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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
As Tim Borland stated, “(There is) no other outlet for kids living in the city who have a heart for the country.” Photo courtesy of Rebekah Paullus and Bar SZ Ranch.
Michelle Borland teaches a participant the ins and outs of putting on a saddle properly. Photo courtesy of Rebekah Paullus and Bar SZ Ranch.
Skill-sets, such as roping, are taught at the summer camps. Photo courtesy of Rebekah Paullus and Bar SZ Ranch.
Camp participants experience what it is like to live and work on a ranch. Photo courtesy of Rebekah Paullus and Bar SZ Ranch.

Two years ago when Tim and Michelle Borland started their Junior Wrangler Camp at Bar SZ Ranch, the Borland’s 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 Borland’s 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, arts and crafts, and roping.

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

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 Borland’s because they are the best friends I have,” Frances said.

Frances further shared 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,” Frances said.

This event is one in which campers compete milking goats, as well as in events meant for fun, such as cow pie discus throwing and hay bale relay races. Frances stated 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 as 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 limits 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 not only opportunities for children to come to the camp, but families as well.

After hearing parents of clients and other adults saying they wished they had an opportunity to have a similar experience as their kids, the Borland family decided to open another path for the camp with the Family Wrangler Camp, which will take place July 2 to July 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 stated.

In addition to all activities, the camp includes accommodation, meals, and a potluck dinner Thursday night where 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, Borland said.

As found on 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, according to 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-Leland (bjbonner22)

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

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