Ranch Camp-Opoly

Session 2, Day 5

It was another hot day here at Ranch Camp. Though the energy here is always high, the heat can be exhausting, so to give everyone a reprieve, this morning was a late wake-up. This was especially exciting for the Metapsim unit, who had camped out the night before. Instead of meeting for degel at 7:45, breakfast began at 8:30, giving everyone the extra hour of rest that they needed.

Instead of the cabin time that is usually had after breakfast, campers went from the Chad (or dining hall) directly to their tracks. The outdoor adventure track walked down to the ropes course while the sports track took the trek to the sports field, and the arts and culture track went to the Mo to work on the musical.

Like yesterday, the temperature was extreme, and by the afternoon everyone was worn out from all the fun had in the morning. After another extended Menucha, the camp dispersed to more water activities. The pool and slip n’ slide were still open, but some more beat-the-heat had been added as well. On the sports field, campers engaged in a friendly water balloon fight or tried out a water balloon catapult before a game of water kickball began. Instead of the regular bases, players had to jump into kiddie pools before being deemed safe from being tagged.

By the time dinner rolled around, everyone was rejuvenated, recovered from the heat, and ready for the evening program. The activity was Ranch Camp-Opoly, new to camp last year, and one that the kids instantly loved. Each cabin was given a map of Ranch Camp turned into a Monopoly board, and tasked with a scavenger hunt. They were looking not for objects but for people, staff members hidden in various locations around the campus, each with a different Monopoly piece. Cabins got points for each piece collected, and prizes for each group of three pieces that all belonged to the same category. Once they had earned three, they brought their pieces to exchange for the prizes: cookies, pretzels, M&Ms, and fruit roll-ups, depending on which pieces they had.

The day was long, and by the time the sun set, everyone was ready for bed. The entire camp slept soundly, tuckered out but satisfied, proud of everything they had done that day – the activities they tried for the first time, the friends they are making, and the knowledge that each new day at camp will bring opportunities for the same.

A Sunny Day

Session 2, Day 4

In the past, outside factors were the only things that influenced a family’s decision of what session of Ranch Camp they want to send their child to. When did school start, when did it end? Did they have a vacation to plan, a family event to attend? They chose the session based on their schedule – every session was the same anyway.

But last year, that all changed – and the change continued this year. Instead of three identical sessions, each session of Ranch Camp is a little bit different. Now, families have more guidance in choosing which session to attend. They might choose the first session, two weeks of classic Ranch Camp action, or maybe third session, which is longer than the others, and gives campers the opportunity to experience even more activities and programs. Of the three sessions, perhaps the most unique is session two.

The mornings of second session begin in the same way that all others do. Campers wake up and get dressed, then come with their cabin to Degel, the morning circle. Breakfast is at eight, and then there’s some cabin time for campers to clean their cabins, do unit activities, and get ready for the day.

This is where things are different. In the other sessions, campers travel around in their bunks and activity groups to activities all around camp. But in second session, campers go from their cabins directly to the commons, where they split up into their tracks!

The track system is fairly new to camp, first implemented last year, and the main thing that draws kids to second session. With the exception of Chalutzim (the youngest unit), who are still getting to know camp, many of the older kids know exactly what part of camp they like and which parts they don’t. Some want to spend their time mountain biking and climbing ropes, while others opt for less active pursuits, like theatre or arts and crafts.

There are four different track options available to campers: outdoor adventure, sports, arts and culture, and beginner horsemanship. The Equestrian Program is also offered this session, as it is first and third. It doesn’t take long for campers to split up into their groups, as each was excited and enthused about the track they had chosen. Some went to the sports field, others to the ropes course, some to the corral, and others to the art room.

On a usual day, campers would have an hour of Menucha (or rest hour) after lunch before joining back with their cabin groups to do one cabin activity, and then one chug (or free choice activity.) But today wasn’t a usual day, as temperatures began to break 100 degrees. To give everyone a reprieve from the heat, Menucha was half an hour longer than usual. Then, in a successful attempt to beat the heat, regular activities were replaced with a homemade slip n’ slide and a pool party! Campers had a blast as they slid down the slip n’ slide and splashed around in the pool, the incredible temperature having no effect on their morale.

The fantastic day was topped off with a brand-new evening program, created by the LITs, or Leaders in Training. They are one year younger than SITs, and are preparing for their SIT year. The program they created was an overwhelming success, as cabins worked as teams to compete in a variety of “game shows,” from a Food Network competition to Family Feud and Jeopardy.

