Children have been getting their hands dirty, learning the way of the cowboy and the region’s early ranch families.

Enrolled in the YMCA of Orange County’s week-long Ranch Camp, they will learn about agriculture, including resources, sustainability and where their food is grown, and they will harvest fresh fruits and vegetables, meet chickens and dig into worm composting.

On Tuesday, they were at the historic Cow Camp in Rancho Mission Viejo.

Rancho Mission Viejo contains a 23,000-acre working cattle ranch that also maintains 63,000 lemon trees and 9,000 avocado trees.

Campers learned the daily routine of a cowboy, practicing their roping skills, giving a horse a bath and playing themed-games.

The ranch, on private property off Ortega Highway but accessed through special programs, is what’s left of a more than 200,000-acre ranch that once included the land that Camp Pendleton sits on, as well as Caspers Wilderness Park and O’Neill Park.