Bravo… Bravo Ranch

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This is one of those posts that is better seen in its entirety, with all of Maya’s lovely photos.  If you are reading it in an e-newsletter, we recommend clicking through to view the full post.

Last weekend’s Bravo Ranch Family Camping Trip was a huge success.    In Fred Bravo’s words, “It could only be more perfect if it were warmer.”  It got up to about 75 degrees each day, but we didn’t see anyone complaining. 

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 This is our fourth year at the Bravo Ranch, a private ranch that is the perfect mix of safe-for-toddlers, pristine wilderness, luxury camping amenities (plumbing, a full camp kitchen, and drive-up sites), and a functioning ranch: fruit trees, swelling garden, and farm animals.  The Bravos very generously allow us to stay for a three-day weekend each year, following a desire set generations ago, of all ages enjoying the Soquel Creek and the adjacent woods and ranchland.  Our coordinator, Liza, worked tirelessly with her family and friends to make sure the campground was ready and extra inviting for us, by preparing access to the creek, cutting firewood, setting up crafts, and a lot more.  By the time Friday 11 AM rolled around, it was time to relax…

 Our trip was:

  • Creek SplashingIMG_6303
  • Tree House Play
  • Hay Rides
  • Boat Races (an rutterless hence aimless meander made right by Sasha, who put all of the boats atop a foam float so they could all win at once)
  • Plum, Blackberry, and Raspberry Picking (and Tasting!)
  • Farm work with farmhands Fred, Spencer, and Jonathan
  • Lounging in the hammock
  • Digging at the beach
  • Roasting marshmallows and making s’mores
  • Making dream catchers, octopi, first aid kits, and boats to race (see above), and painting rocks and tinkering at the craft tableIMG_6223
  • Fruit and Food Tasting (peaches, nectarines, pluots, plums, tomatoes, conserve, dried fruit, and granola) with Full Circle Farm
  • Night hikes to the great meadow to stargaze
  • Fun at the playground
  • Feeding the pigs
  • Visiting the rabbit
  • Looking for eggs at the hen house
  • Relaxing with a book, guitar, or nothing at all
  • New friends (the grade-school-age kids notably grouped up to run around or play in tents together)
  • Awesome camp food thanks to an entourage of cooks and stellar raw ingredients for every meal

IMG_6180At its height, we had 88 people on the ranch.  It was wonderful to meet new Stroller Hikers, reacquaint with old Stroller Hikers, and watch the kids as they interacted with us and the environment.

One camper had this to say:

“I wanted to write to thank you so much for organizing such an awesome camping weekend.  We have never had so much fun camping with the kids, or had an experience so smooth and stress free.  We’ve had difficult nights trying to enjoy the outdoors with our son, and it always worries me that things like this will be more difficult on everyone than they are enjoyable. Something about the combination of amazing families, activities, planning, and beautiful camping site made this so relaxing and fun.  I am excited for more fun camping excursions in the future!”

And from another camper:IMG_6061

“This was again a WONDERFUL camping trip!!!  My daughter was totally absorbed by the crafts.  Camping helped me relax and reconnect with my desire to paint, glue, draw… without a goal.  My son adores the farmer -he noticed he had 2 younger helpers now, so he now has a new goal!  My husband enjoyed seeing us happy and busy without having to entertain or do anything.  THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!  You again made a big difference in our lives!”

We heart Bravo RanchStroller Hikes has already had people e-mailing in, asking when the next trip will be.  We’ll know early in 2014, so keep watching this newsletter and StrollerHikes.com!  As ever, we must thank the Bravos and Letonas for working so tirelessly to make this trip possible for us, every year.  It is thanks to their generous spirits that we can have such a wonderful, stress-free experience in nature, and raise so many funds to keep Stroller Hikes going.  Thank you!

If you are interested in leading a camping trip with others, please let us know.  Stroller Hikes is entirely volunteer run, and we rely on volunteer leaders to enrich our calendar with fun Stroller Hikes, Toddler Treks, Backpacking Bambinos hikes, Bike-A-Hikes, camping trips, and more.  You can e-mail Debbie your idea at admin@strollerhikes.com.

Kudos to Maya for the photos shown here.  She has captured the Bravo Ranch beautifully.

– Debbie (Founder and President), Max (7), Holly (3), and Andrew

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