During Family Week, giggles of joy fill The Ranch as kids explore the grounds, splash in the pools and focus their creative energies in art and fitness classes. This year’s Family Week took place at the beginning of August. We catch up with Maya Sciarretta, 13 years old, and Maya Gilbert, 14 years old, who came to their fifth Family Week this year with their moms.
Q: Do you remember your first time coming to The Ranch for Family Week?
Maya S.: I think it was 2012; I was eight years old. I remember it being a lot of fun, we had a lot of freedom and I took a lot of different classes and met new people.
Maya G.: Basically the same thing, one of the first memories we both shared was the time we went to the dining hall and it was raining. It felt so magical because it was so natural, and the rain was falling on the windows and it was really cool.
Q: What is Family Week to you?
Maya S.: It’s a week where I get to go and relax, take a bunch of classes and see some friends. It’s just such a magical place to be. It’s a laid back environment where you have fun, take classes if you want, and there are different activities and good food.
Q: How would you describe Rancho La Puerta?
Maya S.: I don’t even know how to describe The Ranch because there’s nothing like it. It’s a health resort where they teach you how to take care of yourself; your mind and your body and your spirit.
Maya G.: I think anybody that goes there would enjoy it. There’s something special about it and they’d find something they enjoy. It’s our special place. The week feels longer than a week.
Q: What do you do during Family Week?
Maya G.: It’s a time you can relax and think about yourself and it’s nice because it’s pretty chill, so you can walk around and feel in charge of yourself and what you’re doing.
Maya S.: You get to take a lot of classes and you get to try new things you might not normally get to do. It’s really nice because it’s a chance to be independent, like you know, to do what you want to do. It’s nice to be with yourself. Because when your home you’re surrounded by cars, and big buildings, and it’s more far away from that type of thing and less central.
Maya G.: I can experience new things I maybe haven’t tried at home. It’s fun to try something new.
Q: What kind of classes?
Maya G.: Well, there’s art, exercise, or more health classes like Sound Healing, which is really nice.
Q: What are your favorite classes?
Maya S.: I always love art classes with Dave Zibowski and this time I went to spinning class, which is on a stationary bicycle. I had never done that before. And I love yoga classes. In art class I usually just draw and paint and Dave lets me do my own thing, so I sometimes sketch. It’s really fun and I draw everything.
Maya G.: Sound Healing probably because you just lay down and I sometimes fall asleep but even if I’m not awake, you still feel healed and nice afterward. You set up a place to lie down and some people don’t sleep, they just stare at the ceiling and let the sound heal them. It doesn’t matter if you’re awake or asleep. You don’t really dream. You feel really good afterward; your heart feels good.
Q: Do you participate in the Talent Show?
Maya S.: In the past years I did participate and I did Irish dancing. To prepare, I practiced a couple of times.
Maya G.: I randomly decided to sing last year, kind of spur of the moment with people that were performing. Last year it was with Rabbi Nathan.
Q: Did you meet other kids at The Ranch?
Maya S.: I’ve met a few people and I’ve kept in touch with them a little bit. There are friends I only see at The Ranch. I’m not as outgoing but there’s one friend we have that we met during the first Family Week. We only see each other once a year but when we’re together it doesn’t feel like it’s been a year.
Maya G.: That’s such a nice thing when you only see each other once a week in a year but nothing changes. I’ve only seen them for five weeks over five years. It’s time we can spend with just them so it’s a nice connection. I met a pretty big group this year. We always hang out with the same people and they introduce their friends to us and it’s great. So it was really nice to see friends from other years and meet new people. Some of the people I’ve known since the first year I came, in 2008, and some since last year. It’s a time we experience these things with them, our friends, and that makes it a nice connection.
Q: How’s the food?
Maya S.: I think it’s really clean if that makes sense. It’s really healthy and it’s delicious. I like the soups, especially the minestrone.
Maya G.: I think it’s the kind of food you can eat and not feel bad about eating because it all looks so good and taste so good. You don’t feel gross inside afterward, you feel clean and healthy.
Q: There are not a lot of cookies or sweets? Did you miss them?
Maya G.: Well we sometimes bring our own supply of cookies and chips because we’re prepared for this but they have dessert and it’s great. It’s a nice change but we do cheat a bit and bring our own snacks.
Q: How has your friendship been enriched by going to The Ranch?
Maya G.: We get to talk a lot more when we’re here, and be with ourselves and you don’t have to do anything so you can relax.
Maya S.: It’s also a fun experience we share and we have memories that we look back on together.
Q: You both came to Family Week with your moms. How is that?
Maya S.: My mom and I try to hang out with each other during the week, but we usually are taking a different class but we’ll have some great talks. We eat meals together. It’s really helped our relationship.
Maya G.: Well, I’m older now, so like years before it was like, “I want to see you at every meal and talk to you,” which was fine. I think the past two years it’s been more about meeting new people at The Ranch. We still check in but it’s a chance to be with my friends and it’s OK to not see each other every second of the day. As teenagers, you have more opportunity to create more of your own experiences instead of having an adult chaperone.
Q: How do you savor The Ranch? What do you do at home that reminds you of The Ranch or the things you’ve learned?
Maya G.: I try to stay in touch with people who have made it special to me. And try to exercise more and eat healthier it’s just a nice thing, it motivates me.
Maya S.: I try to eat healthier, it doesn’t stick with me too long, but I try. I also just remind myself to relax and not rush about in daily life as I usually do.
Maya G.: We call home “real life” and The Ranch is like taking a break from that. So since I’ve been living “real life” for 14 years it’s kind of a big change but a really good change.