Things at camp don’t always go as planned. Sometimes things happen that are out of anyone’s control, such as an incredible heat wave. But that never puts a damper on the good time that every camper is bound to have every day. In this environment of community and encouragement, a sudden change in schedule isn’t so scary – and sometimes, the “rainy day” (or in this case, “sunny day”) activities end up even better than what was planned. Without the heat, campers wouldn’t have gotten to spend an hour on a huge, homemade slip n’ slide – and without the quick and creative community at Ranch Camp, the summer here wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.


The Second First Day

Session 2, Day 1

Of the many traditions that those at Ranch Camp hold dear, perhaps the most cherished are the songs that we sing. From team chants during Maccabiah (or color war) to the prayers during Shabbat, it’s not unusual to hear the entire camp come alive with song.

In fact, one very important song was the first thing many campers heard as they descended from the buses this morning, feeling the Ranch Camp sand under their sneakers for the first time as the words hit their ears: “We welcome you to JCC, we’re mighty glad you’re here! We’ll send the air reverberating with a mighty cheer! We’ll sing you in, we’ll sing you out, we’ll raise a mighty shout! Hail, hail, the gang’s all here, and welcome to JCC!”

The song was more than fitting, as “welcome” was the first thing on everyone’s minds as the camp began to fill with the hustle and bustle of campers arriving for Session 2. Whether they arrive by bus or car, first time campers or returners, children or parents, it’s natural to be nervous. Those coming for the first time don’t yet know what to expect, and many returners worry that this year won’t be as good as the year before. But it didn’t take long for these concerns to be put to rest as each family was individually greeted by a staff member, ready and excited to show them around, help move their luggage to their cabin, and make sure they’re comfortable before joining the rest of the campers.

After everyone was situated, parents had said their last goodbyes, and campers were well on their way to being unpacked, the camp gathered in the Chad to officially open Session 2. Looking around, it was immediately obvious that this session is larger in number than the first, with many more campers than last session. Though the large group gathered may have seemed chaotic at first, those familiar with Ranch Camp recognized the abounding energy as excitement and joy at being in such an amazing place.

After lunch, cabins moved around the camp to different stations – the pool, the corral, and the Mir Pa’ah (or infirmary). At each, they learned the ropes of camp, the safety precautions of different activities, and how to take care of themselves to make sure they’re having a good time. Like this day first session, the weather was chilly, campers and staff alike bundled up in jackets and hats as they stood in the wind. But luckily there was not much lightning or rain, so we were still free to complete the orientation, and nobody let the inclement weather get in the way of their enthusiasm. Cabins adapted quickly, taking time to complete indoor bonding activities, unpack their belongings, and decorate their cabins to make them feel like home.

By the time dinner was over, the worst of the clouds had passed. As the sun began to peek out of hiding, the camp gathered together one last time for the day, taking a seat on the hill in the commons to hear about the night’s evening program: Bombardier!

Campers had a blast as they ran all over camp with their cabins, evading the Bombardiers while dashing to stations to answer trivia questions. The game went on an hour, and after it was finished, the kids were exhausted. As they washed up for bed and bid their new cabin mates goodnight, another feeling edged through the exhaustion – a feeling that is hard to explain, but one very familiar to those at Ranch Camp. It’s a feeling of happiness and satisfaction, of excitement and enthusiasm, of community and belonging. It’s the feeling of being at camp.

The First Last Day

Session 1, Day 14

Ranch Camp woke up on Wednesday morning to a bright sky and a cool wind, the sounds of birds in the trees acting as a natural alarm. It was the beginning of a perfect day – and the last full day of Session 1.

Throughout the day, campers took advantage of ample cabin time to pack their bags and trunks and make sure that they still had all of the belongings they came with – but for most, packing was not the first thing on their minds. It might have been the last day, but at Ranch Camp, that doesn’t mean it’s a boring day as well. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

In the morning, campers completed their last activities, each with a special twist to end the session on a high note. Many campers got the opportunity to complete elements on the high ropes course that they hadn’t done yet, and on the archery range kids shot at water balloons to literally end the session with a bang. At chugs in the afternoon, campers had even more time to give everything a shot, as they split into teams for soccer, learned how to make friendship bracelets, or got in the pool one last time.

