Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Notes from a Pony Farm Mom, Part 1

Guest blogger and Mom of first-time Pony Farm camper, Leah Lesser writes about what SHE learned from her daughter Victoria's first time at camp.

Leah & Victoria Lesser
Our Pony Farm girl is tucked in, sound asleep in her bed at home, her first night back from Pony Farm. She grew taller and her confidence grew twice as much as her inches gained. She talked non-stop during the sixty mile drive home about her week at Pony Farm. As she shared stories of all kinds, I couldn’t help but make a mental list of the many things she learned. And what I learned too during her very first time away from home.

Here are five things I learned from the Pony Farm experience:

1. Sending your child away for the first time is an amazing growing experience: for your child, and everyone else in the family. For younger siblings left behind, it can be a dream come true to have their parents’ undivided attention while their big sister is away at camp. They can also struggle with missing their side-kick or partner in crime. Expect a bit of an emotional roller coaster with these younger sibs while their sister is at camp, and for days after she returns. While tough to watch and parent through, Pony Farm envy happens for these little ones!

Some ponies are
meant to be shared.
2. Horses are like people—they aren’t perfect. Our daughter is lucky to have a predictable, responsive, eager pony to ride during her weekly lessons and for the occasional horse show. They’ve ridden together for nearly a year. This pony isn’t perfect, but together they make a beautiful pair. This type of bond is extremely difficult to achieve during a one or even a two-week camp experience, even with the loving ponies and staff at Pony Farm.

It’s OK if your daughter doesn’t have an ideal riding experience at camp. The silver lining here is that she gets to experiment with riding a different horse (or horses) and that alone will help increase her confidence as a rider. After my daughter’s horse hurt his leg, other kids let her ride their ponies. Sharing ponies among new camp friends is a joyous thing indeed.

Twin bedroom in the Lodge
3. Small bunk rooms bring girls together. As we were helping our daughter unpack on the first day, I tried not to show my surprise at just how small her room was. Truthfully, I found it very hard to believe that four girls could co-exist for a week in a room that size. But once the duffles and gear were put away, the parents were on their way home, and the girls began the process of settling in, something magical happened. The girls began to forge a friendship that would last the entire week, and likely for years to come. I think some of this is due to the size of the rooms. In a small space, when you all get along, life is much easier and way more fun.

Catching the
"horse bug"
4. The horse bug is hard to shake! A few times during my daughter’s week away I wondered if she would get tired of riding horses and come home to declare that her horse days were over. Fear not. Shortly after we arrived to pick her up she asked when her next riding lesson was. The camp experience not only helped her grow as a person, but as a rider. She can’t wait to get back in the saddle at her lesson barn and use some of the techniques she learned at camp.

Barn chores - BEFORE
5. Responsibility is a beautiful thing. Having the enormous responsibility of catching, feeding, grooming, tacking, riding and loving your horse each day, along with mucking their stall, daily capers, keeping your bunk neat (double extra neat for the ACA visit that happened the week she was at camp!), remembering to brush your teeth, wear your retainer, write a letter home, and shower on occasion – all without mom or dad around to give those friendly reminders – is huge! A lifelong lesson in responsibility enforced amidst the beauty of Pony Farm. Gotta love that.

Phew. We did it. We sent our big girl away for a week without us. She returned the same amazing, joyful, funny, sweet girl that we’ve always known, but with extra doses of happiness, confidence, and pony passion. Thank you Pony Farm staff for welcoming our daughter into this unique and amazing camp family and guiding her through a week of incredible experiences that will stay with her forever!

Thank YOU Leah for entrusting your daughter to us and for writing so beautifully about her camp experience and yours. The Pony Farm camp staff and staff of Touchstone Farm are honored to have girls like your daughter join us every summer. We hope to see you in 2013!

PS: Check back later this week for another from Leah. And if you think your daughter might have the "horse bug" too, bring her to the Open House for Pony Farm on January 6, 2013 at Touchstone Farm. Details are on our website.

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