The vision of the Brett Torino Foundation, in addition to sharing the magic of nature, is first and foremost to preserve it. “The earth inspires me,” says Brett. “I used to think tree huggers were extremists, but as I got older, I realized they were right on point. We can’t lose touch with nature. It’s what keeps us humble. Mother Nature is under siege, and someone has to be willing not only to sound the alarm, but actively be part of the solution.”
Brett spent many years planning for the irrigation and planting of a profusion of trees, flowers, and other flora not only to complement the camp activities, but to develop an ecosystem. The trees are home to a plentitude of birds, butterflies, and bees, which pollinate the many fruit trees. Some key species you will find include:
All of the flowers on the Ranch are perennials so they are perpetually blooming. The colors and fragrances of hundreds of lilac bushes, roses, white peonies, honeysuckle, wisteria, ranuculus and countless other varieties delight the senses and provide food to the many pollinators who make the ranch their home.
Inside the custom-built Greenhouse, Foundation staff and caretakers cultivate and maintain beds of organic produce including lettuce, kale, peppers, tomatoes, beets, radishes, strawberries, blackberries, and herbs.
“Growing the food you eat is a spiritual undertaking that nourishes the soul,” says Brett. “Over time we’ve developed a system so nothing goes to waste.”
As a Buddhist, Brett is deeply aligned with the cleansing and healing properties of water and has developed Torino Ranch to provide the campers with the rare chance to immerse themselves in pristine Toiyabe National Forest water.
“The lakes are an important part of the healing and enchanting environment at Torino Ranch. We wanted to create a ‘day at the beach’ experience where the kids could swim and go canoeing. We built a sandy beach around the lake and an island where the frogs live. We regularly test the water for purity for the immunocompromised children. Camps staff multiple lifeguards to ensure the safety of the children.”
Humans are not the only ones to enjoy the lakes at the Ranch. “Sometimes at dusk the deer and elk come down from the mountains to drink”, recalls Brett. “It is especially magical to get in a little boat and sit quietly out on the lake and watch the wildlife enjoying the bounty of the Ranch.”
No camp is complete without a place to celebrate. Torino Ranch’s outdoor amphitheater is where the kids come together to sing, dance, act, and put on skits. Entertainers from town also come to perform for the children. The timeless design of the amphitheater includes a fabricated abstract metal sculpture that resembles tall blades of grass blowing in the wind. Giant tulip-shaped fabric canopies provide shade and add to the ambiance.
The design, building, and landscaping of the cabins with metal roofs in June 2001 was a collaborative effort between the Brett Torino Foundation and Sunshine Nevada, a nonprofit that helps critically ill, special needs, and at-risk children. Great friendships are formed at camp, and the kids love sleeping in the cabins that each have ten bunk beds.
Restrooms and comfort stations were also built for the counselors, campers, and guests. A full-service medical shed, complete with supplies and medical staff ensures the safety of the children who attend summer camps. Torino Ranch is equipped to handle everything from bug bites to dehydration or serious complications due to pre-existing illness.
The lodge is Mission Control where all administrative activities, including registration and coordination of staff takes place and compliance reports are generated. There is an industrial kitchen that consists of a walk-in cooler, sinks, stoves, utensils, and outdoor grills. At the kids’ camps, a dedicated army of volunteer chefs and assistants can serve up to 900 gourmet quality meals a day, including any special dietary requirements, to the kids, their siblings, counselors, staff, and volunteers.
In the newly-renovated swimming pool, kids who are too sick or too small to swim in the lake get the chance to experience the freedom of lapping around in cool water. Licensed aquatics instructors can also provide a therapeutic scuba diving program for camp attendees.