Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesdays with Boo

Mike & Ben are READY to get back to work.
I was so delighted to see everyone at the Open House for our spring lesson programs. Having everyone enjoying the farm and being together after this long, long winter, made my week. It is such a joy to stand at the barn door to greet old and new friends.

I don't need the ground hog to tell me that spring is on its way. Seeing all those bright and shining faces, eager to get on a horse, ushers in spring for me!

It has been many years since I have been this excited about the coming season and all the fantastic things that are happening at Touchstone, Pony Farm and Horse Power. We are truly 'on a roll' and 'on the move'. With such great staff, horses and the facility upgrades, it is a pleasure indeed to show people around.

Two weeks ago, we had a terrific group of folks who gathered to learn how to start their own programs for therapeutic riding. Being able to inspire them with what our team has accomplished over 42 years was moving indeed. How did I get so blessed to be surrounded by such a great team...and so much for look forward to in life.

I hope you are as energized as I am...and will come soon to visit to share the energy of the farm and the birth of springtime. Until then, stay well and know that the farm gates are always open for YOU!

With a hug and a big smile,


Tuesdays with Boo

We love our strong fences!
The sun is shining. The snow is leaving. Spring is here (on the calendar at least!). It is such a please to stay connected while we wait for spring weather and the return of YOU, our beloved lesson students of all ages, abilities and walks of life…and then YOU, our Pony Farmers and Day Campers this summer.

I truly don’t know when I have been more jazzed about the happenings at the farm. Between the beautiful horses, safely corralled by our new fencing, and the ring surfaces prepared especially for riding and driving fun, and our terrific staff, board and supporters, I feel so very blessed.

Someone asked me just yesterday to envision my dream job and life. I said, without a moment’s hesitation, that I already had both. My dreams have come true. I wake up every day to eagerly get back to making Touchstone, home of Pony Farm and Horse Power, thrive and bloom. Having you all as ‘farm family & friends’ sure makes the magic happen for me!!!

Ian on the AT
Alec on the slopes in CO
Speaking of magic, I had some at Disney World with Jamee and my two granddaughters…What a time we had, followed with a delightful trip down to the start of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia with son Ian who has begun his life’s adventure of a 2,000 plus hike to Maine, with its own blend of “Trail Magic”.

Then, to visit Ella in her glorious NYC Park Avenue apartment, living the exciting life in the Big Apple, only return home to see the pictures of Alec who has been out West skiing. Who could ask for anything better???

May magic be winging its way to you, bringing goodness and light into your life. Also, may the road lead you to the gates of Touchstone Farm. The Welcome mat is always out and magic is happening indeed!



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tuesdays with Boo

[Editor's note: Boo penned a quick "postcard" between two family trips. Once again, her chronologically challenged editor missed posting her message on a Tuesday.]

Many hands make light work at barn chores.
Just home from Disney World with my older daughter Jamee and the grand kids…and GRAND they are. I loved every minute of the time with them and at Disney. Am off tomorrow at 6AM to take Ian, my youngest son, to Georgia where he'll begin hiking the Appalachian Trail.

It is so great to see my own children work hard, play hard, plan hard and parent well. Ella, my younger daughter, who has built a successful life for herself in New York City, says she learned everything she ever needed to know during barn chores at Pony Farm.

Ella remembers asking “What more can I do?” Happily all my kids, and even better, my grandkids now ask “What more can I do?” What a great and simple motto for life!

Carriage driving and team work go hand-in-hand.
As I think about four generations on the farm…and “What more can I do” while loving the farm…and all it stands for, I smile. What could be better!?! I feel so fortunate and so blessed not only to have such a great family, but to have such a wonderful extended “Farm Family”!

The feeling of doing it right and making every "cast member" count feels very similar to what Walt Disney felt about his beloved dream. Great adventure, excellent value for one’s hard earned dollar, a sense of belonging, all the while taking care of the world we live in and love. What could be better?

I hope you will come see us soon…and be part of our most wonderful Farm Family. We are “Keeping the Light On" for YOU!!!


