Thursday, July 21, 2016

Picking Up Your Camper - Session 3

Pony Farm Summer Camp Picking Up Your Camper
Closing Day of each camp session is exciting and busy and bittersweet. We’ve developed a routine that gets your camper ready to show you what she’s learned as well as packed up to head home with you.
Below is the schedule for the closing Saturday of your camper’s session. All families are excited to see their camper, and for everyone’s enjoyment and safety, we ask that you please follow the schedule as presented.
9:30 – 10:00
The Lodge
Check in at the Lodge with Becky & Boo.
Load your camper’s “stuff” into your car.
(Your camper is already at the barn getting her horse ready. She will be all packed up, and her belongings will be waiting for you at the Lodge.)
Check the posted list to see where your camper will ride during the Riding Exhibition and the location of her Specialty demonstration.
10:00 – 11:00
Riding Rings
Gather around your daughter’s ring and watch her ride while the Senior Riding Counselor explains what she worked on during her stay.
11:00 – 11:45
Riding Rings
Follow your daughter to the Specialty that she chose. This may be driving, vaulting, games, dressage, jumping a course, doing an obstacle course or puissance.
11:45 – 12:00
The Lodge
After her Specialty, your daughter puts away her horse and tack while you return to the Lodge and do any final packing up. On the back porch, you can also find her official camp photo and order prints if you wish.
12:00 – 1:00
Lawn and Porch of the Lodge
We ask that you bring a picnic for yourself and your family to enjoy. We will have drinks and desserts for you at tables on the porch.
During this picnic, Becky will make a brief presentation about camp and the farm. We hope this will be a nice cap on your visit and you learn how vital the mission of the farm is for so many people.
1:00 – 1:30

You can plan to leave by 1:00 – 1:30 – depending on how long it takes your daughter to say goodbye to the staff, her friends, and, of course, her pony!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wading through the Wonders of Pony Farm

“Say Cheese!” It’s Picture Day!!!!!! Today a professional photographer will be wandering the farm in order to capture the true essence of the girls’ time here at camp. He will photograph everything from an individual shot of your daughter riding with her horse/pony all the way up to candid shots of them with their friends. The girls are all very excited for their “photoshoot” and time in the spotlight as they frantically prepared for the day this morning, trying to find the “right” outfit and make sure that their hair looked alright.
Today is a Jam-packed day of fun for the kiddos! Three riding groups are going this morning to swim with the horses, while the other lesson groups have their normal riding lessons. Then this afternoon the groups will switch and the girls who swam in the morning will ride and vice versa.

For the girls that are going to the away horse show tomorrow, their morning will be spent having an awesome lesson with our great equine manager and lesson instructor, Andi; and they will spend their afternoon preparing for the show tomorrow. However their day should be nothing short of amazing either!

Yours Truly

Blogger Bre<3

Monday, July 18, 2016

Session 3 - Hydration Station

It will be yet another hot one today! However the girls are all prepared to have an amazing day, water bottles in hand! Hydration is our mission, and fun is our result:)

This morning the girls in lesson groups one and six will be venturing on a tranquil trail ride, to hone in their riding skills outside of their daily ringwork. The girls are very excited as they will be making a stop at Connolly’s. The other girls in the remaining groups are doing nothing less than awesome though, as some of them are having a stirrup-less lesson or working on new skills in a different ring.

This afternoon the girls are ecstatic as the activities include: a Trip to the Falls, Trail Riding, Catch Riding, and Pampering the Ponies!

And this evening will definitely be a great one as the evening activity is Pony Farm’s Next Top Model, a camp favorite!!!!!!

Signing off,
Guest Blogger Bre

Friday, July 15, 2016

'Twas the Night before the Horse Show

'Twas the Night before the Horse Show

(Written by our guest blogger Bre)

Session Three 2016

    Today the girls have a jam-packed day of fun and preparation ahead of them, as we are nearing the home horse show tomorrow. This morning they all awoke well rested and ready for the day ahead. The lodge had an air of excitement and anticipation for the show on Saturday. For the girls that did not plan on showing there was no absence of purpose or excitement, as their fellow campers and roommates delegated their help in preparing and cheering them on at the show.

