With the assistance of our staff Master Naturalist, program staff and interns, we have developed unique science and nature curricula that excites and challenges young campers to be immersed in our natural environment. Groups use the various features and elements to stimulate teamwork and confidence-building, a sense of accomplishment and overcoming of fears, empathy, and connection. Children learn about nature first-hand from the wildlife viewing platform and a nature hike with our Master Naturalist. Nearby Lake Travis and our interactive water feature ChillVille, offer learning and respite. Nearby Lake Travis reaches our shore and offers kayaking and canoeing.
Children that participate in the program generally range in age from 5 to 18. Candlelight Ranch partners with local nonprofits and schools to customize experiential programming that meets their needs and goals and includes any combination of the nature activities available. Many groups use the ropes courses to stimulate teamwork and confidence-building. Speeding down the zip lines and crossing the bridge 80 feet above the canyon floor results in broad and triumphant smiles, a sense of accomplishment, and overcoming of fears. The hands-on activities of EAGALA and the equine-assisted learning program provide the benefit of human-animal connection, empathic connections with others, and increased verbal and social skills. A hike along the nature trails with our Master Naturalist brings youth face to face with all manner of Texas Hill Country flora and fauna: geckos, racing lizards, butterflies, hummingbirds, deer and other native critters and plants.
We offer these multisensory programs because they are proven practices for teaching healthy ways to process emotions, build-self-esteem, reduce stress and promote physical and mental health. The empowered smiles and slightly sunburned noses at the end of the day are our reward as signs that children have conquered fears, engaged in multiple activities in a natural environment, and have met others with the same life challenges.
Today I learned persistence, I learned that the harder I work the better the ending will be.Children in Nature Participant
I know now I can do anything- today is life changing for me – I wish my parents could be here and see what I am capable of. I was feeling desperation – won’t ever tell myself I can’t do anything anymore!Children in Nature Participant
We loved the nature hike and learned a lot. Sleeping in the tent was fun too.Children in Nature Participant
I learned today that I can be adventurous and that I do not have to be afraid to try new things. Also, nature is just really cool.Children in Nature Participant
I take my students every year to Candlelight Ranch. My staff and I are always impressed with the generosity, knowledge, and diversity of the activities and staff. Our students have so much fun and enjoy their time at the ranch!Children in Nature Partner Organization
Thank you for a whimsical two days to help us bless some of precious children and families. It was such a gift to see so many children and parents experience firsts! First camping, first fishing, first kayaking. The staff is capable, compassionate and really made the experience wonderful.Children in Nature Partner Organization
Children & Nature: Explore and Learn Benefits At-Risk Children by Providing:
- Outstanding therapeutic, educational and recreational opportunities to underserved children ages 5-18;
- A positive, natural and inclusive environment that allows all children to participate in outdoor programs otherwise inaccessible to them due to financial, emotional, behavioral or physical disadvantages;
- An opportunity for youth to participate in nature and the natural environment in active ways, testing their abilities and engaging in new activities constructed to challenge and support knowledge and awareness of themselves and their environment;
- and An opportunity for Central Texas schools and community organizations who engage in experiential education or therapy with special needs and at-risk children to participate in a nature environment.