I Have Found “The One”!

For years, Hollywood has been teaching us many stories. Through these stories, whether intentionally or not, we have also been taught many lessons. As a little girl, a message that I took with me was that I should be searching to find the “one.” All wrapped up in this concept is the idea that there is one special person that I am meant spend my life with, and without him, my life will be void. This “one” will come along, sweep me off my feet and make all my dreams come true. He will be everything that I could hope and dream, and more or less he will complete my life.

Many years later, after discussions, a lot of thought, and learning more through the Bible, my thoughts and ideas have drastically changed, but that’s another discussion for another day. Long story short, I no longer believe in the concept of finding the “one” – well at least I didn’t until the other day…

You see, while considering the qualities that are typically endowed on this concept of “the one,” I made a bit of a list. This person should probably be a protector, a great listener, kind, loving, available, and the list could seriously go on and on. As much as these are wonderful qualities, no person can perfectly possess each of these wonderful characteristics. As humans, we are flawed and there will certainly be times when we fail in these areas.

Thinking that there is one certain person who we are destined to be with, who will fulfill every one of our needs and possess each of these qualities is ridiculous. Or is it? Suddenly it dawned on me. I already have the ONE.

I have Jesus. He is the only “one” who can truly satisfy me. He is that “one,” the ONE and ONLY who is truly capable of doing that. He also possesses perfectly, each and every one of the wonderful qualities and characteristics on my list. He is the BEST listener as well as having the solution to all my problems. Not only does He love me unconditionally, but He IS love – and even showed His great love by giving up His life so that He could be MY “one.” Because of this, He has swept me off my feet and wooed me to love Him.

He is kind, He is wise. He makes me complete and gives me value. He encourages me on the worst of days and has changed my life forever. He has hopes and a future planned for me (Jeremiah 29:11). He rejoices over me with singing and quiets me with His love (Zephaniah 3:17).sof-song-of-solomon-3-4-web

Now if that doesn’t sound like the “one” to me, I don’t know what does.  And yes, if I were to miss out on finding Him, my life would be forever changed. Without Him, I would truly be left void.

So whether or not I have begun my happily ever after with my prince charming, it
turns out I have most certainly found the “one,” and that’s all I could ever ask for!

“I have found the one my heart loves.” Song of Solomon 3:4

-Ashley Duncan



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Homesickness and…Kidsickness?

“The kids were rolling their eyes. The parents were dabbing theirs. Homesickness loomed…for the parents. If the younger folk were worried about being separated from their parents and pets (and iPad and IPhone), the older generation looked positively stricken by a combination of love and anxiety.”

OurKids-“Why Send Kids to Camp”

“Are you all packed and ready for camp?” I could hear my mother shout as we were piling into our red minivan on my very first overnight week away from home. Am I ready for camp?! NO! I am a shy, awkward, freckly kid who would never ever be ready to leave home willingly. I am two feet taller than all my friends and am not a great speaker. How on earth could she ask if I was ready for camp? Sure, I was packed, but ready? No way.

I quickly found out once I arrived after our four hour trip that I was just as unprepared as the other children. There was the odd, overly confident kid who was ready to take on the world, the occasional kids who were with their friends, but most of us were just looking to fit in…or find the closest rock to hide under until this seven days of torture passed by.

Long story short, I made lifelong friends and had one of the most incredible weeks of my life. My camp counsellor was AMAZING and after the first day I could hardly believe that this new adventure was going to be just for a week. Not in a million years would my parents have imagined the change that they witnessed in the 168 hours since they had left me.

I now work full-time in the camping world and have seen the incredible shift from when I was a child being dropped off at camp. Having the incredibly rewarding job of registering campers for programs through the summer, I begin the journey with parents and campers long before they are ever dropped off at their cabins with their suitcases packed and sense of adventure ready. I begin with the simple questions to gather information, “Where are you located? What is the cost of your camp? What is the difference between English and Western Riding? Will there be other kids going to camp for the first time?” I have the privilege of hearing the love in the parents voices, seeing the steps each of them go through as they weigh the pros of camp and finally decide that this is a good fit for their children.

