Looking at 2022: A Letter of Unbelievable, Unimaginable, and Utmost Importance

As we wrap up what has been a wild, insane, and, most importantly, successful year, I’d like to switch from my normal monthly espousal of relatable content for our community, to something lined up specifically to share with our past, current, and future Ranch Camp staff. 

As many of past years’ staff, families, and campers know, staffing in summer ’21 was exceptionally complicated, challenging, frustrating, overwhelming; there’s a thousand adjectives I could use and it couldn’t fully describe it. I’ve always felt that working at camp, more than even going to camp as a camper, was one of the defining forces in my life and truly made me who am as a human today. It turned a shy thirteen (yes, that was once an acceptable age to begin working at camp, and yes, I was once very shy) year old boy into an outgoing, sometimes-too-confident, and compassionate individual. It taught me the importance of truly listening to those who need an ear, it taught me about running a business, and it taught me, most importantly, that working at camp, is, at the end of the day, a job. 

A job, by definition in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, is ‘a paid position of regular employment.’ Well, I can almost guarantee that camp is just about the most irregular job, with nationwide irregularities in pay. When I started at Ranch Camp, entry-level pay was abysmal. It was slightly better than when I started working at camp in 2003, where I earned about $600 for the entirety of the summer. While compensation has gone up in recent years, it certainly hasn’t increased nearly enough. If I didn’t make it clear enough above, working at camp is one of the most fun and rewarding jobs in the world. However, it’s often not mentioned that camp is also one of the most challenging, demanding, and exhausting jobs. I’ve heard it compared to everything, from deployment to crab fishing to rocket science – you name it, the comparison has been made. It is, without a doubt, the hardest job you’ll ever love. 

It’s why, in 2022, to bring in the best staff camp can, we are paying cabin staff positions at camp about 80% more than they were making last summer. Sure, an effective supervisory team is important. Sure, as you work your way up through the ranks at camp, salaries increase, just as with any job on the planet. However, our direct-care personnel have some of the most important jobs in the world – creating the experience of camp for the kids they live, work and journey through camp with. It’s critical to me, the administration of the JCC, and our lay leadership, that camp employment is considered, and feels as such in terms of compensation, a real job. It’s about as real and raw as some of the most demanding jobs on the planet, and the work done for campers literally changes lives. I cannot echo the thanks that all staff at Ranch Camp, and all the staff at camps around the globe, enough to make it worth it. The five year old in me, who learned not to get changed for swimming in the dining hall, thanks you. The ten year old in me, who developed a love for adventure in all forms, thanks you. The twenty year old in me, who learned from some of the best in the business on how to facilitate a three-day adventure for NYC teens, thanks you, beyond words, and from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul. 

In addition, one of the pleasures of both growing up at and working at camp is the connections you make with the team that you work with. I’m a big fan of bringing communities together, and camp is a place like no other to do so. It’s not abnormal to have international staff join you for a summer at camp, this summer will have more international staff from around more places on the globe than ever before, and I can’t wait to introduce our community to those we have already met. 

Looking forward to seeing you join, rejoin or reconnect with our family in 2022. 

#projectrealjob, #campismyhappyplace, #haveagreatnewyear


Ryan Bocchino

Thanks… for Giving us your campers!

Happy November! I hope everyone is enjoying their autumn and getting excited for some family time together in the upcoming week, and, if winter sports are your thing, praying for some more snow to get some action out on the slopes. See you in Breckenridge!  

I have spent the past 23 days in utter amazement at how registration has gone so far. I haven’t seen the speed of registration like this in a long, long time. We’re making amazing headway towards being full for summer 2022, all done in under a month of opening registration. If you have friends or family who has not yet registered for camp, give them a nudge and let them know that the time to register is not in January, February, or March, but now. We’ve got more than a few programs with waitlists and space is already at a premium.  

We’ve begun meeting with staff for next summer – who only share our community’s sentiment in returning to camp for 2022. Whether they are new for this year, returning from 2021 or 2019, or coming from abroad to join our family, every person we’ve spoken to is itching to get back to our camp family and spend another summer together on the Ranch. We’re excited to see our Jewish community from abroad, Israel, the UK, Uganda, Australia, Argentina, and more, make their return to us for summer 2022. I’m thrilled to share that we’ve already begun the review of prospects from both Argentina and Israel and have been very excited about the people we’ve met so far. We’re planning on having the highest proportion of international staff present at the camp, ever, in summer 2022, to bring people together from around the world together at Ranch Camp, and create a unique space of cultural exchange and immersion that hasn’t been present before.  

