Friday, August 15, 2014

Pony Farm Session 5B - Rocking a Rainy Day

Dear Camp Families,

This is my last blog of the camp season.  It makes me sad to think that Saturday we return your children to you and start sending our visiting horses home. 

People often ask me if I am glad that Pony Farm is over for the year. I am never glad camp is over. When the final session is done, however, I will admit I'm glad the responsibility of camp is over.  I love it, but it is a lot!  (And that is what they call an under statement.)

You might be wondering what your cherubs have been up to this week. We have been busy with riding lessons, camping trips, trips to swim at the falls, catch riding, carriage driving, hanging out with the small animals, and swimming in the pool!

You might also be wondering what we do on a day like Wednesday when it poured all day. I'm happy to report that after 43 years, Pony Farm knows how to make the most of a rainy day.

Campers find out the rainy day plan of attack
 
In the morning we started with tack cleaning. That's a job that comes with the sport of riding, and every rider needs to know how to do it. It's no one's favorite task, but it that makes it kind of a life skill as well!

After tack cleaning, we had a barn competition to get the barns (upper, lower, and outside) spiffed up.  The barn crew who cleaned the best, cleared away the most trash, and returned the most items to the lost and found won ... a whole candy bar.

Now you might think a candy bar isn't much of a reward.  But typically there isn't any candy at Pony Farm. A whole candy bar is a big deal in these parts.  In fact, the competition got pretty steep. Some campers took other team's trash and then were eventually disqualified because they continued to not listen to the rules when they were VERY CLEAR.  (Who knew trash could be so valuable? And that barn cleaning competition turns out to be a life skill, too!)

In the afternoon we played a horse trivia game with five teams of campers. The trivia topic was -- you guessed it -- horses!  (There might have been candy involved in this too!)

The horse trivia board: "I'll take Clydesdales for 500, Alex."

 Wednesday night we played Personal Scavenger Hunt, one of my favorite camp games. We divide the camp into teams.  Then, we ask a trivia question about the farm, horses, maybe pop culture, or the campers might have to sing or dance.  Each team sends one member up to slap the table to answer the question.  The first person to slap the table gets to answer.  We keep score and the team with the most points wins.  In good weather, we play on the back lawn, but it was too wet for that, so we played in the indoor arena. Not as pretty inside, but very dry!

Thursday, we swam with the horses and had lessons, and after dinner had another OAPF event -- Pony Farm's Next Top Model. Today your campers were busy with lessons, and packing, and working on the specialty they'll show you tomorrow.

We will be seeing you all really soon!

Best,

Becky
Co-Director, Pony Farm

PS Did you miss our amazing Session 5B campers taking the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge"?


Friday, August 8, 2014

Pony Farm Session 5A - Eating Chocolate with Socks, and a Dog Worth 200 Points

Dear Camp Families,

If you've followed our daily schedule, you know that we played the Chocolate Game last night.  I often feel like a pit boss during this game.  It is a high energy, fast paced game, similar to what I imagine a casino environment is like.  But instead of dealers calling out, "Changing $100!" I have campers shouting for more chocolate bars!  Does this start to paint the picture for you?
The Chocolate Game moves so fast it's all a blur!

If you wanted to play the Chocolate Game at home, here's how you do it:

Materials:
  • A platter (to put the chocolate bars on)
  • 2 dice (or 3 dice to make the game harder)
  • A fork and a knife (use a spoon instead of a fork if you want to make it more interesting)
  • A pair of sock, preferable clean ones (Dirty ones could put an interesting spin on things.  We always use clean ones.)
  • Hersey's chocolate bars (freeze them to make the game harder.)
Directions:

Players take turns to roll the dice. The first player to roll doubles gets to put the socks on her hands, pick up the fork (or spoon) and the knife, and start cutting up the chocolate bar. She tries to eat as much as she can until the next camper gets doubles.  Then it is her turn to cut up and eat chocolate with socks on her hands. 

