Transcript of our interview with Brian, Parent
What’s unique about Rocky Ridge Ranch?
Rocky Ridge Ranch is a very unique experience. If you're expecting a camp that’s, like, on the side of a busy highway, that's not what it is. You're going to be driving from bigger roads to smaller and smaller roads until you finally get to a path through a forest leading to the ranch. So it is an experience in itself for your kids, just going there and getting away from civilization and joining a group of people just separated from the world for a week.
That's only the beginning, though. The staff—the family that runs the camp—they're dedicated. That's their slogan, which you hear over and over again. That's their mission. And they've really dedicated their lives to the development of kids. And it's a wonderful experience. It's extremely unique and it's hard to explain unless you've really been there to experience it. So the camp has, I'd say, a very well-balanced program for children. They check all the boxes for the body, mind, soul, and leadership.
How did you know Rocky Ridge Ranch was the right fit?
There are activities for every kid's needs—and for kids to push themselves in all those different areas. So they will certainly tire your kid out. There are a lot of activities that kids can pick from. They have a great course. You go for the horses, you go to ride, you go to learn what it takes to get on a horse and control a horse. So obviously, that's the big part of the camp. But there's also swimming, there's sports, there's games, the list goes on and on. So they really do cover all the bases.
It is a Christian-based camp, so there's an opportunity for kids to learn who God is, to read Scripture, and ask questions. So that's a big part of the camp, too, which is very important. And it's just a really well-balanced experience for your child.
My wife and I have three children. All three girls have attended the ranch and they've all had great experiences. And the two of them just took to the camp like it was the best thing ever. “Can we stay for another week?” It was really just a fit.
Our third daughter, she was a little on the edge and she was homesick, and there was some hesitations at first, but by the end of the week, she had friends, she was sharing, she was standing up and talking in front of the group. And she has been back for another week again.
I think every parent knows when it's time for a week away—to get away and push your kids a little bit. And I think it's up to each parent to kind of know when that time is.
I think the kids always learn stuff at camp. There's always that personal development side. They don't realize they are going through it. They're having too much fun to realize that they are growing. There are skills they learn: from being responsible for picking up your clothes, making sure you bring home all your socks at the end of the week, to budgeting.
They have a tuck shop where they give you a card with your money that you have to spend on your ice cream every day. And you learn to budget your money every day so that it lasts for the week. So all those little skills—kids don't realize they're learning skills while they're there.
Was there any noticeable personal growth in your daughter after their time at Rocky Ridge?
That's the beauty of camp: they grow and they develop. They're hesitant to get on a horse at the beginning of the week and by the end, their horse is their best friend. They know it by name, they know what it likes to do. They know what horse it doesn't get along with or it does get along with. Kids just grow: they develop and a week away they’re immersed in this. It's really good for them.
Our oldest daughter, she's got a lot of natural leadership. She wants to lead. And she continued to go back for many years as a camper. And then she went back for a week one summer as a staff member. So she actually worked in the barn for the entire summer. She loved it that much. So just that confidence, that ability to know: I can take on this, I can be by myself, I can take care of myself. And I want to help other kids and work with other kids, too. So every kid is different and the ranch is very accommodating for different kids’ abilities to do their best.
How can parents overcome their hesitancy to send their children away to overnight camp?
Just come and put your heart into it and have some fun, I guess, as a parent. Well, as a child, I did go to Rocky Ridge Ranch too. So I've known the camp for a very long time. And when I first thought, let's see if our oldest is ready to go, I had no hesitation. You know the site, you know the program, you know the family. For me, it was more about: is the child ready to go?
And I would encourage any parent: you need a break, too. That's the quiet part that we don't want to talk about in front of our kids too much. But you do need a break in the summer and it's great. You can send your kids away to a safe spot and you know they're going to have fun. And I'll just warn you that on your ride home, they're going to talk your ear off. You will just hear story after story after story, so be prepared for that. As a child gets older … you have to give the reins to them a little bit and let them live their life a little bit without you watching them 24 hours a day.
And camp is a great experience to allow your children to get away, be responsible for themselves, make friends, and have social time. We've been locked up for too long where kids have not been able to get out and be with other kids. They need to get outside. They need to have experiences like this just to develop skills in themselves.
What does your child say about Rocky Ridge Ranch?
So the number one thing they say is: When can we go back? Can we stay for another week? Can we go back? Can we go in the winter? They have days in the winter that they do special events. It's always so positive about getting back together again. At the ranch, you will feel like family after a week. After a couple of years, you will feel like a cousin of the family there. They make you feel at home, and you certainly will want to go back and see how they're doing and see how the horses are doing and just really connect. So it's not just one week in the summer—it becomes part of life. And I've been there for many years as a child going to camp, and I worked there in my summer when I was in high school.
Any final thoughts?
I met so many great people on staff from all over the place. And it's an experience that teaches you things without you knowing it, and you use those skills in life, so it's just very worthwhile. I just encourage kids when you're there: Don't be afraid. Just go to camp, have a good time, get to know the kids in your cabin. Everyone brings something different to the table. You can learn from each other. It's an experience. And you got to push yourself a little.
You might be a little hesitant, you might not want to get on that big animal and try to control the animal and do what you want it to do. But by the end of the week, you'll be talking about it: “Hey, I got my horse to trot, and I could do it all the way from one end to the other.” Maybe swimming is your thing. Maybe you learn to swim underwater for the first time, or you can do 10 laps or whatever it may be. There's an opportunity for you to push yourself and develop yourself a little bit at Camp Rocky Ridge.