Looking back, looking forward

It is almost March.

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary since all of us moved daily lives into our homes to ride out one of the most challenging times of our lives. A YEAR. A full revolution around the sun in this madness. Harken back to the end of 2019 – who could have seen us here? Where we are now, and how quickly we all have adapted, as both individuals and communities, both professional and personal, to a world we could not have even begun to imagine ourselves in.

I remember last March 17th, I was getting ready to head out of town for a family member’s wedding in NY. In the end, the flight and event were both canceled. A few days later, our offices at the JCC closed up as well. I picked up a few things from my desk, took what I thought I needed home with me, thinking we’d be back in a few weeks, or would be moving down to camp for the summer.

I don’t know if it was hubris, or was just being hopeful, but uh, clearly, in hindsight: completely incorrect. This has been a journey – and it’s not even over yet.

For the first time in almost 25 years of my life, camp wasn’t a part of my summer. I spent the majority of my life at camp: as a camper starting at the age of seven (I became a staff member at 13) through my time today, as a camp director. The loss of this camp connection has had a widespread and far-reaching impact: Milestones were missed; memories that should have been, weren’t made; international and domestic flights and friendships, were all grounded. Trailheads, buses, benches, and cabins were empty. There were no GaGa tournaments, no songs on Shabbat, no screams of ‘delight’ from the zip line. Ranch Camp was completely closed. And, while there’s much to grieve for, there is excitement in the light that is coming.

I’m sure my excitement for this upcoming summer is shared with many of you: campers, parents, staff, alumni, vendors – all impacted by the loss of camp in 2020. We are only a few months away from reconnecting with each other, disconnecting from the screens, and rekindling the friendships that have been relegated to Zoom parties and limited interaction. I could not be happier to be back outdoors enjoying time spent with campers, and it is with both honor and an eager joy, that I get to do that for our community.

We’re counting down the days to what will be an unforgettable summer, though in some ways it will be very different than other Ranch Camp summers. Operations and the way we move through camp will have to change: Meals, climbing, art, etc. – everything about our day will feel a touch different than it did year’s yore.

Even though many things will change in our daily camp lives, many things will stay the same! This is a home for everyone. Every. One. No matter who you are, or where you are from, Ranch Camp is still the place that sparks friendships, builds community, and provides campers with “challenge by choice” opportunities for new activities. Ranch Camp is still the place that will encourage those who walk through its gates to be the best versions of themselves, feeling comfortable and confident doing so.

Thank you, all, for the outpouring of positive support during the transitional period over the past months! This community continues to amaze and inspire me. We are working hard right now to create our safety plans and consider every scenario for this coming camp season. I cannot wait to get up to camp and give our campers and staff what we all need most – something familiar, something outdoors, something friendly, and something fun;  all encapsulated in time spent at Ranch Camp.

Excited to share our plans with you and can’t wait to see you at camp.

Looking forward to an amazing summer together!


Meet our new Ranch Camp Leadership Team

We are delighted to announce that Ryan Bocchino will be our new Ranch Camp Director!

Ryan joined the JCC Ranch Camp team in 2016 as the Ranch Camp Associate Director and started making an impact immediately. He has been instrumental in staff management and enhancing the overall camper experience which resulted in a 20% increase in customer-surveyed performance metrics. In addition to the impact he had on our staff and campers, he has been just as important behind the scenes, assisting with budget management and fundraising efforts to ensure our camp is set-up for future success.

Most recently, Ryan helped design and manage the construction of the new ropes course, climbing tower, and zip line. Ryan describes himself as a lifelong educator, an outdoor enthusiast, and a gardener extraordinaire. Before Ranch Camp, Ryan served as the Program Manager at Green Chimney’s Children Services, an identified-need student residential and day school located in New York. Ryan’s enthusiasm is uplifting and engaging, and his big personality and laughter is a magnet for kids of any age.

In addition to this announcement, we are pleased to let you know that Courtney Jacobson has been promoted to the General Manager of Camps and the Early Learning School (ELS). This is a new role within the JCC organization which will oversee the ELS, Camp Shai, and Ranch Camp teams. Courtney will work hand-in-hand with Ryan to provide the organizational support needed to run an amazing residential camp experience for your children. She will also focus on creating a seamless experience for our young families as your children grow within the J – from preschoolers to campers.

Courtney joined the JCC four years ago as the Director of Camp Shai & Youth Programs. In August of 2020, Courtney took on the additional role of Interim Director of the Early Learning School which included implementing COVID precautions during an unprecedented school year. Courtney is dedicated to building relationships with her teammates and families to ensure only the highest quality of customer service.  She also has extensive knowledge of Colorado State Licensing for Childcare Programs and American Camping Association Standards. Courtney was a Ranch Camp camper herself and also served as a counselor for several years, so needless to say she is excited about the opportunity to oversee the Ranch Camp team.

The search for a Ranch Camp Assistant Director is currently in progress. We are not taking this search lightly, and are looking for the perfect candidate that meets the needs of our organization and our very special and amazing Ranch Camp community.

Ryan Bocchino, Ranch Camp Director