By Arden Foster on March 22nd, 2019
For us as staff, it’s more than the fact that we have the greatest job at RTR, but also that we get to be a part of our guests’ experiences at the ranch. We always talk about our kids’ and teens programs, and how influential they are on a family’s vacation at the ranch, but in this blog we wanted to delve into the teen group specifically in a chat with Lauryn, long time staff member, teen counselor, wrangler, and really good friend.
Lauryn will be coming back to the 2019 ranch season for her 7TH (!!!) summer, and she has become an integral part of the ranch in her time here. So, without further ado, here is our interview about her and her part in the teen program at the ranch!
A: When Linda asked you to be a part of the teen counselor group, did you think you would enjoy it?
L: Of course I did, (You betcha der!) I’ve always loved working with kids and teenagers.
A: Did you have previous experience working with teenagers that has helped you in working with them now?
L: Yes. I grew up babysitting, then I grew to love sports. I had the opportunity to coach middle school football, and a high school girls’ soccer team.
A: What has been your most cherished takeaway from working with the teen group at Rainbow?
L: The transformation of the teens throughout the week. The first day we meet as a group, Tuesday, they’re quiet, nervous, and reserved. It takes them about day to come out of their shell, but then by the end of the week they’re sharing contact information to keep in touch, trying to come back the next year together, and sharing photos!
A: What’s your favorite activity to do with the teens?
L: Oh that’s tough. The horseback riding program is so great. Watching them learn to ride and control their horses is really what I love to see. They come into their own, and they find a confidence within themselves, as often they aren’t very skilled riders coming into the week, and they learn so much throughout their time at the ranch!
A: In a week with the teens, what is, in your opinion, the most fun day?
L: Friday night is hands down my favorite. It’s pizza, campfire, and Capture the Flag night. They’ve really bonded by this point, and it’s a blast to see them play an active game like that. And have fun without their phones!
A: Do you have a treasured memory of being a teen counselor?
L: Three years ago, there was a shy teenager who came with her grandparents. It was amazing watch her grow throughout the week, and really come out of her shell with the other teens. That memory has stuck with me, and it was so special to see her light up! Later, I got a nice letter from her grandparents, saying that her week at the ranch opened her up, and she continued to grow after the ranch.
A: What have you learned from working with teens for so many summers?
L: How teens have changed over the years because of technology. Phones have become a bigger part of teenagers’ lives, and we have to compete with that in the beginning of the week. The teens miss the constant connection, as we have no cell service, just WiFi in the library. However, once they get used to not having their cell phones, they really let go. It’s important for not just teens, but everyone in today’s world to realize the value in putting the phones down and spending time with the people around them.
A: The most important! Do you plan on staying at the ranch forever??
L: I wish I could! It’s my second home, and I love the Van Berkums. I consider them to be family.