References & TestimonialsNotes form past ranchers and parents


We attend several summer opportunity fairs throughout the country, where you could meet us and at the same time learn about other camp programs. If this would be useful to you, please contact us to make the arrangements.

We would also be more than happy to send you a brochure and a copy of the Ridgway Reporter, our holiday newsletter. The Reporter lists the names and addresses of all last summer's Ranchers. We encourage you to contact people on that list whom you know or who live near where you live. You should feel free to contact us for additional names.

One of our favorite references came from someone who knew nothing about Elk Creek Ranch until she met one of our groups returning from the ranch...


"I am a flight attendant for NWA, and on July 17th a group of teenagers boarded our flight from Billings to Minneapolis. They were all sad, and many tears were flowing. When I had a chance, I talked with them. They had just spent time at your ranch. They excitedly brought their past few weeks alive for me. Not one negative word came out. Imagine this from teenagers... A few were newcomers to your place, but others had been there before. All, literally all of them, loved the time they spent. They were given the chance to embrace a wholesome side of life, and they made the most of it. I just wanted to say thank you for what you do. You are making a difference in this world."

Christine Le'iato, Northwest Airlines



"Your letter of the fall evoked vivid images of the ranch life that Lucie has been so fortunate to experience these past two summers. The sense of reward, the seasonal cycle, and the linking of effort to outcome was palpable. We as parents try to find environments where our children will learn by doing and where the balance of challenge and support will help them develop confidence. This is so hard to provide at home where the 'living is easy.' You get it right at Elk Creek and we are so grateful to have found you. We want to send our warm thanks for contributing so much to Lucie's life, well-being, and happiness."

Linden and Scott Wise, parents of 2011-2012 rancher


"Dear Emily, Sometimes I wonder if my years at ECR are something I imagined. If not totally, then at least the most fantastic parts. Could it be that I got to work with such terrific people at such real and enjoyable work? Is it possible that I was allowed to do exactly what I wanted to do and was respected for it? Could that chance come to someone so young and naive and so.... Like me? Sometimes I can't believe it. What you and your family have given me is unrecordable, let alone repayable. Thank you."

Dave Shubert, former rancher and wrangler


"I remember my summer at Elk Creek (1973!!!) as if it were yesterday. Best summer ever. My horse was Flaxy. Still see her. And climbing the Grand Teton is still a vivid and important memory, despite the tummy bug that challenged my rope work."

Whitney Stewart, former rancher


"I want to thank you and the entire staff for all you did for my daughter this summer. Any time she talks about the camp or describes something that happened, it is always so positive. You created an environment where the campers were not nasty or clicky with each other. I didn't know how Annie would respond to the square dancing or sing along. I thought maybe she wouldn't participate and think it wasn't sophisticated enough.  Instead when describing it she told me about how much fun she had. She had a great time at camp. But, not only did she have a great time, she was in an environment that from all she told me valued hard work and respect for people. 

As you might have heard, Annie brought to camp high heels and some fancy tops. When she looked at the pictures of camp before going she noticed how many people were wearing plaid shirts. She said that is not her style. We just ordered some clothes for her and she wanted plaid shirts! When Annie came home from camp she had on her play list, the Allman Brothers, Johnny Cash (whom she never heard of) and many other singers that I actually knew. As we were driving in our car one day, I suddenly heard Suzanne. Leonard Cohen on Annie's play list. I couldn't believe it. The camp influenced her in both small and big ways—all for the best."

Elaine Block, parent of 2012 rancher


"Lucas arrived home over the moon happy and so full of wonderful stories. We can’t thank you enough for offering him “the best experience of my life”. We are so grateful for all the care, nurturing and ADVENTURE you provided him for 4 weeks. The stories keep coming and we will never tire of listening. Lucas will forever cherish his time and something tells me that you have not seen the last of him….. Thank you all for everything." 

Katherine Kaplan, parent of 2012 rancher


"Will got home safe, sound, and happier than I have ever seen him. Thank you all for running such a great camp! He is so pleasant now; perhaps that ECR good cheer and helpfulness will last and last. Feel free to use us as a reference any time. I used to be Will's notion of the best cook in the world, but you can tell Connie that she's it now!"

Grace Hayek, parent of  2012 rancher


"Just wanted to say thanks. While Ruby was there the pictures were the highlight of our week. We found you online and did not know much about you but I had a feeling it was going to be a good fit, which indeed it was.

Last year Ruby went to the camp that my husband had gone to as a child. When he went it was all boys, they canoed the Allagash and now it has turned into a country club of sorts, roughing it and getting blisters were not on the agenda. We knew that we wanted to find something that would be more of an experience and not just babysitting. It was Ruby that pointed out that the kids at last summers camp were all the same and hand picked by the director, whereas at Elk Creek, it is a bit more of a lottery, it seems that this summer it was a good fit (for her at least).

Ruby said that the backpacking trip was the hardest and best thing that she has ever done. She felt that she wanted to curl up in  a ball after the first day but she realized that there was only one way home, and to top it off, the valley that you took her to was the most spectacular place she had ever been. Ruby has been at a crossroads, and you have helped give her some of the tools that will help her make good decisions going forward and we thank you for that.

What you do is truly special and thanks again. We will be supporting Ruby to come again next summer, well seriously we will be pushing her but will help it seem like her decision."

Aliza Wheeler, parent of 2012 rancher


"Thank you for offering such a tremendous summer camp!  Every summer Hugh returns from Elk Creek demonstrably more mature.  He is excited about going all summer and though we will miss him we are glad he will have this experience."

