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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 30, 2007

    Default New ideas for camp

    This will be my third year of camp for kids ages 7 -12. I also have a monthly "horse club." Some of these kids are with me all year, some once a month, some returning for their 3rd year of camp.
    Help!! I need something fresh and new for these sweet girls.

    I plan to incorporate a field trip to a barn with a totally different discipline, I plan to incorporate teaching T-touch and some Tellington-Jones obstacle courses...I have done research and am looking through books, but also would like to pick your brains on the board.

    We do riding, horsemanship, crafts - the hole enchilada.

    Any ideas you are kind enough to pass on are appreciated (you helped me last year too!)

    Thanks! (I charge $125.00 for 5 days a week, 9 - 2:00 including lunch) Didn't want anyone to think I'm getting rich off of your ideas

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 16, 2005
    Elmwood, Wisconsin


    One thing that I did with home school kids who came
    for lessons was to have the kids make their own "rosettes"
    and then we awarded these at the end of the sessions
    to class winners in our "horse show".

    The rosettes were made from tissue paper made into
    paper carnations in the colors of blue, red and yellow
    (actually light blue, pink and almond). Then the flower
    was attached to a piece of index card and a couple of
    crepe paper streamers in the appropriate color were
    stapled to hang down.

    I find the kids find watching a farrier work to be quite
    fascinating, especially kids who have never seen this
    before. Parents are often fascinated by this as well.

    I had my beginning college riders play beach ball polo,
    played with water noodles for mallets and a goal made
    by two traffic cones at each end of the riding ring. Two
    forwards and two guards on each team. They also
    played sponge tag where they tossed a sponge at each
    other to tag a person. Not fair to hit the horse with
    the sponge. If it missed, dismounted referee picked up
    the sponge and gave it to "it" again.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 30, 2007


    Thanks for the great ideas Robin! Crafts and games - very much appreciated

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010


    When I had more lesson horses I did some camps, and I did theme camps. One was a jumping theme where campers learned about the different types of jumps and how to walk strides and build a course. They learned to jump if they were ready, and if not they did a 3" course . On the last day we had a competition where they had to make up the fastest way to get through a tiny course. Keeping with the theme we also learned to braid, clip and bathe. Painting a jump would have also been something to do.

    The other theme was gymkhana camp; we played with pole bending, key hole, barrels and a made up game. On the last day we had a mock gymkhana competition. For related activities I had them decorate big cardboard barrels, they learned about different types of leg protection for the horses, and we did some of the other gymkhana games on foot.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 4, 2010


    Having people come in to talk to the kids can be fun and educational for them- farrier, vet, chiro, etc. Especially good if they can watch them work.

    Horsey crafts- if it's in your budget: decorating saddle pads with puff paint and fabric markers, decorating brushes (with puff paint, acrylics or with magazines/mod podge), decorating halters (puff paint), painting horseshoes (spraypaint them first with black or white glossy paint then use acrylics, puffy paint, sequins, ribbons, etc).

    Do an afternoon with fun grooming things like bathing, braiding, quarter marks, hoof polishing, and glitter. You can even make this into a little contest with the kids broken up into teams and given a certain amount of time to beautify a schoolie.

    Do a lesson that uses different tack- western, bareback, sidesaddle, anything different from what you do. The campers can swap and feel what it's like to ride in different tack, and learn a little about the different disciplines.

    A scavenger hunt is a fun way to help them meet each other and let some of the older/more experienced kids teach the newer ones. Put them in mixed teams and send them out to find farm equipment, identify tack, point out parts of the horse, answer horse questions, etc. You can also use this as a "show what you learned" at the end of camp and offer a prize like first pick of who to ride, or something along those lines.

    Mounted games always seem to be a hit. Pick ones that are easy and safe to do, like sit-a-buck, carrot racing, simon says, etc. If you are in an area where you can do this and you have suitable horses, try a long trail ride with a picnic lunch break. Let them set up a course of small jumps or ground rails for themselves and teach them about making turns on course, spacing jumps, and different kinds of jumps.

