BY GRACE DICKENS
2022 HEALTH CARE EDITION
The Ranch provides access to explore water and forest landscapes, alongside several other recreational activities.
Candlelight Ranch is intended to serve as a place of discovery for children, young adults and families of all abilities.
Jenn Hartner is the executive director of Candlelight Ranch.
PHOTOS COURTESY CANDLELIGHT RANCH
Candlelight Ranch All-abilities organization heals through nature A fter the Barr family purchased their dream property in the Hill Country services for groups of up to 40 people. “It’s important to impart individuals with intellectual and
Candlelight Ranch oers a range of all-abilities programs aimed at providing opportunities for children and young adults to connect with nature.
Families in Nature Free events for families with children who face unique barriers to normal outdoor experiences Children in Nature Customized experiential science and nature programming for underserved children
in 1999, they wanted to share the magic of the outdoors with children and established Candlelight Ranch. Twenty-three years later, the nonprot serves as a place of discovery for children, young adults and families of all abilities to experience nature and healing in a way they may not have thought possible, Executive Director Jenn Hartner said. “It’s really a place for everybody. When we say all abilities, we mean it,” Hartner said. “I think we heal hearts and create joy in a time when we all need extra love and healing.” Located along the north shore of Lake Travis between Lago Vista and Marble Falls, the ranch is on 41 acres of pristine Hill Country where around 1,700 central Texas children are served annually from seven counties. The organization is funded by individual and corporate donations, fundraisers, special events and grants. “[To my knowledge], there’s nobody else within the Central Texas area that is doing what we’re doing in terms of working with a variety of schools, nonprots … [military and foster families] and children that have experienced trauma,” Hartner said. The Ranch partners with 30-35 nonprots and schools in Central Texas for its keystone program Children in Nature, which oers customized one- to three-day visits for groups such as Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Foster Angels, Children’s Hospital and special needs classrooms. Run by a team of seven, the ranch oers
developmental disabilities [with] safe recreation skills,” Hartner said. “So we get them out shing, kayaking, learning about Central Texas native plants and wildlife … recreating in their home parks.” Various activities are available depending on the abilities of individuals, such as a wheelchair- accessible treehouse and ziplines, 45-foot-high climbing ropes, a horse and donkey, arts and crafts, yoga and more. Programming is also available for special needs individuals who have aged out of the school system, military families, survivors of abuse or neglect, and families with children who face unique challenges in exploring nature. The Ranch experienced a 150% increase in demand for services in the last year for safe and accessible outdoor activities, Hartner said. During the pandemic, the nonprot developed Project HEAL , a family program designed to alleviate fear, anxiety and stress related to COVID- 19. Hartner said 100% of families reported a decrease in anxiety after just one day, and 90% of families reported feeling safer in nature and more likely to spend time outdoors. “We know that if you step foot on that property, you will get benet from learning something new … feeling proud of what you did today to challenge yourself,” Hartner said. “Everybody knows, now more than ever, that the healing stability of nature is strong enough for everybody.”
Military Families in Nature Family day for active-duty, veteran, gold star or other service member families with children
Corporate retreats Unique experiences for team building or group events
Camp Dreamcatcher Summer camp for children and families who are survivors of abuse and neglect Project HEAL Family program designed to alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress associated with COVID-19 Outdoor Explorers Six-week therapeutic recreation program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
• High ropes challenge course • Low ropes course • Ziplines • Horses • Waterfront activities
• Nature exploration • Archery
• Sustainable vegetable garden • Interactive replica of creeks on property
TURNER RANCH RD.
Candlelight Ranch 6408 Muleshoe Bend Trail, Marble Falls 512-323-5300 https://candlelightranch.org Hours vary by event
LAKE TRAVIS WESTLAKE EDITION • JUNE 2022
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