Apr 26, 2021

Posted by: Emily Reilly

A Letter of Wisdom from Former Assistant Director, Carly

As we begin inching closer every day to summer, we want to honor and share some wise words from our former Assistant Director, Carly, who had an amazing impact on our community and helped Ranch Camp along the path to achieving it’s vision of being a home for all youth to be the best version of themselves, no matter who they are or where they are coming from. Thanks Carly, for all you did for Ranch Camp and can’t wait til your path crosses ours again.


Dear Ranch Camp Family,

It’s hard to believe that my first summer at Ranch Camp was 20 years ago. In those 20 years, some things are still the same. You still get to sign your name in the Mo, marking your time at camp. Shabbat services at camp are filled with magic, and praying in Eddie’s Corner is still an incredibly spiritual experience. Finding out the theme for Hard Rock and seeing the creative ways counselors dress up while eating pizza and drinking soda is just as exciting as it ever was.

Some things have changed. There are new buildings and activity areas at camp that make it a more accessible place for all. There is a dedicated focus on mental health, making sure that the social and emotional needs of everyone at camp are being met and that everyone feels seen, heard, and cared for.

And some things have grown in ways I could have never imagined. The staff at Ranch Camp actively work to make camp an inclusive environment, celebrating differences, and measuring success in new ways. Camp is changing campers’ lives, helping them to be the best version of themselves, trying things that they thought they couldn’t do, and connecting to people who make them feel whole.

I went from counting down the days to camp as a kid, to counting down the days to camp as college student, to prepping every day until the start of camp as the Assistant Director. I went from the one who felt the magic, to the magic maker, to the behind the scenes magic maker.

I had the honor of a lifetime to get to come back home to Ranch Camp and to create a mental health and camper care framework. Through evidence-based practice and best practices in the field, I worked with our team to ensure that our campers’ social and emotional needs are being met in intentional and thoughtful ways. Reshaping the structure of camp allowed us to make sure that camp is a place where every camper can be successful in their own way no matter their needs. And if I thought camp was magical before, let me tell you, there is no better feeling in this world than watching a camper overcome something they thought they could not do, whether that was flying down the zip line or making a new friend. Perhaps the only thing that matches that feeling is sharing the joy with parents and guardians as they get to celebrate that success with their kiddo from afar.

I am so proud of the Ranch Camp community, what it stands for and the active inclusion it practices day in and day out. Ranch Camp has been my home for so many years (there’s a hundred versions of my signature on the walls of the Mo to mark my time there). But my leaving is made easier by knowing that camp will continue to be a place where campers can be the best version of themselves. Where they can make friends and care for others. Where no matter who you are, there is always an extra spot at the table for you.

I am so grateful for this community, for the opportunities to make a difference, and for all it has given me. So, as we say during friendship circle at the end of each session, we rub a little Ranch Camp dirt into our pants and remember that this is not goodbye, this is see you later. Ranch Camp, I love you so much and I can’t wait to see you later.