Ranch Camp Little Outdoor Libraries

Written By Gina McReynolds; Assistant Director, JCC Ranch Camp

My greatest hobby (and addiction!) was developed at the age of seven in Ms. Fitch’s first grade class…..reading!  After being awarded 2nd place in the first grade year-long reading contest (losing to Neal P. who out-read me by 3 books for a total of 266 books!) I cannot recall a time that I have not been “in the middle of” one book or another.  Books have been my inspiration and my refuge with their characters being some of my most constant friends and guides.

This season has me thinking a lot about the stories we tell and how they are often the vessels in which we pass our history from generation to generation.  This we see everyday as we relate stories of our own history to our children. Within the history of the Jewish people, and of humanity as a whole story telling has been crucial for recording history, entertainment, teaching, imagination and so much more!


Example of Outdoor Library

When we think of camp we don’t often think of “reading”, but then we don’t often take much time to think about the quiet moments we experience at camp – and these are some of the most meaningful, memorable times. Such as the times when we relax into a hammock near the ga-ga pits, climb into the comfort of our bunk after an amazing day or hike out to a beautiful meadow with our best friends to grab a few minutes of quiet and reflection.  These moments, that are often accompanied by a book, are important camp moments from which we can derive peace amidst the crazy, tumultuous beauty this is summer camp.

To honor these moments I want to work with our whole community to intentionally create space for books at camp.  And to do this in the spirit of Ranch Camp and our love for the outdoors, I would like to introduce Ranch Camp’s Little Outdoor Library Project!  (If you have heard of the Little Free Library system the concept is similar though they will only be accessible to RC campers.)  Our goal is to place 3-4 libraries around our site creating a culture of book swapping and sharing each session at camp!  

Here is how you can participate:

  1.  Build a library!  These are simple building projects (though you can make them very complex and ornate!) that the whole family can participate in.  There are hundreds of plans and ideas online to DIY an outdoor library or you can purchase a kit!  I, Gina McReynolds, commit to building a library for Ranch Camp, with help from my husband Jay, and you can track our process by following us on Facebook HERE.  Here are a few resources to get you started if you are interesting in building a library for camp!  P.S. If you build and donate a library to camp, you are welcome to name the library after your camper or family – it can be a neat camp legacy piece!
    1. https://www.pinterest.com/ltlfreelibrary/library-plans-instructions-and-ideas/
    2. https://www.instructables.com/id/Little-Free-Library/
  2. Donate books!  We will need books to fill our libraries!  GOOD new/used books for ages 7 and up.  Please make sure your books have appropriate content!  To donate books you can:
    1. Bring them with you to camp!
    2. Mail them to JCC Ranch Camp 350 S Dahlia St, Denver CO 80246 (Mail them USPS media mail – it will save you $$ as books are discounted when shipping!)
    3. Bring them to the Denver JCC and drop them off at the Camp Central office.
  3. Donate Funds!  We want to stock these libraries with several books by Jewish authors w/ Jewish themes and would love assistance in purchasing these books.  To see the kinds of books we are talking about, visit the PJ Library site here: https://www.pjlibrary.org/books-and-music/8-years-and-older.aspx  To donate, click HERE and make a note in the comment section that the funds are going to support the Ranch Camp library program!
  4. library bike

    Example of Outdoor Library

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