The Camp

Connor Dethlefs & DJ Stanec



Connor Dethlefs & DJ Stanec , Volunteers

When not at Camp I am a: 

Connor- coffee shop frequenter, adventurer, and College Possible coach.

DJ - Senior Communications Major at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’m also part of Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity- Iota Chapter at Coe College.

Volunteer at Roundup River Ranch since: 

Connor- 2013

DJ - 2016 

Favorite camp activity: 

Connor - Stage Night 

DJ - Fishing

Favorite camp meal:

Connor - Coffee!

DJ - No-hands Spaghetti 

Favorite camp dance:

Connor - “The Whip”. When the campers taught it to the counselors, it was just so awesome.

DJ - “Eeenie Meenie”

How would you describe camp in three words? 

Connor - Magical, awe-inspiring, and addicting 

DJ - My happy place 

Why do you think it’s important to provide camp experiences to children with serious illnesses? 

Connor - Every child deserves to simply be a kid. Camp allows children with serious illnesses to explore and be free - something not always guaranteed under the caring, watchful eyes of parents and doctors back home.

DJ  - Camp gives children with serious illnesses a place to grow and explore who they are, without the limitations of their medical condition. There is a freedom at camp that allows every single kid to be themselves and become comfortable with their illness because they’re with peers who understand. 

What motivates you to volunteer at Roundup River Ranch?   

Connor - It’s life-changing. When I first volunteered, I thought I was going to change kids’ lives; yet, I left with them having changed my life. The feelings and memories that I’ve left camp with each time is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

DJ  - As cliché as it is, seeing the smiles on each campers’ face is what motivates me to volunteer. Seeing how camp impacts every single camper, and seeing everyone, including the counselors grow from their experiences at camp and knowing that I had a hand in making each of those individual experiences special means a lot to me. 

How has your Roundup River Ranch volunteer experience impacted your life?  

Connor - It has given me perspective on life. In our “everyday lives,” we tend to forget the power of small moments. At camp, you live in the present moment surrounded by good people, and there’s nothing more you could ever need.

It has provided me with some of the most meaningful, memorable experiences of my life. Without hesitation, I would encourage others to experience it for themselves.

DJ - I have been reminded about who I want to be as a person, and what being yourself means. Seeing these kids, who are so comfortable in their skin has reminded me that being myself is okay. I have learned so much from the campers about not taking the little things in my life for granted. 

The campers at Roundup River Ranch will change your life in ways you never thought possible. They teach resilience, perseverance, and how to embrace sheer joy in life. Plus, who wouldn’t want to feel like a kid again for a week?

Know what’s most extraordinary about camp? How it makes kids with serious illnesses feel like “ordinary” kids.

Our campers are giggling, laughing, conspiring, art-making, arrow-shooting, horseback-riding, canoe-paddling kids. That is both exhilarating and healing. Eye-opening and inspiring. Ordinary and extraordinary.

The truth is, our campers are sick and tired of being labeled as “sick.” They’re just kids who want to be kids. And that is precisely what every day (and s’more-roasting night) is all about. (And of course, it’s all always free of charge!)

Not only are we nestled in one of the most beautiful places in the Colorado mountains (see awe-inspiring photos right here), but we’re also a place that has a real honest-to-goodness magical quality about it. Campers discover that they are more courageous than they thought, more capable than they imagined, and more blissfully “ordinary” than they had realized.

More than 1,000 campers experience Roundup River Ranch each year and we welcome campers from across Colorado and an 11-state region. That makes for a huge number of potential new BFFs!

Our intentional programming philosophy means campers choose what they want to tackle, push themselves to try new things, and celebrate with all of camp for their accomplishments. Read more of the feel-great details here.

Here’s just a sampling of the things that make Roundup River Ranch so much more than simply camp:

• A crazy-fun zip line.
• The awesome climbing wall.
• A special seat that helps all kids zip line. (Yay for everyone getting to zip!)
• Canoes, beautiful canoes.
• A fishing lake. (Catch, wish, and release please)
• Big, beautiful, ride-me-today horses.
• Archery (How’s your aim?)
• An Art Yurt. (You have to see it to believe it.)

Songs, dancing, Stage Night, ridiculous costumes, star-gazing, cabin mates, fantastic counselors, and so, so, so much more.

Want to be ca camper? Find out how >