    This morning the girls hopped right onto room clean-up and hustled down to the barns to tack up for their lessons to hone in their skills for the show. After riding this morning, the girls with the assistance of their lesson instructors will gather all of their necessary show attire for tomorrow. This afternoon for their activity the girls will be cleaning their tack with the great, one and only... Pony Farm grandmother; Boo! Following tack cleaning the ladies will head out to the back porch of the lodge to polish and shine their show boots. In cessation of these two tasks the girls will be heading down to the pool to cool off from all their hard work.

    This evening's scheduled activity is the horse-less horse show, a Pony Farm favorite for many:) The girls love pretending to be their horse or pony and canter around the ring strutting their stuff!

In preparation for the super exciting and busy day Saturday, the girls will be "hitting the sack" an hour early tonight. We welcome you ALL to come and join us in supporting both our girls and the other local riders at tomorrow's horse show. Festivities will begin at about nine am and continue on throughout the day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

6 Things All Parents Need to Know About Summer Camp

6 Things All Parents Need to Know About Summer Camp

Once school lets out for the summer, kids need some scheduled activities to keep them occupied and maintain their thinking skills. Organized sports and specialty classes are a great place to start, but they’re not that different from what your kid does on a daily basis during the school year. To give your son or daughter a taste of something new, think summer camp.
Old fashioned though it may seem, camp remains as relevant an experience as ever. We recently chatted with Chris Thurber, Ph.D., psychologist and instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, and co-author ofThe Summer Camp Handbook, to learn the ins and outs of why the camp experience is so important and how you can get your child ready. His insight can help you with everything from picking a great program to minimizing the chances of homesickness.

1. It’s a valuable experience

group of children outside looking at a bug they caught in a jar
Kids collecting bugs in a jar | Source: iStock
Not to undermine the importance of the classroom, but having your son or daughter sit in the same setting all summer probably isn’t the best idea. With Thurber’s help, the American Camp Association (ACA) has conducted an extensive amount of research on how summer camp impacts children. “What’s clear is a week or more at a camp that is well-matched to a child’s interests, abilities, and developmental level can accelerate the growth of their self esteem, can accelerate their social skills, and can accelerate their sense of adventure and willingness to try new things,” Thurber said.
According to the research, which involved more than 5,000 families, 70% of parents said camp helped improve their child’s self-confidence and 74% of kids reported the experience encouraged them to try things they first found scary. While these stats hold true for any type of camp, those that involve staying overnight are particularly beneficial.
No one’s going to deny the importance of good parenting in a child’s development, but how he or she acts when you’re not around also matters. “Having some experience with surrogate caregivers is very powerful,” Thurber said. “And overnight camps have four factors you don’t get in combination in any other setting: community living, a beautiful, natural setting, a recreational premise, and it’s expressly away from home.” Thurber went on to explain that these differences make ‘away camp’ a great compliment to the usual academic environment that encourages children to try new things and take healthy risks.

2. Timing matters

father and daughter sit on a dock overlooking a lake
Daughter pointing out something to her father as they sit on a dock | Source: iStock
In terms of deciding when you should start considering sending your son or daughter to camp, every child is a little bit different. That being said, Thurber recommended some general guidelines. “The youngest for day camp might be about 5 years old, kind of the same time you would start kindergarten,” he suggested. “And the youngest for overnight camp of a week or more is probably around 8.”
If you’re interested in giving it a shot, Thurber suggested visiting a few camps with your child the summer before. You can gauge their reaction, which will give you a pretty good indication of whether they feel ready. You can encourage them and try to get them excited, but you never want your kid to feel forced. Thurber said, “If they haven’t shown some sort of intrinsic interest or they’re fearful for whatever reason, then I would say, regardless of the child’s chronological age, the time may not be right.”