When summer FINALLY comes and it is their child’s week of camp I get to be one of the people to greet them, register them, tell them where to go and introduce them to Teen Ranch. I get to show them that they are in great hands and all will be okay. What have I noticed when I do this? It is no longer the kids who are teary eyed as they go. It is no longer the kids who complain about our no cellphone policy. It is no longer the kids who are shocked they can’t call home until Wednesday. It’s the parents.

“Kidsickness” is the new word for this parental problem. But, to their credit, to date none of the moms or dads have stowed away at camp—so off their kids go for better or… better. I often get asked by parents if they can stay at camp. This is mainly because they are shocked at how lovely the property is and they want a vacation for themselves, but every now and then when someone asks they aren’t joking. They really mean it. They can’t bear the idea that their precious child might be alone for a week. Their clothes might not match every day! Goodness, they might even where plaid and camo together! That’s the thing about camp. Kids leave, tears well, and then—the transformation begins. If kids grow the most when they’re asleep, they do it double-time at camp, for almost the same reason: they are transported to a different world. Camo and plaid is okay at camp. Be wacky, be fun! That is what camp is all about!

Kids may take time to adjust to this new “parentless” week but in the end they are so much better for it. They learn that they have to hang up their own towel because if they don’t it stinks. They learn to keep track of their shoes because if they don’t their feet aren’t comfortable. They have a week to start over. No one knows they are awkward, tall, or aren’t great speakers. They’re just another kid who is as nervous as the rest of the campers. Just another kid who is learning new skills and life lessons. Perhaps camp’s most amazing attribute is that it wipes the slate clean. Kids who were unpopular or even bullied back home get to re-invent themselves:

Camp is not the answer to every emotional problem, but clearly it is the answer to some. Because along with all the campfires, swimming, memories, mosquito bites and lifelong friends, kids are getting something soul-deep: the confidence to take on life’s ups and downs. When the kids come back in summer, there will be tears again, mostly of joy, but also expect a little bit of campsickness…from both generations.

-Rebecca Jansen
Teen Ranch Registrar


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Teen Ranch: We’re in the Business of Connecting!

elly kini pat

A wonderful article by Corrie Ensom as featured in The Rider.

Located in the beautiful Caledon Hills, Teen Ranch provides unique opportunities to “Connect” with the horse community in 2016.  For 47 years, kids from around the world have had the opportunity to develop a love for horses and the skills that come with them at Teen Ranch.

MOTHER/DAUGHTER EQUINE RETREAT – connecting moms & their girls.

 In this busy society, we’re so connected with social media that much needed “one on one time” with your child can sometimes get lost in the hectic schedule.   At Teen Ranch in June, mothers and daughters get the chance to bond and learn together, on and off the horse.  What mother/daughter wouldn’t love movie night, hot tub time, yoga fusion classes, riding lessons, climbing wall, trail rides and more!  Last year’s guest speaker was Lindsay Grice, a well-respected horsewoman and Teen Ranch Alumni shared her thoughts: “I wish this weekend had been available for my mom and me to really connect – outside the pressures of a horse show. Mom acted as my groom and biggest fan – I’m now her biggest fan but it took until my thirties to recognize it!” Lindsay spoke to the ladies about Life Lessons Learned from Horses.

HUNTER JUMPER HORSE SHOWS – connecting the horse community.

The Teen Ranch series of hunter/jumper shows has hosted this series of H/J Shows and it has become a real highlight to many in the community.  The season ends with a fun, themed awards banquet, where horse people from different barns mingle and laugh- proof that Teen Ranch seems to create an atmosphere to connect even competitors! Mary Curtis says, “My family has been showing horses at Teen Ranch for years.  From the beginner to advanced rider there is something for everyone.  The quality courses, friendly show staff and supportive, relaxed atmosphere keeps us coming back every summer!”  The focus of the shows are on fun and professionalism.  They are a great place to learn, connect with your horse and even connect you to friends who share the same passions!

