A letter to the parents of our Staff

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This blog post is a little different than most folks might see here. This post is geared towards the parents of our staff, which might seem strange to you. It’s not often, if ever, an employer reaches out to their employees’ loved ones. This sentiment derives from the old adage that our staff are legally adults, and therefore we shouldn’t have much if any communication with their families. Yet, as parents ourselves, we find that somewhat counterintuitive.

The shift we have noticed, especially since the Pandemic, is that our staff are more connected to their parents and families now than they were even five years ago. Our staff more readily seek advice from or turn to their parents in times of struggle or hardship. Thus we know families are a crucial resource for our staff members. It is for this reason that we feel it is important to reach out to you as your TVRC staffers are showing up and spending their first days at the Ranch.

Our goal with this note is to let you know a bit more about Teton Valley Ranch Camp, where your staffer will be spending part of their summer; and to build a relationship between you as their trusted family members and us as the senior TVRC leadership. Our primary hope is that we make progress towards being set up for the most successful summer experience possible for our campers AND our staff! Although we already know many of you from previous summers, please read on, as we believe this is all important information.

First, some history– Teton Valley Ranch Camp (TVRC) is an independent non-profit educational foundation whose program focuses on Western Adventure in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Our program has been operating in this area since 1939 and thus, we are celebrating our 85th summer this year. We operate on our 2600 acre ranch, as well as in the three surrounding National Forests and two National Parks. Since much of our time is spent in remote and wild areas, the main theme that naturally arises is overcoming challenges. Boiled down, we do this by honing the traits of grit, resilience, and tenacity. This is evident in our Purpose, Mission, and Vision Statements.

“TVRC instills passion and respect for the outdoors while building self-confidence, skills, and lasting friendships.”
“The Mission of Teton Valley Ranch Camp is to Provide InspiringWestern adventure in the Jackson Hole and Yellowstone area.”
“TVRC is a trusted partner with our families and creates future generations of leaders ready for challenges ahead.”

We hope you notice that nowhere in our Mission, Vision, and Purpose statements does it say “for campers”. This is intentional. As a leadership team, we don’t only foster this growth in our campers, but with our staff as well. Further, we often refer to ourselves {the leadership team} as “counselors to the counselors” – it’s a mindset and a mantra for us. We watch young, sometimes shy, newly-minted adults venture into what is to many, their first “real job”. A job that is vastly more complex than a server at the University Center Coffee Shop, a lifeguard at a pool, or even an internship at a local company. A summer job at TVRC builds the invaluable skills of leadership: communication, time management, conflict resolution, creativity, problem solving, empathy, critical thinking, and sound decision making.

The experience, camaraderie, and natural beauty of our mountain home greatly outweigh the paycheck. Further, the skills gained greatly enhance our staffs’ future job marketability. An article from The American Camping Association about the benefits of working at camp reports that, “business executives often note that experience as a camp counselor translates into excellent management and personnel skills.” Beyond the hard skills gained, we see so much growth in our staff when they put the campers, their co-workers, and something greater than themselves, the TVRC community above their own desires and comforts. It is undeniably a life changing experience.

Now is the part where you, as parents and family members, can help by supporting your staffers at TVRC. We are humbly asking our staff families to partner with us this summer. We’re asking this because we know our staff value your guidance, advice, and reassurance. There is no doubt that life and work at TVRC can be hard. We have long days, significant physical activity, tons of details to manage, live in a somewhat isolated place, and are ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of others. As in life, things sometimes don’t go exactly like we planned, and we have to learn to be flexible, learn from our mistakes, and ultimately carry on.

Thus, when your staffer calls, texts, or emails you frustrated, exhausted, or even in tears; we ask you to listen, empathize, and offer support. We also ask you to encourage them to speak with their supervisors, a member of the full time team, or Jim/Cora directly. Our goal is to acknowledge challenges, support them by helping craft a plan, and ultimately to keep moving forward. Overcoming their challenges are one of the many ways our staff develop grit, tenacity, and resilience. While an early departure from camp is sometimes the eventual outcome, we want to make sure it’s a last resort by having thoroughly explored all other options.

We are excited that TVRC will soon become, or continue to be, part of their life story. Please remember that we want to be a helpful resource for you and your staffer. When they hit the bumps in the road, encourage them to come talk with us. Lastly, if you ever have concerns, know Cora and I are just a quick phone call or email away. Thank you for supporting them this summer, and we hope to be able to thank you in person one day soon.

Jim and Cora Ligori

Executive Director / Camp Director