    Non-horsey summer things can be a fun break too, like a trip to a pool or setting up sprinklers or a slip 'n slide. On rainy days or quiet afternoons, watching an educational horse video or learning about tack can give younger campers a little rest and relax time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2008


    I usually have my kids do people jumping...set a course of low crossrails, have the kids come up with their own courses then "canter" around the course.

    I have a stethescope (sp?) and let the kids listen to heartbeat, show them how to measure horses (not sarah stetner style haha), and we have a great farrier that comes every wednesday to do a few horses, and he lets the kids watch (they decorate horseshoes on that day).

    Teach about feed and let the kids set up feed for the next day (closely monitored and they don't touch the meds)

    We have a saddle and bridle parts relay race..I teach the parts then set up a saddle and a bridle for each team across the property...each person gets handed a post-it with a part on it, they have to run to the saddle or bridle, put the post-it on the correct part, then run back and tag their teammate.

    We also have a worksheet everyday when they come in...The first day they make and decorate a folder, then each day after that they get a sheet to fill out/color while we are waiting for everyone to get there. They have matching, part labeling, etc. That way they have something to take with them when they go.

    One of their favorite things do to on a rainy day is to make their own barn. I give them a piece of paper with squares on it, then horses to color. The kids love coloring them in and naming each horse. Again, I only use this on rainy weeks when we cannot be outside and I have run out of indoor things to do.

    For crafts we decorate horseshoes, sometimes I make cut out horses for them to paint (homemade playdoh that I cut out with a cookie cutter, then I let it dry out for a few days or bake it). We also take some sweetfeed/molasses/carrot shavings and make some horse treats. each kid puts them in a plastic bag and then at the end of the day we let them walk around and dump it into their favorite horse's bucket (no hand feeding! )

    Cleaning stalls is another thing-but not really a good idea unless you have a week with older kids. They are never done properly, a lot of shavings are wasted, and you usually have to go and redo them anyway

    My first summer camp gig had me give the kids a written test on Fridays (yes, I am being serious)...then I would bring the tests up to the house and the barn owner would grade them and give them back to me. I am not sure if I was being graded on my ability to teach, or if the kids were being graded. haha. Either way it was an interesting way to spend the last half an hour of summer camp on a Friday...

    Edited to add We are Tues-Fri, 9-1 and charge $200- and they bring their own lunch
    I WAS a proud member of the *I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday* clique..but now I am 30!!!!!!!!!!!
    My new blog about my Finger Lakes Finest:
    She Ain't No Small Potato!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2005


    For crafts maybe tie dye? We did this a few years ago for riding club annual picnic. Everyone brought 1-2 items to dye. I did a square quilted english pad and an ear net for my horse, but you can do leads, tee shirts, quilts, etc. Maybe have an obstacle course(bombproofing) for horses. This can be negotiated leading horse or riding which ever the child is more comfortable with.
    One exercise a past trainer had us do was what she called hunter pass. Single file riders in the arena at the walk. Person at the back of the line moves horse out of line and passes at a faster walk to the front of the line. Then walk and trot to front, trot extended trot to front and can even advance to cantering if the children's skill level is good enough.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 5, 2002


    Here are a few things we did last year. We learned about longeing by longeing each other (splint boots and bell boots fit on kid sized legs!) then trying it with our saintly pony. We did the standard breeds-colors-markings game - you can make it a scavenger hunt, with cards that say "who's the tobiano mare with two stockings?" or "which horse is a palomino Morgan with a snip, strip and star?" Have two groups create the clues for each other. We did a relay race with bits - collect every old junky bit you can find, put them in a big bucket, and the kids race down, grab a bit from the bucket, determine whether it's a snaffle or curb, run to the correct bucket, drop it in and race back to their line. Water relays are fun - each team has a sponge, a full bucket and an empty bucket. They have to get as much water from the full bucket to the empty bucket using only the sponge. We made a course of jumps and jumped them on foot. Find a vet tech to come talk about their job. We scored, because our feed coop has an outreach person who loves kids and who did a great presentation on feeds and feeding.

