It’s been one day since the Session Two campers made their way through the front gate for the first time this summer. The drive up the main road to camp feels longer than it really is, the anticipation of what lies ahead sparking energy in the air. It’s been a day since each cabin united for the first time, a day since the first camp meal, a day since the empty cabins filled with signs of their inhabitants. Camp has only been in session for a day, but many feel like they’ve merely returned to their natural environment, already settling in to their home away from home.
Ranch Camp has a way of bringing many different kinds of people together, a sentiment immediately evidenced by the cheers that flooded the dining hall and the rising of voices together as everyone sang the Ranch Camp song in the opening circle afterwards. For many campers, this is the first time they’ve had these experiences. For others, this sense of community is a principle factor in their decision to return year after year. No matter if this is a camper’s first year or fifth, all share the same sense curiosity and excitement for what the next week and a half has in store.
After lunch (chicken sandwiches and potato wedges, the first delicious and filling meal of many) and the song circle, the remaining hours of the day were dedicated to settling into camp. The voices of every age group carried across the commons of North and South Village alike as cabins retrieved their luggage, ready to make their bunks their own. Once every building was satisfactorily decorated, everyone jumped into the afternoon’s activities. Each group got a chance to hop into the pool, cooling off from the hot day while cheering on their cabin mates during the swim test. Equally as anticipated was a trip to the corral, an integral part of the camp experience, getting a chance to ask about the activities and take a look at some of the horses grazing on the hill.
Cabin photos and check-ins at the Mir Pa’ah, or health center, were interspersed with bonding time. High-energy games and get-to-know-you activities solidified the bonds already forming between campers, and the discovery common interests sparked animated conversation as groups walked from one activity to another. The voices of the community could be heard from every corner of the inner forty acres of camp, the property in its natural state. Camp feels like such a different place than it does during the off season, or even intersession. Filled with friendship and community is the way Ranch Camp is meant to be.
Though campers spent the day in their cabin groups, the community as a whole is in no way divided by age or gender. This is evident during meals or when split into activity groups, but the diversity and inclusivity of camp is most obvious at one certain time of the day: evening program. No matter what cabin, program track, activity group, or age unit a camper might be in, each and every one participates in the same program after dinner. This is one of the only times when every member of camp is involved in the same activity at once, and the energy and enthusiasm this brings is nearly palpable as everyone gathers in the commons to begin. The first night’s evening program was Bombardier, a game that combines trivia, tag, and teambuilding into a friendly competition that has something for everyone to enjoy.
By the time the sun was making its way past the horizon, the first day of Session Two was drawing to a close. It had been a day full of enthusiasm and anticipation, energy and activity, friendship and fun. It was the kind of day that felt like more than one, any anxiety or worries from the morning now a distant memory. As camp quieted down, every camper drifted into the peaceful sleep that comes after a long but incredibly satisfying day. They rested well with the knowledge that the next morning would come with just as much excitement as the last, as will every morning here at camp, each day carrying the promise of many more new experiences and an ever stronger community.