Today on the Camp Balcones Springs blog, we will be giving a brief overview of our camp horseback program, as well as highlighting Wednesday night’s Counselor Hunt and our farewell to Term 3A!
The equestrian program at CBS is open to both boy campers and girl campers of all ages and is run by our fantastic Horseback Director Tiffany Janke. According to Tiffany, “As the Horseback Director, I pride myself in providing a safe and fun learning environment for campers to foster and grow their love for horses. A great deal of preparation goes into each class of campers, from getting information ahead of time on the campers/riders, to studying and learning each horse, to preparing games and fun activities, to maintaining trails year-round for campers and guests. Although our most favorite time of year is summer camp, the work is year round.” Camp Balcones Springs currently owns ten horses of varying riding levels as well as additional horses who have retired from the riding program but still live on property (and are some of our favorite furry friends). We also lease horses for the summer months to ensure we have horses available for all camper ages and experience levels so that we are able to offer a comprehensive horseback program, just as any true Texas summer camp should.
Some of the camp favorites throughout the years have been Marimba (32-years-old) and Maverick (31-years-old), both of whom are happily spending their retirement on CBS property. Some of the favorite horses that are ridden here at camp are Cherokee, a 16-year-old spotted draft horse, whose flashy color and size/stature makes her a favorite horse, and Sugar, who is our go-to beginner horse. Sugar is an 18-year-old Welsh Pony who had a very successful show jumping career before slowing down and becoming an outstanding camp mount. As Tiffany receives camper information sheets for boy and girl campers who will be taking horseback, as well as for the youngest campers who are given the chance to explore horseback during their minor classes, she plans out which horses to place in each class so she can pair campers with the best horse possible for their goals, experience level, and age. This can be a painstaking and tedious process, but it ensures the classes go better, keeps everyone safe, and helps campers get the most out of their horseback camp experience.
Regardless of age or skill level, all campers begin the term by learning how to groom and saddle their horses. According to Tiffany, “I think it is very important to teach from the ground up.” After this introductory or refresher course, campers begin to learn the basics of riding, moving forward, stopping, and turning. Once these skills are mastered, campers move up to trotting and then eventually take a big trail ride throughout the camp horseback trails as a reward for all of their hard work and mastery.
Each summer, Tiffany is joined at the barn by a diverse group of counselors and horseback-specific staff, including barrel racers, natural horsemen/women, equine enthusiasts, and high school agriculture teachers. Tiffany aims to present a diverse range of horse experience and personnel to campers in order to give them the opportunity to learn not just about different equine sports and techniques, but also different career paths and ways to interact with horses outside of ridership.
We are so grateful for Tiffany and endlessly impressed with the campers in our horseback program!
On Wednesday, we said goodbye to our Term 3A campers! We had such a lovely week-and-a-half and a great mini-closing with our Term 3A families. We can’t wait to see you next summer!
Wednesday evening, everyone participated in our camp-wide counselor hunt activity! Counselors hid all over our property and campers went on a quest to find them! Each counselor was worth a certain amount of “money” based on how secret their hiding spot was. After locating a counselor, boys and girls were able to “redeem” their rewards at a silent auction in the GridIron and collect prizes. Some prizes were more traditionally appealing, like an immediate trip to Sonic for a late-night snack, Chick-fil-A breakfast-in-bed, family-size cereal for your cabin, and an exclusive shopping trip in the Camp Store (complete with a $5 voucher). Others were a bit of a prank – like our famous spam sandwich!