I spent the summer after my freshman year of college living at a ranch in the Rocky Mountains, working as a camp counselor at Colorado Mountain Ranch. I decided I wanted to take an adventure for the summer and get out of Iowa. I applied for the position and got it, knowing I'd move to some log cabin in the mountains not knowing a single person I'd be spending my summer with.
It was an AMAZING summer. Filled with adventures, self discovery, hard work, laughter and play. Spending your time with kids helps bring you back to the joy and fun in life. I loved every second of my time at the ranch, even my time on upkeep crew; sweeping out the lodge, scrubbing toilets, taking out garbage, etc. I made some great friends and contacts from around the country. I went white water rafting, camping in the wilderness, climbed a 14,000ft mountain.
One of our first nights at the ranch I remember sleeping in the freezing cabin on the edge of the ranch, overlooking a huge ravine. It was SOOO windy. The cabin was shaking, the windows were rattling, the door kept blowing open and slam shut in the wind. All of us girls were freezing cold, laying wide awake in our beds afraid everyone else was still asleep so we didn't say anything. Finally I'd had enough! I turned on the light to discover everyone was still awake! I got a rope that I'd tied my bag shut with and jimmied the door shut so at least we didn't have the slamming door and cold wind blowing inside. I don't think any of us got any sleep that night and thought for sure the cabin was going to blow off the side of the mountain LOL!
Girls sitting around the campfire, roasting hot dogs on just another night at the ranch.
Shopping cart jousting on the top floor of the lodge. It was a rainy summer and we spent lots of time there.
Morning view from the front steps of the lodge. Where I'd sit drinking my tea, watching campers roll in every morning.
I taught arts and crafts for most of the summer. Here is a group up at my arts and crafts cabin. We had so much fun being goofy up there.
What I'll remember most about the ranch. My view sitting on the stairs of the Arts and Crafts cabin. Where I spent the majority of the summer. I'd sit on the stairs in the warm sun, reading books, writing, passing time between groups of kids who'd come spread a little sunshine on my day. It was so quiet and peaceful, hearing the distant laughter of kids down the mountain and the wind blowing through the aspen grove down the hill.
A group of girls I had for a week...at the riflery range :)
Morning songs and stretching around the flag pole.
All the staff on the welcome wagon for the yearly picture :)
If you've been watching the news, you'll know of the fires in the Boulder, CO area and the devastation it's caused in such a little amount of time. Sadly, our beloved Colorado Mountain Ranch was not completely spared. Thousands of people have been through the gates since the ranch opened in 1974. So many lives shaped and changed by their summers here and I'm so sad to see what has happened.
I found these pictures posted on Facebook by Tyler Stites. I don't know him but I have no doubt he is just one of the many touched so much by this place and was there to try to stop what was inevitably going to happen.
The lodge and the cabin that we thought would blow off the mountain in the background.
The Walker Family gathering circle...and what is left of their home in the background. Claudine and I spent a week at their house cleaning and organizing. We were so glad to help because they were so busy during the camp season.
View from the lodge...they kept Family Tree-the giant tree with the picnic tables around it. So glad that tree is still there.
Everything is in ruins but the flags still stand.
What makes me most sad...what is left of the welcome wagon :( One symbol that stands out to everyone who passed through the CMR gates.
Please keep the Walker family in your thoughts and prayers. If you'd like to send any donations to go toward the rebuilding of the Walker's house and ranch go here:
and make a donation to help.