there was a little girl who lived in Pittsburgh and spent her summers at a horse camp named Fox Farms. She fell in love with horses and dreamed about someday having a place where she could teach girls to ride and to be around horses and farm animals. John and Lois Donovan never gave up that dream.
Her dream became a reality in 1962 when Mr. & Mrs. D purchased an old potato farm in Croswell, MI. They were living in Birmingham at the time and choose the location because it was within driving distance from the Detroit area and still secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city.
That summer Black River Farm and Ranch opened its doors. The D’s had managed to build, in very short time, two cabins (now part of Virginia City) and a dining hall (what we now know as Silver City). The two cabin names were Pioneers and Trailblazers. That first year the BR had 16 campers, 4 staff members and 7 horses.
Today the BR has grown to include 130 campers each session and approximately 75 horses. Girls who love horses and horseback riding have continued to come to Black River Farm and Ranch since 1962 for a summer experience of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Throughout the years The D’s and their family have been involved with the camp both as campers and staff. Renee Donovan Ciferri and her husband Mike Ciferri have remained active in the management of BR. Mike Ciferri “Mr. C” is currently the Executive Director, he is a graduate of the West Point Academy and is a successful business owner. Mr. C along with his children Michael, Danielle, Katy, and Jessica are currently managing the BR today.
For more than 50 years the BR has continued to expand and improve our program and facilities. Working under the leadership of the Donovan and Ciferri families, our staff continues to pass on the joy of camping and horsemanship to girls and our camp and program evolve as we pass the half century mark.
At Black River, a charming 160 year old ranch house centers all of the other buildings on the 360 acre farm and ranch just 80 miles north of Detroit and 20 miles north of Port Huron. The west boundary of the ranch is more than 2 miles of the Black River. A stream wandering through the valley, a five-acre lake, natural woodlands and the fields of the River Bend Farm combine to create a perfect setting for girls out on a horseback ride.
Black River is set away from the hustle and bustle of civilization, and caters to a variety of interests by offering a range of activities in addition to its excellent horseback riding program. We open our doors to a small group of girls and offer western riding, crafts, boating, field activities, trampolines and more. Most important the freedom to run, romp and be young!
Black River is licensed by the State, approved by the Health Department and Accredited by the American Camping Association.