A horse show day at Pony Farm!
P.S. We welcome you to the farm any time, but if you think you need a reason, how about joining us for the Family Spring Fling weekend in April or the Pony Farm Alumnae weekend in June? We've also got summer horse shows scheduled - check out the farm calendar for all our doings!

P.P.S. If you're local, stop by on March 15 for our Spring Lesson Open House. Even if you're just there to say "hi," we would love to see you!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tuesdays with Boo

[Editor's note: Boo submitted this post in plenty of time for Tuesday. Her editor dropped the ball.]

Gretta and Annie greet the audience
after participating in an EAGALA session
It was my great pleasure to welcome top leaders in the field of Equine Facilitated Mental Health and Learning to the farm this past weekend. We had the three major international organizations, three universities and five researchers represented, not to mention people from major therapeutic facilities across the US.

The programming, research and therapy models presented were fascinating. I was so proud that this happened at good old Pony Farm, Horse Power and Touchstone Farm!

Best of all, we had five Pony Farm camp alumnae with us in key roles. We relished their delicious presentations on research for PTSD, Equine Wellness and Business Models for Sustainability.

Leslie McCullough (second from right) debriefs after a
demo of equine facilitated psychotherapy.
Seeing these beloved campers all grown up into professional, capable and smart women making a difference in the lives of people and horses was especially thrilling for me!  Just so you don’t think that the spirit of camp was missing, we even playing a rip roaring game of spoons!

Now, I am off to Disney World with my daughter Jamee and Morgan & Megan, my two granddaughters. Everyone says that 8 and 10 is the perfect age for Disney.

Gretzki is ready to demo EMDR
on horseback.
I will be sending some fun pictures to Facebook of our time together. I will also send some news from the road when I take my son Ian to Georgia where he is starting to hike the Appalachian Trail. Lots of fun family happenings.

Rest assured however that I will return in plenty of time to come to NYC to meet up with current campers, new campers and alumnae on Saturday March 22. I can’t wait to see everyone and catch up with news.

So much to tell about the farm…and so eager to hear all your news…Let’s stay in touch. Plan to come visit the farm…The Welcome mat is always out for YOU!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tuesdays with Boo

Dear Farm Friends All,

I am so excited to be starting to blog to friends far and wide every Tuesday.   

The farm flourishes, and it is my greatest delight to share our news with YOU!    As we begin our...
  • 42nd summer of camp, 
  • 39th year of riding lessons, 
  • 36th year of programs at the Lodge, and 
  • 25th year of Horse Power, 
....we have LOTS of news to share, indeed. 

Visit here weekly for "Tuesdays with Boo." I'll share my scoop on workshops, lessons, our NEW summer day camp, Lodge renovations, summer horses, and anything and everything else that happens at our beloved and busy farm.

Stay tuned for lots of upcoming fun gatherings both at Touchstone Farm and out and about.

I cannot wait to see you again in person or hear from you via comments here or on Facebook.  Until then, stay well and know we are excited to stay connected.   

Cheers, Boo

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ACA CEO Responds to Recent Articles about Technology at Camp


The following letter was sent by ACA CEO Peg Smith to Beth Teitell of Marketplace and Amanda Hess of Slate in response to their recent online articles about technology at camp.