SUMMER RIDING CAMPS – connecting people with lifelong friendships.

Tara Kuypers, a Teen Ranch camper, staff member and now horse show attendee values her time at summer camp.  “In 8 years as a camper and staff member, I was so fortunate to spend the summers of my youth outdoors, learning new skills, riding horses, and forging life-long friendships.  To this day, my best friends I met at Teen Ranch.”  Few summer camps are able to offer the awesome camp experience while catering to both the novice and advanced rider.  The Intensive Equestrian Program gives campers the chance to gain a deeper connection with their horse, hone their skills in the hunter ring to compete in a H/J show at the end of the week.  Riders learn about different aspects of the horse world and try new things including polo, western gaming, horse racing and optional non horse -related activities like rock climbing, skating, giant swing, camp games, crafts, marksmanship, archery, boating, tennis, volleyball and more.

The new Rodeo Camp, run by Joe Scully, connects horse lovers to new opportunities!  It is one of the few places kids can go to try rodeo events like Calf Roping, Barrel Racing, Goat Tying, Chute Dogging, Sorting and Team Penning.  Several English riders took advantage of the opportunity to try new things in 2015 and loved it!  Elly Ensom, a regular at the Hunter/Jumper shows said, “I liked Rodeo camp because we had professional instructors to teach us and improve our skills.  I didn’t even need my own horse and got to try something totally different!”

Above all, Teen Ranch seeks to connect all aspects of a young person’s personality- physical, emotional, social and spiritual to become the strong and positive leaders of tomorrow.

Visitors to the Ranch are always welcome so drop in to have a tour of the high quality facility or looks us up at www.teenranch.com  You are always welcome at Teen Ranch!

-Corrie Ensom

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For Those Days That I Think the World Might Explode

I don’t know about you, but sometimes (okay more than just sometimes) my mind likes to get carried away – WAY carried away. Whether it’s a small fear, a task that I’m expected to complete or even just doing something that’s new, my brain has a way of turning things into a potential catastrophe. Before I know it, I’ve turned something of little importance into a whole song and dance, and in the end I’m left feeling stressed out, discouraged and sometimes even insignificant.

Do I like feeling like this? Of course not! Do I choose to do something about it? Most times the answer is no.  Why is this?? I truly think that a large portion of this is due to habit, but an even greater factor is that it’s where I’m comfortable. Stressing out is what I’m familiar with and what I know.

When I take a step back and realize what’s going on behind the scenes, how it’s damaging my self-esteem, my frame of mind and even my trust in God, I realize that it is a lot scarier to stay here than it is to take up courage and change my pattern of thought.

It starts with putting things into perspective and recognizing the truth. To see things as they truly are, not how I wish them to be nor what I fear to happen.

My next focus is finding peace. The Bible say,  “and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7.

How does this happen? By lifting up our requests to God through prayer and thanksgiving in our times of anxiousness and anxiety. (Philippians 4:16) God will replace our fear with peace when we give our fears over to him. Wow.

The final thing that we can do is to be conscious and proactive about the mindset in which we choose to live. We need to keep our minds in a healthy state, which again is another constant choice. This past summer, I rediscovered Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” I see both strength and dignity as mental attributes. They are achieved through living confidently, not being warped in stress and focusing on the things that can be controlled, instead of the things that cannot. Laughing is a release and it comes through relaxation. It is also a result of being joyful and full of hope; all of which are mindsets.

Will making these adjustments completely fix everything? No. Will all doubts, fears and stresses be forever alleviated? Of course not! But when we listen to truths rather than lies, lift up our anxieties to God and live in a mindset of joyful hope, it can truly make a difference to ourselves and directly affect the way that we see the world around us.

-Ashley Duncan

Ashley is one of our full time staff members. She has been involved with a number of camps over the years and helps run our school programming throughout the year. Ashley is also a dedicated Bunkhouse Leader with a heart to serve Christ through her actions. 


