This Father’s Day we’re celebrating the Ranch dads that have chosen to live, work and raise their kids in the wide open spaces of Granite County. Families are an essential part of the genuine homestead hospitality that makes our property a home away from home for so many people.
Outside play is a big part of the Ranch experience for guests and staff children alike. Photo by Danielle Boutte Photography.
Ranching in rural Montana is by and large a family endeavor and Owner Jim Manley continued that idea, starting The Ranch at Rock Creek as his family retreat.
Hiring and Recruitment Manager Cat Johnson explained, “In an employee’s offer letter we welcome them to the “ranch family.” There are so many people here who are connected: husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, sisters-in-law, fathers and sons. All across The Ranch and the departments, there are family ties. So it genuinely is a ranch family.”
Living in a secluded location means that our Ranch families trade urban convenience for extraordinary beauty. In an attempt to improve access to childcare and career opportunities for our staff, Just one month ago we opened on-site childcare, dubbed The Nest at Rock Creek.
Hatching a Plan
General Manager Jon Martin and his wife Brenda came to Philipsburg in early 2018. It also meant that due to the lack of childcare options in a town of just 900 people, that Brenda would stay home with the kids after 20 years of working in the hospitality industry as a spa director.
Moving from Southern California was a culture shock, but it was a net positive change for their family.
Brenda said, “People ask me, ‘Why do you love it here?’ My kids get to grow up in these wide-open spaces. They get to see animals that lots of kids have never seen. They go to a forest preschool in town. It can be hard to transition to a place where everyone knows everyone else, but I know that this is the kind of town where if my kids step off the sidewalk, 10 people are going to grab her. People don’t look past you.”
The Martin family after a Tuesday summer rodeo.
Staying at home was a change the Martin family was able to make, but they soon saw that other employee families and single-parent households needed more childcare options to maintain their careers and provide for their families.
The Nest at Rock Creek
The Nest is designed in the spirit of our Flint’s Forest Rangers Kids Club, but tailored for kids aged eight weeks to five years old. (During the summer break, it will welcome kids up to 12 year of age). Play in nature is an essential part of every day, except in extreme weather conditions.
Nest children found an actual nest in the first few weeks of opening The Nest at Rock Creek.
In addition to time in nature, the curriculum is designed to be well-rounded, preparing them for school. The tenants of the curriculum also include art, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, science and sensory play, math and dramatic play.
Infants have their own rooms and each infant has a dedicated teacher, so that diaper changing and feeding schedules are never confused.
Ranch employees pay $25 per day for the first child and $15 per day for the second, which covers a portion of the expense for this program. The remainder is covered by The Ranch as a benefit to employees. Included in the price is breakfast, lunch and a morning and afternoon snack — all made by our Relais & Châteaux kitchen.
Behind the scenes, The Nest was built to cater to the idiosyncrasies of the hospitality industry. Instead of strict monthly schedules and pre-payments that many daycares require, we’ve chosen to remain as flexible as our employees need to be. Parents don’t need to commit to a schedule, because hospitality schedules change week to week. Parents can also cancel by 9AM on the day their child is scheduled to be in The Nest. This means if parents are called off their shift, they can cancel without being charged for the day.
A Nest participant practices weighing and measuring food during a “Farmer’s Market” activity.
The Nest is open during holidays, when most of our staff is on-hand to execute special events.
Nursing mothers are welcome to come to breastfeed in The Nest in a dedicated space during their break or lunchtime, and parents are welcome to visit during their break times. Before Father’s Day, Ranch dads were asked to come talk to the kids about what they do.
Jon and Brenda recognized that if their previous employers had offered on-site childcare, they would have been more likely to continue their careers at those hotels. Though we all make sacrifices to live in this pristine beauty, choosing between a career and high-quality childcare was not one Jon wanted his employees to make.
General Manager Jon Martin says, “Not only do we take care of the families that come here to visit, but we need to take care of the families that work here.”
Women account for 51% of our staff. Access to affordable childcare will aid female staff in developing their careers and combat gender wage gaps caused by time out of the workplace. Marketing Specialist Tricia Erickson is one of the Ranch employees using this new benefit.
She says, “Rural Montana is exactly where my husband Josh, the revenue manager, and I want to raise my children, but being in a remote location has challenges like finding available childcare. I am incredibly grateful for The Ranch’s leadership seeing the value of investing in quality childcare. My two kids now get to ride to work with mom and dad and learn about animals, take nature walks and play with their best friends. As a working mom of young children, I am relieved that my life has much more balance now. I can still do the job that I love while knowing my kids are getting world-class care within walking distance from my office.”
A Father’s Day project at The Nest.
Happy Father’s Day from The Ranch!