    Braiding and driving didn't go over very well, and I was surprised. Boots and leg protection - they didn't have any context for it because they were mostly "camp riders" or at most, once/week lesson kids. Same with a lot of the first aid and horse health stuff. The two aspects that surprised me most about the group I had was how much they needed to RUN around and scream for a little while each day to blow off steam, and how little context they had outside their world of once/week lessons or one week/summer camp or elementary school horsey fiction. A lot of the pony club stuff I'd planned went over their heads.

    I know from the pre-registrations that this year's group is younger and newer than last year's group, so I need to think about how basic I can make some of this stuff without boring the returning kids... wish me luck.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2007


    Our barn usually had some kind of arts and crafts available for the younger kids if they weren't interested in what everyone else was doing. Some activities I remember:
    -horseless horse show
    -help with feeding/turnout
    -tack cleaning race, including full dismantling of bridle
    -grooming challenge with white towel test
    -anatomy (really fun if you can find horse-friendly paint)
    -tour of local breeding farm
    -watched trainer start a horse
    -gymkhana style games if it wasn't too hot out
    -watched Horsepower (animal planet series on big eq riders)
    -"homework" summarizing old Practical Horseman articles
    -scavenger hunt with both items and info (like which horse wears bar shoes)
    -trip to see latest kid-friendly horse movie
    "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

    Phoenix Animal Rescue

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 10, 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by betsyk View Post
    Here are a few things we did last year. We learned about longeing by longeing each other (splint boots and bell boots fit on kid sized legs!) then trying it with our saintly pony.
    The summer I taught the kids how to lunge and was able to sit down in the shade while they ran themselves ragged pretending to be this horse or that horse was one of the more successful ones. I wish we would have had more than one lunge line.

    The instructor I was working for at the time was multidisciplinary with a Western Pleasure focus, so we also taught the kids how to rope buckets the last year I helped out. We made sure to set the ground rules of "only rope the buckets - if you rope any human or animal, you're going home," and the kids had a grand time with it.

    Also very successful was a session of people-leading exercises. One human held the halter by the side rings on the noseband, and the other had the leadrope and was the leader. We encouraged the kids to pretend to be their favorite horse in the barn for one session, and for the other, we helpers were the horses. The latter was much more educational for the kids (They got to see exactly what they were doing wrong; my leader was most upset with me constantly moving closer until she realized that she was pulling on the lead all the time.); the former was probably more fun for them, and certainly more chance for them to burn off energy.

    Quote Originally Posted by betsyk View Post
    Braiding and driving didn't go over very well, and I was surprised.
    For the crowd I was working with - similar sort of summer-camp-only kids, 7-14 - braiding didn't always go over well either. The boys seemed to think it was stupid, and the girls got in each other's way too much, since we really only had one demo horse. The only time driving went over well was when we had a helper who owned a POA with a cart and she could give them pony rides.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 30, 2007


    Thank you everyone for the great ideas! Some new twists on things I had done, but will be new for my kids. I really appreciate you all taking the time to share.

    Yes betsyk - I needed new ideas for my kids too, didn't want to do the same ol' thing!

    I have written down a bunch of your ideas everyone - again, thank you!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 11, 2005


    One thing I did when I was in 4H (and later used as a 4H leader/camp leader myself) was putting bridles together.

    I would separate everyone into teams. If there were four teams, I'd get four bridles and assign one to each team. I let the team look over the bridle and then, while they were doing something else, I'd take the bridles completely apart, throw them in one big pile, and have them put the bridles back together (cleaning them too, of course!). The team who got their bridle together fastest (and clean, and of course correctly put together) won.

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