3. Finding the right camp takes some research

Couple Looking at Laptop, travel
Couple reading laptop together | Source: iStock
Word of mouth is probably the most common way parents become familiar with programs, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider. Because everyone has different skills and interests, one kid’s ideal camp might be a disaster for someone else. Thurber explained, “It’s not, ‘What’s the best camp in the country?’ It’s, “How can I find the camp that’s best matched for my kid?'”
Though niche camps have become incredibly popular, you shouldn’t rule out opting for something more conventional. “If you had to pick one, I’d go traditional,” Thurber said. “If you can do both and the family can afford it, then great.”
After you do a quick bit of research on available camps in your area, you’ll find there are a staggering number of choices. To find the highest quality options, Thurber recommended looking into the tenure of the camp director, how thoroughly the staff are trained, and whether it’s accredited with the ACA.
The camp directors are great resources as well. You can ask them about the return rate, which gives a pretty clear idea of how well kids like the program. Thurber also said you can utilize a director to connect with campers in your area. “That’s really nice because the director is going to give you the names of satisfied customers, but you can also talk parent to parent, kid to kid and get it straight from the participant’s point of view,” Thurber explained.
After that, you really just need to consider what your child likes to do. Even traditional camps vary in terms of what they offer, so go with something that aligns with his or her favorite types of activities.

4. Preparing for emotional struggles is crucial

happy boy unloading luggage for camp
Boy unloading luggage for camp | Source: iStock
Homesickness is a very real phenomenon, so deal with it ahead of time. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your son or daughter about their uneasiness about spending some time away because it acknowledges that the feeling is normal. Whatever your exact response is, Thurber said it should be “something that expresses positivity, optimism, and confidence in the child’s ability to make it through the whole session.”
You also want to be careful about making any promises to come pick up your child should they get really homesick. “The subtext of that message is ‘I have so little faith in your ability to cope with this normal feeling that I think the only solution would be for me to come and rescue you,'” Thurber explained. Doing so also means your child will be less likely to make an effort to socialize and get involved in activities.
And the end result is bad whether you actually make good on your promise. If you ultimately decide not to come get your son or daughter after saying you will, they’re trust will be broken. And if you do come to get them? “In my opinion, you’re really robbing them of this important developmental experience,” Thurber said.
And don’t forget to acknowledge your own reservations. Thurber said many parents feel uneasy about their child leaving home for the first time. “They need to share that with another adult,” Thurber said. “That could be the other parent or partner. It could be a coworker, it could be a friend, or it could be a neighbor. What you want to avoid at all costs is expressing anxiety or reservations to your child.” Your worries will become your child’s worries, and you don’t want to set them up for a bad experience.

5. The best coping strategies differ for each child

young boy writing a letter or doing his homework
Young boy writing a letter | Source: iStock
Prior to any camp experience, Thurber recommended giving your child some practice time away. For little ones headed to day camp, a few afternoons at a friends house will work. For older kids headed to a sleep-away camp, practice snoozing elsewhere is the way to go. “Have them do an overnight at a friend’s house or a few nights at their grandparents’ house and see how they do,” he suggested.
Though Thurber and his co-author expressly developed The Summer Camp Handbook as a way to minimize the chances of homesickness, there’s no way to guarantee avoiding it. The best way to help your kid overcome homesickness is to arm them with ideas for coping strategies. Some of Thurber’s top choices are speaking with a counselor, focusing on appreciating the things camp offers that home doesn’t, and writing letters. “For most kids, writing a letter is the way they maintain a connection with home,” he said.
More importantly, keep in mind not every strategy works for every kid. If you give your child some ideas, counselors will likely be able to help them find one that works.