On an entirely different note, we’ve gotten more than a few questions about COVID regulations for this next summer. In the coming weeks, we’ll be updating our website to a new FAQ section regarding COVID/healthcare practices for next year. At this point, and I imagine for some time, we will not have answers on policies regarding masking, testing, or vaccination requirements until we get a little more guidance from the state and its associated regulatory agencies. As always, our main vaccination policies stand for next summer, and all campers in attendance must be fully vaccinated per child care & school-age requirements unless there is a medical exemption. 

As you sit down to a smoked turkey, which in my opinion, is the only way turkey should be prepared, please urge anyone interested in Ranch for next summer to give us a call and get registered. We’re seeing record numbers of campers joining us next summer and, as I mentioned, spots are filling up faster than ever before.  

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, eat a lot of food, and spend some quality time with your family.  

Camp on! 

Ryan Bocchino
Ranch Camp Director 

230 Days

Registration is open and the countdown to Summer 2022 is officially here. Here’s what we have in store for 2022… 

230 days. The countdown to Summer 2022 is officially here. Since waving our last summer 2021 campers goodbye, Ryan and I have had the incredible opportunity to hear from families, chavarim (campers), and tzevet (staff) about their summer experiences. I know the survey we use has a lot of questions, takes a lot of time, and is a bit of a bear; but it gives us a great lens to orient our compass for the coming 230 days. The heartfelt stories, candid feedback, and thoughtful reflections you’ve shared with us have helped us launch into Summer 2022 planning with new intentions and unbridled excitement. To celebrate registration opening this week, we want to share some of what we have in store for 2022 and our biggest takeaways from 2021. 

On the horizon… 

Revamping Our Communications Systems 

The uncertainty of the past 18 months has only reinforced the need for consistent and transparent communication from our team to your family. We heard your frustrations with our communication regarding ever changing COVID policies and delayed response times when you had questions for our camp team. Because of this we are re-evaluating our summer communications systems to ensure that we are doing everything possible to guarantee a 24-hour response time from a member of our supervisory team who is familiar with your camper and their experience. We’re also revamping our pre-camp communications plan to make sure you feel confident and know what to expect before dropping your camper off on their first day. We’ll be rolling out both virtual and in-person Q and A events, hosting monthly camp tours, and pre-camp orientations to set every camper up for success this summer. We also heard and share your frustrations related to summer photo uploads. The camp photographer is truly a vital member of our summer team and the lack of their presence at camp was sorely felt in 2021. We’ll also be increasing our social media presence by creating a consistent summer upload schedule and publishing regular blogs as we have in years past. We are committed to understanding how we can improve summer communication and look forward to implementing new solutions. 

New Programming: STEM, Lacrosse, and the Return of Session 2 Tracks 

We are beyond thrilled to announce that we’re expanding our programmatic offerings to diversify your camper’s experience next summer and beyond. We have some promising partnership opportunities with local and national STEM organizations to bring a smorgasbord of STEM based programs to camp. From worm composting to robotics, your camper might find a new hobby based in STEM this summer. We’re also happy to announce that we’ve been working with USA Lacrosse to expand our sports offerings and bring lacrosse to camp. Exploring best practices in coaching, gear, and safety have all been topics of conversation in bringing lacrosse, the sport of the future, as Ryan has so lovingly dubbed it, to Ranch Camp. This sports program expansion will allow campers to explore team work and competition in a supportive and meaningful way. Our hope is to give all our campers the opportunity to find new passions that can transcend the camp experience.  

We know that many of your campers missed the opportunity to participate in one of our Session 2 Track programs last summer which is why we’re bringing them back, COVID regulations permitting, for 2022! In case you’re unfamiliar, during Session 2 every camper enrolled in the full session gets to pick a track, or area of concentration, to become fully immersed in for the duration of their time at camp. This summer, we’ll be offering Outdoor Adventure, Sports, Arts and Theatre, Beginner Horsemanship, and our traditional Equestrian program. You can learn more about our tracks here. 

