SURE SIGN OF SUMMER’S INEVITABLE APPROACH

Mailing off the kids’ summer camp registration forms means summer is edging ever closer.

For the past 6 summers, Older Daughter has gone to sleep-away camp in New Hampshire. Last year Smaller Daughter joined her for a couple of weeks. They adore the place.

Roads End Farm is a small, horsemanship camp in Chesterfield, not far from Keene. It’s approximately 50 girls at a time, 15 staffers from around the world, and a herd of around 75 horses – mostly farm-bred Morgans, with a sprinkling of rescues and donated horses. Roads End has been around for 35 years, always run by the the Woodman family. It’s a rustic place, sort of summer-on-grandpa’s farm for kids who have no relatives in the country.

The girls do a lot of riding (of course) – all non-competitive English flat, with small group ring instruction and/or trail rides 6 days a week. Here’s Elder Daughter on Ides, and Smaller Daughter on Goldie, both showing off their new-learned abilities on pick-up day. Note that two weeks before this picture was taken, Smaller Daughter knew horses only from picture books and TV.

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Riders of all ability levels are welcome, from kids who arrive with their own mounts right down to kids who have never seen a horse up close and personal before. The girls are matched in teams of two with a horse of suitable level. Beginners for example are teamed with geriatric animals of sweet disposition (Goldie, last summer was well into her equine senior citizen years). There’s no jumping, and techniques are more geared to riding for pleasure. Safety is a prime concern, both for the campers and the horses. The fact that so many of the horses are still in good condition and working with campers at advanced horse-ages is testament to the high level of animal care at the farm.

The girls provide all the care for their shared mounts – feeding, grooming, AND shoveling. Each girl gets to ride for half the morning, the other half being devoted to farm type chores in the barns, paddocks, vegetable gardens, kitchen or dorms. The afternoons include swimming instruction or free swim in a nearby lake, arts and crafts, and other typical camp-type activities. Hair dryers, TVs and electronics are banned (except for small MP3 players used during quiet times), but my own video gaming/Anime rats don’t long for a single pixel while they are there.

All in all, it’s a small, and very companionable place that’s so much fun the participants don’t realize they are learning big lessons about responsibility and teamwork. I hear that Roads End still has spots open for this summer. If you are looking for a good place for pony-crazy girls ages 8-high school – I strongly recommend the experience.

Oh. Knitting content. My kids bring their knitting to camp with them. That’s where Alex works on her B. Walker Learn to Knit afghan project. She’s accumulated small knitting circles around her each summer.


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One response

  1. Wow, sounds like heaven on earth for young girls. Well, except for the shoveling part, but they probably find that a small price to pay for all the fun.

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