Ben Streltzer, a longtime friend and supporter of the J, is someone whose stories inspire and delight individuals from all walks of life.
A native of Denver, Mr. Streltzer grew up on the west side of the city in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. The summer after he graduated high school in 1957, Ben became a “kitchen boy” at the Ranch; however, due to a comical snafu (be sure to ask him about it––it involves pumpernickel bread), he quickly transferred to a new role: Junior Camp Counselor. Within that same summer, due to a staffing issues, Ben became a Camp Counselor. We think it’s safe to say that this might have been the most transformative summer anyone has ever experienced, but, we’ll let you be the judge of that!
Throughout college, Ben continued to work at the J part-time. Being a jack of all trades, he took on several different jobs throughout the center during his college years. Having never had the chance to attend camp as a child, Ben’s support and love for the camp lifestyle and community grew even stronger. He realized he wanted to make a career out of strengthening the Jewish Community.
Now, for the sake of storytelling, let’s fast-forward to 1964 and Ben is (drumroll, please), the Director of Ranch Camp. You read that right––from kitchen boy, to Junior Camp Counselor, to Director, Mr. Streltzer worked his way up to become a symbol of hope to those who grew up less fortunate. Ben is a prime example of hard work and dedication paying off in the most rewarding way possible.
During his time as the Director of Ranch Camp, Ben “helped repair and paint the boys’ cabins,” as well as several other sections of the camp. He also met his future wife, the former Ann Corman, while working at Ranch, if you can believe it. In Ben’s own words, “I contributed to the development of both the campers and camp––that was the fun of it. I enjoyed that. Those were some of the best years of my life.”
In 1966, Ben moved to Ohio, having to leave his dream job behind. But, as you all know, Ranch never truly leaves us. Upon retiring and moving back to Colorado, Ben began financially giving back to the Ranch in 2006. Throughout his life, he has been a great contributor to the Ranch Camp scholarship fund, and most recently, he became a Legacy Donor for Ranch Camp. “I feel at home at the Ranch Camp––they listen to us. They understand that we’re here to help and they know we’re here to support them,” says Mr. Streltzer.
Ben’s love for the Ranch didn’t stop with him, though. His daughter Tracie (picture above to Ben’s left, his son Adam to his right), worked at the Ranch in the mid-80s as a wrangler! It feels safe to say that Ranch Camp is in the Streltzer family’s blood.
Nowadays, Ben is actively involved in the Ranch Camp Alumni Group, which includes members who attended Ranch the first year it opened in 1953. Every other month, members of the group meet and catch up, and each year eight – ten alums make their way down to Ranch to explore their old stomping grounds. This Ranch Camp Alumni Group is proof of just how powerful and strong the connections to Ranch are for employees and/or alums of the summer camp. Ranch isn’t just a place––it’s a feeling.
Ultimately, it’s individuals like Ben who make our community, our facility, and our programming stronger than ever. His selfless dedication to Ranch is inspiring and particularly noteworthy as we work through times of great change here at the J.
We are incredibly thankful to Ben for telling his stories and sharing the importance of supporting community programs.