In the words of our interns: Jennifer

Candlelight Ranch is a place full of warmth, adventure, endurance, fun, and laughter. All are key ingredients for creating not just one, but many wonderful memories. Although, I have two months’ worth of memories, one in particular is a reminder of why I chose my path to become a Recreational Therapist. As you may know, Candlelight Ranch offers its services to individuals whose lives consist of a variety of challenges. One camp session included youth who have been diagnosed with a variety of mental disorders. One Rancher was not being as enthusiastic as the others had while working on the Nature Art activity for the hour. The Rancher rejected the idea of painting due to the fear of being judged negatively by the others. Time was ticking, and I felt the Rancher truly did want to paint. Therefore, I kindly asked if the he would help me finish my own painting. After a few more requests, the Rancher gave in and painted Piglet and Winnie the Pooh. The joy that came about warmed my heart. Moments like these may seem simple but can actually be quite meaningful. These children have experienced so much, including negativity, that affects their self-esteem and overall, how they grow and evolve into becoming who they are. Their exposure to activities like these, counselors and other adults who care about them, things that challenge and motivate them, and above all, nature – are what help these children and adults grow. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a positive influence in their lives this past summer.

Thank you to Candlelight Ranch and its staff for a memorable experience. A place that offers opportunities to face our fears, opportunities to grow, and the ability to smile while doing so.

Jennifer Rodriguez, Student Intern from Texas State University – August 2017