Friday, July 24, 2015

Session 3 - Friday: Guest Blogger Zoe

Hello again, this is Zoe the counselor reporting on the 2nd week of session 3. Session 3 is coming to a close and we have been having so much fun! On Tuesday, we had a gymkhana, which are games on horseback. Each rider competed for points for her boy band. In the morning we had relay races, such as egg and spoon, sit-a-buck, and dizzy bat. In the afternoon, the girls participated in gambler’s choice. Gambler’s choice is an obstacle course or difficult jumping course in which the girls have to make their own unique course and collect the most points by completing the jumps or obstacles. This can be very tricky!
Wednesday was a special day since we finally got to swim with the horses! This is the first time this summer we have had the opportunity to do this activity. The girls had a lesson in the morning and swam with the horses in the afternoon or vice versa. That evening, the girls did their final lip synch for our special guest judges. All the dance moves were amazing! New Kids on the Block and Beach Boys ended up having an exciting dance-off due to a tied score. In the end, the Beach Boys ended up taking home the prize of Connolly’s ice cream. All the other teams had prizes as well☺.
Thursday was a normal day, with lessons in the morning. Afternoon activities were practicing their “specialties” which are the activities they will be presenting to the parents on Saturday after their short lessons. In the evening, half the camp went camping at Boo’s house. Boo has a wonderful house with a lake to camp by. The rest of the camp stayed home and did a fun horseless horse show. They also participated in a new game created by the counselors: Musical Spoons. It is a cross between horseless horse show, musical chairs, and spoons.
This morning (Friday), the girls are currently riding in their final lessons. This afternoon will consist of packing and swimming in the pool. Finally, tonight will be candlelight. Candlelight is a special Pony Farm tradition in which the girls write something special to share with the camp around a campfire. We have had letters to ponies, poems and even songs.
I speak from all of the staff in saying that although we look forward to seeing the parents on Saturday, we are not excited to see all the campers go! It has been an awesome 2 weeks with such a close-knit group of girls. I hope to see them all next year!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Session 3 - Guest Blogger Zoe

Hello, this is Zoe Bennett writing a guest blog post for the first week of the 3rd session of camp. I am a senior staff member who came back after many years away. I was a camper for two years, as well as a CIT and senior staff member. Pony Farm is still my home away from home!
This week at camp has been filled with tons of fun activities. On Monday we finished horse matches. With only 25 campers, we have lots of horses to choose from. However, there were only 2 re-rides in the afternoon (wow!). The rest of the camp swam in the pool and played with the small animals. The miniature horses were taken around an obstacle course and the goats happily grazed on the lawn of the homestead.
                This session in camp we have another Pony Farm Tradition called “Battle of the Boy Bands”. The camp separates into 5 teams, each named after a boy band. The teams this year are: NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Jonas Brothers, Beach Boys, and New Kids on the Block. Many activities are used to calculate points for their boy band. Some activities include barn clean up, dress up days (e.g. facial hair day or Princess Leia hair day) , and evening activities. Monday night, the campers divided up into their boy bands and participated in bag skits. The goal of the activity is to take random items from a bag and make up a skit about it. Some of the skits are extremely funny!
Tuesday was Pajama Day, which meant that by wearing their pajamas to barn chores, the girls could earn points for their boy band teams. In the morning we had lessons with the staff. For the afternoon activity, the girls chose from the options of free ride – where each girl learns how to school her horse or pony on her own, driving, or a quiet trail ride. For evening activity, we played the chocolate game, which is a game which consists of eating large quantities of chocolate. We also had a snipe hunt, which is an old Pony Farm tradition. Did you know snipes love peanut butter? ;)
Today we sent nine kids to go the away horse show at Furnace Brook Farm. All the girls had a great time and came back with a large amount of ribbons! While they were away, the rest of the girls had lessons. The lesson I taught did some jumping without hands and other fun exercises. The horse show girls were back by afternoon activity. A few kids stayed back to do catch riding, which is switching horses with your friends. The rest of the camp went on a trip to the falls. The falls are waterfalls that are right around the corner. The weather was hot, and the water was extremely cold! Tonight we have personal scavenger hunt: a type of trivia game that involves running and some singing. This will also be for boy band points.

