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 Dr. Seuss-themed camp dance - Seussical!
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!
In the evening, boy campers and girl campers of all ages gathered together for our first true theme dance of the term – Seussical! Everyone dressed in their best Dr. Seuss-inspired guises to celebrate the night. We saw Thing 1 and Thing 2, Red Fish and Blue Fish, the Grinch, the Lorax, Horton from Horton Hears a Who, and even some citizens of Whoville itself!
Campers danced under a grove of Lorax trees, ate green eggs and ham freshly made over an open griddle and “Grinch pies” – a creation of green pudding and vanilla wafers – explored the book “Hop on Pop” brought to life in a bouncy castle, engaged in some friendly cup-stacking competition, sub Cat in the Hat hats for cups, built personalized “Truffle Trees,” stretched to their limits in our gigantic inflatable Twister game, and sang along to the infamous “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The “Cat in the Hat” movie was screening during the event so campers could choose to relax and enjoy the film if ever the activities became overwhelming or they needed a break from all of the dancing.
Be sure to check Waldo for photos from the night’s event!