TVR Camp: Home

Link: TVR Camp: Home.

My fifth graders are immersed in our All About Me project right now. They have created self-portraits in Art Rage, and right now they are using Inspiration to develop plans for the audio portion of this project. The next step will be to record and edit Garageband. After we complete this section, we’ll be making movies in iMovie and then putting all the pieces together in an interactive slideshow using eZedia.

This project allows me to get to know the fifth graders a bit better, and I discovered that one of my students spends a great deal of time every summer in one of my most favorite places in the world, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Sarah’s mom is an assistant teacher in my son’s class, so I asked her about this and it turns out that they have been summering for years in a spot very close to where I went to camp as a middle and high school student.

Teton Valley Ranch Camp used to be located in Kelly, WY, just across Jackson Hole from Grand Teton National Park and at the foot of the Gros Ventre mountain range (it has since moved). My mother went to this camp as well as did my best friend growing up and her dad. It was one of the pivotal experiences of my life. I learned to ride Western style and do gymkhana, climbed Static Peak, swam a horse across a river, branded calves, helped with a camper-led pack trip, camped on snow high in the mountains, and watched the sunset on the Idaho side of the Tetons while a full moon rose on the Wyoming side. Experiential learning at its best, I have to say.

When I was newly married, I dragged my husband out west for a two week jaunt through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, making sure that he understood why my time spent out there was so important to me. He got it and at the tail end of our trip when some plans fell through in Denver, he said, “You need more mountains!” and rerouted us through Telluride en route to Santa Fe. He was absolutely right, and I loved how he got that about me.

Nowadays, I think both my kids (ages 4 and 8) and I are a bit nature deprived. Here in Illinois, we have to work at discovering special outdoor spaces since we don’t have majestical mountains at our doorstep. Julia is not too far away from being of age for TVRC, and I hope we can afford the tuition when the time comes. It is simply a character and confidence building experience that my kids need to have.

While thinking about this the past few days, it also occured to me that my love of anything visual and of multimedia comes ironically from this camp as well. Every January, the camp directors would roll into Chicago with the annual slideshow for current and prospective campers. The director behind this, Matt Montagne, used his fantastic photography skills and music to recreate the summer for us and these shows were tremendous. I remember he always used Mason Williams’ Classical Gas in the slideshows, and I cannot hear that piece without thinking of my amazing times hiking, riding and playing in the Tetons.

Interestingly enough, technology has caught up with the Teton Valley Ranch Camp. They’ve had a web site now for a few years, and today I noticed that they have a portal called eCamp where parents can view photos and get news of camp happenings. At least kids are probably still writing letters home the good old fashioned way… some places are better left untouched by email!

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