El Ranchito 2021

By August 31, 2021September 9th, 2021Conservation

El Ranchito campers were reunited in-person back on Shield Ranch between June 4th and July 6th with an atmosphere of transition after a year of virtual camp and learning. Camp was reduced in size due to our safety response to Covid-19 and we were thrilled to welcome 51 campers ages 10-18 (51% were returning campers), 16 seasonal staff (three of whom were former campers), and one former camper in a leadership role.

Nature Discovery Camp Session 3 campers reunited at El Buen Samaritano, our program partner, before heading to Shield Ranch.

Construction of the Campsite facilities on Rocky Creek is underway, so we established the 2021 camp at the Windmill Site less than one mile from the original site. Over 30 tents, canopies and pop-ups were set up and taken down by the dedicated helping hands of volunteers and staff. Familiar aspects of camp, like Chef Addie’s outdoor kitchen and dining tent, made the site feel like home. Wildlife sights and sounds included daily visits by hummingbirds, a family of turkeys, screech owls, chuck-wills-widows, coyote howls and much more — truly immersing youth in nature! Nature Discovery Campers learned about fish species in the creek, went hiking and birding at our partner Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, looked into a telescope to learn about astronomy, and went on an overnight backpacking trip.

With much rain in early June, Barton Creek and Rocky Creek were full for swimming every day of camp.

El Ranchito Conservation Corps members learned to use tools and safety equipment while working on a real construction-site, the Campsite at Shield Ranch, where they were paid a stiped to learn and do hands-on work. They constructed a total of 1,069 linear feet of brush check dams, made from materials harvested on-site. Check dams prevent soil erosion which helps with the overall protection of the ecosystem and will contribute to the conservation plan for the new Campsite. “Conserving this nature is an honor I’ve had this year,” said Sofia, age 15, Conservation Corps Member in her 6th year at El Ranchito.

Conservation Corps members cut and weave juniper branches to create check dams at the Campsite

We are so grateful to the 2021 staff for sharing their skills, hard work and passion for the outdoors to make camp an amazing experience during this very special summer.

El Ranchito would not happen without the generous support from our donors. Thank you for helping us make our campers’ dreams come true and for joining with us to inspire a new generation of conservation leaders.