History of the TVRC Education Foundation
Weenie and Mary Ellen Wilson founded Teton Valley Ranch Camp in 1939, and camp continued to operate on their ranch in Kelly, Wyoming for six decades. In the fall of 2000, following 60 years of operations, the camp community learned that the Wilson family planned to sell their ranch. Rallying to save camp, current directors Matt and Judy Montagne, along with several camp alumni and parents, conceived the idea of forming a nonprofit organization to save Teton Valley Ranch Camp. A few months after filing on December 26, 2000, TVRC-EF received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status from the IRS.
The initial goal for the foundation was to raise the necessary funds to purchase a permanent home for camp and continue operations into perpetuity. During the search process for a ranch, TVRC-EF moved camp in 2002 to a leased property in Dubois, Wyoming. After a fabulous summer, the move proved to camp parents and alumni that the spirit of TVRC continues regardless of location.
After an extended property search, TVRC-EF acquired a new home for Teton Valley Ranch Camp in December 2003. The new ranch is a 2,360-acre property near Dubois. It is on one of the largest private tracts as you descend into the Wind River region from the west. It is home to elk, deer, moose, antelope, big horn sheep and hundreds of kids during the summer. The property is bisected by the Crooked Creek, and has views of both the Upper Wind River and Absaroka mountain ranges.
Looking into the future, the TVRC Education Foundation will set its sights on supporting Teton Valley Ranch Camp in the continued effort to offer the best possible experience for all campers, staff, and families.
The following is the speech delievered to TVRC EF donors by Executive Director Tom Holland during the 70th Anniversary Celebration weekend.
Tonight we have the great privilege of celebrating a special organization. Tonight, we come together to celebrate the achievements of this foundation that has come so far in such a short amount of time. Tonight, we celebrate our successes, but more importantly, we rejoice in our cause.
Ladies and gentlemen, the cause of the TVRC EF is so important in the world today. As a teacher who has dedicated my professional life to the education of kids, I can tell you that now, more than ever, people need places like TVRC. It is there that kids are challenged in a way that is unique: with horses underneath them, mountains around them, and fantastic role models cheering them on. Here they will taste adventure. Here they will join a community that has defined many of our lives and here they will be taught the values of the west that will define their character for many years to come.
At TVRC we teach honesty. We encourage teamwork. We acknowledge the respect of a handshake while also recognizing the power of a hug. We teach our campers to strive for every peak understanding that the highest point might actually be the journey itself. We respect each other at the ranch as well as our natural environment and we respect those that came before us. We take pride in the work that we have done, from gathering wood, to making your bed to saddling your horse. We encourage all to laugh at themselves and to never be afraid of standing in front of a crowd to dance or sing a song. We make people smile.
And it is not just kids. It is parents. It is grandparents. It is staff. It is alumni. All of us in this community know that there is a smile in us that will not disappear because of Teton Valley Ranch Camp. For all of us, to look at those mountains is to think of camp-and to smile.
And people will continue to smile because of you. You have made sure that this feeling we all know as camp will live on forever. Because of this, the smiles will continue for more generations. And, I believe, every person who will step through the gates of TVRC will leave a better person.
For this, the rest of the world thanks you.
To our kids, our community and our camp.
To learn more about ways to support TVRC, please click here.