"Educational" and "exhausting" are two words that are often used to describe summer camp at the Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center.
"Totally worth it" are three words that are also usually uttered by campers and parents alike at the end of the two week program.
Those words were echoed at the end of July by the young women, aged 11 to 16, who converged on campus with their equine partners for summer camp. They also added words of their own, such as "awesome," "fun," and "memorable" when asked to describe their experiences.
Instead of lounging poolside or sleeping in until mid-afternoon, the young ladies found themselves rising early to care for their equine friends under the watchful eyes of Held Center Associate Director Danielle Menteer, stable manager Jana Armstrong, and counselors (and current Albion students) Brittany White '10 and Jules Wurzler '11. After breakfast for themselves, they arrived at the stable to feed their mounts and muck stalls before morning riding lessons began.
The first week long camp session focused on improving the riders' dressage and stadium jumping abilities. The conclusion of the week required each camper to perform a Training Level dressage test and jump a traditional stadium jumping course as a part of the end-of-week horse show. The second week's session focused on hunt seat equitation on the flat and over fences and culminated in a horse show where the young women rode in a traditional rail class, then rode an equitation over fences course.
Lectures and demonstrations during the week were interspersed between riding lessons and educated the campers about feeding and stable management, unmounted horse handling (including lunging), and show preparation and show ring etiquette. To give a real horse show feel to each end-of-week show, campers were taught how to braid various lengths and types of manes - including the execution of a traditional running braid by counselor Brittany White, who utilized the long locks of demonstration model Patty (pictured below left).
Not all of camp was work, however, as the evening hours allowed for activities such as swimming in the pool at Albion's Dow Aquatic Center, canoeing on the Kalamazoo River, miniature golfing at a course in nearby Jackson, and even seeing the new Harry Potter movie soon after its release in theaters.
"Camp is always a fun time during the summer," observed Held Center director, George Halkett. "It's nice to see the returning students come back at a higher level than they were the year before and the staff and counselors all have fun watching their progress through the week. No one ever leaves here without having mastered at least one new skill."
Information concerning camp at the Nancy Held Equestrian Center in July of 2010 will become available in the spring. For more information, please contact the equestrian center.