Staffing for the Future 

It’s no secret that camps are just one of the many industries effected by global staffing shortages. As many of you know, we had incredible difficulty finding and hiring staff our 2021 summer. Additionally, many of our international staff, outside of our delegation of shlichim from Israel, were unable to come due to travel restrictions. A huge thank you to everyone in our community who pitched in – repeatedly – to help find staff and make camp happen this summer. After countless interviews we were able to assemble a small, but mighty group of leaders to guide your campers through their summer journey. We could not be more thankful for our 2021 tzevet (staff) and all the joy and vibrance they put into creating an unforgettable and much needed summer experience. However, our staffing shortage this summer prompted a conversation to re-evaluate our entire staffing model. Moving forward, we’ll not only be hiring top tier specialists, but will also be finding staff with previous camp, educational, or child care experience to join our team as lead madrichim. These lead madrichim will live in every cabin to provide a consistent standard of care across the board and make sure every camper’s need are being met. We’re also working with Camp Shai to adapt their inclusion model to our residential setting and we’ll be hiring specific inclusion staff so all campers can feel successful at Ranch Camp. We’re confident that these changes to our staffing model will have a big impact on creating a space for campers to explore and belong.  

We’re also thrilled to be expanding our international staff delegation. We’re working with multiple international staffing agencies to significantly increase the number of international staff that come to Ranch Camp. We’re committed to providing a culturally diverse environment that allows campers to develop empathy, broaden their perspectives, and deepen their connection to the international Jewish community. 

Looking back on the journey… 

Our Community is Back 

I think it’s fair to say that our 2020 summer cancellation left a sizeable hole in everyone’s hearts. After spending almost a decade of my life returning to Ranch Camp summer after summer, I didn’t realize how much I would miss being surrounded by our summer kehillah (community). Although the road was bumpy at times, I can’t begin to express the joy I felt when campers’ laughter and smiles filled the air again after a summer of silence. I know that I was not alone in feeling that joy as campers and staff alike were able to finally embrace and rejoice in their reunions. We are overflowing with pride in what are community was able to accomplish this summer. Not only did we not have a single positive case of COVID, we fostered friendships new and old, gathered to make s’mores around campfires, cheered on our peers during Maccabiah, challenged ourselves on our new ropes course’s inaugural season, and trotted together on horseback. The depth our community is, truly, unprecedented.  

Looking into 2022, we’re expanding our scope of MESSH initiatives so that every camper has the opportunity to leave camp with their very own kehillah (community). We’re bringing back activity groups and maintaining age divided villages to diversify and solidify every camper’s social and emotional experience.  

2021 Drop-Off and Pick-Up 

I’ll be the first to say that Session 1 drop off was disastrous at best. Despite multiple conversations with our COVID testing company and feeling as prepared as possible, no one could have planned the perfect storm of events that left some of our families waiting on COVID test results for hours. I want to personally thank all the Session 1 families for the patience and grace they showed our team during drop off and apologize for all the inconveniences caused. Determined to do better for Session 2 and 3, we offloaded much of the logistical responsibility and planning from the testing company to our own team. We ideated and streamlined the process, and while far from perfect, we saw huge improvements from Session 1. While COVID testing, knock on wood, will not become a regular in our check-in protocol, pre-camp health screenings including temperature checks and reporting symptoms likely will remain for the foreseeable future Pre-camp health screenings help keep our community healthy and safe last summer and we want to replicate those results in future summers.  

While we are still evaluating our drop off and pick-up logistics for Summer 2022 we are considering restructuring the way the bus to and from camp system works. We absolutely loved seeing all our families reunite on pick-up day and are exploring the possibility of expanding the value in on-site camp pickups. We want to hear from you! Click here to let us know how you feel about bussing to and from camp.

