I was never much for summer camp. Endless hours sitting in a hot, dusty church doing crafts; athletic competitions disguised as fun and games; cranky children and even crankier camp counsellors — none of that was for me.
That is, until I attended horse camp. As an adult.
Toward the end of August, I spent a weekend in a hot, dusty barn, taking part in athletic competitions disguised as fun and games, with cranky grown-ups and even crankier horses.
And I had the time of my life.
Joined by my parents, Maggie and Randy, I spent almost three days at a horse camp tailored to adults (complete with a glass or two of wine after a hard day of riding).
Over the course of a weekend, we learned the ins and outs of horse care: how to break a horse; how to tack and groom it; how to administer basic first aid; and how to decide if you’re ready to buy a horse.
“Take $10,000 out of the bank and set it on fire — if you can do that without crying, you’re ready to buy a horse,” was the advice from Roy, our ‘camp counsellor’ for the weekend.
The learning didn’t stop once we got into the saddle.
Roy put us through the paces, setting up obstacles to manoeuvre and urging us to do them at a trot once walking them became too easy.
And because Roy’s operation is a working ranch, complete with a small herd of Corriente cattle, we spent one afternoon team penning some cattle, which we enjoyed so much that we did it again the next day. I even tried my hand at roping a training dummy — poorly, of course, but I got it on my second try.
We had fun.
As adults with bills to pay and responsibilities to take care of, fun doesn’t always make it to the top of a to-do list. We leave so much of our childhood behind as we grow up. Play dates become meetings. Summer breaks become distant memories. Fun becomes something we slot in on a Sunday afternoon.
But for one weekend, I was able to recapture some of the magic of childhood. I was able to have the kind of fun that makes you grin from ear to ear.
For as much as I learned about horse care and riding and penning and roping during my weekend at horse camp, there’s one thing I learned that will carry me through the rest of my days: You’re never too old to have fun at summer camp.