This summer El Ranchito staff faced the new challenge of using technology to engage campers, but our mission of connecting them with nature in a meaningful way remained the same.
Our staff rose to the occasion with dedication, creativity, and enthusiasm. We were thrilled to welcome 73 campers (86% were returning campers) and 14 staff, including 12 returning counselors (three of whom were former campers) and one former camper in a leadership role.
Curbside “Camp Kits” at El Buen Samaritano
At the start of each session, El Ranchito staff and volunteers spent three socially-distanced Saturdays at El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission, where we provided curbside pick-up of “camp kits” filled with tools to help campers engage in camp activities remotely. The atmosphere was upbeat and full of anticipation for what this unique year of camp might look like.
We distributed 261 “Chef Addie family meal kits” to camper families and staff.
With a bit of creativity and fresh produce from Urban Roots, we were able to supply ingredients to recreate camp favorites like Sloppy Does (Shield Ranch venison sloppy joes)
Nature Discovery Camp campers enjoyed a variety of virtual programs,
such as a pioneer cabin exploration, a bird migration learning activity, haiku nature writing, and lots of origami and bracelet making. We were happy to have virtual visits from several community partners, which allowed the campers to learn about bread making from David Norman of Easy Tiger and go online birding at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center with Javier Gonzalez — both were hits with campers and staff!
Conservation Corps (CC) members each planted 5 native pollinator plants at their homes throughout Austin,
while learning and practicing how to seed and transplant plants, discussing habitat loss for pollinators, researching inspiring climate activists, and creating professional websites to document their learning and work. We were also fortunate to host several socially-distanced hikes on the Ranch for the families of CC members