NIGHTHAWK RANCH INC

Where Spirits Soar

Wheat Ridge, CO   |  NighthawkRanchColorado.org

Mission

The mission of Nighthawk Ranch is to provide a safe, healing environment for 10-18 year olds recovering from cancer with the goal of increasing self-esteem and hope for the future.

Ruling year info

2012

Executive Director

Tom Evans

Main address

12150 W 44th Ave Unit 203

Wheat Ridge, CO 80033 USA

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EIN

45-2638184

NTEE code info

Recreational and Sporting Camps (Day, Overnight, etc.) (N20)

Cancer (G30)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-PF.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Often times, children who have been diagnosed with cancer can not attend a traditional summer camp program. Given their medical diagnosis, several physical, emotional, and social implications are involved. Spending so much time in the hospital or in treatment clinics isolates children and impacts with educational, social, and emotional experiences. They need a place where they can explore nature and animals, connect with others facing the same medical crisis, and know that they are safe and well cared for in a supportive and medically appropriate environment. We believe that the experiences at Nighthawk Ranch provide campers an opportunity to explore, take risks, share, learn leadership skills and just have fun. We have found that the successes they have at camp and relationships that they build with campers and volunteers help increase their self-esteem and hope for the future. The positive impact lasts long after a camper returns home.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Nighthawk Ranch Summer Camp

Many Ranches and Camps for kids with cancer are available all over the country, each offering water sports, ropes courses, archery, arts and crafts, and other camp-like activities. Nighthawk Ranch shares in these activities, offering the camp experience at no cost to the camper or to their family.

In addition to the aforementioned activities at Nighthawk Ranch each camper is assigned to his or her own horse for the entire duration of camp. Our team believes that human-animal relationships cultivate confidence, kindness, patience, and teamwork. Nighthawk Ranch has staffed a skilled Equine Program Director who supervises the campers and works with each child and their horse. Every camper learns about and then is responsible for assisting with the care of the horse including feeding, grooming and yes, even cleaning up the corral! The campers are able to build a solid relationship with their horse based on trust and respect. Many campers arrive never having ridden a horse but leave camp completing a mini cattle drive. The horses are one of the areas the campers state that they miss the most once they return home.

Given the medical needs of our campers, Nighthawk Ranch has a strong emphasis on health. The meals provided are nutritional and well balanced. The campers spend a tremendous amount of time outdoors in physical activities such as hiking, horse back riding, archery, building a log cabin and we even have an indoor endless therapy pool. There are crafts, musical instruments (with some instruction) and a recreation room full of games and a ping pong table for campers to enjoy when not in a structured activity. The entire camp is active and energetic while still being sensitive to each camper’s energy level.

Nighthawk Ranch prides itself on being a smaller, more experiential based camp. There are only 6-8 campers during each session, which allows the Volunteers and Program Directors to spend up close and quality time with each camper. Strong relationships are built between campers and adult volunteers during each session. By the end of the week, the camp community feels like family.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
People with diseases and illnesses

Summer Camp program for children age 10-18 who have fought cancer.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Accreditations

Gold Ribbon Camp Certified by Children’s Oncology Camping Associations, International 2019

Affiliations & memberships

Gold Ribbon Camp Certified by Children’s Oncology Camping Associations, International 2019

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The mission of Nighthawk Ranch is to provide a safe, healing environment for 10-18 year olds recovering from cancer with the goal of increasing self-esteem and hope for the future.

Many camps for kids with cancer are available all over the country, each offering water sports, ropes courses, archery, arts and crafts, and other camp-like activities. And these are all great – we have them too! We also spend a night camping under the stars where you can enjoy the tradition of s'mores and stories. Campers can try their hand at building a log cabin. Nighthawk Ranch also offers a great music program featuring outstanding talents – and there are lots of instruments to play.

