Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hearts Summer Camps 2011

Hearts enjoyed another successful series of summer horse camps this year, enriching the lives of 45 kids.  The first two weeks were inclusion camps, where kids with and without disabilities learn and play together.  Our theme was “The Wild West.”  Campers learned about different styles of riding, including the infamous “bareback” day. 
We are thankful to Laura Denny for providing some wonderful art projects including painting on the Hearts horses (they make a great canvas!).  Riders went out on the trail for a “cattle round-up,” and had a “bean bag shoot-out” in the arena. Some campers spotted a real bobcat, skunk and king snake around the Hearts property.  Those were “unplanned” Wild West bonuses!

Another two weeks of camp gave children who are involved in CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation) an opportunity to experience horseback riding and the self-confidence that comes from it.   We appreciate the Santa Barbara Youth Project for funding this camp for 20 campers each summer – a tremendous gift to the kids involved.

One child from CALM had never been on a horse before.  He told his instructor “I need to get off now,” after his horse, Buddy, took a few steps.  After walking once around the arena, Dylan exclaimed, “I can do this now!”  With encouragement from his volunteers and instructors be became braver and more independent each day. On the final day of camp, he was proudly barrel racing independently at the trot!!  It was a sight to see and a highlight of the camp. 

Connie Weinsoff, Program Director, and Cliff Earle, Instructor, conducted a specialty camp in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, which was focused on the natural history of the horse. In addition to riding, the campers fed the Hearts horses their breakfast and learned about nutrition, herd dynamics, and veterinary care.  They also experienced vaulting, ground training, grooming and saddling, and behavior modification techniques. Of course, their favorite activity was cleaning the corrals and scooping up the poop!

Hearts extends a special and HUGE thank you to all of the hard working and dedicated volunteers who came out to help with camps all summer long.  Thanks to the Hearts Summer camp instructing staff: Emily Larson, Alex Kincaid and Darcie Simson.  We appreciate Dr. Saunders for his veterinary demos.  Also, thank you to Alex Kincaid for showing the kids how to rope cattle and to Robbie Elconin for providing “The Vinnie show.” 

Hearts summer camps are open to children between the ages of 8-13.  They are some of the only “inclusive” summer camp programs in Santa Barbara County.  This was a wonderful summer and we hope to see everyone again next year!

By Kristine Eckert,  Hearts Summer Camp Director

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