The activities were not the only exciting parts of the day. Instead of sitting in the Chad for lunch, we had a picnic in the commons, campers able to sit with the friends they had made all over camp. After everyone had eaten their fill of hamburgers and potato chips, we gathered under the porch of the Chad to take an all-camp picture. Unbeknownst to everyone, the EQ (or equestrian program) was hiding in wait on the porch, and moments before the camera clicked, they rushed forward to throw colored powder over the whole camp! The kids were excited by this colorful surprise, and it didn’t take long for a full-on color war to ensue. The next all-camp picture was much more interesting the first, with everyone coated in powder and grinning from ear to ear.

Lunch was not the only meal with a surprise in store – dinner was Hard Rock, a program usually run by the SITs. Named after Hard Rock Café, each session is a different theme, with staff dressing up and putting on a show before a dinner of pizza. This session’s theme was Spongebob. The Chad was decorated as Bikini Bottom, the setting of the popular cartoon, and staff members dressed up as different characters and acted out classic moments from the show.

After dinner, everyone went back to their cabins to change into warm clothes before gathering again at the campfire. This was the second campfire of the session, and was vastly different from the first. While both were full of energy, the energy this time was quieter, something that connected each person to the next, not necessarily seen but definitely felt. Everyone sat on the logs around the fire, arms around each other as the air filled with song, not yet goodbye but the beginning of closure.

The campfire ended, and the camp once again split up into their units – Chalutzim, Metapsim, and Toshavim. Together, each united created their own plaque, an old Ranch Camp tradition that had fallen out of practice many years ago. Now the tradition has returned, with even more meaning – each of the three plaques will go up in each unit’s respective area, with the names of each member of the unit adorning them. This is the first session in which the units were implemented, and the first group of campers to be members of those units. Though they may be leaving Ranch Camp for now, their names will remain, the first in a long line of a new tradition.

In the morning, after a last breakfast of cinnamon rolls, the Session 1 Ranch Camp family gathered in the commons one last time. Arms around each other, swaying back and forth to the music, we sang the songs that are most meaningful to many – “Lean on Me,” “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and “Olam Chesed.” Looking around the circle, the meaning of the songs became apparent. Though the kids may be leaving camp for now, the community and support that Ranch Camp gives them will stay with them throughout the school year. It’s something that they will always have to lean on, and something that they will always be able to look forward to.

After the closing circle, campers dispersed quickly, some loading buses while others met their parents. Many were tears were shed from campers and staff alike, hesitant to leave the amazing people they have gotten to know over the last two weeks. But there was a bit of happiness too, as everyone knew – this is not goodbye, it’s just “see you later.”

Something for Everyone

Session 1, Day 11

There are many reasons that campers choose to return again and again to Ranch Camp. Some come for the riding programs, like EQ or Beginner Horsemanship. Others come to experience the track system that has been implemented in session 2. Or maybe the ropes course, or mountain biking, or a trip is a favorite activity that can’t be had elsewhere. But no matter why a kid loves camp, each and every one look forward to afternoon chugs.

Ranch Camp is one of the only summer camps in Colorado that allows kids to choose what they want to do for part of the day – in most camps, the entire day is scheduled. Giving the campers an opportunity to choose for themselves gives them a level of independence that they may not have experienced before. For the younger campers especially, it’s unusual to have the freedom to decide exactly what they’re going to do every day. Not only does this foster independence in the campers, but it allows them to step out of their comfort zone in a way that is in their control, and to choose the activities that will best allow them to grow and learn without being too challenged or not challenged enough.

Today, another week of chugs began. The first chug of the two is a weekly activity, meaning that campers pick a chug on the first day and then go to the same activity for the rest of the week. The second chug is daily, so campers get to choose a new experience every day. As they sat on the hill in the commons, campers decided which weekly chug to join, whether they would make an involved art project, play a team sport, or something in between. An hour later they chose again for daily activities, some opting for court sports, some for the ropes course, and others an anatomy art project.

Like all other activities at camp, chugs are designed with kids in mind. There is only one exception to this rule: Kaleidoscope. This evening program is not created for the kids – it’s created by the kids.

The excitement for Kaleidoscope began during lunch a few days ago, as it was the first opportunity for campers to sign up for the talent show. During menucha, cabin time, and before bed, campers have taken every opportunity to perfect their act. Tonight we finally got to see the results of their hard work – and the talent of the campers was immediately evident. Many campers regaled us with carefully practiced, beautiful piano pieces, and others sang songs (many from musicals). Some acts used props, some danced, and one even performed with fantastic Chinese yo-yo skills. Other acts were comedic in nature, lip syncs or skits or incredibly realistic animal noises. By the time the show was over, hands were red from clapping and voices horse from cheering.