As you can see, we have had an extremely busy week! It will only get busier, since this Sunday we have a home horse show. Camp Parents: Please stay tuned for an email about when to arrive to watch your daughters ride.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Session Two - Friday Evening



Dear Moms and Dads, and other Camp Followers like Grandparents and Relatives!!!
I always love it when Becky asks me to write a blog to you all. It makes me step back from the hectic schedule of the farm and reflect on what fun we have all together.  John Denver did not know what he was talking about when he wrote “Life on the farm is kinda laid back!”  He had never seen a day at Pony Farm!  We sure have something going every single minute.  No bored or lazy kids here!
Yesterday morning dawned muddy but sunny.  After the torrential downpours on Wednesday, good weather was a welcome relief.  The kids were such good sports tromping through the mud and puddles to catch their ponies. They even worked to dry out all the equipment from the soggy horse show.  I reviewed ‘the troops’ at barn chores and much to my delight, every kid said that she had a blast at the horse show.  That is a true testament to the kids and the staff!
Despite being a little tired, the kids were ready to ride again…Where do they get that kind of energy?!?  The riding lessons for the campers who had attended the show were ‘flat’ lessons, meaning no jumping. The rest dug into their learning with gusto.
Following a yummy lunch of their favorite Mac and Cheese with extra cheese (and salad of course!), they went off to rest hour to gather energy for an action packed afternoon.  The activities to choose from ranged from Pony/Mini Spa Day, a Gunner Gold Rush Hike up Temple Mountain with Becky, Bareback riding in the ring, Catch Riding (where everyone switches and rides each other’s pony or horse!) and carriage driving.  The driving seems to be a big hit this year.  Unbeknown to the campers, the driving team had a plan to drive them up to Connolly’s Dairy Farm for a special treat of homemade ice cream.  Armed with 16 kids, two pairs of ponies and three carriages pulled by single ponies, we were off. Sadly, a pin on one of the harness fell out and my crew had to unhook and lead the pair home. Gratefully, nothing bad happened as a result of this equipment failure.  The kids and I drove in my car up to Connolly’s for ice cream and to meet the other driving contingent.  Delicious ice cream was enjoyed by one and all on a sunny summer afternoon. What could be better!
This cadre of activities was followed by snack time and feeding the horses. Then the “Ultimate Barn Team Challenge” was on!!! Each barn competed for the cleanest, neatest and most well swept & raked barn.  Kris was the judge and a prize of Dunkin Donuts was awarded to the winning barn.  Everything looked so much better after this team challenge.  It was certainly worth a dozen donuts!
A Ship Wreck Dinner followed with each camper being given some kind of cooking implement as their silverware. Amid great laughter and gaiety, they had to eat with spatulas, whisks, serving spoons and forks, etc.  This crazy dinner was followed by a rousing game of Capture the Flag.  Two teams mustered lots of hutzpah to be the victors.  A nice Good Night Circle followed where everyone remembered the best parts of their day and sang the good old favorite camp songs.  They tip toed off to bed for a solid night’s sleep.  A good day was had by all!
Today was a pristine day of sun and cool, lovely breezes, in short, a perfect day for riding.  After the morning meeting and room clean up, with each room in hot contention for being the cleanest winning room, the girls went to their riding groups.  I had the fun and pleasure of walking around to see each group with a board member and a special guest of the farm.  I saw such good riding, happy students and careful, clear teachers.  It was such fun to ‘show off’ our farm family of two and four footed treasures!
This afternoon the girls had to choose between vaulting (gymnastics on the moving horse) on Avalon, an 18 hand Belgian; a peaceful trail ride; Pair Jumping in the ring; and a Free Ride where the girls planned their own practice of new skills or polishing their horse’s work under the watchful eye of an instructor.  Because the trail ride was such a big seller, we ended up splitting the gang into two groups.  I am writing this while they are finishing up their afternoon, getting snack and beginning barn chores.  I am about to go down to be with them for showers, dinner prep and the evening.  Our big game tonight is Counselor Quest.  This is a fav as each counselor plans where she is going to hide in the best place.  Kids who ‘find’ the various staff members get points, with the most points for the most counselors found wins.    We will then follow this with Goodnight Circle, during which time, we will talk about why we love the United States of America.  We will sing patriotic songs as we prepare for the 4th of July!
Tomorrow we will all gather and go to the Temple 4th of July Games on the town ball field. This will entail ribbons for all ages with crazy, silly foot games. This culminates in an Egg Toss, followed by a Fire Hose tug of war, with the losing side being soaked with the fire hose!  With lots of sunscreen, rides in the old fashioned Fire Truck called Annabelle,  and a wonderful cookout with the Temple Fire Department, good old fashioned fun will abound.
So, I hope that your 4th of July is filled with fun and delight.  May you eat delicious food and be with friends and family, knowing that your children are well tended and loved here at Pony Farm.
With more adventures to come in our 2nd week of Session 2, I am happily sending greetings across the air waves to you all.
Cheers and with a smile,
Boo!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Session Two - Wednesday: Life is Good!

