by Cassidy Gillard
It’s the end of the summer, and there has been a mysterious change in the energy around camp. The kids are excited to get back to school [although they may not be willing to admit it], and the staff are anxiously trying to figure out and finalize their plans for the coming season. Everyone is trying to soak in the last few moments we have together before we go our separate ways.
Today, the fog was thick, the air was cool and it felt like fall. It was the perfect day to snuggle up next to the fire and listen to stories, do indoor art projects, and go for foggy horseback rides. As I wandered through the lodge full of campers [which is a rare occasion, as our activities are generally outdoors,] I could see this beautiful sparkle in all of the children’s eyes. I know how happy camp is, and I know how it opens the hearts of everyone who comes and gets to embrace it, however I began to wonder where the magic was coming from in the eyes of the campers. So, since everyone was close by, I decided to check in with the kids and get a real glimpse into their minds. I asked them what the best thing they got out of camp was. I was incredibly impressed by the responses I got.
Some kids replied sweetly and simply, like Ezra, who said, “The best thing we get here is mostly fun.”
Lilah said, "I would say meeting new people."
And Holden, without hesitation, shouted out the name of his favorite staff member, "Zachariah!"
Hearing all of these answers assured me that the campers have a strong sense of things we strive to provide at CMR - fun, friendship, and role models.
Some kids were even able to express what they’ve gained so far from camp in deeply articulate way, which solidified for me that they know they get way more than just fun, friendship, and role models.
Annika said, "It makes people less scared of things, like when we were little, mountain boarding seemed so scary but now I really like it and it’s not as scary."
Annika’s confidence in her growth over the years was refreshing and as she was thinking about it, I could see her stand up a little straighter and smile a little bigger.
Sarah had a huge smile on her face as she said, "You feel included and nothing seems restricted. I really like how much freedom I have and how happy everyone is."
Sarah’s strong sense of independence assured me that our campers feel loved and respected.
Soren responded with a short and sweet answer. He said, "Learning about other people."
His interest in others and awareness of the importance of camp connections solidified for me that this place brings out the best in everyone who is lucky enough to be here.
All of these realizations are things that I’ve personally discovered over the years throughout my own journey at camp, however hearing straight from the hearts of the children made it incredibly clear to me that what happens at the Colorado Mountain Ranch is truly an extraordinary phenomenon.