Scott Koop, Director
Since 1980 I have loved Rawhide Ranch. That’s when I first came as a summer camp counselor and lived in the Prairie Schooner wagon for 11 weeks. I had never worked so hard, met so many amazing people, and had so much fun in my life. So I stayed for 5 years.
I left Rawhide to work at Hume Lake Christian Camps up in the Sierras for the next season of my life; met my wife and got married at that camp. Laura and I left Hume Lake for schooling and eventually earned an undergraduate degree from Multnomah University in Portland, OR and a masters degree from Wheaton Graduate School in Wheaton, Il. Then, for the next twenty years or so, Laura and I lived in Carlsbad, Ca, and raised two kids while working in the non- profit world doing youth and family ministries. During this time I also worked for 7 years as a part-time college instructor at Rawhide Vocational College….Yes! Rawhide used to have a college!
I love people, the God who made them, baseball, good pizza, all animals (but especially horses and dogs), reading, backpacking, fishing, playing guitar, the beach and hanging out with the Fam.
I truly believe that Rawhide Ranch is an entirely unique and totally awesome place. In my experience, and I have been down the road a piece, there is no place on earth like Rawhide Ranch. I feel so blessed to be a part of this magnificent team, making a positive difference in this generation one young person at a time.
I look forward to all that the future has is store for a new and exciting season at the Ranch. Yee Haw!
Gretchen Conwell, Animal Director
Hello! My name is Gretchen and I am the Animal Director here at Rawhide Ranch. I grew up on a large farm in Washington state and was actively involved with 4-H and FFA, giving me the opportunity to start my progression of knowledge of horses, beef and dairy cattle, pigs, and sheep- as well as many other animals. After graduating from high school, I left for sunny Southern California where I attended the former Rawhide Ranch Vocational College. I have worked at Rawhide in many capacities, finally landing in my current position as Animal Program Director in spring of 2008. I am married to my wonderful husband Bobby and proud mommy of Kadence and our two corgi’s, Dally and Gator. I am so blessed to be a part of an awesome team, amazing animals, and a place that is truly unlike anywhere else; come check it out!!
DeeAnn Laird, Program Director
DeeAnn grew up here right here in southern CA. She first came to Rawhide Ranch as a senior in high school in response to a newspaper ad seeking summer counselors. She was given the opportunity at 17 years old to work weekends in the spring while the former owners kept an eye on her determining if she would be a good fit. As luck would have it, she passed the test and fell in love with the Rawhide experience. She spent five life changing years at Rawhide working into a leadership role and during this time earned her AA at Riverside Community College. DeeAnn then moved to New Zealand for a short time where she worked as a child advocate in a battered women’s shelter. Upon returning to the United States, she earned her BA in Sociology from CA State University Fullerton. DeeAnn spent five years teaching third grade in a local private school. During this time, her life intersected with Rawhide once again in 2001 where she was given the opportunity to create the current CIT/LIT program with former Assistant Camp Director, Paul Tate. It is exciting to watch our CIT/LIT participants as they help to foster the same positive experiences they’ve had at camp with our campers. DeeAnn is also involved in human resources for the ranch and enjoys being part of the process that welcomes in new members to the Rawhide family. She is proud to be a part of such a unique place where she has met so many special people (young and old) over the years. Rawhide holds fond memories for many of us that have walked it’s dirt roads. It really is life changing!
Jose Larios, Facilities Director
My name is Jose, I grew up in Jalisco, Mexico and moved to Escondido, CA with my family in 1992. I worked here at Rawhide Ranch as a teenager under the original owners, Chown Quarter Horses. After I graduated from High School, I attended the University of Colima in Mexico as an exchange student, where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. After graduating, I returned to Rawhide where I joined the maintenance team. In 2006, I became the Maintenance Director, and work incredibly hard with my team to make sure that Rawhide Ranch is safe and everything is working properly. I love to learn, and am currently working on attaining a degree in biochemistry. My beautiful wife, Teri, and I are expecting our first baby in the spring.
Ellen Morrissey, Assistant Program Director
Hey guys, my name is Ellen and I’m the Assistant Program Director here at Rawhide! Until I moved to California, I spent most of my life in the North East of Scotland, where I was born and raised. As a child and young adult, sports and traveling were my passion; I loved trying new things and going new places. I first came to Rawhide in 2010 as an International Summer Counselor. From there, whilst on my summer break from University, where I studied Sport Science, I returned and became more invested in the program, taking roles such as Head Counselor and helping with the LIT/CIT leadership programs. Finally, once I had graduated, and thanks to my dual citizenship, I was able to move to Rawhide and take my current position. I now live at Rawhide with my little dog, Lola, loving my job and the team I get to work with. Yeehaw!
Brian Smallwood, Program Coordinator
Howdy ya’ll! My name is Brian Smallwood, I am the Program Coordinator here at Rawhide Ranch. I’ve been here for three years now. While at Rawhide, I have been the lead counselor for the boys for two summers, the lead teacher for both climbing wall and team building, and since this past summer of 2014, I am the program coordinator. Currently, I teach almost every class and love every second of it! I am from Waltham, Massachusetts which is about twenty minutes outside of Boston. Of course, all my teams are the best, especially the Red Sox and Bruins! Before Rawhide, I studied Early Childhood Education at Framingham State University and played ice hockey and baseball. There is no place like Rawhide anywhere, so come down and you will see why!
