The JCC camp south of Elbert, Colorado is a scenic respite and memory making paradise for adults and children alike. Doug was happy to show me around this lovely place. Since the beginning of our relationship he has retold stories of campfires and close as your hand stars hanging from our large Colorado sky.
There was a benefit run at the J Bar CC ranch camp at the end of the season and we took the opportunity to go out and walk the course so that Doug could show me in person the higher campgrounds and the breathtaking scenery.
The Jewish Community Center in Denver owns the land and created a place for youth to enjoy the great mountainous high plains. City children come from all around to partake in a few weeks of horseback riding, games, culture, field trips, activities, and good old fashioned camp. My mind goes to one of my favorite movies with Haley Mills, “The Parent Trap” and their time at camp.
The historic lodge and old buildings still stand. Ghost stories, both real and imagined, fill this old camp. The lodge was an old hiding place and respite for local outlaws along with the requisite brothel. Several famous criminals had crossed the path of this place. There were elaborate tunnels underneath the buildings that the unsavory characters would hide in when the posse came. One day many of the outlaws were hidden when a thundering number of posse and horses came with a surprise sting. The weight caused the tunnels to collapse. When the great prairie dust settled the outlaws were dead and their spirits still haunt the grounds.
One night Doug and two other camp counselors were walking in the night between buildings when a wind picked up, gathered strength above the towering trees and swooped down and through them with a great scream leaving the young staff members shocked and pale. Walking into the lodge I felt a notable uneasy feeling.
The good vibrations far outweigh the ghost stories and children’s laughter fills the air. The grandeur Ponderosas, rock ledges and prairie grass paths, the wild life and vast wild flowers thanks to the temperate climate and rain this year. The JCC Ranch is an enchanting place and a place that fills Doug with fond memories and recollection.
We went a few weeks ago for Friday night dinner (Shabbat) and took Miss Maryjane with us. Children ran from cabin to cabin, staff members of all ages walked about keeping smiling order while a goat happily munched on hay. Maryjane went wild. Children, goats, dogs, the great outdoors, that child was in heaven. She found the directors’ eighteen month old daughter and sat with her at the outdoor service holding their song books upside down and smiling and singing along with the older children. She danced wildly after dinner on the basketball court with the children under the stars. The director said that perhaps the girls will share a bunk one day. The camp isn’t inexpensive so we just nodded but if there were an opportunity for Maryjane to go, I think she would love it. The camp is Jewish but everyone is welcome.
We certainly felt welcome on our two visits. Such a beautiful place and peace accompanies its trails and the people are warm and friendly. Doug felt instantly at home. The place was good for our spirits. Maybe we will visit Maryjane there in a few years!