6. Packing should be a group effort

happy family of three packign while dad read something on a computer
Happy family of three packing together | Source: iStock
After all the research and mental preparation, getting ready for the big day can still be a little bit overwhelming. Fortunately, most camps provide a comprehensive packing list. “That list was made by people who’ve worked with kids for many summers, so they know what to bring and what not to bring,” Thurber said. They also usually suggest what type of container or luggage you should use.
Though most of us see packing as a day-before activity, it’s better to think a little bit ahead for camp. “Buy the recommended container, keep it in the basement or in your kid’s room, and add to it over the course of several weeks,” Thurber suggested. This makes the process more manageable and also reduces your chances of forgetting something.
No matter how exactly you decide to tackle packing, your son or daughter should be involved in as much of it as possible. According to Thurber, doing it together also helps “kids feel like they have some ownership over the experience.”
On a practical note, label everything you pack. You can either use a waterproof marker or go all out by purchasing a labeler. “If you want to get it back, it has to have your name on it,” Thurber said. Who knows? Maybe that silly pair of labeled underwear will serve as a reminder of the fantastic time your kid had during their first time at camp.
Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec

Monday, July 11, 2016

Meet the Staff Monday - Session 3

Hello wonderful camp families!

While your daughters are settling in at Pony Farm, we thought we'd share a bit about the awesome staff who they are just beginning to meet. Welcome to Meet the Staff Monday!

Becky Sanborn Hawkes – Pony Farm Camp Director
Becky is the Director of Pony Farm Summer Camp.  Becky got married this past Fall to her Mikey.  She enjoys coming to camp with her fur child, Gunner!  In Becky’s down time she enjoys teaching second grade in Wilton.  This will make Becky’s 17th year on the farm!  In her spare time she enjoys reading, swimming, cooking, and hiking!
I have a conviction that a few weeks spent in a well organized summer camp may be of more value educationally than a whole year of formal school work.
-Charles Elliot,  Former President of Harvard University

Camp Leaders

Diana Zoltko, BSN, RN, NCSN
This is my third year as the Pony Farm head nurse. I also work 3 nights a week with the girls by facilitating evening activities. I grew up in Central Maine but I currently live in Wilton, NH with my husband and four children. I have a sophomore in college, a junior in high school, a fourth grader, and a kindergartener! I love reading and board games. I am currently pursuing my Master in Nursing Education.

Hey Everyone! My name is Meg Rothnie and I'll be assisting Becky organizing and running camp this summer!  I started coming to Pony Farm when I was 7 years old and have been very close to the farm ever since (I'm 33 now)! I live in Charleston, South Carolina, but I'll be spending the whole summer at Pony Farm and living in the Homestead! I am in the process of becoming a PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor and I ride and show my horse "Sweet T" down south. My favorite pony at Pony Farm is Maggie, who I used to own when she (and I) were quite a bit younger! But all the horses and ponies are fantastic. I can't wait to meet you all and have a super duper summer!!

Senior Staff

Hi! My name is Eryn, I'm from Amherst, New Hampshire where I live with my older sister, Taylor, my mother, stepfather, my dog, Cooper, and my cat, Winston. I have been riding for thirteen years now. I also enjoy playing volleyball, going on hikes with Cooper, and teaching myself to play the piano. I am a sophomore at the University of New England for occupational therapy. This year I will be a second year senior staff member at Pony Farm! My favorite horse is Charlie and my favorite activity with the horses is to go swimming with them! I can't wait to see everyone again this summer!
Hi! My name is Jillian Campbell, campers usually call me JillI am from Wellesley, MA, and I just graduated from Dana Hall. For the past ten years, I have spent every summer at Pony Farm, both as a camper and as staff. This year I will be senior staff. My favorite pony is Sticky (she was the first horse I rode at camp!) I love to hike, play frisbee, and ski. I am super excited about this year at camp, and can’t wait for the summer to begin!