I read your article, and I find I am incredulous. People are questioning the use of technology at camp? Camp, although 150 years old, is not an antique. The camp community serves more children than ever before in its history – preserving the best attributes of a quality experience for young people while remaining contemporary and relevant. Yet, people discuss the experience from rather dated assumptions and, in my opinion, with low regard for parents.
It is important to note that privileged kids are not the only kids going to camp today.  Many camps serve middle and low income children and youth.  The American Camp Association® (ACA) community annually provides nearly $216 million in camp scholarships. Defining the camp community as a privileged community is a disservice not only to the community itself but even more so to those kids whose parents may never even consider sending their child to camp as a result of your misinformation.
In terms of technology and camp, could you possibly see it as an appropriate responsive measure?  The camp community has artfully preserved childhood for children while still satisfying the need parents have to know their kids are safe and having fun. Parents today have a set of expectations that are often driven by fear that is fanned by the media. This fear results in a need to feel they are in uber close partnership with those sharing custodial care for their children.
Technology allows the camp owner/director and parent to have a line of communication without disrupting one of the key elements of a camp experience for children and youth – independence.  Today's children, from birth, have had their lives recorded in some fashion. The camera lens is almost like a sibling. I am not suggesting that this is good or bad, but I am suggesting that kids today hardly notice the camera lens when involved in quality activities.
I think it is ill-advised to shame parents, blame the camp community, or suggest the demise of camp.  Instead, we should celebrate that these sacred spaces have been preserved for young people – young  people who have limited access to the out-of-doors, community living, and the nurturing space dedicated to a child's rite of passage.
The camp experience is as special and simple as it was 150 years ago – it is the world that has changed and the camp community has evolved accordingly. In truth, the camp community has preserved the rite of passage since the beginning of the Industrial Age. The camp community respects the parents of today and has attempted to address their anxieties while preserving the camp experience for kids.
Peg L. Smith, CEO, American Camp Association

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The campers are back!

The campers are back!

Yellow school buses used to transport summer campers have returned to their school year routes. By now, everyone’s back in school and busy establishing or re-establishing school year routines.  Memories are very much alive and well from the summer of 2012 and so is the learning that summer camps provide, encourage and inspire. Parents and teachers are likely to notice children’s gains and growth in these three areas.

  1. Academic Skills. Summer camp programming helps prevent what experts are now calling Summer Learning Loss. Camp is full of fun, active learning opportunities that keep children’s brains engaged while school is not in session. Reading is alive and well at summer camp: independent reading, reading directions, reading aloud, and listening to counselors or other campers read aloud. Campers build numeracy too whether they are cooking or calculating probability in archery. Camps bring science to life as it plays a huge part in camp programming from marine science at camps near the ocean and shore to lake, pond and river ecology, from astronomy to biology, and from nature studies to environmental stewardship. Camp programming provides a real life and world context for reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and many other academic pursuits.  Camps reinforce lessons of the school year by allowing and encouraging campers to make connections and build understanding in hands-on ways. Learning at camp is experiential; campers learn by doing.
  2. Independence and Decision-making skills. Teachers appreciate students who can work independently, who know how to ask for help when they need it and who take pride in their own work. Day and overnight camp experiences are designed to build independence and to encourage children to do as much as they possibly can for themselves. Campers walk a little taller as they cross the threshold into a new school year! Successful adulthood requires the ability to make decisions as an individual and as a member of a group. Summer camps give children practice in making small, medium and large decisions of all sorts. Salad bar or sandwich? Pottery or stand-up paddle boarding? When and how to ask for help? Kayaking trip or backpacking? To tell the counselor or not to tell? Hang up the wet towel or wad it up in a backpack? Knowing how to make good decisions for oneself and as a member of the group comes in very handy during the school year.
  3. Social/Emotional Learning. Navigating the social and emotional challenges of the school year can get complicated. Social/emotional development may sound like a soft skill to some, and less important than certain academic skills, given what’s required to succeed in school and after graduation. What’s become increasingly clear, though, is that social/emotional bumps in the road can create roadblocks for academic learning. Camps foster social/emotional competencies and growth that serve children well in the new school year: How to make and keep a friend. Conflict resolution strategies. How to share food and conversation over a meal. Skills for working through a group challenge. How to appropriately express feelings like anger and frustration. Self-advocacy strategies. Patience and other interpersonal skills. How to interact with peers and with children who are older or younger. Making eye contact with adults. Compromising. Chances to interact in person with other children and with adults are plentiful at summer camp—in a day and age where there are fewer and fewer opportunities for face to face interaction in world.  School-based learning is much easier for campers whose social/emotional development has been boosted at summer camp.
New England’s summer camp world is proud to send children back to school empowered and excited after the unique and dynamic learning experiences of summer.
Photo courtesy of Camp Ramsbottom (ACA Accredited), Rehoboth, MA.