Hello, campers, and welcome to Camp Never-Too-Old, the first summer riding camp for adults. We believe that summers full of friends, fun and horses aren’t just for kids. This orientation packet will familiarize you with what to expect so that you can get the most out of your summer home-away-from-home.
As our returning campers know, we experienced some growing pains when we opened our doors last year. We learned a lot from our inaugural summer and have made adjustments to make your time with us even more enjoyable.
First of all, many of you voiced concerns about leaving your husbands, significant others and/or kids to fend for themselves all summer.
We realize that phone calls and messages from home may, at times, be necessary. But to immerse yourself fully in the camping experience, we request that you limit the use of technology to emergencies only.
To aid you, we’ve enclosed several helpful items for your family. The Map To Where Stuff Is In Your House will prove an invaluable reference, and eliminate the flood of messages to our office asking where socks, toilet paper, and other household items are. We recommend you fill it with as much detail as possible.
The handy Guide To Using Common Household Appliances and its companion publication, No, You Can’t Put That In The Microwave, is now available as a set of YouTube tutorials. This year we’ve added three new videos as well; This Is Called A Hanger, Behold the Wonderful Hamper, and The Dog Has To Eat Every Day.
In addition, this summer we’re extending our camp laundry service to campers’ immediate families. They can drop bagged & tagged soiled clothing in any of the collection bins at the camp entrance. Cleaned, folded items will be delivered to their doorstep. We think you’ll find this service more cost effective than having to replace half of their wardrobes upon your return.
Our luxurious cabins have been redesigned to make them more camper-friendly and to include amenities requested by our 50+ group.
The bunk bed format has been eliminated. In retrospect, we realized that accessing a top bunk was an unreasonable expectation for the many campers already in need of knee replacement surgery. Also, campers tended to underestimate how much wine they’d had with dinner, and over-estimate how high they needed to toss their top-bunking cabin mates, resulting in objectionable levels of ceiling and cranial damage.
The bunk beds have been replaced with standard, single beds fitted with orthopedic mattresses. Bedside tables featuring individual built-in refrigerators have been added so that your meds and energy drinks are always close at hand.
We regret that costs prohibit us from providing individual interior bathrooms. For those of you with small bladders, a pile of shavings and a roll of tissue have been placed at the back of each cabin.
The regular bathroom and showers are still located in the building at the top of the hill, accessible via the path through the blackberry patch. We’ve widened the path and trimmed back the bushes and are hopeful we will never again need to call Life Flight to free anybody from thorny shackles. We also apologize profusely that nobody found you until morning light.
Now, for some good news! We’ve reorganized the stock room in the commissary to better meet the needs of your demographic. Last summer we ran out of wine one week into the six-week camp. The year we’ve contracted a local Wine Club to supply us with variety of varietals for the summer. While we welcome all suggestions, we regret that we’re unable to install a wine vending machine in the barn. Wine will continue to be available at the commissary after 5 p.m. Please refrain from banging on the door before breakfast. Regretfully, we also cannot provide injectable I.V. caffeine.
We’ve revamped the OTC Pain Relief section and now offer a full complement of ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin and acetaminophen products. While we are all for broadening your knowledge of wine varietals, your suggestion for flights of wine / OTC med pairings was not approved for obvious reasons.
We’re excited to announce our brand new arts and crafts center! With knowledgeable instructors and fully stocked supply cabinets, campers can learn fun and useful skills. Learn to paint perfect stripes on jump poles, fix just about anything with duct tape, or make a macramé sling.
Our barn and arenas have also been improved, and our lesson horses are looking forward to providing you with invaluable riding experience. We know that everybody has a preferred camp lesson horse. However, we feel your equestrian education will be more expansive the more horses you ride. Please do not slip the counselors bribes to assign you your favorites. Everybody has to take a turn riding Maleficent and Devil’s Due (or “Death Trot” as campers have affectionately nicknamed him).
(For more on the saints of summer camp horses, read “Legends Of The Summer.“)
The re-engineered hydraulic-lift mounting blocks have been installed and are fully operational. The lift speed has been adjusted to avoid repeating the accidental ejection incidents of last summer (however, whether you are mounting or dismounting, we do recommend holding the guardrail until the mounting block comes to a full stop). All the lifting mechanisms have been rebuilt using original manufacturer parts, which is more than we can say for the unlucky campers who test-flew them last year.
Speaking of unscheduled flights, we do encourage campers to wear impact-activated airbag vests* while riding. We’ve negotiated volume pricing with a local wholesaler and can now provide campers with replacement airbag cartridges at 60 percent of regular retail. Purchase a package of 10 or more and the discount increases to 70 percent.
* While the use of these vests can reduce the likelihood of injury, we feel obligated to warn you that the sound and sight of vests inflating may also spook the other horses in the arena. This can result in a synchronized mass of flying riders and exploding vests, best described by one paramedic as looking like “a ring full of human Jiffy-Pop.”
While we’re all for recycling, and believe in waste-not, want-not as much as the other guy, use of inflated vests as flotation devices in the pool is not allowed. Last summer we had several instances of campers getting turned upside down in the water and needing assistance to right themselves. Our lifeguard has also stated that the constant bobbing motion makes her queasy.
We have placed porta-potties with built-in hitching rails at the entrances to each of the riding arenas. Please tie your horse securely, as nobody needs to see you chasing him down the road with your pants down around your ankles.
If you discover the porta-potty is out of tissue, please stick the yellow flag out of the top of the unit and wave it. For the love of Mike, do not wave the flag out the door and in your horse’s face. We were amazed at how far Red Rum pulled that blue box across the pasture before we could stop him. Not to mention the amount of blue dye and waste products we had to clean up.
The camper wedged inside was safely extracted once we were able to deflate her airbag vest, which had detonated when the panicky gelding flipped the porta-potty on its side. Prying the toilet seat off her head was accomplished thanks to a camper who found old bootjack in her tack trunk. “I KNEW this would come in handy again some day!” she was quoted as saying. “I’ve still got my boot pulls and rust breeches, too.”
We will once again have a horse show the last weekend of camp. You are welcome to invite friends and family to come watch. If you’d rather they didn’t watch, we have an alternate email giving the wrong location and time.
We try our best to make an equitable and fair division of lesson horses for use in the horse show, but you may not always get your first choice for every class. If you wish to negotiate a trade, that is fine. But please do not resort to locking fellow campers in the feed room to free up the horse you want.
The horse show photographer is well versed in Photoshop and can pretty much guarantee all pictures from the event will exceed your expectations. Want your equitation fixed? Done. Fancy a few more rails on that fence? Easy-peasy. Want him to plop you in the middle of Rolex, or the World Cup Finals? Select from a variety of backgrounds at famous venues; exactly how you got there is nobody’s business.
Other than during the horse show, the use of any type of recording or photographic device at camp is prohibited. This is an important part of recreating the magic of your childhood summers—a time before Internet and social media, when your adventures were your own unless you decided to share them—when what happened at camp, stayed at camp.
Without video or photo evidence to refute you, you can return home and regale your family with stories the old-fashioned way: In your own words, the way you want them told, and exactly the way you want to remember them.
See you this summer!
After years of trying to fit in with corporate America, Jody Lynne Werner decided to pursue her true passion as a career rather than a hobby. So now, she’s an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, web designer, writer and humorist. You can find her work on her Misfit Designs Cafepress site. Jody is one of the winners of the Chronicle’s first writing competition. Her work also appears in print editions of The Chronicle of the Horse. Read all of Jody’s humor columns for www.coth.com here.