Rancher Camp

Tuesday and today the Ranchers have been training the incoming counseling staff for Ranch Camp.  They do this by being “Campers” for two days, and they take their job very seriously. 
We do, too, even paying them their regular wage to do it.
Everything happens that will happen at regular camp in order to give the camp staff the experience.  Of course, our guys are such old hands at this (almost all began their relationship with Down Home Ranch as campers) it's really easier than getting a brand new–and much larger–group of unknowns each Sunday afternoon, but a rehearsal's a rehearsal, and every bit of experience helps.
First there's check-in–lice check (eeew!), medications turned in, ID bracelet put on.
Then there's all that gear to stow away somewhere, bunks to be picked out and made up, too.
Best of all is the chance to make some new friends.
After everyone's settled in and getting to know one another, it's time to go swimming, do crafts, have dinner and and watch the skits the counselors have been working on all week.
It's fun, but that's not to say some folks don't miss their regular bed and in-room TVs!
Up in the morning, it's time to go fishing.  The stories are good, as usual, and they weren't all about the ones that got away, either!
Later in the morning, there was the nature walk.  Most campers agreed it was a lot like working in Gardens–hot, sticky, and buggy.
In fact, when ask what kinds of wonders were seen on the nature walk, most everybody answered, “Ants.”
Sure enough, Michael (below) brought back ants and their project for the day, a deceased caterpillar.

We talk a lot about hydration in the Texas summer heat, and many Ranchers now have “camel packs” strapped to their back. 

Here Sterling gives Kelly a sip of water from his.
Chris takes the stage during the pre-lunch break, giving his famous rendition from the Lion King.
While the Ranchers have been masquerading as campers, direct-care staff has been attending two-days of intensive training.
Tonight after supper, everyone will go home, have a shower in their own bathroom, and settle into their comfy rooms for the night.
Tomorrow, they're off to Morgan's Wonderland for the day, accompanied by students from the Texas State University Department of Recreational Therapy.
Friday, it's back to normal, picking the last of the berries, cleaning up after the horses, and cleaning the buildings to get ready for the real Ranch Camp.