That’s a wrap! Summer at the Ranch

August 7, 2023

Summer camps at the Ranch conclude with great success serving over 637 participants and 81 families for the 2023 summer season! Despite the record heat, campers and their families took part in joyful experiences, creating resiliency while connecting with friends and family members. Camp Glimmer, sponsored by Glimmer|Austin welcomed over 17 non-profit organizations from the Austin area for a one or two-day camp experience for youth and families at-risk. Groups served included: Austin Angels, Change 1, St. Louise House, Casa Marianella, Settlement Home, Integral Care, Todos Juntos, SAFE Austin, Lifeworks, River City Youth, Life Changers, I-ACT, Jerimiah Program, Foster Village, CTTA and Helping Hand Home.

Glimmer|Austin empowers local changemakers by investing in non-profits that care and uplift those who suffer from homelessness, hunger and food insecurity, woman and children’s shelters, substance abuse recovery and those working to break the overall cycle of poverty. Camp Glimmer has made its home at Candlelight Ranch for the past 13 summers, assisting youth at-risk in having a transformative camp experience otherwise inaccessible due to financial barriers. For many campers, this is their first experience leaving their neighborhoods or participating in outdoor recreation. Camp Glimmer helps campers step out of their comfort zones, try new things, and learn about themselves and others. Upon reflection our youth participants offered this about their experiences, “I learned how much I really love the outdoors” and “I am brave, and I can do things I have never done before”. One child currently living in a residential foster care facility offered this about the impact participating in camp made, We came to Candlelight with friends, and we left with family.” We greatly thank Glimmer|Austin for their sponsorship of Camp Glimmer and their partnership with Candlelight Ranch!

Camp Dreamcatcher returned for its eighth year this summer, witnessing beautiful breakthroughs and some bittersweet transitions. As the program has aged so have many of our campers who are graduating from the program and progressing into adult life with full-time employment and admission into college. One of our original campers who has consistently participated since 2015, graduated this year and will begin studying to become a Special Education Teacher. She is the first in her family to go to college and cites Candlelight Ranch as her inspiration for pursuing a career teaching children with special needs. She often reflects on how her relationship with the Ranch kept her on course to graduation despite struggles with drug addiction, abandonment, and mental health challenges. We are so proud of each of our campers who are forever a part of our CLR family.

Though record temperatures proved a challenge for summer programming, our incredible team of staff, volunteers and interns stayed positive and diligent in providing joyful and educational opportunities for the children of CLR to grow in nature. As our waterfront activities continue to stay on hold due to low water levels on Lake Travis our program’s team have found new, enriching ways to keep campers cool and engaged through the summer heat. Teambuilding games, high and low ropes adventures, experiential nature-based curriculum, sustainability, and equine education have been greatly utilized while keeping children and families well hydrated and in the shade. Our partnerships with the Master Naturalist of the Highland Lakes and Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge provide high quality, engaging lessons led by Master Naturalist volunteers and Refuge staff. Lessons included the do’s and don’ts of recycling, native bird identification, Central Texas native wildlife touch tables, macroinvertebrates, pollinators, nature crafts, creek exploration, water conservation, and Backyard Bass. Additionally, select groups of campers have been able to participate in drumming circles led by Music Therapist, Suszy Turner, owner of Soulshine Rhythm Experience.

Summer at Candlelight Ranch takes a village of dedicated, passionate individuals. Thank you to our volunteers, interns, community partners, donors and sponsors whose passion and commitment made these joyful, educational, and healing experiences possible for the children and families of the Ranch.