By Sierra L. | July 27, 2013
“Hey, welcome to Marmon Valley Farm! Are you here for camp?”
That’s how I greeted our 86 campers and their families last week as they drove onto the farm to register. Sometimes we get public visitors, or people here for riding lessons, but Sunday afternoons our traffic is mostly camp-related.
It’s now the end of week six of camp (not including two weeks of staff training). Today we bid adieu to the kids we’d built relationships with, mentored, counseled, and instructed last week. It’s always a bit sad to say goodbye. Tomorrow, we welcome a new crowd and begin again! As the camp administrator, Mr. Augsburger, often reminds us, it may be week seven for staff, but its week one for the campers! Our staff motto is “Alive, Alert, Awake, Enthusiastic (Whooo!!!)”
Camp mornings, I’m a riding instructor. Whether I’m teaching a brand new rider how to hold their reins, or a more experienced horseman to ask for a canter, it’s always a rewarding experience to watch them progress through the week.
After lunch, counselors take their campers to assigned afternoon activities. Usually, I’m a counselor of a cabin of seven to eight girls. I’ve had anywhere from 10 year olds to 17 year olds this summer. Each age range brings a different set of blessings, and a different need I can fill.
Afternoon activities range from rock climbing, to archery, swimming, playing with miniature ponies, challenge course, fishing, and many others.
Every week I may get to help a camper conquer their fear of heights by climbing to the peak of our tallest rock wall, or perhaps learn how to take a fish off a hook for the first time! Sometimes I teach them how to scoop manure for the first time in their lives, then I show them how to hold their first baby kitten.
Whatever the experience is, I like to encourage them to step outside their comfort zones because hey, it’s camp! When will they get an opportunity to try this again? And whatever comes of their efforts, there are no failures, only adventures. (Adventure: an experience that may be a little frightening, slightly painful, and usually results in a dirty outcome; and in the end, you have an awesome story to tell!)
Each evening has a special activity such as a hayride or campfire. My personal favorite is the barn dance! Each week we have a different theme to dress up to, such as Twinsies or White Out or Most Awesome Mustache or our very own Wrangler Matt look-alike contest!
Some days have highlights such as Thursday’s trail lunch, where riding classes ride their horses to lunch in the woods and cook their own hotdogs over a fire. Friday is chuckwagon breakfast – campers catch a hayride to breakfast in the woods, cooked over a fire. Friday is also Bedhead Contest. And yes, everyone in my cabin participates, even the 14 year olds! After all, when else will you get away with going out to breakfast without styling your hair?
It’s sad that there’s only a couple weeks left of camp. It’s been an awesome, though tiring, summer. I hope my campers have learned a lot, and I sure know I have!
P.S. If you are 7 to 17 yrs old and love horses, you can still sign up for our last week of summer camp at marmonvalley.com !