A New Way of Celebrating Shabbat 

Shabbat is one of the most special times at camp. Campers and staff get the opportunity to break from their normal routine, have an amazing dinner, dance and sing, and feel the power of our community together. We were determined to not let COVID take away the magic of Ranch Camp Shabbat despite not being to gather in the ways that we have in years past. To keep our community safe, we tweaked where and how we celebrated Shabbat throughout the summer. During staff week, we celebrated on the sports field and it quickly became apparent that the lack of shade borderline unbearable. Then, during Session 1 we celebrated in the commons. Finally, we moved back to the Pavilions, socially distanced and wearing masks, which felt like ‘camp’ again. We also introduced Saturday morning “Shabboptions,” cabin elective programs designed to allow campers to connect to Saturday tefilah (prayer) in new ways. Campers could choose to connect to Shabbat through hiking, painting, music, yoga, and so much more. We’re excited to keep offering Shabboptions in 2022 and create a platform for every camper to explore Judaism in a way that is comfortable and meaningful to them.   

Whether it’s your first summer or your thirteenth, thank you so much for being a part of our camp community. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. I can’t wait to welcome you back to camp in 2022. 

Happy camping, 

Katelyn Skeen
Ranch Camp Assistant Director

Register now for Summer 2022. 

Best Summer Ever!

Oh, man… What a summer! Best summer ever! Remix!


Coming off the back of Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur, it has been a few weeks of reflection, planning, reflection, and more planning! It gave our team time to look back on what went well this summer and gave us some time to look forward to the future. It also was a taste of ‘normal’ in a year of absolute uncertainty. I am sure many feel the same as I do; that camp was an emotional anchor in a torrent of the crashing waves of the lives of both our kids and our staff. I look forward to a far more normal year (knocking on wood every time I say it) going into 2022. There is promising news on pediatric vaccination fronts that will help keep our community safe during their time at camp.


The amount of gratitude I feel for a community that banded together and supported camp this summer is truly heartwarming. Those of you who helped us find staff, donated on behalf of the exorbitant and ever-changing costs in COVID prevention, or just dropped off treats to help our staff get some sugar-happiness through the occasional doughnut and coffee, truly made an impact on having this summer be as successful as it was. We made it through the summer with zero COVID cases at camp – a claim that cannot be made nationwide, and a feeling of success that should be shared with all of you who helped make that a possibility. Thank you, sincerely, on the behalf of our full-time team, seasonal staff, as well as the campers we serve.


I am excited about our plans for 2022 and am thrilled to share next summers’ dates with everyone. Rates will be coming in early October, with priority registration opening for returning families right behind it. I am additionally hopeful that next summer will be even more normal than 2021. On the horizon for next summer is the return of specialty programs during Session 2. We are also looking forward to the return of Family Camp, Baktanna, and Pack and Ride, as part of our programmatic repertoire for next summer. Furthermore, we are excited to try out some new year-round opportunities for our campers, parents, and alumni to engage with camp in ways never done before.


I hope everyone is enjoying time this week, together, with family, under their Sukkah. Looking forward to opening our home-away-from-home at Ranch Camp, to everyone in our community, in the months to come.


Chag Sukkot sameach, stay safe, be happy and healthy, and have a great week!


Ryan Bocchino | JCC Ranch Camp Director

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.



Enduring… Together

TONY – “[Referring to alien invaders from space] How were you guys planning on beating that?”

CAP – “Together.”

TONY – “We’ll lose.”

CAP – “Then we’ll do that together, too.”

In my new role as the Director of Ranch Camp – much of my time has been spent parsing, reviewing, strategizing, and putting into action the plans that will keep our campers, staff, parents, and community safe. All the while, we aim to run a program that brings campers and staff back together in an unprecedented manner. With 400 campers and 400 acres of beautiful pine forests – every day inches us closer to making this dream a reality. A summer for building upon the rich history, traditions, and magic that keeps so many coming back, but also a new dawn for so many of us as we begin to take steps back to what is our new normal.

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of all things Star Wars, Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and so on. The stories throughout the ages promote believing in the good of others, recognizing the potential within yourself, and finding courage and hope in the most unlikely of places and individuals. These consistent themes are symbols and aspirational arcs that we can connect and relate to, and in so doing, apply into our daily lives.

The past year has taken a toll on all of us. From staff to campers, teachers to students, parents, grandparents, friends, and family – every corner of our community has been affected by the challenge of this year. We face unprecedented logistical challenges that no one could have foreseen a year ago. We face choices that are more difficult and have more consequences from our actions. We are privy to a wealth of information around the globe – with many stories of triumph, but also of sadness and loss.