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I’d Rather Be At Summer Camp

Camp. Where do we even begin? For so many of us we have some kind of nostalgia attached to that word. It could be a day experience, overnight or maybe even both.

I remember, when I was a child going to my first overnight camp. The anxiety that followed me the entire four hour car ride down was overwhelming. I was SO nervous to leave my family and friends for an entire week. I remember thinking, as I exited from our burgundy mini-van, ‘how on earth am I going to survive without my parents for seven days? What am I going to eat? What if the showers aren’t clean enough? And, the most daunting question of them all, ‘WHAT IF NO ONE LIKES ME?!’

Little did I know that overnight summer camp is a one of a kind, truly unique experience. It is like being transported to an amazing, fantastical realm, where you can be yourself- whether funny or downright ridiculous, adventurous, contemplative, peaceful or quiet.

At overnight camp, you meet like-minded people and people so “overnight-camp-counselor” different that you wouldn’t have imagined you would cross paths with in a hundred years, or a lifetime. The new people you meet and interact with become your best friends for life in just a span of one week. You have the unique opportunity to hang with your peers all day, every day.

As I stepped out of our burgundy mini-van I had a thought, ‘you have the chance to be the coolest kid in camp, the best one they have ever met, so cool and awesome that they would want to simply learn everything about you’. This is what I had been waiting for. No one knew my past! No one knew me! I was just the tall, ginger kid to them. I could be whomever I wanted to be to them.

Once this realization settled in I instantly became comfortable with my new surroundings. I decided right then and there that this was where I was going to become “un-shy”. I marched up to my cabin, looked in with bright eyes full of opportunity, and walked right back to my van. I couldn’t do this! I went to find my sister who had come to camp with me and hid behind her until I was sure it was safe from the peering eyes of my soon to be cabin-mates. Okay, so I didn’t overcome my shyness in one day. I did, however, take a gigantic step in the right direction by going to camp. It is the number one thing that boosted my self-confidence every year, and it certainly helped me become the person I am today.

I soon learned that I could give back to this incredible camp that had a huge hand in shaping who I have become. Working at a summer camp is the best job that I have ever had. It is also the most trying and emotionally draining job as well. Trust me though, the rewards are worth it. Seeing the happy faces of the campers as we race down the water slide. Getting to share the incredible wonder and joy of Jesus as He gently knocks on each of their hearts at His time of choosing. You just can’t beat that. No matter how hard a summer may look from the middle, it is always worth it to take the opportunity to be stretched just a little as Christ molds us to be more like Him.

When you are assigned the task of being accountable and responsible for another person (as a counselor or junior counselor), or to a group of people, you will experience a feeling like none before in your whole life. Having the opportunity to positively affect the people around you with your words and deeds- the whole learning experience itself is a reward that will stay with you for life. It taught me important life values such as tolerance, patience, confidence and kindness. It equipped me with the invaluable skill of turning a child’s crying into a smile with just a few magical words.

I really wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for summer camp. I wouldn’t have the same ideals, the same plans and the same big dream. I wouldn’t have the same confidence as I have now. Camp isn’t just camp for me – it is my home away from home, the place where I can let go of inhibitions and be comfortable doing my own thing, with no walls and no pretenses. The supporting environment of camp taught me to just be myself wherever I go and whatever I do in life.

If you or your kids have never had the chance to experience camp I cannot urge you enough to get involved, whether that is through attending camp or helping as a staff member.  It WILL change you. You will grow, learn, dream, plan, and change as a person. Now where else can you do all that in just one week?