My name is Lucy Anderson, and this summer will be my eighth year at Camp Pony Farm and first year as senior staff! I am a high school senior and live in the beautiful town of Shelburne, Vermont. I love to spend time training ponies, horse showing, teaching kids to ride, hiking, reading, and hanging out with friends and family! I can't wait to spend this summer having fun with the best staff, campers, and horses in the world

Hi:) my name is Breana Lloyd and I eighteen years old. I have a fifteen year old brother and very supportive parents. I am from a small town in New Hampshire, called Rindge. I graduated this year from Conant Highschool and will be attending New England College in the Fall, as a pre-med major. I love working with kids and horses alike. My favorite horse on the farm is Merle, the mustang. This will be my first year as a member of the senior staff and I look forward to having a blast this summer with y'all.

My name is Becky Ohman! This will be my eighth year at camp, and I’m a member of the Senior Staff. I’m obsessed with every horse on the farm, but our wild mustang Merle holds a special place in my heart. I’m from the suburbs of Boston, but I’m at college in DC right now. When I’m not riding, I love reading, exploring, spending time with my friends, and hanging out at the barn. I can’t wait for an unforgettable summer at my favorite place in the world!

My name is Katie Horblit, I am first year Senior Staff and this is my 5th summer at Pony Farm! I'm from Wellesley, MA and ride at Holly Hill West where I just finished my last year in Junior Equitation. I am a sophomore at UMass Amherst as a double major with Pre Law and Sociology, and spend my summers at home with my Mom, Dad, brother, and three dogs. I can't wait for an exciting summer with our campers!

Counselors in Training (CITS)

Hi my name is Rachel Wasilewski! I live in Newton, MA. I've been coming to Pony Farm for eight years and this will be my second year as a CIT. My favorite ponies on the farm are Duncan (even though he's not a pony he's a donkey) and Twilight. Some of my favorite activities to do during camp are personal scavenger hunt, swimming with the horses, and battle of the boy bands. When I'm not on the farm, you can find spending time with my horse Jameson, playing volleyball, or with my family/friends. Pony Farm is always the highlight of my year, and I hope it brings you as much joy as it brings me!

Hi I'm Morgan Frost! I was a camper at Pony Farm for three years and this is my first year as a CIT.  I was born in Norwalk, Connecticut, and spent 13 years in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Now I live in Palo Alto, California.  I ride every week at Spring Down Farm in Portola Valley.  I can't choose a favorite horse at Pony Farm -- I love them all!  My favorite activity at Pony Farm is carriage driving.  Besides riding horses, I like to act, sing and dance.  Here's a picture of me with my face painted!

Hi my name is Elizabeth Nuss but people call me Liz and I'm from Easton, MA. I'm a second year CIT and this is my third year at the farm. My favorite ponies are Chunk and Merle. Some of my favorite things to do at camp are the ice cream trough and swimming with the horses. Back home I play field hockey for my high school team and run varsity track. I also have two younger sisters, a dog, a cat, two guinea pigs and love hanging out with my friends. (I'm the one on the left!)

Hi, my name is Eliana Sonderling and I’m from Newton, MA. This will be my 2nd year as a CIT, but my 4th summer at Pony Farm. My favorite horse at Pony Farm is Charlie! In my family, I am one of five children and my sister, Aria, also attends Pony Farm. I have two dogs (Eden & Levi Wolf) and one hamster (Geoffrey). My hobby is Girl fit (a girls-only fitness class) and my favorite quotation is said by Hermione Granger in the Prisoner of Azkaban: "Is that really what my hair looks like from the back?”

My name is Abby Morris and I am from Ridgefield, Connecticut. This will be my third summer at Pony Farm and I will be a first year CIT. My favorite horse on the farm is Dillon… although I really do love them all! I enjoy spending time outside and with animals, riding horses, and hanging out with friends. I’m super excited for Pony Farm to start this summer!

Hello my name is Jacqueline, but I would much rather prefer Jackie. This is going to be my 5th summer at Pony Farm. I will also be a second year CIT. I am from Westport, MA! My family is very horse oriented so I have grown up with them my whole life as well as riding my whole life. Although I started properly taking lessons when I was 6. When I'm not riding in my free time I am usually swimming or I am with my friends.