Jul 25, 2018

Posted by: Kelsey O'Hara

Units at Ranch Camp

Session 3, Day 13

It’s no secret that Ranch Camp is a special place. It’s a community of family and support, made up of people from so many different backgrounds and walks of life. It’s a safe place for campers to explore their identity, Jewish or otherwise, and learn about different cultures in an encouraging and accepting environment. While spending so much time in this incredible community, it can be easy to forget that the community, though vastly important, isn’t the only thing that makes Ranch Camp so special.

Many campers’ lives during the school year, fulfilling as they may be, are man-made. With televisions and smart phones, cars and school buses, flashing lights and electronic music, they are surrounded by the technology of the advancing world. For some, the time they’ve spent at Ranch Camp is the longest they’ve had to step away from this environment and into the natural world. Though we still rely on the luxuries of electricity and running water, the landscape is sculpted by the surrounding nature. It’s a unique and fascinating experience to live in a place where you might see a deer a few yards from your cabin when stepping out in the early morning, or to feel water evaporating off your shoulders in warm rays of sunlight as you walk back from a shower.

After these last few rainy afternoons, the clear blue sky and gentle breeze were more than welcome. Each cabin made their way to degel, the morning circle, sneakers sinking into the damp dirt and sand, the sweet smell of wet grass mingling with the delicious scent of breakfast potatoes drifting down from the Chad. This morning’s verse of Shiga’on was especially energetic, voices ringing throughout the Inner 40.

Once breakfast was finished, everyone threw themselves into the morning’s activities with gusto. Some groups took the trek down to the ropes course, the view of the surrounding forest stunning from the top of the zip tower. Others strapped on helmets for a bike ride through the Outer 400, the wheels kicking up fresh dirt on the natural trails. Still others took a dip in the pool, flexed their archery skills, mounted horses, or practiced Israeli dance, the songs of which reverberated around camp, adding a joyful soundtrack to the day.

The Chad reverberated with cheers during lunch, the ruach (or spirit) of the camp soaring through the roof. This was followed by Menucha and then two daily chugs, giving the kids more freedom of choice than usual. After the last few afternoons inside, the chugs were, literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air.

As the sun began to lower in the sky, the pink and orange clouds a Colorado staple, the camp split up into the three different units: Chalutzim, Metapsim, and Toshavim. Usually, the evening program is a camp-wide activity. Tonight was an exception, as each unit ran their own program, each vastly different but similar in that they fostered teamwork, creativity, and a feeling of support within the unit.

By the time the sun had completed its descent past the horizon, the programs had come to a close and campers were tucked in their beds, tuckered out from the full day. Each and every camper had experienced camp to the fullest, learning and growing, stretching their comfort zones, trying new things, and having a blast throughout. Some may say it’s not possible for anything to be perfect – but perfect is the only word that can describe days like these.