Here is what campers, parents, and teachers are saying about Ekone:
” What makes Ekone Summer Camps special is friendship, integrity, respect, and most of all fun! Friendship could be with anybody like one or more of the horses, but it doesn’t have to be horses it could be a staff or a kid that you could share anything with them. Any of them will listen to you. Integrity is for when you’re doing chores and you help some people out so then you could be remembered, but a lot of people will remember you no matter what. Respect, if you don’t respect others they won’t respect you. Do you want to be treated unrespectful? Fun, fun is when you ride the horses, doing crafts, playing games, out in the campfire, stories, doing your fun chores, and plenty more. That is what makes Ekone Summer Camps special and magical.”
– Kortney, Camper (12 yrs)
Dear Trail Bosses,
I had the great pleasure of watching my 9 year old granddaughter Paulie develop an earnest focus and concentration that was a wonder to me! And, she had such fun her very first week away from her family—with NO CALLS HOME! That is in itself a win—that she felt so safe, secure and assured in herself all week long. Thank you for your love and hard work.
- Judy Todd, founder of NatureConnect Excursions
The following is a letter from Nancy Pierce, 4th Grade Teacher at Portland Waldorf School, written after her class spent four days at Ekone Ranch.
Dear Ekone Staff and Residents,
Now we have been back at school a little more than a week from our Ekone Ranch visit and the fourth graders and their parents continue to talk about their time at the ranch. The 4 days and 3 nights at Ekone effected each student deeply and probably each in a different way. It has been such fun to hear them share their favorite memory with their parents and with their other teachers. For most it was riding the horses, and for others it was the food and working in the cookhouse or the feeling of freedom that came from their truly free playtime (a rarity for city children). A few simply state that “it was all perfect” when asked for their special memory. The parents who accompanied the visit were just as positive and are hoping the class can return to Ekone in perhaps 7th grade for a different experience for the then-12-13 year olds. I have received nothing but positive feedback from all families involved.
My favorite memory is the contrast of our first afternoon hike and the inability of any student to walk in silence for even a minute or two on that hike. Each was so filled with city-life stimulation that quiet walking and simple looking was not possible. Then on the last morning the same request for a silent walk was completely successful. By then the children had actually arrived at Ekone Ranch and could be there in completeness and have their senses open to that in-the-moment ranch experience. That experience will live with them forever – even when it has been covered with more recent conscious thoughts, each will have a small part of themselves that connects with the beauty and freedom of a sacred spot. And that is where true life-long love for our earth arises and the inner desire to help protect our planet lives. I have been a teacher long enough to recognize that it is these small seeds of true experiences that will live and flourish when the time is right.
Several of my students receive regular remedial assistance from other teachers at PWS and these teachers have also remarked on the increased self-confidence and focus that appears to have come from our visit to Ekone. Whether this continues into the future remains to be seen, but each of the children and their teachers has now had a glimpse into a different way of being and we all know that this lives in the child. The day after we returned to school we spent several hours constructing dream catchers from the Ekone Ranch willow branches and feathers collected there. Every student worked in such a focused manner to build a dream catcher – and it was not an easy project for many – and then took it home to hang over their bed. It was a great way to connect the ranch experience to their home.
Our thanks to you and all your co-workers for a wonderful experience. Best of luck as you plan for the future and envision what the future for Ekone Ranch might hold. I recognize it was a stretch to host our 31 students and the needed number of adults, but your willingness brought the gift of Ekone to large number of people. Please pass our appreciation and thanks on to all involved with Ekone Ranch.
Here are some quotes pulled from the 2011 Summer Camp Survey.
Why do you choose Ekone?
We love that there is an opportunity for our children to be in such a beautiful location and to experience nature in the process of activities. It is a welcome alternative to most camps and we value the absence of media and commercialism.
We love that you serve good, wholesome food, and that there is great modeling for girls (especially) to be strong, happy, etc. but your program is great for boys, too.
We LOVE Ekone and are dedicated to its success.
Ekone is the only camp where my daughter feels whole, accepted for who she is and totally at ease with herself.
Clear articulation of values: girls seen as intelligent and caring, hard working, stewards of the land and able to be positive participants in a strong group. Plus, clear concern for living in a way that is healthiest for us and best for the environment.
I read about Ekone in the Gorge Magazine and was moved by the article… I just knew it would be the perfect retreat for Olivia. This was her first extend away visit from her family. She had the most amazing experience ever!!
We love you guys!
Spirituality incorporated in experience and values instilled
Ekone is my favorite place on earth that I have been to so far, and I don’t know what I would do without Ekone
I love Ekone!
Staff seemed willing to work with my son who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome
We were also considering Orkila on Orcas but was too big. Small, thoughtful, FUN and deep thinking is what we wanted; something different and not an out of control social “scene”.
NOT a club-med. Seeking right amount of funk factor.
Wholesome, healthy & down to earth atmosphere, with emphasis in appreciating and respecting our earth and what it gives to us.