Dear Camp Families,

It was so wonderful to see all of you on Sunday.  It was like a reunion with friends!  I just love having so many returning campers!  The campers that were new to camp, have taken to camp like a fish to water.  You wouldn’t even be able to pick out the new ones because they have been welcomed whole heartedly and fit in so well!  It is a joy to have them here!  Almost like the gang is back together!  Life is good!

On Monday we did our trial rides and had about 6 campers do re-rides.  I think we have everyone on the love of their life, in the form of a pony, that is!  On Monday afternoon we painted ponies, because why wouldn’t you!  We did a slip and slide, played with small animals, went to Budweiser, and did re-rides!  On Monday night we had bag skits.  Kris, our General Manager and former camp director, was with the kids. (I was in a staff meeting, not nearly as much fun as bag skitsL)  She posted on Facebook, that after 32 years of Bag Skits, she still doesn’t know what room does!

If you don’t know what Bag Skits are it is a fun and funny game!  Each room of campers gets an empty bag and goes to their room and puts 10 items in the bag.  Then everybody comes back out, and we switch all the bags around.  The campers go back to their rooms to make up a skit using the items in the bag they were handed.

Everyone has a certain amount of time to make up their skit, and then it's showtime!  As I said, it is fun and funny - to pick the items in the bag, to figure out your skit, to see what another room did with your items.

Tuesday was a BEAUTIFUL DAY!  We rode in our riding groups in the morning and did our afternoon activities!  Many of the campers were getting ready for the show last night, so the rest of the camp had a Casino Night scheduled, but opted for a horseless horse show instead!

It is Wednesday and pouring rain!  We have 20 campers at an away horse show.  It is never a dull moment at camp!  Our other 15 campers are at different stations in the barns.  We have a leg wrapping station going on, how to take a bridal apart and put it back together, naming the parts of a horse with Annie and she is being labeled, but is a good sport about it.  (Annie the horses, not the human.)  We also have a trivia station!  This afternoon we are going to have Know-Down Show-Down on all the info they have learned so far!  And there will be candy involved…mainly because we NEVER have candy at camp and anything to help make a rainy day better is a good thing.
Boo will be writing later this week and we all know how she is the better writer of the duo!  In the mean time you can follow our activities on Facebook.  Here is the link if you need it - https://www.facebook.com/ponyfarmsummercamp?ref=hl

Best,

Becky

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday of Session One!

