We don’t thank our parents enough. Anne Ellingson’s parents brought her to Jackson Hole for 15 summers of her childhood which set her on a path to raising her own kids in this town. And it is clear the lessons learned from her parents as well as life on the ranch still guide her today.
When you work on a ranch it is about teamwork, pitching in even when it’s not your job, communication, and overcoming obstacles to get the job done. These job descriptions can also be used to explain what it is needed to raise kids in Jackson. Parenting here is all about building a strong support group in the same way one describes the importance of teamwork on a ranch.
Anne explains without hesitation the numerous benefits to raising kids in Jackson. Her concerns are the same as any parent but she is comforted that Jackson has great public schools, extremely qualified teachers and her kids are very active in sports. This lifestyle “keeps them busy, and it’s competitive enough where they are serious; but it’s not overwhelming where they can’t have a healthy balance.” There is so much to do to keep kids busy outdoors when they have Jackson Hole as their backyard. And a great bonus is the freedom they enjoy when “they can meet in town on the bus, and it’s safe for them to walk around without the worries of a big city.”
Many recall that the first people you meet when you arrive become your first friends. It’s one aspect of Jackson that rings true to newcomers. Jackson residents have such an affinity for their home they can’t help but protect it as well as tell all the new people arriving the various reasons why it’s the best place to live. They are excited to welcome you and it’s their enthusiasm that reinforces why you made this decision. Anne’s friends are not just a part of her life but they all depend on each other. “Without my friends, I would seriously be lost.” Anne says, “this town is made up of your friends who are your support system and without them in our lives, we would be destroyed.” That genuine sentiment is often echoed by others raising kids. They feel they are in this together, pitching in when needed and overcoming obstacles to help each other no matter what.
Passion and appreciation for your home creates happiness. Anne has an abundance of that for Jackson. She’s one of the happiest people you could meet and it’s her wide smile and big hug that put you at ease. Even if she’s having a tough day she’ll find time for you and make you feel special. The people who call Jackson home really love it here. This strong feeling is unique to Jackson and hard to describe to those who have not visited. There are many mountain towns but arguably none that feel like a family. Travel to and from Jackson is limited and expensive so that means we need to rely on each other. “Living among these amazing mountains really puts life in perspective at times. It’s as if it grounds all of us more, giving us a sense of calm and appreciation.”
In addition, the challenge of affording life in Jackson also bonds its residents. There is a financial burden as a single parent that wouldn’t be as hard if she lived in a different town. Anne sees the bright side even to this and feels lucky. She shares in the scenario of many who work two jobs without much saved. Yet Anne is quick to point out the positive. She went back to school and finished her Master’s degree over a year ago, which means she gets to be in the line of works she was meant to be. She didn’t have a planned career path but it’s her resolve to keep working and following her instincts that makes her the best addiction counselor. She is grateful for a career that is fulfilling and it is not just a job.
After college Anne knew she would move to Jackson. She was a wrangler in the summer months but stayed because she “loved the mountains, the smell of early mornings in the summer, the sound of the aspens when the wind blows through them in the fall, and the incredible people who live here and appreciate this amazing and beautiful place.” Newcomers learn early on that those that settle here love it and want to maintain its unique beauty. Now Anne is the parent of two amazing teens who are active, happy and following her lead in appreciating the playground of Jackson. They will one day need to thank their parents for making the decision and sacrifices to raise them in this magical town. Anne describes living in Jackson as “a simpler, beautiful and healthy place to live…but it’s really just where I wanted to be and it happened to be an amazing place to raise a family.” We couldn’t agree more, and Anne can thank her parents for the introduction to Jackson that began this love story.