– Rebecca Jansen



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Shifting Seasons

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
― Charles DickensGreat Expectations

Hard to believe that March is so fast approaching! With it comes the promise of spring, sunshine and of course, a whole lot of fun down here at the Ranch!
Being a Christian camp in Canada, I often wonder if Mel Stevens thought winter would be a challenge almost 50 years ago when the Ranch was started. Our winters in Canada provide a unique opportunity to do totally different camps during different seasons.
March break is one of my favourite camps! Both weekends are “Bring a Friend” weekends. This means we cram all the fun of summer, twist in some winter wonderland, and generate a full, fun, and fantastic experience for those that want to ‘test’ out summer camp or return for some extra fun during the school year.

In between these crazy weekends we host a March Break day-camp. The days are fun-filled days include skating, pony rides, crafts and of course, a warm meal to refresh made by our cooks! I love seeing the Ranch full with extra staff and young kids playing in the snow or coming up for lunch with those rosy cheeks eager to get warm by the fireplace.

Normally after these 10 days of excitement, we have a chance to catch our breath and look towards what might be our single biggest event of the year. This year, our Easter Extravaganza sneaks into the last weekend of March and is going to keep us on our toes!
Easter is an amazing opportunity to share the love of Jesus and open our gates to people that might never have a chance to hear the gospel story. We do Ranch-wide egg hunts and crafts with pony rides, skating and our famous gooey-marshmallow tomb breads to help give us the privilege of sharing just what Easter is all about. The past years our numbers have soared into the thousands as people enter Teen Ranch for an afternoon of fun!

We have had a mild winter this year in Canada. Whether that lasts or not, only time will tell. But I always find hope in March that spring, and then summer, is just around the corner. The days start to get longer and the sun seems to shine a tiny bit warmer. But I can’t help think of the spiritual season that so many people are going through. We go through the ‘winter’ in our hearts that can be so cold and long without the love of Jesus Christ to shine through. Our prayer at the Ranch for the month of March is to continue to shine that bright love of Jesus anyway we know how to people that need the ‘Son’ in their lives.
So whether you’re sending your kid to weekend camp, day camp, coming as a family to our Easter event, or joining our many volunteers to make it all happen; please pray with us that we can be a light doing what God has called us to do.

And hey! Wanna join the work we are doing? We are looking for hands-on help for these events and would love it if you would get in touch! Teenagers can get volunteer hours but Easter is a great chance for your whole family to help out! Feel free to contact us for more information, we would be so grateful!

God Bless and keep shining bright!

Rachael R.

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God, Help My Priorities!


Opening comments

Hey everyone, thanks for taking a moment to read through this. I want to preface these comments by saying that this post is written with the assumption that those who will be reading it are born again Christians who are looking to go deeper in their walk with Christ.

The topic that I want to address here is that of Christian priorities. I want to challenge us to think about what our priorities are – and if there is anything in our lives that God is asking us to change.

Get your priorities right

In life, there are all sorts of things that we give our time, energy and various resources too. House, car, hobbies, games, family, work. You name it. As people who have given ourselves to God, usually, those things that we consciously decide to spend our time on are good things. Generally, we aren’t struggling with whether or not to make some fully sinful thing our priority, we are struggling with how much of a priority a good thing should be. Do you see the difference?

There are all sorts of things that we can be engaged in, and a lot of them aren’t sin. But as we look to go deeper with Christ Jesus, the question becomes less and less – “Is this sin?” and more and more – “Is this the best thing?” The Apostle Paul said that all things are lawful for him, but that not all things are profitable.

Christ is our life, all we are, all we have and all we do needs to be in and through Him – for His glory and to build His Kingdom. That begs the question then: are the things that you and I are engaged in on a regular basis things that He desperately wants us to be doing?

Unfortunately, there are NO easy answers to this question… they are different for each person. God clearly outlines right and wrong on the big issues for all people, but the little things He leaves to be dealt with between you and Him. The thing is, we have to listen.

Listening to God

Listing to God is a big topic and we can’t do much more then scratch the surface here, but I do want to ask the question – do we consciously take the time to STOP what we are doing and listen to God? I think that if we are being honest, most of the time – in our day to day, moment by moment lives – we are content to just carry on with what we are doing. I think that, often, either we feel we are too busy to stop and listen, or we just forget, or – worse still – maybe deep, deep down, we know that God would ask us to do something different – so we ignore him.

