The following letters are unedited letters from campers, counselors, and parents regarding their experiences at Birch Creek Ranch:
We believe Birch Creek Service Ranch is an amazing hidden treasure! Had it not been for the incredible families we knew who had sent their sons–we may have missed it. Our initial concerns in considering this opportunity were many. We worried about the length of time, the integrity of the counselors, the types of youth our son would associate with, and also the fact that he was a great kid so why did he need to go away from home for anything?
HOWEVER, it proved to be the single most important 3 1/2 weeks of his life. (both times!) He grew in physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional areas that staying home to play more sports and “hang out” with friends could have never offered. Our initial concerns were in vain! In his own words, ‘That was SO much better than anything I could have done with my time this summer!’ We as parents fully agree. This is a place that attracts good kids and makes them even better! Don’t hesitate.
MATT AND ALLISON DRIGGS
Salt Lake City, Utah
One of the reasons we send our kids, is we want [them] to have the experience of doing hard things that aren’t contrived… you go to a youth conference or something, ropes course, trust falls and all that and that’s fine that has a place, but it’s still contrived, it’s still planned specifically. We love for them to go and work really hard and be really worn out and do something that’s really tough that they then have something to look at and say, ‘I painted that barn, or I dug those ditches’ or whatever and I just don’t think if you live in the city that you get those kinds of opportunities.
One of the other reasons we feel the ranch has been so good for our boys, that I was hoping but I’m now seeing proven, is that I think it’s just such great training for missions because you learn how to work with different people… and I love that and how to put in a hard days work and really do what needs to be done.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Recently I have realized that one of the things that is most important to me is the discovery of sanctuaries. Our lives are full of complications and headaches, in the midst of all the chaos I think the places that matter most are the places where we can find inspiration and peace of mind. Birch Creek Service Ranch is, without a doubt, one of those sanctuaries for me. The summer of 2009 was the first summer I spent at Birch Creek and I hope it will be the first of many.
Because of all the principles taught at the ranch I was able to forget about all of the anxieties and selfish problems that I had at the beginning of the summer. I think the main reason this was possible is because I truly loved working with all of the kids I had the opportunity to meet this summer. When you are at Birch Creek everything you are doing makes sense, this is true because all of the values and goals of the ranch are honest. I only wish that my parents had sent me to Birch Creek when I was a kid.
Staff member, Mt Pleasant, UT
Letter to the ranch: ok well, birch creek service ranch is something i look forward to every year, i have been going for five years, and am planning on going as a counciler this coming summer. I’ve learned lots while at birch creek. Its helped me learn to like the simple things. Its taught me how to work really hard and not be lazy. Enjoy different types of food, and learned to be more organized. Also while i’m there i make a “second family” type thing, i get to know the people and become really close to them, so i make tons of new friends there.
There is a majority of the campers who come back for various years, after their first, then later sometimes become counciler.
so this is why i love birch creek and am hoping to be able to go back as a counciler!!
i absolutely love Birch Creek and i feel that i get more out of it then Birch gets out of me(if that made any sense). What i’m trying to say is, every year i’ve gone i’ve thought about the purpose of the camp and how just helping a stranger for four hours can really make a difference in their lives. But each year when the session comes to a close, i notice my consistent mood, content. Starting when i was twelve and it was my first year at Birch, before hand i was struggling with anxiety. Birch was only a week that summer, but it stopped my anxiety right off the bat, from hiking/crawling crazy steep mountains to working hard four hours each day.
Each session i’ve attended, i have met the nicest, funniest people and whether we like it or not, we’re like a family by the end. I was able to be a youth counselor this past summer and the knowledge of setting an example for the campers really pushed me to work my best each day(something i struggled with as a camper).
So pretty much i’m trying to say, Birch Creek brings out the best in me.
(sorry it’s so long!! i guess i love birch too much:)
Dear Birchcreek Ranch,
The experiences I have had at the ranch not only have been beneficial to me, but they have translated to the other people around me as well. I wasn’t always the person who was the first to volunteer for a job or an activity, but after my experience at the ranch i underwent a change in my personality. I now often am that first person to volunteer. The ranch taught me values and traits that I now use in my daily life to better myself and others around me. I learned how to befriend people from many different backgrounds and cliques, people who before I would avoid. I have translated my work ethic from the ranch to my work ethic in the classroom. Since my first Birchcreek session (Summer ’07) My High School Grade Point Average is 3.918, and I am currently taking two AP classes this Junior year. The ranch not only bettered my mental outlook on the present, but it helped shape me physically. I’m traditionally a picky eater, and still wont touch ketchup or sour cream, but while at the ranch, I was able to try and like foods that I never thought I would enjoy. Before the ranch, I was also struggling with my weight. I was in the 8th Grade, and I was a bit overweight. At the ranch, I was able to start a trend in cutting back my lazy habits, and begin a more healthy lifestyle. The trend stuck, and now I am very pleased with myself physically. Its hard to attribute all of these changes solely to the Ranch, but I feel that many of these changes I went through were sped up, or began at the Ranch, and I was able to transform and grow up a bit from the experiences I had there. Its a great place where you can grow together, in a safe and comfortable environment. I love it there.
Salt Lake City, UT
I see Birch Creek Service Ranch as one of the factors that shaped who I am today. The ranch taught me leadership skills, a new love and respect for the world in which I live, and the value of hard work. At age 15, when I first attended the ranch, I was not looking forward to the experience. Within the first week, the friendly atmosphere and the genuine interest of the staff made me feel completely at home. I felt like the staff really cared about each camper individually. They set great examples, and taught me all about the natural world. The ranch infused me with a love for nature, and prompted me to pursue more outdoor interests as well as to care for the environment. Three weeks is a long time to spend with the same people twenty-four hours a day. This taught me about people, how to interact with them, how to lead them, and how to deal with conflict between peers. I feel like this experience helped me throughout high school and the rest of my life. The benefits of the ranch are what prompted me to return as a counselor, where I saw the positive effects of the ranch on many campers. I also learned more from other staff members and as I interacted with the campers. The ranch provides an environment where kids will learn skills and principles that will help them in school, with friends, in jobs, and throughout the rest of their lives.
Salt Lake City, UT
Birch Creek Ranch was a very positive experience for all of my kids who went there. Simon went to the ranch for 3 years as a camper and 2 as a junior counselor. Stefano 5 years as a camper and Elisa already 3 years as a camper.
At Birch Creek they learned many things, but especially how to serve, how to relate better to other people, how to be more responsible, and they always had lots of fun.
I would recommend the ranch to everybody who want their kids to go through a positive growing experience during the summer.
Again I am extremely grateful for all that you and Birch Creek Ranch as a whole does for kids and for what you have done for my Son. He was a different person when he came home and I believe that it has helped him become a great person and will affect his life forever.
Salt Lake City