The game goes on until you cry for mercy, you run out of chocolate, or you have to roll the children away from the platters. (I envision a scene from  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.)  At Pony Farm, we usually just run out of chocolate.

Gunner: find him & your
team earns 200 points.
But where did he keep
his ticket?
Last night we also played Counselor Quest, a Pony Farm specialty!  It's hide and seek with some twists.

All the counselors, including honorary counselor, Gunner the Black Lab, hide on the farm. Inside the barns and other buildings, and where there are animals, are off limits for hiding. One counselor always stays in the lodge for safety (no hiding!).

Each counselor carries a ticket with her point value on it. When a team of campers finds a counselor, she hands over her ticket. The game is over when a car horn honks obnoxiously for an extend period of time and everyone comes back to the lodge.  The team with the most points wins. 

Counselor Quest is a fun way for campers to learn their way around the farm. It is also really popular with counselors. Even counselors who have the evening off come in just to play. 

Emma the Great with Thunder;
maybe Thunder knows where
she hides during Counselor Quest.
Emma the Great, also known as Emma Milford, one of our long-time counselors, has never been found.  Just saying!

Today - Friday - we had lessons in the morning, afternoon activities, and then tonight we are going camping, having a ship wreck dinner, and playing personal scavenger hunt.

Never a dull moment here at camp!

Best,
Becky
Co-Camp Director (and Gunner's "Mom")

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pony Farm Session 5A - What, Already?!

Dear Camp Families,

It has been a while since I have written.  I do apologize.  I can only make so many excuses for why I haven't written -- but here is my list!
  • Hanging out and getting to know your daughters! (Who are fabulous, by the way. Maybe you already knew that.)
    You know, just hanging out with Jordan
  • Helping out at our home horse show
  • Playing personal scavenger hunt
  • Playing the Chocolate Game
  • Holding community meetings with campers
  • Going swimming
  • Taking pictures of camp activities
  • Playing Counselor Quest (I always get found.  What's with that?)
  • Petting ponies, horses, dogs, goats, sheep, and the donkey
  • Talking to the chickens!

Oh and running a camp. I forgot to put that on my list.

In all seriousness, Session 5 has arrived. It's hard to believe it's come so quickly. Your daughters are a terrific group of girls!  Horse matching, the first order of business, went very well on Monday, with only 4 re-rides in the afternoon.

Heading back to the barn: the only drama is in that sky
 While re-rides happen, the rest of the campers play with small animals and take their swim test.  We have a jam-packed week coming up with a fashion show (the Pony Farm version, of course!), riding lessons, bag skits, Counselor Quest, the ice cream trough, swimming with the horses, carriage driving with Boo, and a whole lot more.

Guess what's the quickest path to a pony's heart?
 So, if you'll excuse me ...

Session 5A has an agenda!
 Best,

Becky
Co-Director, Pony Farm

PS: Speaking of the horse show, check out some photos on Facebook:





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pony Farm Session 4 Has Arrived!

Dear Camp Families,

AHHHHHH - Session 4 has arrived!  This is very exciting news for me, because session 4 is my favorite session.  I know I am not supposed to have favorites, but session 4 wins me over every time. 
 
Why? Well, mainly because by now, camp is operating like clockwork, and our already-great staff, counselors, and CITs are working together in tight-knit teams. It makes a camp director's heart very happy!
 
And if that weren't enough, session 4 also means it's time for our annual trip to Cheshire Fair! Not to mention swimming, riding (of course!), a trip to meet the Budweiser Clydesdales, the horseless horse show (OAPF), and on Saturday, a Touchstone Farm horse show -- with actual horses -- and so much more.

And this is just week 1!
I think I'm not the only one who loves session 4. On Sunday, I saw you all lining up early in your cars for drop-off. After we moved our truck and let you in, I saw campers running to greet one another!  
 
Waiting for camp to open for drop-off
Your girls are doing an amazing job of taking care of each other, the animals and the land.  There hasn't been a drop of homesickness, even the first night!  The campers were sitting and ready to go for our community meeting on Monday morning.  It was like I didn't even have to call it.

