Feb 22, 2021

Posted by: Emily Reilly

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!