Ranch Camp is a place where people from many different walks of life come together to share experiences. It’s a place of diversity and discovery, and not every person, staff or camper, is going to be interested in the same things – and that’s okay. That’s part of what makes Ranch Camp so special. No matter your skills, comfort zone, ability level, or background, there’s always something for everyone.



Session 1, Day 10

Every cabin wakes up in a different way. Some counselors set alarms, others play music, and some campers wake up before the staff and take the morning into their own hands. But this morning, wake up was different. The camp was woken quickly and loudly by bangs on the doors, shouts, and even horses. The first words that everyone heard were “Wake up! Wake up! Today’s Maccabiah!”

Campers poured out of their cabins, brimming over with excitement. For some, the experience was new and startling, but their more experienced friends filled them in quickly: Maccabiah has started, a full day of an all-camp color war. Each cabin was split into four colors – Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green. Throughout the day, campers sit with their teams at meals and compete in various games to earn points for their team. It’s a day full of energy and spirit, with tons of exciting activities and never a boring moment.

The day had an early start as we gathered in the commons earlier than usual for four-way volleyball, and then filtered into the Chad for a hearty breakfast to prepare for the day. Though meals at camp are always loud, breakfast was especially so, as the dining hall rang with cheers and shouts of ruach (or “spirit”) from each team’s table. Afterwards, the teams spread out across camp to create posters, spirit sticks, cheers, and songs pertaining to the Maccabiah theme.

The theme of Maccabiah is part of what makes the day so special. Different every session, as well as year to year, the themes ensure that no two Maccabiahs are exactly alike. This Maccabiah theme is Space Invasion. Each team represents a different planet – Yellow is Saturn, Blue is Neptune, Red is Mars, and Green is Venus – and the judges dressed up as aliens. All day, the competitions and activities that the campers participate in center around outer space and the planets.

After each team presented their songs, skits, and banners to the camp (earning points for spirit and respect while doing so), campers began rotations to gain even more points. The kids spend the time before lunch engaged in scavenger hunts, trivia contests and BBS – or Baseball Basketball Soccer. This is one of the many experiences that don’t exist outside of camp, as BBS is a game that is unique to Ranch Camp. Like baseball, one team plays the outfield while another one is up to bat – except instead of batting, campers kick a ball as far as they can before running around the bases. The outfield team works to get the ball back to the middle of the court and then make a basket before the kicker has gotten all the way back to home plate to score.

Maccabiah is a very high-energy day, and teams put their voices to good use cheering on their teammates. To give kids a chance to rest, lunch was a silent meal, with teams competing to see who can make the least noise. Though it’s strange to see the Chad so quiet, many were glad for the break, which continued with an extended menucha in the afternoon. Campers were able to store up some energy for the afternoon’s event: the Maccapeel.

The Maccapeel is the most iconic of Maccabiah’s events. A camp-wide relay race, it was named for the bananas that campers would pass to one another as they went from one station to the next. Due to the bananas becoming squished and brown by the end of the race, campers now pass along a stick, the same spirit sticks that they decorated in the morning.

The race started at the front gate. One camper representative from each team sprinted up to the office, where they passed off their sticks to the next group of campers. As each camper finished their station – ranging from solving riddles to building a human pyramid – they passed their team’s stick to the next station and then ran to the sports field. Once the entire team was gathered there, they worked together to transfer water from one bucket to the next. The first team to empty their bucket won the race, with extra points to the team with the most water in the second bucket.

After such an active day, the entire camp was grateful for a more relaxed evening activity. Everyone gathered to watch the movie Space Jam, one last nod to the day’s theme. The night began and campers split off from their teams to return once again to their cabins, teams disbanded but still connected by the spirit that had tied them together during the day. Everyone slept soundly, exhausted but satisfied as well, each happy with what they had done for their team and uplifted by the support everyone had shown each other.

Shavua Tov: One Last Week

Session 1, Days 8-9

Another week has gone by since the first Shabbat of the summer. What was, seven days ago, a new experience, is now a time that the whole camp looks forward to. On Friday night, campers were free to sit anywhere in the Chad instead of with their cabin, and danced with friends on the basketball court as the sun went down.

