Gene decided to re-assess how he could use his education. Gene soon discovered that Insurance was a very good fit. From there, he set out to start his own insurance agency in Rapid City, and American Family Insurance considered his unique background in business, finance and law as a perfect combination to serve the clients of the region.

From that point, Gene rolled up his sleeves and started working to establish his agency as a fixture of the Rapid City community. “There was a building right next door to our current location here on Jackson Boulevard — it doesn’t exist there anymore — but they used to sell vegetables out of that building,” Gene said. “So, I rented that little building, moved the corn and the vegetables out, and I remodeled it myself. I put in a desk, three chairs and a phone — and I went to work.”

From that hard-working, boot-strapping spirit, Gene has found tremendous success. “Over the course of 34 years, I built one of the largest agencies in the Dakotas,” he said. Today, Gene has six people on his team, and they’re all bringing that same level of service and dedication that Gene started all those years ago.

If you’re looking for a team of insurance professionals who are dedicated to expertise and service, Gene Hufford’s American Family Insurance team is ready to help protect what is most important in your life.

Left to right: Kyle Sisneros, Darla Spies, Jodie Pooler, Alexis Rodriguez, Gene Hufford, Justin Claussen & Isabella Hernandez. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. & Its Operating Companies, - American Family Insurance Company, Life insurance products underwritten by American Family Life Insurance Company, 6000American Parkway, Madison, WI 53783 - ©2023 015967




JULY 28, 2023

Tests include:

• Vertical jump

• Broad jump

• 10-yd + 40-yd dash

• 20-yd shuttle

• 3 cone drill

• 60-yd shuttle

• Bench press with velocitybased training technology


O’Harra Stadium on the SD Mines Campus and the Quarry weight room

COST: $99

25% discount for EXOS members







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