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Sharing the Real World

by Cassidy Gillard

Another summer has flown by. Another group of incredible staff from all over the world who came here to be camp counselors have left as so much more. Another group of campers who came here to be at camp have found their way into this giant family that keeps growing and may never stop. Another ten weeks of pure, nature-inspired bliss was so uniquely discovered on our little mountainside haven.

Ten weeks. That’s all the season consists of. To try to fit everything that happens here into just ten weeks seems impossible, yet that minuscule number is all it is.

For the kids, summer is an escape from long days stuck inside at school, a chance to get away from their screens and push their boundaries and face their fears. They meet new people, make lifelong friends, and make deep impressions in the hearts of the staff. They connect with Nature and animals and people. They play outdoors and experience the world in a way that is so hard to incorporate into a 2018 childhood, and they live it up the whole time.

For the staff, the summer is so much more than they ever dreamed it could be as well. They come to escape, and to push their boundaries, and to meet new people and make lifelong friends. They come to make impressions in the hearts of campers, and to play outdoors and connect with nature. The staff are here for all the same reasons as the campers. What they don’t know coming into it is just how much work they’ll do, and how many people will impact their hearts, and how many hearts they will impact. They come into the summer looking for all of the things they need, or not even knowing what they’re looking for. Whether they get answers or not, they get resources, they get love, and they get the experience of everything that the ranch is.

We often refer to our lives outside of camp as “the real world,” however there isn’t really any other place that I’ve experienced in the world that is more real than CMR. The authenticity that exists among the people - staff and campers - and the genuine connections that are made among this community are by far more “real” than anything in comparison anywhere else. I have tried many times to figure out exactly what it is that creates such an authentic experience for such a wide variety of unique people, however I still can’t figure it out. The separation from technology, the uniqueness of the people who come here, the closeness to nature, and the fresh mountain spring water all play a role, but I’ve started to wonder if maybe the openness and freshness that the Ranch offers is just what people need to find their true self outside of the intensity of “the real world.” This is a space to just be the version of yourself that you love. In the rest of the world, it can be challenging to love yourself because sometimes it’s hard to be yourself, or to even know yourself. I think CMR is the place where people - all people - can come and discover their true self, and without the judgment or pressure of “the real world,” they can get to know that person, and begin to incorporate their true self into their life outside of camp.

So to all of you campers, all of you staff members, and all of you other people who have been touched by the ranch this summer or ever, embrace that version of you that you got to know at CMR, and introduce your true self into “the real world.” You might inspire someone else to embrace who they are, and you have the knowledge of how freeing that is, so it is now your job to pass it on!

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