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Monday, May 23, 2011

What makes a dude ranch for owners or managers is having a place to live and work unlike any other. Each of us wakes up everyday with a wide range of emotions, starting with ‘I would not want to live or work anywhere else,’ followed by ‘oh god there is no way I am going to get everything done today,’ followed by, ‘I wish I could live anywhere else.’

During my career I have had several moments where I truly understood why I do what I do. During the 1990’s I had a young guy work for me for 2 years, as a wrangler. At the end of the 2nd year his father came to me and told me that he had given his son the choice of going to college or working on the ranch. He chose working on the ranch. His father then said that he considered his son working for me for the last 2 years the same as going to college. “Thank you for educating my son.”

My point in telling this is that every dude ranch has the ability to profoundly affect the lives of the people who come as employees or guests in ways that are not possible in any other place.

What makes a dude ranch for our guests is a vacation where you are not a client or customer but truly a guest of the ranch. Once people come though our gates they are all equal. From corporate CEOs to grocery store clerks, everyone is treated as one of the family. Every week we all invite a new set of guests into our home, and by Wednesday they are all dancing together, and by the end of the week they have become life long friends. For some guests it is a chance to experience a horseback riding adventure they have always dreamed of and for others simply a beautiful setting where they can relax from the daily grind back home. Over the years I have found that dude ranching is about great scenery, good friends, sure footed horses, wonderful food and above all more fun than you can have anywhere else.

What makes a dude ranch for our staff is a chance to spend their summer working harder than they have ever worked and having more fun than they have ever had before. At the age of 17, I thought riding through the Shoshone River with the water belly deep on my horse chasing 80 horses in from the pasture was what dude ranching was all about. For a lot of the younger staff it still is. But more than that each employee fortunate enough to work on a well run dude ranch for a summer has the opportunity to learn more about responsibility, interacting with people, and to take with them a work ethic that will stay with them for the rest of their life.

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