Dear Pony Farm Moms and Dads…
Let me begin by thanking YOU for loaning us your Treasures…We have had a great week together.  They are certainly helping to carry on the Pony Farm tradition with their sweet smiles, cheery laughs, hard work and good willingness to learn.  I hope you will be pleased with what they have accomplished in a few short days…They have really tried hard to master so many new skills, including not being Homesick!!!  For such a young group of girls and so many new ones who have not been to the farm, the lack of Homesickness speaks volumes about you as parents…Well done in creating such stalwart kids who get along so well.
Despite the threats of tornadoes on Tuesday and the rain on the camping trip last night, we have certainly crammed a lot in this week.  As Becky so well documented for you via both her blog and tons of pictures…and a video of a Snipe Hunt on Facebook… the girls have really bonded well.  Many friendships were created in a short period of time.
To pick up where Becky left off, yesterday morning the girls all rode in their lesson groups for one more good solid learning time.  We have also had each group go out at least once on a trail ride so they can have the fun of not only riding round and round the ring.  We think that the natural world and riding up & down the dirt roads helps teach kids how to ride every bit as much as in a ring…maybe more!
Then, with great eagerness, the girls signed up for their Specialties which they will demo for you tomorrow. Much to our surprise 17 girls signed up to drive…an all-time high.  It is super that we have lots of ponies who drive so we could accommodate them all!  It is quite a brigade!
Most of the rest of the kids signed up to jump…not a surprise!  They do love soaring over those rails!  For the rest of the die-hard riders, they are doing a mounted Obstacle Course or Vaulting, which is gymnastics on the moving horse.  We love having this variety and giving kids the opportunity to try all kinds of horsey things while they are with us.  We can’t wait for you to see what they have learned.
Last night we also had the much awaited Pony Camping trip. Due to the possibility of rain, we only took two ponies and camped right near my house.  We have a pond with lots of bullfrogs and tad poles, so this provided good evening entertainment while dinner was cooking.  Following setting up for bedding down, I told stories about some of the favorite horses at the farm.  The girls love these stories much more than any ghost stories especially if it is their first time in a tent in the dark.  We ended the evening singing the old camp favorites by fire light and flash light.  Everyone tucked in nicely and peace reigned.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the rest of the kids had a mighty Snipe Hunt. We had prepped a house for any captured Snipe.  Armed with tubs of peanut butter, the kids smeared the PB on their noses as they crept through the buses in search of the mighty Snipe!  After much effort and quiet hunting, alas no Snipes appeared.  A good time was had by all with much wild imaginings as to where they would put their Snipe once they got home!
Today dawned rainy and gray, but no one was daunted in the least.  The camping trip team had breakfast in my kitchen and got to look at all the pictures of the horses we had talked about in the stories last night.  With sleeping bags rolled up and the truck packed, homeward bound we came.  We ended up right at the perfect moment to have yet another breakfast of pan fries and yogurt fruit cups.  Rooms got cleaned up and off they all went for a ride in the sprinkles so they would be sharp for you tomorrow.
This afternoon will be packing, writing their Candlelight Ceremony reading, organizing for their Specialties, and wrapping up with Slip and Slide in the rain.  After barn chores, we will all get clean and dressed nicely for our lovely dinner together.  Then, hopefully without rain, we will have an Evening Bonfire and Candlelight Circle where everyone officially reads what their experience at the farm meant to them.  Sprinkled in with favorite songs, this is one of my favorite nights of camp.  I do like all the dress up and silly games, but I love their heartfelt sentiments even more. It lets me know that the Pony Farm spirit is alive and well!!!  Forty four years of Candlelight Ceremonies and we are still going strong…
We are happy to see you tomorrow but cannot believe we already have to give you your children back! Where did the session go????  Please do arrive with your own picnic and ready to watch your kids ride. We will then all eat together and do a wrap up Closing.  We even have professional photographs of your kids this session. Do not feel pressured to purchase them. These are surely optional but I think you will get a kick out of them!
Until tomorrow, travel safely and know how much we have enjoyed your kiddos.  After all these years, it still delights me that girls and ponies are such a magical combination!
With a big smile and lots of good cheer,
Boo

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Session One - Wednesday: What a Day for a Day!

Dear Camp Families,

You are kind of stuck with me for this blog post!  Boo is really the wordsmith of the duo, but I will do my best!  It is so great to see the farm active with some many girls and so many ponies and horses!  Everyone is settling into their riding groups and on their mounts!