Alice Morgan, parent of 2012 rancher


"We would like to thank you very much for taking such good care of Ziv and making her summer be such  a wonderful adventure and experience. She came back with such wonderful memories one can not even imagine. Most of all I think the most meaningful remark Ziv had was that she felt at Elk Creek at home! I think this expresses it all.

Yael Spada, parent of 2012 rancher


"I was at the ranch two summers—around 1971–1972, I think—and remember it all vividly and with great affection. My sister, Holly, also spent a few summers there in the mid-1960's (she passed away many years ago). Hanging in my house, I have a beautiful large photograph of Sunlight Valley that was given to her upon her graduation from Northfield School in 1965 by "Uncle Chet & Aunt Em Ridgway." Holly rode the most wonderful horse, named Nugget. I rode Rusty and have photos of us doing barrels to prove it. Those were wonderful experiences that changed my life, and my sister’s, too, forever."

Anne Harris, former rancher


"Favorite ECR memory? Hard to pinpoint just one as there are so many. Most of my time spent at the ranch was during the 1970's. Occasionally I still get back there to reconnect with lifelong friends and to smell the sagebrush again. And without fail, every time I descend the switchbacks of Dead Indian, my heart races as if I was in the overloaded GMC Handibus anticipating a new summer ahead."

Ham Easter, former rancher


"So many amazing things to be said! The best experience I could ever ask for!"

Becky Morton, 2010–2012 rancher


"I was there from 1994 to 1997 and have lots of incredible memories. So many in fact that I wrote many short stories in college about my time there. My favorite memory has to be camping out in sleeping bags one night in the upper pastures. Laying there looking up at the Milky Way, the smell of sage everywhere, the cool wind over my face and winter hat pulled down. The only reason I knew civilization outside of Sunlight Basin existed was the occasional satellite dashing across the sky. Perfection. I so hope my kids will go to the ranch and have their own special memories!"

Alicia Davis Jaworski, former rancher


 "While in Wyoming, I had a chance to do some great backpacking. I brought my skis and skied a couple of times up on a glacier. I gained a wonderful appreciation for the Rockies. I also got to work and put some great projects together around the ranch. What I remember most, however, were the people I met, the staff in particular. I'd been to camp and similar places, but the energy, passion, and enthusiasm that the counselors at ECR brought to the ranch, to the wild country that surrounds it  and to the kids on the ranch was amazing and infectious... Ten years later, after running a summer program on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Montana, I stopped by Elk Creek Ranch for a few days. I worked with a few of the groups, ate in the dining hall and hung out with the staff and the Ridgways. Though some of the faces had changed, the spirit of the place was alive and remained strong. I've been back to Wyoming a number of times to hike and to climb, and I remain in awe of this place."

Nate Snow, former rancher


"Spectacular place. Changed my life."

Fred Holcomb, past rancher and current counselor


"The Ranch is in Kevin's blood. Not one day goes by that he isn't talking about it and wishing it was time to return! . . .I'm sure you have millions of letters telling you what an impact the experience at the ranch had on the ranchers. You can add us to that list. . . He came home a mature, responsible young man. He truly loved being there and loved his horse."

Joyce O’Day, parent of 2011–12 rancher and 2012 counselor


"I've been meaning to write and tell you how much of Elk Creek Ranch Marina still carries with her. Her summer with you will, I think, always be a bit of magic in her heart. She thought she wanted to be a rancher before she left for Elk Creek and now she's completely convinced. Thank you for looking after her so well."

Suzanne van de Velde, parent of 2011 rancher


"Thanks to all the Elk Creek staff and horses for making this such a magical and memorable session for our daughter!"

Carol Connor Welsh, parent of 2011 rancher


"Thanks for all your help and attention to making things go so well for Maya's month in Wyoming.  She came back telling us that it’s a very special place.  She and Sharon and Lucy and (one other girl whose name I can't recall) sat at the baggage pick-up area together singing songs to Sharon's banjo playing and refused to leave the airport until everyones’ bags had been picked up off the rack."

Frank and Esther Silverstein, parents of 2011 rancher


"I am so grateful for Elk Creek Ranch. Thank you. Justin met us at the airport shaggy and exhausted but swaggering and confident. His newly acquired maturity has been such a pleasure. He has shared lots of stories about all the great counselors and leaders and the cook; the activities and fun and his logging ability. It has been so fun for all of us. I was especially thrilled that he had gone on the backpacking trip. I loved backpacking when I was young but wasn't sure Justin would enjoy the work. It's so great that, with your help, he gave it a try and had a fantastic experience."

Raylynn Oliver, mother of 2011–2012 rancher


"Thank you all so very much for providing such an amazing opportunity for my daughter, Becky Morton! I think that she had the best month of her life and I know that she is hoping that we can find a way to return. I truly believe that it was a life changing experience for her."

Kathy Morton, mother of 2010–2012 rancher


"Oona arrived safely last night and talked nonstop for nearly an hour about her experiences at the ranch. She said the time flew by. Like last year, we met a confident, happy teenager at the airport. Thank you so much! We will hear more in the coming days and I understand there's video as well! Can't wait to see a picture of Sonata. Oona talked a lot about the horses; training Sonata to get used to 'flapping things,' learning how to teach young horses about halters, and hanging out with Fritz (who's tail is just fuzz)."

Maria Lakis, mother of 2010–2011 rancher


"Many thanks again for the wonderful time Claire had at your ranch. She arrived back in London yesterday and she has not stopped talking about her stay: friendship, working, barrels, pack trip, coyotes, great food, etc., etc. Such a special place you have. Many thanks to offer that haven to our city children. Our best regards and thanks to the entire ECR team."

Marie Anne Duncan, mother of 2010–2011 rancher


"Best place on earth!"

Lee Tsairis, past rancher and current counselor