Sky Ranch Spotlight

IMG_7225web

Kaari Von Bernuth (above right)

For me, Sky Ranch is home. Every summer for the past six years, my schedule has revolved around being at Sky Ranch as much as I can, and the part that keeps bringing me back is how familiar yet how unique every experience is. Sky Ranch will always have a peaceful, calm, excited, comforting feel because at its core, Sky Ranch is filled with God’s grace, and you’re accepted as you are. When you’re there, you don’t have to posture at all, or pretend to feel or be something you’re not. Sky Ranch feels safe.

However, while the feel of Sky Ranch stays the same, no day up the mountain could ever be repeated because what truly makes Sky Ranch special is the community. There are so many people that call Sky Ranch home, and to each of them, Sky Ranch means something different. Each incredible individual brings something different, which is really what makes Sky Ranch magical. Love is abundant in the Sky Ranch community, and every second that I’m there, I know that the people around me genuinely care about who I am and how I am. I have learned so much about hospitality, and I see God in each and every single person that I meet there, staff, pastors, and campers alike.

This past summer, I was blessed to be able to experience Sky Ranch in a role other than a camper: I participated in the Staff in Training (SIT) program. An SIT is in between being a camper and being on staff, and after my week of training, I had the opportunity to volunteer and do staff jobs for three weeks. For me, being able to be at camp for that long was a dream come true… just at the wrong time. This past summer was an extremely emotionally taxing summer for me. My grandma was battling breast cancer and she wasn’t getting better. Everybody in my family knew that she wasn’t going to live to see the end of summer, so being at Sky Ranch was both a blessing and a curse. When my grandma’s condition grew worse, I was hesitant to do the volunteer portion of the SIT program because I didn’t want to be away from my family. However, the family consensus was that I should go, mostly influenced by the exceptionally loud opinion of my grandma. A former camp counselor at Rainbow Trail, she told me that Sky Ranch was where I belonged.

So, I was working and was overjoyed to be there, but there was also underlying fear that anytime I could get the call that would send me down the mountain. During my second week volunteering, I was shadowing a counselor, and we had a group of eleven middle school girls, and what a blast they were! Each and every one of them was so enthusiastic and their joy was contagious. I saw God in each of their shining faces. One afternoon, we were doing an activity that involved the prayer labyrinth, and sacred silence time, which is where everybody finds their own place in nature, and has about 10 minutes of silence to reflect and pray on the focus bible verse we gave them, or whatever was heavy on their hearts. My prayers were somewhat incoherent in my head, but I prayed for strength. For me, my family, and especially for my grandma. And even more so, I prayed for peace. My family needed peace, my grandma needed peace, and I needed peace to be able to give my full attention to the campers that I was in community with.

At the end of the sacred silence, we gathered together again, and the girls were invited to share what they felt comfortable sharing about the activity. Some girls said they liked it, some said they didn’t. Then, in a completely random comment, one girl said, “I’ve lost a lot of people in my life. But, God has helped me to know that he’s not taking them away from us, he’s taking them away from their misery, and giving them a new better life, and that it’s okay.”

Every word she said rang through my body because every word she said was a direct answer to my prayers. When I was put in a leadership position, as opposed to being a camper, I had the impression that I would be teaching the campers I worked with, and helping them to grow. But, that middle school girl taught me more than I think I could ever teach them.

Everybody needs a little Sky Ranch in their lives. Whether they feel good, and don’t have a worry in the world, or whether they feel lost in the chaos of their lives, Sky Ranch is the place to be. The healing place, and the healing people pour out endless love to everyone who comes there, and God’s Grace abounds. Sky Ranch is home for all.

Kaari Von Bernuth
Longmont, CO
Staff in Training

Each month we will highlight a story from a camper, staff, adult sponsor volunteer or guest on their experience at Sky Ranch. 

Past Sky Ranch Spotlights

Joe and Luke Rein

Haley Plucheck

Dave Kiel

Robin Lutjohann

Katharine Ritzi

Ben Fulton

Meagan Murphy

Kaari Von Bernuth

Doug Hill

Caitlin Almer