We had wild weather yesterday, Tuesday, with threats of Thunderstorms and Tornados, luckily neither of them ever really materialized.  We were able to get shortened lessons in, in the morning before the sky opened up and it poured.  In the afternoon, the skies were very mysterious and we thought it would be best to play it safe.  Different stations were set up in the barns including how to wrap a horses legs, check their temperature and more!  Last night we played Pony Farm’s Next Top Model!

Today the weather is BEAUTIFUL!  The campers are riding as I write to you!  This afternoon we will be carriage driving, going on a trail ride, using the new slip and slides, going to Budweiser to see their Clydesdale's, or doing gymkhana games!  Tonight is the ice cream trough and Personal Scavenger Hunt!

We are staying busy here for sure!
Best,

Becky

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pony Farm's Top 10 Tips to Get Ready for Camp

We can't wait to greet you!
As summer approaches, are you wondering what the best ways are to get ready for camp? Just about everything and anything you want to know about camp is on the Pony Farm pages on our website.

However, as the time for camp gets closer, we thought you might appreciate some highlights – so today we present our Top 10 ways to prep for Pony Farm.

10. Come for a Tour – For newbie campers, a visit can be a HUGE help to quell camper anxieties. “Where do I go when I arrive?” “Where will I sleep?” “What are the bathrooms like?” “Where will I put my clothes?” Schedule a tour by contacting Becky Sanborn, Co-Camp Director, at bsanborn@touchstone-farm.org.

This is us, from the sky.
 
9. Fill Out Those Forms, Forms, Forms – Not nearly as fun as #10, but all the forms are important and help us get to know your camper before she arrives. Your camper's paperwork is due June 1. Getting your forms in on time ensures that we’ll be ready for your arrival. You'll find all the forms right here.
This is Becky. She is so happy when
she receives camper forms. Really.
 8. Refresh That Inhaler – Every summer campers arrive with inhalers, Epi-pens, or other prescription meds that are already expired. Now is the perfect time to check that your camper has current prescriptions filled for any medications that she needs. The camp forms contain instructions about sending prescription meds your camper needs with her and authorizing us to administer them.
Summer: time for trail rides, friendship,
sunshine ... and allergens. Be prepared!
 
7. Download the Packing List Our packing list is located on our website. This is our 44th summer of Pony Farm, so we kind of have what to pack down to a science! 
We even have a packing list for the horses!
(A zebra costume isn't on it.)
 6. What Not to Wear – No, not the TV show! Please don't send anything that you don't want to risk being lost or damaged. Summer camp is hard on clothes, jewelry, etc. Put your camper's name on anything and everything that you would like to return home with her. This is especially important for her riding helmet, boots, tights, and half chaps, which are pretty hard to tell apart.
See what we mean?
 
6A. What Not to Pack – You can read Pony Farm policies, but the highlight it is...leave cell phones – in fact, all your camper's electronics – at home. We encourage a different kind of connection — with each other, the horses and other animals, the outdoors and nature. Plug into Pony Farm!

5. Check out Arrival Info and Departure Info – You can make drop-off and pick-up days less stressful for your camper (and you!) by knowing what to expect.
We have a system.

 4. Bookkeeping Note – (No catchy title here. Sorry.) Don't forget that the balance of your payment is due May 1. You can send us a check, payable to Touchstone Farm, or pay online via credit card.

3. Read the Directions – To Pony Farm, that is! We have directions on our website. NOTE: If you are a GPS user, enter 818 Putnam Rd, Temple, NH, into your unit. (Some GPS units think 13 Pony Farm Lane is in the middle of the woods on the other side of town. It isn't.)
This isn't us. Not even close.
 
2. Find More Tips and Tricks to Get Ready for Camp – ACA New England has wonderful resources for camp families. This ACA article inspired our top 10 list.

1. Pack a Smile and a Great Attitude! – Your camper is about to have a magical experience! Be sure to send her off with a smile and a sense of adventure!
High five!
 Questions? Feel free to email Becky, Co-Camp Director, at bsanborn@touchstone-farm.org.