Friday August 19th, 2011
Dearest Pony Farm Parents and Friends of the Farm,
I cannot believe how this week has flown by…It seems like you all were just here and we were all looking forward to the week ahead. Now, this is the last full day of summer camp. I simply cannot believe where the time goes. I guess the old adage that “time flies when you are having fun” is really accurate, as we sure have had fun this week with your ‘ladies’.
I have to admit something to you all….Both the staff and I are usually pretty tired by now. This is the eleventh week of either preparing for camp via certification and orientation, or doing camp with all its many moving parts. I have to say that the girls that you dropped off have been so much fun, so good, so smart, so capable, so engaging, so eager, and so energetic in all good ways, that we have had a blast. It is almost like the universe “saved the best for last”. I truly mean this! These kids are simply terrific. They are just plain fun and gung ho for anything.
Becky wrote you on Tuesday…and I will start on Tuesday night as it is such a perfect example of their willingness, team spirit, good soul and work ethic. I was driving home after picking up my dad’s medicine and finalizing my son’s court case after his massive driving accident. I had been gone all day, sadly for me. The sun was working on going down and it was 6:50PM. As I rounded the road coming to the farm from the east, I saw all the lights on in all the barns. I said to myself…”Darn, how could they have been so careless to leave that many lights on for the evening?” Driving up to the barn entrance, what did I behold but every staff person and every single camper down there working their hearts out to clean the barn. I was amazed and moved. I realized that I had told them that morning at the Community Meeting that we had a major donor to the new Touchstone Farm coming on Wednesday. I said how important it was to have this site visit and I hoped they would put on their boots and breeches as he wanted to see them ride and take a farm tour. I also asked that they do a ‘good’ job at barn chore time.
To my heart’s delight, they took this ‘small ask’ and made it into a major project. They worked like giants….the place simply sparkled and gleamed. I was just about speechless, which as you know, is unusual for me! I really was moved to tears to see their proud faces as they showed me “their barns”….The place looked spectacular. With many thanks and LOTS of candy as a reward from the staff, they went up to shower, have dinner and finish out their evening.
The next day dawned bright and beautiful. The visitor came and wow, did the kids’ riding impress him, as did the whole farm. He said “I could eat off the barn floor it is so clean!” This man is a major horse person, so his compliments about YOUR kids were educated and sincere ones. I was proud and delighted that it all went so well, thanks to the spirit and care of your children!!!!
After an extra-long riding lesson in the morning, lunch, and rest hour on Wednesday, the kids were ready to swim, relax and play with the small farm animals. We wanted to make sure all the new kids had their “Pony Farm Swim Test” for sure as swimming with the horses was coming up on Thursday. Needless to say, everyone passed with flying colors. They also really enjoyed the farm animals, all of whom adore the attention and miss kids during the school year.
Wednesday night featured every camp’s version of a Snipe Hunt….with lots of stories and lead up to catching the mythical snipe….Of course, the only way to do this is to have peanut butter all over your face and hands. We even had cages prepared for snipes so that when you got here, your camper could ask permission to bring a snipe home….For those of you who might not know about snipes, you should join us for one of these evenings…it really is a true camp tradition!!!!
Thursday again dawned bright and clear….After Monday’s torrential rains, we sure have enjoyed cool, clear and happy days of good weather. Some of you must have pushed the right buttons above to get us these great days. This was the day to swim with the horses. Enthusiasm was running high…After several years of not being able to swim here on the farm due to blue green algae infestation; we found a new place to swim just down the road. This is a highlight of the week for everyone. We have the system down pat so that it is highly safe for both kids and horses, so it is enjoyable for everyone! The kids had a blast and the horses got clean!
While half the campers went swimming, the other half practiced their ‘Specialties’ for the Parents’ Exhibition on Saturday. They have made good solid progress this week in their riding skills and it is exciting to get ready for you to watch the demos.
Last night, they did an all camp favorite evening activity called “Counselor Quest”. This is a version of Hide and Seek with a flair. The counselors are given a point value depending on how long they have been here. The idea is that the longer you have been here, the better hiding place you know about, thus the harder you are to find. The kids have a blast running freely all over the farm while Kris keeps a watchful eye out for everyone. The camper who gets the most points by racking up the most counselor points wins. Everyone gets into this game!
This was followed by the Ice Cream Trough…a huge long sundae filled with all sorts of toppings, sprinkles and whipped cream. The kids love just chowing down as a reward for all their running and finding counselors in their lairs!
Today is sunny again, with some clouds coming in tonight. They are going to ride to practice again for the exhibition tomorrow. They will also get a jump start on packing, as well as write their Candlelight message. This is a summary of what their camp experience this week or two weeks has meant to them. We will read it either around the Campfire Circle (r inside the lodge by candlelight, depending on the weather. Everyone will have time to shower and change into a nice outfit. After a Turkey Dinner, we will all gather and listen to each camper and staff’s words as a candle is held so she can read by candlelight.
Tomorrow is the day we have to give them back to you! We ask that you arrive between 9:30 and 10AM. We will ask that you gather up all your child/ren’s belongings and put them in your car. We do not want everyone in the barns watching the kids tack up. It is just plain too many people in too small a space. The exhibition will begin at 10 in the various rings. We will guide you to where your child is riding. The demonstration lesson will be narrated by the senior staff while the Counselors-in-Training conduct the lesson. The kids will then move to their Specialties, which are the more exciting jumping and games events. This whole demo will end with the girls feeding their horses and saying good bye to them.
We will then gather on the front lawn and eat all together. Please do bring a picnic for you and your family. We will provide drinks and desserts. This is the perfect time to ask any questions about your daughters’ stay and to chat with all the staff. Then….the sad thing is that we have to say good bye to you for a whole year. Arghhh….
I will end as I began by thanking you for lending us your children for a week or two. What a fantastic group. It has been a pleasure and a privilege. We look forward to staying in touch this coming year and hope you might join us for one of our specialty weekends during the school year. It makes it seem like not such a long time until we see you again.
Thank you again and again for choosing Pony Farm over all the other fantastic opportunities there are in this big wide world. We are delighted to have you as part of our “Farm Family”, and look forward to watching your children grow up. See you at 9:30 tomorrow.