McDonald Ranch teaches youth ages 5 to 14 life and social skills through hands-on, outdoor activities that build confidence and help children reach their full potential. Whether participating in summer camps or after-school programming, campers enjoy caretaking livestock and other farm animals, archery, experiential learning on a ropes course, go-karting, swimming, and child-friendly cooking sessions.
A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1993, McDonald Ranch has recently relocated from Sonoma County, California to Bryan, Texas. This beloved youth program is known for being a home away from home for the many children who consider Mrs. McDonald, the Executive Director, to be a grandmother figure and their camp counselors and friends as extended family. McDonald Ranch has been compared to “visiting Grandma’s farm.” Parents can be confident that their children are safe and engaged in enriching, wholesome activities while having a great time being active outdoors.
Programs and services at McDonald Ranch are funded by private donations, corporate and foundation grants, public agencies, and fees for participation.
The Importance of Animals
The connection of animals with children has long been known to develop compassion, responsibility, social skills and confidence. Animals help children build strong relationships which transfers to stronger families and friends. It has also been shown that children who own pets become better parents as well as strengthen the bond between siblings by giving them something to care for together. Working with animals teaches children to be more respectful towards animals and people. Animals offer a great deal of socialization to introverted children and prevent loneliness. Studies show that kids who grow up with animals have fewer self-esteem issues. For these reasons and more, animals are a big part of most of what we do at McDonald Ranch from daily chores to just holding kittens and puppies during kitten love and puppy love sessions.
Visits to McDonald Ranch is like a trip to grandma’s farm for children in Brazos County. Children spend their first hour of each day helping with farm chores like collecting eggs, milking the goat, feeding animals or socializing the kittens and puppies. After chores are finished, time is spent doing enriching activities like archery, go-karting, ropes course challenges, volleyball, cooking or arts and crafts. Afternoons are spent in the pool until parents are able to come by and pick up children who come home ready for dinner and a good night’s rest before starting the next day of activities at the farm. McDonald Ranch becomes such a special place for children that many ask if they can have their birthdays at the ranch which is offered only to those who are members of the ranch.
Even though the activities are what children look forward to, it is the warmth, love and attention they get from the counselors or Grandma McDonald that make the ranch so special. Every child becomes part of the extended family of the ranch especially those who attend the summer camps for several weeks as well as the after school programs. The ranch is truly a home away from home.
Supporting the Community
Offering programs on a year around basis, McDonald Ranch is a top choice for parents needing out of school care. After school programs and school break sessions are planned for the main times schools are not in sessions. A fall festival, holiday party with Santa, Easter egg hunt and spring time hoe down offer special times the ranch is opened to families and the community. Birthday parties are also offered to select family supporters and members of the ranch.
Meeting Special Needs
During Covid, McDonald Ranch operated as a school for 14 children who came to the ranch each day Monday through Friday to continue their education working with a credentialed teacher rather than the isolated zoom schooling at home. Students of the McDonald Ranch Farm School spent their mornings doing more academic studies while afternoons were spent riding horses, interacting with farm animals, and enjoying the open space of the ranch. This school was so successful, several students continued with the program even after schools opened back up to public education. This aspect of the ranch will be re-opened for children with special needs and who are in foster care once the ranch has become established in Brazos County.
Getting Involved and Contacting Us
If you would like to become involved with the program as a volunteer, board member or would like more information about McDonald Ranch, Texas, please give Linda McDonald a call or text at 707 583 6711 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Need more information? Contact Us! 707-583-6711