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What makes a great summer camp?

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  • What makes a great summer camp?

    My barn has summer camp (day camp) for kids that have never ridden before to kids that are riding and showing regularly. There are three different rings with different instructors (so the kids are riding with other kids their level). The children, with the help of an instructor if needed, get their ponies ready by themselves and untack by themselves. We have bareback day and trail day, during lunch the kids can watch a jumping demo, clean tack, bathe ponies, watch movies, etc.

    Any ideas how to make the camp more fun? Other than riding and horse care, what do campers enjoy? Any arts and crafts ideas?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    decorate horse shoes, make horse treats.

    Have a show prep day where you teach clipping, braiding, etc. Have a "show" on the last day where mom and dad come and watch their "show" where they demonstrate their new riding skills. Kids get really excited about having that to look forward to at the end of the week.

    Have a games day with pole bending, egg and spoon, etc. Its easy to combine different levels on game day. We always played a game where kids would have pieces of paper with a body part named on it and then tape them to a very tolerant pony. Arrange for the kids to be able to watch the farrier one day. Walk around the farm and identify different colors and help them learn the names. Have an tack ID game. To kill and down time before parents showed up to get kids, Id take them in the tack room and start going over different types of bits and tack. Or a scavenger hunt with a questions like "find the horse with the star on his forehead' and let them team up.

    You might try to make it like pony club where the older kids have to help the younger or less experienced kids tack up, groom, etc. Will keep them all busy and the older kids will love it.

    Have the more advanced kids design and set up their own course and let them decorate the jumps (assuming its safe) and let them ride it on the last day. You can use the opportunity to talk about lines and striding.

    Another thing I did is each kid had "their" horse during camp and was responsible for feeding, scrubbing his water bucket, filling the hay net, cleaning and bedding the stall each day (assuming this is an all day camp)

    Another thing kids seem to like is bathing their horses in their bathing suits (with appropriate footware on!!!) but they get a huge kick out of it. Once the horses are clean, we get the dogs in on it and there is nothing more exciting than bathing dogs in your bathing suit, for some reason. Kids are cute. Putting on a camp is exhausting but a lot of fun!

    Comment


    • #3
      All of the above. If you have a tolerant horse at your disposal, kids really enjoy painting the horses. We've done everything from just letting the kids go crazy to making it be fairly educational with painting the different muscles or different parts of the horse. You can make it as complicated as naming specific bones and muscles to as simple as 'ear' or 'withers' for the younger kids.

      Then they get to bathe the horse. As ActNatural said, they REALLY seem to find that fun for some reason.

      Decorating horse shoes was always a fun one. We did a collage one year where the kids cut up horse magazines, made a collage and then the collage went into a big cup (there was a clear outer part and a solid part fit into it). We've decorated picture frames (get cheap ones at Goodwill or on sale somewhere like Kohls).

      Comment


      • #4
        To expand on the Tack ID game, have them take bridles apart and put them back together. For even more fun and torture, blindfold them and time it.
        "You can shout curses, but you can't cry."-Joe Fargis

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        • #5
          I second painting the horses. We always had two white ponies that we would let the kids paint with washable finger paint. Then they really get to learn how to give a good bath to get all the paint off. We also wrote the body parts of a horse on sticky notes and split kids into teams. The first team to have all parts on their pony/horse correctly placed won. (don't do sheath it's just too difficult to explain but hilarious) We also did bobbing for apples. Each kid got to pick their fav horse/pony and lead them to a wheelbarrow we filled with water and apples. It was great entertainment. Some of the more food motivated ponies wouldn't come up for air, some would blow bubbles and some of course you had to fish the apple out for. We also always did a mini horse show on friday before the end of camp where the parents could come out and watch their kids show off what they learned. We also setup an obstacle course in the ring such as weaving, step over a pole, around a barrel and tied carrots to a crop. The kids had to lead the pony/horse by dangling the carrot in front of their faces without letting them eat it. Finally my fav of all time was capture the flag. We took all jumps out of the ring, laid a line of poles across the middle and two standards at either end with a saddle pad on them. Everyone was on horses that were fine with other horses near them. Same rules as on foot if you or your horse is touched by the other team you are out and have to go to a corner until one of your team members can tag you back in. first team to get the flag from the other side back to their side won. We always did different levels and always started just walking if you trotted or cantered you were out until tagged back in. We would finish up with just the advanced kids being able to wtc or we would put the advanced kids on bareback to even the playing field.

          Comment


          • #6
            Really good crafts. We always focused on "Keeper" crafts that a family would actually want that would also keep our costs down.

            Decoupage picture frames, fun helmet covers, stall/bedroom name plates that are painted with rope hangers, boot pulls, door knockers, and coat hooks made out of old horseshoes and decorated with wood burning tools, beaded leather bracelets and bridle charms, stepping stones made with mosaic tiles and glass were all HUGE hits. Plus, because they were fairly high quality, families kept them out and around during the year, reminding them about how great camp was.

