Miracle Mountain Ranch Town

We love to highlight stories from people who have been impacted and changed by God during their experiences here at Miracle Mountain Ranch.  Recently, we received an enthusiastic letter from a parent of a Rancher who came to camp.  Here is her story…

July 15, 2013

On February 22, my daughter Ali and I attended the Pennsylvania Horse Expo, where we stopped at a booth that had signs for Miracle Mountain Ranch.  I was reluctant to even engage in conversation since I knew the price would not be within our ability, but we were met with warm smiles, and that’s where it all began.

I did my research by reviewing the Box Cross newsletter, every word, picture and video on the website, and asked others to do the same.  We live six hours away from MMR, and I didn’t know anyone who was familiar with this organization, but several prayers and discussions later resulted in, “Let’s give it a try.” The registration process was simple, payments were easily made online (cost is very reasonable), and all questions that I emailed to the office were promptly answered.  I registered Ali for Drill Team and English Camp in the summer.  A good start for a nervous parent of a 13 year old!

Upon our arrival the first Sunday afternoon, I was really struck by the sheer beauty of the place.  Not just nice buildings, but the overall look. Pastures, fences, and landscaping were well cared-for and meticulously groomed. The photos online looked almost too good to be true, but we were seeing it first-hand. Staff was ready, bunkhouses were spotless, barns and stables were ready to show, horses were well groomed and healthy.  If the week went as well as the Check In day, this was going to be a big hit.  All of the staff and volunteers were quick with smiles, answers, jokes, and encouragement.

After a very thorough discussion of Ali’s riding ability, including likes and dislikes, mixed in with what she wanted to learn, a horse was provided for Ali’s riding assessment.  It was obvious that the horses were not only healthy and well groomed, but they were also well trained in their jobs.  I now had high hopes that the horse assignment promised for Monday would equal the same.

By midday Friday, I was making my six-hour drive back to Miracle Mountain Ranch for an evening video presentation and Message on the Mount.  After a full week with many campers on-site, I was sure I would have a much different view of the place compared to Sunday.  Much to my surprise, I was wrong.  The overall look was exactly the same as before—immaculate.

Ali waved when she saw me, but was of course having too much fun to run over for a quick hug.  We went to Town Hall for closing comments and a video of the week’s highlights, which was a fabulous combination of the activities for the variety of camps that took place.  MANY happy campers were building confidence, learning new activities, making new friends, and strengthening their beliefs in the Lord.  The staff also mentioned how blessed MMR had been to provide camp opportunities to many children on the Scholarship Program.  We were also invited to future camps and retreats, especially the Harvest Party in October.

After a closing prayer, Ali’s Drill Team was next on the agenda, so I headed in that direction.  Along the walkway, there were picnic-style tables of delicious food and drinks available for everyone, so I helped myself to cool lemonade and found a seat at the arena.

What else can you say about your child performing in the closing ceremonies except, PROUD?  Drill Team Camp was a new camp this year and had been divided into two groups.  Ali’s group was up first.  They performed their routine to music and everyone on the team successfully maneuvered their horse through all the required steps.  Horses and riders alike enjoyed the applause that was given during the movements and at the end of the show.  How, in 5 days, did the instructors manage to put together this group of campers and horses to perform so well?  AMAZING!  The Miracle Mountain Ranch Drill team then performed, followed by the Message from the Mount, which were both amazing!

Ali completed her responsibilities in the barn with her horse and we sat down to enjoy the picnic foods available.  She talked non-stop about the week full of excitement, joy, friendship, horse stories, bunkhouse fun, and lessons that had been discussed throughout the week—Forgiveness!  This experience had touched her deeply and would have a lasting effect.

Registration for English Camp was a mirror image of our arrival the week before, only this time we knew the ropes.  She requested to have Nike assigned to her again for this camp because she knew he was a jumper and had performed really well with her the previous camp.

What was different today?  Something!  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but today seemed better.  Could it be any better? I realized that after only one week of camp, Ali was completely at ease.  I was completely at ease.  In one week, we had both developed a complete trust in our relationship with Miracle Mountain Ranch and all that they had to offer.

The second week flew by.  I did not search the website several times a day, looking for pictures.  I did not worry if Ali was having fun, or happy, or learning things—I knew she was!  On Friday midday I made another six-hour trek, looking forward to a repeat of the week before—closing ceremonies.

I sat anxiously on the arena bleachers, knowing that Ali very much wanted to work on her jumping skills this week.  Five girls and their meticulously groomed horses entered the arena with their instructor, Kara, and began to warm up.  I had major butterflies, since I saw a jump course that consisted of five jumps and a chute that was six cross rails with a beginning and ending ground pole.  Ali had only ever worked on cavalettes and one jump at a time.  How much of this would she be able to maneuver?  Once the flatwork was complete, Kara called for the girls to do a warm-up jump, over the blue and through the chute.  It was Ali’s turn and I was on the edge of my seat, with camera in hand.  She skillfully trotted Nike over the blue jump and through the chute like she had done it for months.  Ok, that will be the extent of what she learned. I was very proud of her.  But wait—that wasn’t all.  Each girl was to jump the entire course.  WHAT?  No way!  Not Ali!  I could hardly watch the first girl perform as I was rushing through my heart, wondering how I would console Ali afterwards when she experienced disappointment and embarrassment for not being able to complete the course in front of her campmates, their families, and me.  Just as I was starting to tear up, it was her turn.

I could hardly hold the camera still, I was so nervous for her.  She began at the trot with a big smile on her face and over the first jump into a canter.  She rode Nike at a canter over each jump in the course with complete confidence and ease, one after the other, and through the six jump chute again as well.  When I heard Kara call out, “Great finish, Ali!” I was an emotional wreck.  I had been praying silently the whole time.  She did FANTASTIC, as did all her campmates.  It was definitely a SHOW!

Once all of the girls dismounted, Ali began to cry silently in the arena, standing next to Nike.  She had really bonded with her horse form these two weeks.  The horse that had just carried her successfully through the entire arena and over all the jumps—something she had only hoped to accomplish.  Trainers had developed relationships with her and provided her with just the right amount of education, encouragement, and faith.  When we left MMR that Friday night, Ali told me of her prayer that she had asked God to PLEASE take away her fear of jumping.  I saw the result of His answer.

WOW.  How am I so blessed to have found this camp, this beautiful place, these people that have come into our lives?  What was I praying for to receive this blessing? 

And then it hit me, like a clear vision.  You were praying for us.  You were seeking parents that wanted a safe but fun camp for their child/teen.  You were praying for a camper that would open their heart to God.  You were praying for God to show His love, compassion, and caring through others.  And through your prayers, God showed us the way to you.

I am very impressed with the level of maturity, education, dedication, and commitment that I have witnessed from the staff at MMR.  The more I read on the website, the more impressed I become.  Miracle Mountain Ranch is dedicated to making a long-term investment in their people.  I see people who started attending camp at MMR early in life, working their way through the ranks, and then on to becoming valued staff.  This dedication of investment is unparalleled in the world today.  I am completely overwhelmed with this type of commitment and pray that it will continue as Ali desires to become one of the same.  Many camps from now, I believe we will be discussing the School of Discipleship with Ali as God continues to place us to carry His message and do His works.

You will definitely be seeing more of us…regardless of the distance.

Audrey Hodson
Shepherdstown, WV

*Edited by Ranch staff by permission from author.