What has, time and time again, been proven over the past year, is that a community that supports one another and recognizes the time in which we must band together to overcome obstacles is a community that endures. Citing Daniel’s post from the previous edition of ‘In the Loup’ – getting through this year has involved a partnership between all of us. Staff, parents, youth, and their families – it is remarkable the amount of support offered to one another within our JCC community. It is also inspiring and unbelievably touching to continue to see how supportive our parents and families are of our programs at the JCC. The boundless patience, ability to pivot with us, and willingness to adjust your own lives to meet the safety needs of our programs, are qualities deserving of recognition. There have been challenges; there will continue to be more. There have been successes, with more to come. What matters most is – we will confront them, and get through them, together. I’m unbelievably excited to get down to camp this summer and create a space where our campers, staff, and in a way parents, can get close to touching that sense of normal. A feeling long lost – and something that is hopefully beginning to trickle its way back into our lives.

We must continue to recognize and be thankful for, the levels of boundless inclusion, welcoming, and friendship that permeate our organization and our programs. Our JCC is without question, the most inviting and caring community in which I have worked. For both members and staff, it is a place where all are challenged to be the best versions of themselves as they best see fit.

Unfortunately, this love for fellow humans and beautiful embracement of the value of every individual does not yet permeate our entire society. All too recently, the horrific events in Atlanta, and within the corners of our neighborhood at the Table Mesa King Soopers, have been a solemn reminder of the vulnerability of that love, and how fragile and tenuous a ground upon which it sits. It is a reminder to us, paraphrasing the words of the legendary Professor Charles Xavier, that “Those of us with power have a responsibility to protect those without.” Every one of us, big or small, no matter where we are in our lives or what we do for a living, each brings something valuable to our world. It is a reminder of the importance of our value of ‘chesed’ (kindness) at our J – we must remember that being a space for all to be welcome truly means being a space where everyone coming through our doors can feel safe being themselves, no matter how they look, sound or identify. It is a reminder to stop hate when you see it, to educate those around you on what it means to be compassionate, and those who follow in your footsteps to make the world a better place one human at a time. Only together can we build a better tomorrow for the youth who inherit our world when we leave. As we look forwards to the upcoming Pesach holiday – it is yet another significant reminder of the importance of using our power, and our stations, as fonts of goodwill, and as tools to take care of those who are vulnerable or cannot take care of themselves.

I was interviewed recently and was asked what book character (‘Lord of the Rings’) I most identify with. My answer to this will be forever, Samwise Gamgee, Frodo’s closest compatriot on their journey to destroy the One Ring. His limitless compassion and dedication to his friends, alongside his indelible belief of the potential in (almost) every being to be a force for good sets him apart from all others in the story.

“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights, we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”

While we still have a ways to go, and many challenges to face in our journey – we’ll face them together: as a community that inspires itself, challenges itself to be the best version of itself, and cares about every human within it, recognizing everyone’s individual potential to do good. Shabbat Shalom, have a great Pesach and enjoy your gefilte fish.

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

Soaring to New Heights!

If the question of the day was, ‘If not now, when?’, the answer is, now.

If the theme of the day was to ‘Defy your limits and define yourself,’ the defying and the defining have both begun.

After a few years on the architect’s table and a few months in construction, we are thrilled to announce that our brand new ropes course has arrived! After so many months of viewing this dream on paper, in 3D rendering software, and discussing it with our builders, at long last, the work is complete.

Our new, continuous-belay ropes course, climbing wall, and dueling zip lines, have been installed, signed and sealed by the state, and are ready to rock for Summer 2021!

We are very excited to share that the course is accessible to all ages. All of the elements were built in a way that allows each of them to be modified and adjusted to youth of differing ages and ability. Whether you want to soar to new heights down the zip line (at a solid 30 miles per hour for over 200 yards) or are excited to learn how to repel off the block of the tower – this is the new place at camp to challenge yourself and embark on exhilarating adventures.

Not to mention – unlike the old course – these new adventures will happen in the “Inner 40”, in the main part of camp. No major schlep to get to the ropes course. You can even see right into the pool from the top of the tower. In fact, you can actually see all the way into the riding arenas, because the tower tops out at just under forty-five feet! And, when you soar down the zip line next to your best friend, you can see the iconic gate at the front of camp.