Carolann Campbell, Vaulting Instructor
Howdy! My name is Carolann! I’m from Yorba Linda, California and I am the Vaulting Team Lead at Rawhide Ranch as well as a college student. I’ve been coming to Rawhide consistently since 2001 and haven’t left since! As a shy nine year old with a love for animals, I soon came to realize that Rawhide was my home away from home. I’ve learned so much over my Rawhide legacy and am so excited to share this amazing place with all our campers! From cleaning stalls to teaching vaulting classes, there’s never a dull moment at camp. My passion is coaching and teaching vaulting which is gymnastics/dance on the back of a horse, and of course working with our beautiful draft horses, Stoney and Lucybelle. Vaulting is such a fun sport that teaches kids how to control their bodies, have great rhythm, balance, and show off their amazing moves on horseback. All with the help of a spotter of course! It’s truly amazing to see each camper step outside their comfort zone and rockstar some amazing vaulting routines.
Katie Brenton, Ranchhand Horsemanship Coordinator
Kayti Mitchell, Country Store Manager/ Administrative Team Coordinator
In 1998, I was introduced to Rawhide by my stepmother Pam, who worked in the office for nearly 10 years. I attended camp from age 10-16, participating in one of the first LIT programs here at the Ranch. After high school, I went to Cosmetology school, which helped me see my passion for learning. I then continued on to college, where I earned two Associates degrees; one is Dramatic Arts, the other in Arts & Humanities. After feeling like something was missing in my life, I applied to be a summer camp counselor. I couldn’t help myself after that, I was bitten by the Rawhide bug, and there was no sight of me leaving anytime soon. I followed up that first summer working part time, then completed another summer as a Lead Counselor of the oldest girls, and then followed up that summer by becoming a full time staff member. As time has gone on, my jobs have progressed. I am now the Country Store Manager and the Administrative Team Coordinator. Both of these jobs give me the ability to get creative and really force me to get out of my box and try new things. I truly believe the reason I am here today is because of the counselors I had as a kid (I could still give you all of their names!); they instilled so many important values in my life that I feel the urge to share those same values with the kids of today.
Kirsten Schoedl, Stockfarm Team Leader
Hey ya’ll! I first came to Rawhide Ranch as a Girl Scout. I fell completely in love with it and returned as a
summer camper. Up until this day, I still remember lessons and values that Rawhide instilled in me. After I received my Bachelors Degree from the University of California, Riverside, I returned to Rawhide as a Summer Camp Counselor and primarily taught Animal Science. It was one of the best summers of my life. I learned so much from all of the staff and campers. When Rawhide asked me back to work in the EZ Stockfarm, I was delighted and naturally agreed immediately. Now, I care for all of the goats, sheep, alpacas, cattle, chicken, rabbits, and our pig, Justin Bacon. I also get the pleasure of teaching Animal Science to all of our wonderful campers. One of my favorite things about being at Rawhide Ranch is getting to see all of the campers reunite with their families and share about all of the amazing things they saw and learned.
Mark Skipton, Ranch Foreman
Mark “Skip” Skipton is a graduate of Rawhide Vocational College, where he taught for several years following his graduation. Mark was also involved in horse sales and maintained the Horse Palace.
Mark and Patti moved to central CA where Mark was the Horsemanship Director for Monte Vista Christian School, a large, private school. Students took Riding lessons as a PE class and Mark also formed a competitive Western show team. Mark started Monte Vista Horsemanship Camp which was a very popular horse camp that featured riding on the beach along with Western and English Riding lessons and vaulting.
During his time in central CA. Mark also worked for Easter Seals, starting riding programs for people with disabilities and working with campers at Camp Harmon. He became certified by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Assoc. (now changed to PATH)
After raising their four children in central CA, Mark & Patti moved to WA where Mark took the position of Horsemanship Director for Warm Beach Christian Camps and Conference Center. The Horsemanship Camp featured Western Riding lessons, team sorting, beautiful forest trail rides and vaulting. Mark also taught group and private Riding lessons and started a therapeutic riding program for people with disabilities. During this time, Mark also became certified with CHA (Certified Horseman’s Assoc.)
Mark has now returned to Rawhide as the Ranch Foreman. He is involved with teaching, arena care, maintaining the Horse Palace and teaching Riding lessons that are open to the public.
Patti Skipton, Encore Equestrian Vaulters Coach
Patti Skipton is a graduate of Rawhide Vocational College. After graduation, she taught Riding and Horse Science at Rawhide, until being introduced to vaulting. Patti became enamored with vaulting, and introduced it as an elective camp activity, where it quickly became popular with the campers. Rawhide Ranch Vaulters, a competitive vaulting team, was also formed with day school students and college students participating.
Patti moved to central CA where she and Mark raised their four children and Patti coached Monte Vista Vaulters. Monte Vista Vaulters was chosen to represent the US at the World Eq. Games held in Holland in 1994. In 1996, Patti coached the Friendship Vaulting Team who performed at the Olympics in Atlanta.
Most recently, Mark & Patti lived in WA where Patti formed Warm Beach Vaulters who grew to be the third largest vaulting club in the nation. In 2010 Patti was named the American Vaulting Assoc. “Trainer of the Year”. Also that year, World Equestrian Games was held in the US for the first time ever. Warm Beach Vaulters hosted the S. African team and Patti lunged her horse for them to compete on at the competition held in KY. The following year Patti was named the AVAs “Mentor of the Year”. Also during her time in WA, Patti became certified at the highest level in both Riding and Vaulting by CHA (Certified Horseman’s Assoc.)
Patti returned to Rawhide this past Aug. and is teaching Riding and Vaulting once again in the camp program. She has also formed a competitive vaulting team, “Encore Equestrian Vaulters” which is open to the public.