Fall into Fun at the Ranch!

November 16, 2023

After a long summer we are overjoyed to spend meaningful time outside with the children and families of the Ranch in the crisp fall air! Green landscapes and wildflowers return while children explore the beauty of the Hill Country and families pause to make new memories and enjoy time to connect with nature and each other. Learning and exploration continues with visits to the Ranch from non-profit partners, Military and CLR Family Day events and our weekly Outdoor Explorers program. Partners this Fall include Operation Exfil, MELJ Center, Texas International School and teambuilding retreats for the staff of Dell and Lucky Rabbit in Jonestown, who are also generous sponsors and volunteers. We are also excited to share the installment of a new session of Outdoor Explorers at the Ranch with the students of Lago Vista ISD Life Skills classroom.

Families enjoyed classic fall family fun during our Fall Festival, including a hayride to a pumpkin patch, painting pumpkins, creating homemade scarecrows and adorable fall themed crafts and games! In addition to fall festivities, families enjoyed experiential lessons on Central Texas plants & animals, fishing and archery led by the expert volunteers of the Highland Lakes Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists. This local volunteer-based organization’s mission is to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities. HLMN partners with the ranch to help teach our families about science and the wonders of nature by leading fun and education programs approved by Texas Parks and Wildlife. Our families of all abilities and needs from all over Central Texas visited for a day of fun, bonding, and connectedness. As one parent reflected, “Because of everything going on, we don’t get out much, but we feel safe here”. Military Family Days at the Ranch have been a great success, seeing a wonderful turn out for the weekend events from both our overnight campout with partnering organization, Operation Exfil and for our Veterans Day celebration generously sponsored by Garrison Brothers’ Good Bourbon for a Good Cause.

Ranch groups and Family Day events saw full utilization of our high ropes course this fall with many participants able to experience the challenging and ever rewarding “power pole”! This empowering high ropes element, standing 30 feet tall, requires the climber to powerfully stand on top of the pole while stepping off confidently supported by rope, harness and their cheer squad on the ground. We are incredibly grateful to our new belay and zipline volunteers including board members Adam Flagg and Due West and new volunteers Lynne and Lyric who participated in our fall high ropes training to learn how to facilitate our ziplines, canyon crawl and high ropes tower.

Serving our mission of connecting children and families to nature takes a village, and many volunteers and volunteer groups come together, donating their time and talents to make what we do possible! A very special thank you to The Lago Vista Women’s Club who donate their time and passion to our military families and to Nobility in Action who provides educational nutrition programming and delicious meals to families during ranch groups and CLR Family Days. Thank you to North Austin National Charity League and Young Men’s Service League who continue to offer great support to our families helping them participate in the fun activities at the Ranch. A huge shout out to our program’s volunteers, zipline and high ropes course facilitators who are crucial to delivering our services and continue to give selflessly of their experience and passion to the children and families we serve. Thank you all for helping make our fall season at Candlelight Ranch a success!