If you don't hear from me for a few days, it is because I am out playing at camp!
 
Time to play with Dunkin the donkey, Becky the mini-horse (no relation),
and the other small animals
 Session 4, I am so happy you are here!
 
Best,
Becky

Monday, July 14, 2014

OAPF - Battle of the Boy Bands

Dear Camp Families,

In my last post, I told you we are too busy having fun for me to write. Now I will try to make up a little by explaining another OAPF (Only at Pony Farm) activity.

You might have heard us mention Battle of the Boy Bands. While that's a weird phrase for an all girls riding camp, it is in fact a really fun game, which naturally we made up.

It goes like this ...

1.  We divide the camp into 6 teams based on campers' riding experience, so that each team has a variety of riding experience among teammates. 

2.  Each team comes up with a Boy Band name for their team.  This year's names are Green Day, Maroon 5, Plain White T's, Jackson 5,  NSYNC, and Backstreet Boys. (Sometimes "boy band" is a term we use loosely.)

3.  During their session, Boy Band teams can accrue points for about 10 different events.  These include Personal Scavenger Hunt, a Hunter Pace, Stable Management, Counselor Quest, Capture the Flag, Talent Show, Fashion Show, Gymkhana Games,and  Pony Farm's Next Top Model.

Session 3 Leaderboard for the Battle of the Boy Bands - NSYNC has the edge!


4. Each Boy Band team has a signature item that they wear during an eligible event in the competition. This might be a blue bandanna, a green shirt, a white shirt, a red ribbon tied in their hair, etc

5.  We host a final awards night - with a dance off!  Each Boy Band prepares a song (sung by their Boy Band) and dance for the award ceremony.  We award prizes!

Battle of the Boy Bands: a lot of fun, very silly, and - did I mention? - a lot of fun!

Best,

Becky

PS In case you're curious, Wikipedia defines "boy band" here. Strangely enough, the definition doesn't mention Pony Farm!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pony Farm Session 3 - A True Confession

Dear Camp Families,

True confession...I have been too busy having fun and hanging out with your wonderful children to write.  It is a rough life I lead, I know!

We have been busy and the weather has been amazing. (You really couldn't ask for better weather!)

We have been going on Trail Rides, Personal Scavenger Hunts, Catch Riding, Vaulting, Carriage Driving, Trips to the Falls and more.
Yup, another Shipwreck Dinner! (Remember that?)

The worm - during Personal Scavenger Hunt
(not sure I could explain this if I tried!)
And then there are horse friends and human friends, happy together!

Now do you understand why I haven't written?

Best,

Becky
Co-Camp Director

P.S. Maybe I haven't been writing, but I have been posting lots of photos on Facebook! You can check out the first batch here:


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pony Farm Session 2 - We Have Momentum!

Dear Camp Families,

It is a warm day here in southern NH, and your girls are champs!  They did a beautiful job at our horse show on Saturday! All but two campers decided to show, and the two girls who did not kept busy helping their friends and cheering them on. We had many local riders showing with us well.
Boo expertly braiding Sophie's hair before Saturday's horse show

Ava & Ellie at the show
Sunday, we had fun sleeping in (no morning barn chores!), watching a movie, cleaning rooms and then hanging out at the pool.  We were surrounded by small animals, books, arts and crafts and friends.  The horses always have Sundays off.
Gruffy staying cool on his day off

Monday, we had lessons in the morning.  Choices for afternoon activities were Pair Jumping, Vaulting, Driving, Trail Ride, Swimming at the Falls, or Catch Riding.  The evening activity is Fashion Show, which is like no fashion show you've seen before (OAPF!).
All the ways we're having fun this week!

We have a busy week ahead of us, as you can see from our schedule!  We are camping overnight twice because everybody wants to go!  It is hard to take 28 campers camping at once, so we are going to take two separate trips!

Best,

Becky