Generally, I think that we know what our priorities should be, and even though we struggle with exactly what our moment-to-moment lives should look like, we normally have a pretty good idea of what we should and shouldn’t be doing. We can put it down on paper, we can look back on our day and point out our mistakes. We can look to tomorrow and make a nice plan – but often we get blinded in the moment – for whatever reason. I think that if we took the time to stop and truly seek and to really, truly listen, it would become a lot easier to know what we should do.

However, even once we know exactly what we should be doing in THIS moment we are living in – even when we’ve made up our mind that we want to get our priorities straight and we’ve decided to listen to God and do what He wants, there is still another roadblock.

It’s hard!

It is so hard to the right thing! It’s one thing to come up with a plan to get our priorities straight. It’s quite another thing to carry it out. How many times have we decided to give up such and such a habit, or to start such and such a thing that we feel God’s been asking us to do? Why is it so hard!? Well, that’s sin nature, the flesh, the devil, take your pick, one, all or some combo working to pull you away from God, and it’s only with His help that we can get it right.

The temptation then is to just give up; to decide that it’s just not worth it. After all, we feel as though we are pretty good Christians, we are going to Heaven, and we are happy with that. The problem is, this is serious stuff. You and I can’t progress much farther with God until we get sorted out on these things that He’s showing us, and they aren’t something that we can just leave. THEY WILL NOT JUST SORT THEMSELVES OUT. We have to DO something. God isn’t going to force us. He will help, of course, and it’s only through Him that it’s possible, but He will not do it himself. God is calling us to go higher and deeper with Him, and as long as we leave these little, day-to-day things undone in our lives, our Spiritual progress is stifled.

So what do we do?

Let’s get practical here. What can we do to make sure our priorities get and stay right? How can we be sure to honour God with every, single area of our live? We know our priorities need some work, we know there are changes that God wants to make, and we might even know some specifics of what they are… but what can we do?

There are the obvious answers that we all are familiar with: pray, read your bible, memorize scripture. But I’m assuming we know these things and are doing them. If we aren’t, we won’t get far in the Christian life anyway. So what else can we do to help along the way?

Accountability – that’s an option. Maybe you can find someone to keep you accountable over a priority issue in your life.

Plan – maybe you can develop an action plan to keep you on track and evaluate your progress.

There are lots of practical ideas, and it will be up to you to look deeper into them, but one thing I would like us to do is, take a moment to make a list. This list can be in your mind, but it’s better if it’s on a piece of paper or a device note or something where you can actually write it out. Take a few minutes and just ask God to show you the things in your life that He wants to change. Then, as he shows you, write them down. Once you’ve done this, set aside some time, maybe now, maybe tonight, maybe some other time soon, and get before God to figure out how He wants you to deal with these things. If you need help from someone – go ask for it. If you need to give something up, do it. If you need to cut back, cut back, if you need to start something, start it.

Life is short, and Christ is coming back soon. We don’t have time to fool around living lives that are comfortable for us and uncomfortable for God. If He wants to make a change, we need to let him – we will be glad for all eternity that we did.

In closing, the one thing I want to impress on all of us before we end is this: don’t let yourself put these things aside until they are dealt with. It’s easy to minimize or forget about these things BUT it is impossible to get much closer to God until these obstacles that He has identified are dealt with. So, get before God, have Him show you what needs to change, then do everything you can to change them. Remember, He will help you, but He won’t do everything, He won’t just magically change you. YOU HAVE to do something.

It’s not going to be easy by any means! It’s very easy to become a Christian (thanks be to God!) – but it’s not easy to live the Christian life – in fact it’s impossible for us in our natural state, but, as we know, it is Christ who works in and through us to make this possible! So, let’s make sure that we go as deep as we can with Him and live with no regrets!

Thanks for reading!

– Josh Menzies

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