What is an Outrider?
The Covid-19 pandemic affected camps around the country. As a result, most camps made an early decision not to run this summer. Others waited for more guidance from the American Camping Association and CDC. Once those guidelines became clear closer to the camping season, many chose not to run because they couldn’t imagine camp under those strict protocols. As the leadership team and board of directors made the difficult and necessary decision to cancel our Traditional Program and put our Adventure Groups on hold, we looked ahead to determine what kind of an experience we could possibly provide to the TVRC community. No one knew what the world would bring, or what summer was going to be like in this new world of quarantine, facemasks and social distancing. Even with the roadblocks ahead, it was clear our families and staff yearned for camp more than ever.
The leadership team took time and reflected on what made TVRC special. Then, we asked ourselves if we could run camp without Adventure Groups or Rodeos while we wore masks and practiced social distancing. We tried to plan a brand new program which still held the spirit of TVRC but also met the constantly changing Covid-19 regulations of the American Camp Association, the State of Wyoming, and the Center for Disease control. After much deliberation, we came to the conclusion that our trips are one of the most special parts of our TVRC legacy and it became clear that the Backcountry of Wyoming would be one of the most unlikely places to contract Covid-19. What better way to distance ourselves than on mountain tops and in alpine meadows?
Thus the Outrider program was born. What started as an idea to rotate kids off the ranch and into the Backcountry as quickly as possible while maintaining small trail groups blossomed into a full-fledged program. Since we knew that the trips and the cabin experience are key parts of TVRC, we worked to amplify those pieces in our new program. The mix of wilderness and people have always been a winning combination. Still, we knew we would miss the camp programs: Rodeo, Lapidary, Archery, and Riflery. However, we felt we were taking the best parts of the TVRC experience and concentrating them into the new two-week Outrider Program.
For generations, we have understood what each adventure group represents. For example, Yearlings are young cows that are turned out on the summer range for the first time, just like our first-year campers. Rough Riders can be thought of as the folks that know a bit and are excited about learning even more. Top Hands have more experience, enough to specialize in hiking, fishing or horseback riding. Wranglers are looked up to as the group that is ready for anything, dependable, and adventurous. Our Trailblazers spend the majority of their time out of camp, on the trail, solidifying lasting friendships, and readying themselves for the next big adventures in life. But, how do we define an Outrider?
When I asked the campers and staff this at the final Outrider Ceremony, they had a lot of good thoughts. Many defined an Outrider as someone who is flexible and willing to embark on a new adventure and meet challenges face-on. In the dictionary, there were two similar but different examples which were relevant to our idea of an Outrider. The first definition was that of a cowhand on a cattle drive. This Outrider is responsible for riding around the herd, bringing in lost cows and scouting for water and the best grass. The second example is a person who goes in front of or beside a vehicle or motorcade as an escort or guard. This second example resonated a bit more with us because the words “escort” or “guard” suggests that they are looking after something or someone. Further, it instills an ideas of protection and responsibility.
We believe that the Outriders were looking after the TVRC legacy. In a summer that almost didn’t happen, a select few held the best, most special parts of TVRC securely. Many of them may not yet understand the important role they have in the history of TVRC. In the year that almost wasn’t, the Outriders looked after TVRC and kept it safe. Without a doubt, this is a sacred responsibility. The Leadership team and board of directors have known since May how historically important this summer would be for TVRC. We understood the risks, but also knew how high the reward of a successful program would be if completed. Thank you for being a part of our history this summer, especially because it almost wasn’t. The future of TVRC has been preserved by our Outriders, and we will always be grateful for being given the chance to run and prevail.
In Camp Spirit,
Jim and Cora Ligori