Brothers Don and Randy Barr grew up as avid outdoorsmen; spending all of their extra time as kids fishing, hunting, or at summer camps. The Barr family purchased a beautiful piece of property in 1999 in Marble Falls, TX, as a place for their whole family and future generations to enjoy nature and serve as a retreat.
Sometime after the land was purchased, Don Barr and his wife Jeri, along with Randy Barr, decided that the land was too beautiful to keep to themselves. At that moment, they chose to share the nature and magic of the Texas Hill Country with children and their families. Thus, Candlelight Ranch was born.
Candlelight Ranch’s mission is to provide educational and nature-based experiences for families and children of all abilities and needs to learn, explore, and heal. This beautiful 41-acre property is nestled along the north shore of Lake Travis with multiple accessible features. Candlelight Ranch offers customized, innovative, and nature-based activities to over 35 different non-profit youth-serving organizations and schools.
Their goal since the beginning has been to provide a place for children who might not have an opportunity to encounter these experiences otherwise. This includes children with physical challenges, emotional and behavioral challenges, economically disadvantaged, intellectually delayed, developmentally delayed, at risk of educational or socio-economic failure, or are enrolled in special education classes.
Each facility at the ranch offers a unique experience. From one of the largest wheelchair-accessible treehouses in the country to ziplines and ropes courses, there is an abundance of mission-based programs offered.
Healing Hearts Stable provides equine-assisted touch therapy that has given many children the chance to overcome fears and experience vulnerability. In essence, these youth get to experience firsthand the power of the horse – a feeling shared with many across the western industry. Their equine stars include Comet the horse and Astro the donkey who both love being around children.
“One of my favorite stories is about an 18-year-old autistic young man who is non-verbal. I worked with him with the horses and he started humming. The counselor and I called his mom to share the good news, but she didn’t believe he had made a noise,” explains Ranch Program Director Lynette Holtz. “He and I went back to the horses and he did it again - this time I got a video. I sent it to his mom and she called me crying with joy because the doctors had told her he would never be able to make a sound. I do know it gave her hope!”
Candlelight Ranch and its employees embody what it means to live out the Standard of the West. The dedication and love they have for their community shine in their efforts. Each of their programs is dedicated to enriching others and creating experiences through nature. We tip our hats to each and every hand involved.