Jul 09, 2019

Posted by: Emily Reilly

The Outer 400

When the words “Ranch Camp” are spoken, a very specific image comes to mind for many. Maybe some picture the Ranch Camp sign, where cabin photos are taken at the beginning of every session. Others may imagine the front gate, the first thing that lets people know they’ve finally arrived. Or maybe it’s the Chad, the Mo, a cabin, a favorite activity area. These images of camp are widely varied, but all have one thing in common – they exist in the inner 40 acres of camp.

The camp property is split into two parts: the Inner 40 and the Outer 400, each named for their respective acreage. Though most members of the community spend the majority of their time in the Inner 40 (where many of the previously mentioned classic camp images reside), the Outer 400 exists as a wealth of experience and opportunity, a sliver of the natural world that campers are able to engage in on a frequent basis.

While most activities are located close to the cabins, there are a few exceptions that take place past the fence. One of these is archery, a camp favorite and highly anticipated by all. Trained instructors teach the campers how to load, aim, and shoot their arrows, everyone taking part in this long-established sport while surrounded by the environment that it was designed for. Another one of these activities is ropes. Sometimes visible through the trees, the ropes course can be spotted during the drive up the main road. Activity groups bond and take their teamwork to the next level on low ropes before making their way further up the path to the high ropes course, where the beautiful scenery can be taken in from the best vantage point at camp.

These activities are some of the best around, but sometimes, the Outer 400 is best experienced without distraction. Campers in the EQ and Beginner Horsemanship programs (and very often those in the regular ranch programs as well) take their horses on trail rides, becoming one with the nature around them through their collaboration with the beautiful animals. The mountain bike activities are perfect for those who crave a more fast-paced kind of excitement, and for those who prefer to take their time and fully envelop themselves in the natural world, the teva wild hikes offer a wide and varied range of experiences. From the wide and sunny meadows to the cool and shady sand caves, the Outer 400 offers new discoveries and diversity at every turn.

But for many, time in the Outer 400 is best spent in one specific way: camping. Younger kids may sleep at Eddie’s Corner, an outdoor area mostly used for services that allows quick and easy access to bathrooms and cabins, making sure that what may be someone’s first foray into sleeping out is an experience that is both exciting and comfortable. Older kids might trek out farther, taking their sleeping bags to well-known campsites like Cold Mountain or Upper Mushroom. Campfires, s’mores, and storytelling round out these picturesque evenings under the stars. Even if the destination is a bunkbed rather than a tent, night hikes are the perfect opportunity to observe the world of Ranch Camp from a different perspective, moments for meditation or just quiet reflection offering a chance to process the excitement and experiences of the rest of camp.

Summer camp exists to many as a respite from the outside world, a place full of peace and joy, where community is prioritized and everyone is accepted just as they are. This is exemplified all over camp, but especially strongly in the Outer 400, where all experience levels are welcome, the awe fostered by nature is shared by all, and the surrounding natural world strengthens the bonds of all who enter and experience it together.