(To read part I of this post, click here)
And so I started working at Deer Valley Ranch full time. While I was optimistic about securing a full-time position straight out of college, I was also realistic in thinking that perhaps it would take a couple of years of seasonal work before finding a spot at a ranch that would be semi-permanent. God has continually blessed me beyond my wildest dreams by allowing me to find a new home and a new community out here in Colorado.
The off-season for camps and ranches is always a different beast. The “high-speed wobble” of summer winds down and the remaining staff finds themselves left with a long to-do list of winter preparation tasks and (thankfully) a bit more time to catch up on sleep that was neglected in June, July, and August. For Deer Valley Ranch, our off-season is filled with retreat groups and ensuring their needs are taken care of. To best utilize our staffing arrangements I was placed in the kitchen for this past fall season and had the new challenge of learning how to coordinate food and beverage services for groups of up to 65 guests. Thankfully our staff dedicated their full attention to serving these groups on the weekends and we managed to pull everything off with little hiccups in the plan. (Note to self for future reference: cooking at altitude and en mass is a lot different than regular cooking and, as it turns out, pancakes burn a lot faster on an industrial griddle.)
August, September, and October were filled with long weekends and even longer weeks, but it was the perfect first-hand learning experience. University classes certainly don’t emphasize the bits of information that are actually useful – but that’s the basis for an entirely separate post. While I can’t say food and beverage is my favorite area of hospitality, I discovered a new level of appreciation for those who dedicate their careers to this area of serving and enjoyed the new challenge.
Since the end of retreat season, our team has been looking at our processes, organizational structure, and marketing techniques to ensure that we are doing our best to share the story of Project 24:11 Ministries and Deer Valley Ranch. The legacy of creating a space for families to find respite and Truth remains the same after 65 years and it is enhanced through the addition of exciting new adventure expeditions and ministry opportunities. Our horsemanship program is growing and has new instructional elements and our expedition offerings continue to expand into the greater Arkansas River Valley.
With the holiday season and the end of 2017 coming into view, I’m thankful for everything that I have been able to experience over the past few months. New adventures are on the horizon, including volunteering at the Christian Camp and Conference Association’s national Clarity conference at the Broadmoor in December. When I attended the 2015 Panorama conference in Phoenix it was the most incredibly refreshing ministry experience and I cannot wait to see what dreams and plans are revealed to me through Clarity. I’ll be returning to Pennsylvania for the month of January, and will also be traveling to Iceland in mid-January to experience the famed Icelandic horses and hopefully cross seeing the auroras off my bucket list.
Growing up I listened to all those adventure-filled country songs. They were the epitome of what I wanted my life to be like, and now by the grace of God I’m finally living in those wide open spaces.