One of the exciting new features on this course is the static belay system – this is where the participant is connected directly into the course. Instead of staff being on the ground, they will be in the air right alongside the campers to assist and encourage them as they defy their limits up in the air.

Safety has come a long way since the old days of “Don’t disconnect the red clip unless the blue clip is attached!” The participants now clip in using Smart Snap devices; participants cannot unclip themselves without the key of a staff member. They will be able to do a full lap of the course while staying clipped in the whole time. There’s a training area on the ground to help familiarize them with the equipment so they can feel as secure as possible before going up the course to adventure.

We will also be transitioning to the use of full body harnesses for all participants at height – as secure as secure can be. This lets us do some neat elements, like climbing a horizontal climbing wall, or going across on a surfboard. It is going to be some serious mind over matter – very much so looking forward to sharing it with our campers this summer.

Lastly, a big thank you from our team, our ropes course staff, and our entire camp community, to the folks at the Sturm Family and Realty Management Group, for making this dream of ours a reality. We are looking forward to the dream being realized when we get kids up in the air and onto the course.

We are so excited to see you all at camp this summer so that we can soar to new heights together.

Climb on, friends.

Hope is a Radical Act

It seems safe to say that the past nine months have been nothing like we imagined when we started 2020. We have adopted new buzzwords… unprecedented, pivoting, uncertain times. Our work and school vernacular now include phrases like  “Can you see my screen?” or “You’re muted, we can’t hear you”.  We have completely reimagined ways to live our day-to-day lives. Some of these adjustments are convenient, like doing curbside pickup instead of shopping in the store. But, a lot of these adjustments cause hardship because we’re more isolated and we are learning and working in a way that limits real life connection.

So, how do we do it? What has sustained us through these “unprecedented times” so far?

We all have our different motivators. One consistent motivator that we have seen as we’ve talked with families, campers, and our summer staff is hope. We have been sustained by hope. Hope that we will make it through this time. Hope that what we are doing is enough to keep ourselves and others safe. Hope that the world we are re-building is better than the world we left behind. Hope that camp will look and feel as normal as possible beyond this.

In October, the Ranch Camp team had the opportunity to attend the virtual JCamp180 Conference. It gave us a chance to connect with peers in the field, learn about and build best practices for running camp during a pandemic, and to reignite our spark as we dive into Summer 2021. During one of the sessions, a presenter touched on the same thing we had been seeing in our Ranch Camp world, hope. He said, “Hope is a radical act.”

That was it… “Hope is a radical act.” It so perfectly encapsulates how these nine months have felt. After a quick google search during the session, we found the whole quote that this presenter was referencing…

“Sometimes hope is a radical act, sometimes a quietly merciful response, sometimes a second wind, or just an increased awareness of goodness and beauty. Maybe you didn’t get what you prayed for, but what you got instead was waking to the momentousness of life, the power of loving hearts.”

– Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott, an American novelist, is certainly on to something. It is almost as if her take on hope was written for this time. I think most of us could agree that this year isn’t quite what we prayed for. Sitting with and thinking about this quote since the conference, we have realized that hope as a radical act is intrinsically Jewish. In Judaism hope is often the sustainer and the driver.

We see it in our camp middot (values).  One of our most important middot at camp is Shomrei Ha’Adamah, being Guardians of the Earth. Each summer we work with our campers to learn how to take care of the world and make it a better place for everyone. We hope the work we are doing is making difference and the hope that it is making a difference is also what motivates us to keep doing it.

Hope might be sustaining us right now, but is so radical in this time. In the middle of pandemic, it is an active choice each day to continue our hard work and wake our eyes to “the momentousness of life [and] the power of loving hearts.” Our Ranch Camp community makes this easy though. You have shared your hearts and your hope with us and each other. You have given us your trust in preparing for next summer working to make it equal parts safe and magical for your campers. We don’t take your hope lightly. It is sacred to us. It is truly our sustainer and our driver as we work towards next summer. Thank you for being our partners. We are so excited for Summer 2021, which will be the BEST. SUMMER. EVER.



Carly, Ryan, and Noah