Bar SZ Ranch builds experiences with youth and family camps

The Bar SZ Ranch will continue its Junior Wrangler and Junior Wrangler Internship camps, while extending camp opportunities to families who are interested in learning about ranch life together
Cat Sleeping.jpeg

Two years ago when Tim and Michelle Borland started their Junior Wrangler Camp at Bar SZ Ranch, the Borlands hoped to create an environment where children were able to escape the city and absorb “all aspects of learning and living on a ranch.”

“There is no other outlet for kids living in the city who have a heart for the country," Tim Borland said.

Using a camp model from Tim’s earlier years as a lifeguard in which participants built on previous experiences and skills learned within the camp, the Borlands set forward to create an overnight camp to help children experience ranch life in a country setting. According to Borland, camp activities range from riding lessons, doctoring animals, to arts and crafts and roping.

“We want these kids to get in all the way,” Borland said.

One child who has experienced the Junior Wrangler Camp is Maleah Frances of Campbell. Frances was first introduced to the Bar SZ Ranch when her family came to stay at the Airbnb on site. After interacting with the Borland family and getting exposure to life on a ranch, Frances wanted to join the camp they had created.

“I go to the Junior Wrangler Camp because I love horses and it’s a passion, but I also go for the Borlands because they are the best friends I have,” Frances said.

Frances said that by the end of the week campers are able to show what skills they have learned.

“The best part of the camp was the Agriculture Olympics.”

Campers compete by milking goats, as well as in events meant for fun, such as cow pie discus throwing and hay bale relay races. Frances said the competition “reflected on all we learned and how well we did at the camp.”

Anne-Michelle Frances, Maleah’s mom, credited the camp and the Borland family with helping her daughter become a strong, independent young woman.

“[Maleah] has to earn her keep while at the ranch,” she said.

As a result of the skills taught and trust that the camp puts in its participants, “[Maleah's] gained a lot of confidence.” Part of this confidence included building a chicken coop from scratch in their backyard so that Maleah can still feel like she is at the ranch while living in the city of Campbell.

According to Borland, the Frances’ are not the only family who want to give their children the opportunity to experience living in the country. After two successful seasons, the camp is looking to expand opportunities for entire families to come to the camp.

After hearing parents of clients and other adults saying they wished they could have a similar experience, the Borland family decided to open another path for the camp with the Family Wrangler Camp, which will take place July 2-5.

The Family Wrangler Camp will expose families to similar experiences as found in the other camps. These experiences include, “interacting with animals, riding horses, milking goats, and doctoring animals,” according to Borland. The week will also close out with the annual "Agricultural Olympics" to highlight the skills campers learned throughout the week.

“It’s appropriate for a family to experience what we can offer together,” Borland said.

In addition to all activities, the camp includes accommodations, meals, and a potluck dinner on Thursday night, when awards are given out.

Said Borland, “Sharing experiences is the main goal.”

Besides the Family Wrangler Camp and Junior Wrangler Camp, the Junior Wrangler Internship will also be up and running.

According to the organization's website, the Junior Wrangler Internship exposes campers to, “early concepts covering: ranch management, rodeo activities, doctoring horses, caring for goats and sheep (feeding, trimming hooves, vaccinating, and worming), general basics of land management and rotational grazing, and management of fencing and water across the whole ranch. Participants in the Junior Wrangler Internship Program will take their horsemanship and animal husbandry skills to a much higher level.”

The reason for the progression in the camp, said Borland, is to ensure that kids are able to come up through the program and be on track to learn as much as they want.

“It’s the best experience ever," Frances said.

More information on the Bar SZ Ranch and their camps can be found on the organization's website.

Becky Bonner

Becky Bonner is a local teacher at San Benito High School who is passionate about sharing things to do in San Benito County.