            All of these were doable with basic sewing and carpentry skills. I will get some photos later today of some past crafts

            Helmet cover pattern: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ponyclu...er_pattern.pdf

            Comment


            • #7
              My first job was as "horsemastership" counselor at a day camp. This was the off-horse education, such as colors, parts of horse & tack, breeds, general care, etc.

              When I taught riding (both at camps and at various barns), I emphasized control by using trail courses (modified for skill level of rider & horse) and discussed what the various obstacles simulated and how to maneuver them; games (as suggested - lots of ideas in the Pony Club gymkhana book); and more challenging jump courses (rails on the ground for beginners). All of these basic skills by necessity.

              My niece showed my Ap in the walk-trot division, which had pleasure, eq, trail, and games. Before she ever looked at a jump (or even cantered), she could adjust the stride to meet an obstacle smoothly, use coordinated leg & rein aids, 'push' a trot to its max without breaking, etc. Others of my students rode 'big eq' type courses without the 'jump' - so when they were ready to JUMP, they already had the 'looking ahead', turning skills so the courses were no big deal. I must admit, they weren't thrilled with twice around the outside when they started showing over fences. :-)

              Could you get a local BNR to come talk to them at lunch one day? Or a big eq rider?

              Make learning FUN! LOVED summer camp - as a camper and as a counsellor!

              Carol
              www.ayliprod.com
              Equine Photography in the Northeast

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              • #8
                I just helped out with a "Trail Ride Clinic" for beginners which I think could work really well in a summer camp environment! The kids arrived at 10, and the instructor had a discussion with them about trail ride etiquette, how the day was going to progress, etc. Then they helped us groom the horses & tack them up (mostly just watched that part), but the did enjoy grooming. Once we got into the arena we did lots of patterns with me leading. Instructor went over how to go, stop, turn, etc (these were very beginner - obviously this exercise can be adjusted for more experienced students). Then we went on a short trail ride around the perimeter of the property with a few walkers on the ground. Afterwords we put the horses up and then had a campfire! There's a fire pit on the edge of the property so the kids helped us get a small fire going and cooked hot dogs and marshmallows. They all seemed to really enjoy the day, and we had fun too .

                I think even for lesson/show kids trail riding can be a lot of fun. Obviously for more experienced kids youd want to do a bit more - maybe obstacles in the arena and then a faster paced trail ride. All kids like campfires though .
                "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                Comment


                • #9
                  Our camps include some sort of craft for the beginner session. We've done etchings, sun art, jewelry, stepping stones, etc. You'll find lots of ideas if you google "horse crafts kids". We also have a notebook that goes along with the week. We plan each day what we're going to do (lecture, activity, craft) and find something for them to do that relates. We also have a daily journal page where they list three things they learned, what horse they rode, etc. During the week, we also take lots of photos. Those are printed on Thursday and Friday's craft session is scrapbooking.
                  A proud friend of bar.ka.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree with Parts of the Horse with either paint on a light-colored horse, or post-its (post-its don't stick that well, but will do if you can't find a light enough horse ) Horse-related and non-horse related crafts (lanyards are great if someone knows how to do them and can teach it). Horsemanship stuff, cleaning tack, taking apart bridles and putting them back together, -- check out the CHA manuals (if they still exist? they were a great way to introduce horsemanship).

                    If you have access to a horse that's bombproof on the longe line and a vaulting surcingle, vaulting is wonderful for teaching even beginners balance and coordination.
                    Goodreads | Blog | Cassius the Dog

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                    • #11
                      Ponyjumper525, Talk to Helen!!! Almost all of the things mentioned by people above have been done in various years. Horse Jeopardy was great! If you're not doing that now, you should resurrect it.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Hoofy- thanks, but were trying to get new ideas. Ms Helen is still around with hers

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You could invite the barn vet or farrier in to do a talk for the older kids. Include this in a routine visit, esp for the farrier its useful because you can do parts of the hoof, caring for horses hoofs, etc.

                          My trainer also arranged for us to go and visit local BNTs which was cool. There was quite a small group and we were all good riders by this point, you'd obviously want to limit something like this because the BNTs dont want 30 screaming kids running around their barn.
                          "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                          "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You should have a chat with my daughter! She attends a horse camp run by lifelong pros who have done it all but focus now on dressage at the top levels. The kids have LOADS of fun doing many of things mentioned above. One of the fave things at the end of the week is the "horse show." It's basically each child showcasing their skills at whatever level they are at for a couple of minutes. The kids show around the world, ride a drill pattern (very cool seeing a dozen kids gettin it right!), and finish by all dismounting at the same time by flipping off the side of their mount backwards.