General camp rating and atmosphere comments:
We really liked the energy and spirit invested in the camp programs this year. I loved coming home with the little films from the camp week: so sweet. Thank you Shonie, Chris, Caitlin, Liz, Little Caitlin, and everyone who contributed to a great summer.
Loved receiving the DVD of both weeks my daughter was there!! Thank you!
Shonie was very reassuring when I shared my (parental) pre-camp anxiety with her. After we picked our daughter up at camp we had an even more positive impression of the individuals who come together to care for and share with the children.
Awesome, awesome, awesome–that’s a direct quote.
Our camper had a blast. He’s never ridden a horse or worked on a ranch. The food was incredible. Those cooks are really something:)
My daughter said it was the best thing she ever did!:)
The staff are fantastic – they demanded (and received) the respect of the children. Our daughter enjoyed working in the kitchen and sharing the responsibilities of the dishes.
O came away from camp feeling more confident and strong. She explodes into the largest grin possible when we talk of Ekone. We will be coming back next year and telling all our friends about it. What a magical place!!
A carefully considered expense but very well worth it, year after year. Ekone has been a beautiful summertime tradition and home away from home for our children. We love visiting, too. We are especially appreciative of the wholesome food and beautiful environment.
Any camp where there is a horse curriculum is expensive.
It is fair value for an exceptional program at an exceptional place.
The tuition is totally reasonable given the experience.
We appreciate the flexibility of being able to pay over time.
Best thing about camp:
We loved the original ethics inspired in part by Ray, but also the new energy you brought to the camp this year. We do want to see the continuation of a strong work ethic, and appreciation of the environment, etc. but you seem to know what you’re doing! The smaller size is a big draw.
The Ekone staff
The people and how they interacted with the kids and encouraged them.
WONDERFUL camp staff, beautiful setting
Great food and like the involvement the kids have in creating and cleaning up after the meal.
I came back to this camp because it had less structure than other ones and because I could walk around barefoot.
Since you are only asking for ONE thing: programs that accommodate age & experience divisions (younger from older/beginners from accomplished riders)
Size of groups and overall style of the program
The single best thing is the commitment of the leaders and volunteers running the camp. It is clearly about so much more than the horses.
We feel that this last year’s programs succeeded in capturing the feeling that existed when Ray ran Ekone (who, in many ways, was Ekone). Shonie and her colleagues did a fine job in presenting a friendly and wholesome environment which was very reminiscent of that earlier Ekone. We have always appreciated the vision that Ray had for Ekone, one that honored the earth and our children, and one that offered security, and belonging, and sharing, and horses, and healthful food, and more and more.
Sleep out under the stars.
The food and interactions with the horses.
We loved everything about Ekone, but especially the horses and the staff.
The food is awesome! My kids loved it and I know they ate well during their week at camp! THANK YOU!
Keeping the values, message and spirit of founder present and deeply infused with the experience.
EVERYTHING is awesome!! Definitely keep Wilderness Week.
It was an inspirational week for our daughter – from gaining confidence on a horse, loading hay bales with glee, sleeping under the stars, helping with camp chores – she truly came away with a greater sense of self, a deeper appreciation for nature, and a wonderful sense of community.
The atmosphere, the horse program and small group setting.
Small size groups. Great staff and ratios. Horses – focus on the relationship as much as the riding. Focus on being outside, self reliance and sustainability.
The food! Especially Sunday Rolls and the poppyseed honey.
The independence that you foster in the kids.
The land, the food, the rad cowgirls, the animals, all of the extras (mask making, felting, songs), it was timeless with modern sensibilities.
I value that its a working camp and the kids are hands on and involved in taking care of Ekone while they are there. It’s important to learn to give, and give back, and care for our environment.
My son says, “Everything!”
My child comes home happy and with a major confidence boost.
I love the flexibility that you’re able to bring to scheduling, activities, everything. You’re so responsive to the needs and wants of the kids you get.
Overall, my daughter enjoyed the camp and felt a sense of accomplishment and felt at home there and loved the nature emphasis. She talks about her trip to Ekone all the time.
Life at Ekone brings you back to a simpler, more connected life in nature instead of against nature. The atmosphere at Ekone helps kids make connections and learn what it is to live in community. A great experience. Thank you. Barbara
My daughter ALWAYS returns from camp more confident in herself, more eager and willing to participate in the daily rhythms of family life and grounded in who she is and where she fits into the world.
I don’t know how to put this experience into words.
The time spent with the horses and the other animals was a great experience for our daughter. She loves the horses and would like to take them all home with her.
Our niece had fun, worked hard, matured a lot, made lifelong friends, had a transformational experience in Passage for Girls, and hopes to come back every year and become a Summer Camp Horse Wrangler. Thank you for providing her with an amazing and memorable opportunity to grow. Jan Shannon
The week after we got home our son told us “I feel older now”.