Though Friday night is the image that immediately comes to mind went the words “Ranch Camp Shabbat” are uttered, observing the Sabbath continues into Saturday. Morning services here at camp are especially unique. Usually, it would be hard for a kid to get as excited for services as the zip line or horseback riding – but sitting and listening to prayers is only a small part of the Saturday morning ritual. The services start with a dance to a Hebrew song to get out some jitters and energy. Campers and staff sing along to the prayers with movements and clapping, and some cabin groups go onstage to lead songs. The, during the Torah service, groups of campers come onto the stage to do alyiah – and Shahar, from Cabin 5, even read directly from the Torah to the whole camp!

For many campers, the most exciting part of services came after the prayers had finished, with a camp-wide game show called “Israel or Not?” Campers competed to guess which snack foods existed in Israel to win the foods and share them with their cabin. Others had to compete to use every Hebrew word we’ve learned over the past week in one sentence.

The rest of the day was very relaxed, as Shabbat should be, with cabin time, a shiur (meaning “lesson,” about this week’s Torah portion), and free activities with chocolate canteen in between. After such a calm day, the kids were looking forward to some activity – and they were in luck, as the evening program was Pokémon Go.

Like in many evening programs, campers worked as teams within their cabin groups. As they ran around camp, the groups had to hold up a cardboard frame that was decorated to look like a phone screen and target staff members, or Pokémon, in the frame. Once a Pokémon was caught, campers had to throw dodgeballs through the screens and hit the Pokémon in order to capture them, and then bring them to one of three Pokéstops located around camp to earn points. Depending on the type, Pokémon were between 10 and 50 points – and this was a high scoring game, as enthusiasm for the activity soared and campers threw themselves into the competition with gusto.

The end of the evening marks the beginning of a new week, and the last week of session one. It is already incredible to see how much all of the campers have grown. The session may be more than halfway over, but there is still so much in store, and so many more opportunities for each camper to learn, grow, and succeed.

Farewell Chalutzim!

Session 1, Day 8

Seven days ago, the campers of session one gathered at the Denver Jewish Day School to load the buses, or took the long drive up to camp with their parents, maybe nervous but excited as well. Now a week has gone by, and in that time, campers have already participated in activities they never thought possible, done things they never thought they would be able to do, made connections with people from all over the world, and created memories that will last a lifetime.

This morning, however, started with a tinge of sadness, as we said goodbye to our mini campers. Though they only stay for a week, they left their mark on the camp, and will be missed by many. Tears were shed as they finished their last meal, not only by the minis but by their friends in other cabins, and staff members as well. Though they had only known each other for a week, the friendships they made will last years, and the many goodbyes were heartfelt. The camp put their hands together to form a tunnel for the minis to go through as they sang a goodbye song, and then the entire Chalutzim unit gathered in the commons for one last song circle before the vans were loaded and parents arrived.

For the rest of the camp, morning activities continued as usual – but the afternoon held a special program in store. With ten staff members from Israel, signs for an “Israel Trail” in the Outer 400, and the Israeli flag flying right next to the American one, Israel has always been a part of Ranch Camp culture. So today was Israel Day, a celebration of the country that is so important to camp life.

The program started in the morning, when campers climbed the stairs of the Israeli-flag adorned Chad to a breakfast of shakshuka, a traditional Israeli breakfast food consisting of eggs poached in a flavorful tomato sauce with onion and pepper. The Israeli menu continued into the afternoon, with a lunch of falafel, pita, and tzatziki sauce. The meals were a prime example of the encouragement and support that Ranch Camp brings, as campers tried foods that were new to them and were surprised to find a new favorite dish.

After a restful menucha, cabins met in the commons as is usual – but instead of splitting up for chugs, they combined into their activity groups and traveled around camp to five different stations, where they played games to learn trivia about Israel, learned traditional dances, participated in an all-camp art project, and even made their own pita!

Israel Day came to a close with one last Israel-themed program. After dinner, campers went back to their cabins to prepare for the shuk, or market. Each group created goods to sell, and then gathered in the Chad to exchange what the others had made for monopoly-money style “shekels.” Campers could snack on brownies and lemonade, adopt a paper dog, get their hair or nails done, or play games with others. On the other side of the Chad campers burned off some steam before bed with Israeli dance, including a new dance that was introduced tonight.

Many of the experiences that campers get here are unique to camp, and Israel day is certainly no exception. As campers participated in the many activities, they got to learn about a different culture in an accepting and open environment, without judgement of their own background or the background of others. Ranch Camp is, above all, a safe place for kids to explore and express themselves and learn about their Jewish community all over the world, and today exemplified that perfectly.

Clouds Low, Spirits High

Session 1, Day 6

Most days at camp at gorgeously sunny, the skies clear and bright, not a cloud to be seen. But in Colorado, the weather is never guaranteed, and sometimes the wind blows cold, bringing in clouds and opening up to rain.