                            They have a great time of Fellowship at the Farm during the week and the instructors are awesome. You never know what BNT is going to wander into the ring with words of encouraging instruction for the kids. It's a great camp and a lot of the friendships made there carry throughout the year as kids come for Jr. NCDCTA meetings, meet up at the Raleigh shows, etc.

                            The best craft she ever did was a horse hair bracelet. They took tail hair from the schoolies (it was harvested over a period of time if I understood correctly) and were taught by a jewelry maker how to prepare, braid, and affix beads, clasps, etc. DD doesn't wear much jewelry but I am often found wearing the bracelet she made. She sees it and says, Oh - that's hair from so & so school horse...that was such a great week!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I wrote a book...

                              We always did looots of horseless horse shows (toes must be pointed for trot, maintain leads for canter, hands in "rein holding" position). This included flat sections, hunt teams, "puissance" etc. If you know anyone who does dog agility, those jumps are the perfect size for kids. This barn owned a set that they left set up near the ring at all times, it was great entertainment for bored little brothers and sisters

                              There was always at least one long trail ride. One of the fields along the way had cross country obstacles so we'd discuss the different types and how the horse sees them, as well as tips for riding outside a ring.

                              Tours of any local breeding farms or horse rescues. See if any local horse rescues have anything the kids could help with (tack cleaning, barn cleanup, etc).

                              Bareback games with teams. Mix up the levels so each team has some better riders and some w/t kids. We always did ride a buck (dollar bill under your calf, last one with their dollar keeps them all), egg and spoon relay, musical stalls (use poles on the ground to make stalls), sharks and minnows, around the world race, carrot race (had to lead the horses somehow without touching the lead rope).

                              Scavenger hunt that requires some knowledge (use teams again for this), like "which horse has bar shoes" and "who goes in a pelham bit".

                              For some reason we always went nuts over being allowed to help with feeding and turnout.

                              Costume class.

                              At the week's end horse show, we all got a "Best ___" certificate and a picture of us on our favorite horse. I remember one year I got "Best Cross Country Rider" because my schoolie was a PITA on the trail ride

                              If the trainer had a young horse she was starting (she liked to start them in a roundpen doing some join up) she'd narrate what she was doing and why. This was better for the older kids, the little ones would get bored or be too loud/distracting for the horse.

                              The teenage girls got free or discounted lessons if they helped with camp, so we'd watch their lesson because they jumped big stuff! Especially nice if you have an assistant who can explain what they're doing and why.

                              The more serious kids would get "homework": an old Practical Horseman article that they'd read and summarize for the other girls. We also used the pictures to talk about conformation, jumping styles, and rider position and would critique different pictures.

                              Another good one is take a video of each rider and ask them to come up with three things they could work on. Might be best to have private viewings so other kids don't pipe up "your heels suck!"

                              There was a dressage trainer down the road, so she'd do an exhibition ride showing some of the cool upper level movements and then talk about the history of dressage and how hunters use it. Depending on time, she would maybe give dressage lessons for one day of camp.
                              "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

                              Phoenix Animal Rescue

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I taught home schooled kids a set or "riding lessons" for a
                                few years. Two craft activities that are fairly cheap and
                                easy. Have kids make tissue paper carnations (instructions
                                are on youtube if needed). Do them in red,yellow, blue.
                                Buy some crepe paper streamers. Staple two or three
                                streamers to half a 3x5 index card and secure the carnation
                                to the center. Show ribbons. Award these at the horse show you hold at the end of the camp. Other craft is just
                                as easy. Get some white cardboard sheets. Take old tooth
                                brushes and some paint or ink. Place an old horseshoe on
                                the cardboard and dip the toothbrush into the paint. Hold
                                brush above the cardboard and run it over a piece of window screen to splatter the paint onto the cardboard.
                                Remove the horseshoe. Have parents attach a picture of
                                their kid with his/her pony into the center of the horseshoe
                                as a keepsake of the camp.
                                Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                                Elmwood, Wisconsin

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  As a childhood camper at a horse camp my stand-out moments are having a presentation given to us by a woman who raised paints and competed on the APHA circuit (we were all traditional hunter jumpers) and brought with her a very loud red and white paint gelding, and doing a horse show at the end of each session. At the end of the shows we each got a special award of a painted horse-shoe with something like "Chatterbox" or "Best Bareback ride." As a camp instructor some of the most liked activities were, as others said, painting or washing horses and sticking post-its on horse body parts. Also course design is usually a big hit and helps the kids understand why they're jumping what they're jumping and what an exercise like a rollback or gymnastic is supposed to teach them.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    From Australia: these kids end up as endurance riders.

                                    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...type=1&theater

                                    From NZ: These kids end up being show jumpers.

                                    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...8693642&type=1

                                    Lots of fun for all, no upstaging anyone else, and how about those glamour shots? Any girl would be thrilled to have such photographic memories!

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