Kids experience country life

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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For one week, children attending Lyndell Grey’s 2G Family Ranch Camp in rural Lincoln were transported to an imaginary world. In the woods not far from the barn and house lies a small village, where the children were able to set up businesses and houses and even hold a mock trial. “My favorite part is probably going out in the forest,” said 12-year-old Todd Scott, a junior counselor at the camp. The children earn imaginary salaries at the village, enabling them to buy from their peers, explained Grey, who runs the camp on her property, as she pulled an imaginary pet cat – a drawing on a piece of a paper bag – out of her pocket. “It was so much fun,” Grey said, adding that all of life’s aspects are addressed there – including a funeral for an imaginary pet that “died” during the week. The imaginary village in the forest, Grey said, builds their imaginations. Grey, in addition to being a rancher, is executive director of the Fruitvale Association, which operates the historic Fruitvale School. Far from being just about the imaginary village, however, Ranch Camp included educational sessions where the youth learned about ranch life and got to experience it firsthand. “The idea is we give them a taste of ranch life,” Grey said. “We have a lot of city kids who come here and we want them to know about ranch animals, the rustic life, ranchers’ responsibilities and what they do.” Mackenzie Meachim, 10, was one of the 17 kids attending last week’s camp. It was her first year and she plans to come back next year. “I’m learning different things about cows,” Mackenzie said. A cow fact Mackenzie learned was that it takes cows longer to grow when they are fed hay instead of grain. Each day, Grey said, a different animal was the focus of in-depth afternoon educational presentations. Some animals the children learned about included ducks, salmon and goats. There was plenty of time for hands-on learning, with the children feeding the animals on the ranch. “I like Kenny (the bull) and all the cows, and Rex the horse,” said 8-year-old Cherish Bruce. Cherish said she lives on a ranch so she already knows a fair amount about the lifestyle and the animals but still enjoys the camp. Grey said a key aspect of the camp is having the youth spend time outside – including swimming and horseback riding – but that didn’t stop them from watching an animal movie every afternoon and preparing food each day. Normally, Grey said she has at least two camps – one in July and one in August – but she noticed slacking enrollment in July, with only three kids signed up. “Last year, we filled all 20 slots lickety-split,” Grey said. The camp cost $200, and Grey said she hopes next year will see a turnaround that will give more children the chance to experience life on a ranch. The camp will be held again next year, and Lyndell Grey can be contacted at 645-3517. Brandon Darnell can be reached at