Essays for our First College Scholarship

 Topic - "How has the Experience of Run Free Ranch Impacted my Life and Future"

 By Ameerah Flowers

I was among the first group of participants to join and experience Run Free Ranch when it began the summer of 2011. I can actually say I have grown along with the program over the last 6 years. Going into Run Free Ranch in the summer of 2011, I was 12 years old. I entered the camp as a guarded preteen who had not known anyone within the program. I was shy and reluctant to open myself up during the first few days as I was entering an unfamiliar environment. I recall gradually opening up and becoming more comfortable each day. During this period, I learned to recognize my feelings and emotional state. I learned to do this through icebreakers which were introduced by Mrs.

Sharon Noble-Ziemer each morning and afternoon. During an emotional check-in, each camper would state how they were feeling at that moment. This simple activity allowed each camper to recognize their state of being at that moment and it gave others an awareness of each individual’s emotional state at that time. This activity has been instrumental

in my growth in terms of the attention I give to my own personal feelings.  All of Run Free Ranch’s various activities including crabbing, camping, and visiting museums, have affected me in some form or fashion. Essentially, I experienced different aspects of life related to culture, nature, nutrition, and just living, which allowed me to 

experience life differently. These positive experiences have expanded my view and frame of reference as a result. I am more willing to try something new because of my experience with Run Free Ranch. In high school, I became a Peer Leader. This activity required leading group discussions and checking in with my peers to keep them focused.

Many of the group interactions with Run Free Ranch helped to prepare me for a leadership position such as this. I am grateful for the opportunity and experiences afforded to me through Run Free Ranch as they have allowed me to establish a deeper connection within myself and with others.

  By Alex Roman

Light. That’s the word I was given by the founder of Run Free Ranch, Sharon Ziemer. She told me that I could light up a room just by walking in, that I could even light up the world if I wanted to. I thought about this for a while and realized that the reason I light up a room is because of Mrs. Sharon and everyone else at Run Free Ranch. I started back in 2012 when my cousin Javier invited me the year after it started. I was a little shy to start and didn’t really talk to anyone. We stayed at a beautiful farm with all types of animals, and an enormous forest right behind it. Coming from the city lifestyle, being around a farm and all its natural glory was definitely a little different but it was easy to get used to. That first week of camp changed my life forever. We were introduced to new people and new food and just like the farm, to me, it was easy to get used to. As things started to get more comfortable I started to open up more to everyone. And once I started to open up that’s when the light started to shine in. I wanted to make people happy, I wanted to see their smile and hear their laugh just like Mrs. Sharon wants for all of us that go to Run Free Ranch. I saw the light she gave off and wanted to do the same and with each new experience, with the people at Run Free Ranch, with Mrs. Sharon, my light got a little brighter. Now I take that light that I got from Run Free Ranch and shine it to the rest of the world. I shine it at school, with my friends and teachers. I shine it at home, with my mother and my siblings. And lastly I shine it when I dance, when a judge is sitting just a few feet away, when the world could see it through the internet and when I’m going to show it while I’m in college. And it will all be because of Mrs. Sharon and Run Free Ranch. Maybe if I never attended this camp, I never shined my light or maybe I never even start dancing, and that would be a sad sight to see.

JAN. 12, 2017 - Graduate camper Ameerah Flowers received the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. community service scholarship award from Hamilton Township.  Amanda Sensi also was honored with this award, and Sergeant Quincy Hendryx received the Spirit of Community Service Award. 

It was quite the honor for me, that Ameerah asked me to introduce her to the crowd.  Ameerah was a first year camper in 2011 and has been an integral part of our camp experience as a Junior counselor for the past 4 years.  She exudes the characteristics of integrity, honesty, consideration and a willingness to listen and care for the younger campers.  She is planning to attend Temple University to study Graphic Arts...and has updated our website and designed the cover for our 6th Annual Fundraiser!  We are all very proud of the young lady that Ameerah has become...the sky is the limit for this star!!

FEB. 29, 2016 - Listen to the voice podcast interview of Sharon Ziemer by John Harmon, Founder & President of the African American Chamber of Commerce New Jersey. - On Demand tab, Empowerment Hour tab.