As the sun rises, Nighthawk Ranch is already bustling with activity as the goats, cows and horses wait to be fed. Our campers awaken early, enjoy a quick snack (breakfast comes after the animals are fed) and then turn their energy and attention toward a day that will be packed with ranch projects and horsemanship sessions. Our horse trainer, Justin Dunn, is well known for training horses and in particular for training mustangs. He builds relationship with the animals and rides bitless, spurless, and shoeless. Justin carefully pairs each camper with their horse for the week and then moves on to teach them about relating to their horse. A camper can put aside his or her own troubles in the immediate job of caring for the horse. Horses are large and strong, which challenges a person to overcome his fear in order to work with the animal. Horses mirror moods, too; they respond negatively to negative emotions, teaching the camper that his behavior can affect others, and making it necessary to modify behavior in order to work successfully with the animal.

The Equine Program is not only one of the most unique aspects of Nighthawk Ranch but it is also one of the most favorite, according to campers. Horse maintenance including food, supplies and riding equipment all come with a very heavy price tag. Nighthawk Ranch looks forward to partnering with The Quick Foundation to help assist with the cost of this program. Not only are the campers receiving educational information about the horses, they are also learning practical applications such as how to groom, feed and ride a horse. The mustangs at Nighthawk Ranch come from a Wild Horse status and once trained by Mr. Dunn, they are safe for campers to ride. Nighthawk Ranch is committed to caring for these animals and we hope to pass our passion for horses onto our campers. The goal of the program is to help educate the campers about the horses and use the experience and interactions as a useful tool in helping increase their self-esteem.

In a 2010 New York Times article, written by Barron H. Lerner, M.D. he writes, “I ultimately concluded that a randomized controlled trial wasn't needed to ascertain the value of camps — or ranches — for children with cancer. There is little not to like about giving children who have had a rough ride a week of something totally different that caters to them exclusively." In the same article he shares that a 2005 study of 34 campers found that the experience helped them “navigate the challenges of adolescence as a cancer survivor." (Lerner 2010)

We strive to support and expand Dr. Lerner's findings and existing empirical research by measuring participants' feedback after a ranch experience. During the first four year's of sessions, surveys were sent to parents after the child's visit to the ranch. A likert scale and ranking systems were used to evaluate the ranch experience and included questions ranging from how safe the participants felt to their assessment of the ranch grounds and activities. All responses were compiled and could be stratified by age, gender and level of medical condition.

Survey responses have until now been primarily been used to ensure the security of participants with previous medical conditions and the relevance of the activities across the week. This year, we are assessing ways to expand our data collection process to measure outcomes. Questions related to the participants' abilities to apply skills gained at the ranch to daily living activities and within their lives, and assess their levels of increased self-sufficiency are being designed now. We are also exploring ways to increase the survey response rate.

The more elusive traits such as a boost in self-confidence that we also strive to develop could be somewhat more fully measured as we reach out to participants themselves some years after they have experienced the program. The participants can potentially evaluate the program themselves from an adult perspective. In the meantime, we have a return to the ranch request rate of approximately 80% and six participants who've graduated into volunteer counseling positions. Even based on our current years of experience with the ranch, we maintain a relationship with a large network of participants and their parents that is evidenced through ongoing communications, donations from the families and requests to volunteer.

Nighthawk Ranch is always looking into new ways to accomplish our mission. The Board and Program Directors review all surveys each year in order to determine program adjustments for the following year. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our programming and to be able to accept campers requiring higher level accommodations. We have recently been able to accept two visually impaired campers and were able to adjust our programming to fit their needs.

Nighthawk Ranch is currently raising funds to purchase our own horses that will remain at camp year round. This allows the Equine Director to work with the horses for longer periods of time prior to camp and also provides the horses a chance to acclimate to the altitude. All this will create a more healthy environment for the horse which ultimately benefits campers.

Financials

NIGHTHAWK RANCH INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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NIGHTHAWK RANCH INC

Board of directors
as of 9/13/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Tom Evans

ProTreat Technology Corp.

Term: 2012 -


Board co-chair

Dorothy Weick

ProTreat Technology Corp.

Term: 2012 -

Shawn Maul

Nursing Director

Vicky Sternieki

Heroes Forever

Dr. Jeremy Dewall

Medical Advisor

Elizabeth Darling

Esq.

Dr. Richard Malyszek

Medical Advisor

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Not applicable
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/16/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data