What started today as a light wind turned into a thunderstorm by the afternoon, delaying the start of chugs. Because of Ranch Camp’s elevation, potential lightning can pose a danger, so for safety’s sake, it was important for campers to stay in their cabins. However, this didn’t dampen the camper’s spirits. Many took advantage of the extended menucha (or rest hour) to write letters, read, and save up energy for the night’s activities. Other cabins made the rainy day as fun as they could, playing card games with their cabin or even having a dance party inside.

Though chugs were delayed, they were not cancelled, and after the worst of the storm abated the camp again gathered in the commons. The weather, now safe, was still a bit gray, and the campers happily joined in some rainy-day activities. Some played board games with friends, while others read or journaled. In another sheltered area, campers played more active games, like ninja or speedy rabbit, a game in which kids have to move fast or risk losing their spot in the circle. Some other campers gathered in the corral. Though the horses had been let out of the stables, as is protocol in the event of a storm, the kids were not upset by losing their opportunity to ride – instead, they were able to groom and paint on (with wet chalk, which washes out easily) the two horses who had not been let loose, and even got a hands-on lesson on how to rope a cow.

By the evening, the weather had improved even more, and after an afternoon inside, the campers were itching for some action. The excitement in the room was palpable as the evening program was announced – Mission Impossible. Cabins worked as teams to run around the camp in search of a staff member, posing as CIA agents. It was the campers’ job, once the staff member was found, to disguise them to be impossible to recognize by enemy agents. As the sun went down, the camp gathered in the Mo and watched the disguised staff, sporting the names and personalities that the campers gave them, compete in a Mr. and Mrs. Ugly contest.

As is true anywhere, things at Ranch Camp do not always go as planned, but this never puts a damper on the fun and excitement that permeates the community. The activities, chugs, and programs are always flexible, ready to adapt to the day and ensure that everyone is able to participate, no matter the circumstance.

Campfire and Gold Rush

Session 1, Day 6 

The days at Ranch Camp are full of action. In cabin groups, activity groups, or during Chugs, campers get to experience the many activities that camp has to offer. But there’s only one time at camp when the entire community gets to do an activity all together – and this is during the evening program.

For many campers, the evening programs are the most memorable moments at camp. After dinner, campers have time to change into warmer clothes and fill up their water bottles before meeting in the camp commons to learn what exactly they’ll get to do that night. From dances on the basketball court to talent shows in the Mo (short for mo’adon, meaning “room”), there’s an evening activity for everyone. Of the multitude of programs that are run throughout the session, two of the most beloved are campfire and Gold Rush.

Campfire is usually held twice a session – once to open the session, and another to bring the session to a close. This session’s opening campfire was held on Monday night, the sky clear and stars visible as the camp gathered around the fire, clad in sweatshirts and brandishing flashlights. Campers sang songs, listened to stories, and roasted marshmallows (kosher ones, of course) as the sun went down. After the past few days of getting to know each other, campers had a blast singing and dancing with friends old and new.

After a more relaxed evening program, the next night held something much more active in store – Gold Rush. A camp favorite, the program consists of cabins running around the camp to collect pieces of gold (or painted rocks), then exchanging them at the bank for fun prizes like root beer floats, face painting, and even a chance to pie a member of the staff in the face!

Though most evening programs begin after dinner, this one began during it, and it began with a bang. While dressed in western garb, staff member Rachel told the camp of her travels through the country, and how she had come here to Ranch Camp to hide her gold. The story had only just drawn to a close when several bandits, all dressed in black, burst into the Chad and stole her gold!

The bandits are a staple of Gold Rush. While cabins travel back and forth between the bank (situated in South Village) and the sports field (in North Village) on their quest for gold, the bandits run amok. By holding hands and capturing a bandit in a circle, cabins can turn in these vigilantes in exchange for even more gold.

Dinner ended and everyone flooded out of the Chad, the entire camp transported back to the old West. As the teams amassed gold, they got their pictures taken, ate snacks at the saloon, and bartered for golden mementos. The festivities ended right before sunset, all of the campers happy with their purchases and all of the gold returned to its rightful owner.

Over the course of the session, there will be many more evening activities, some full of energy and others more relaxed. Though each program is unique, they all have one thing in common – they will be full of new experiences and moments for each camper to grow, and though they may only last one night, they will create happy memories that will stay with each camper for a lifetime.