Eggs, Spoons, and Challenges

Dear Rain,

I love that you’re filling up the bog and that the lake levels have gone up so the campers can paddle all the lakes and streams, but it’s about time for you to take a break.  The sun and I would like to be friends again.

Love, Bob

It’s nearly the end of boys’ camp and been quite some time since I’ve been able to share my adventure, but it has been a fairly wet one.  The boys have definitely learned that cowboys ride in the rain, along with learning to trot, steer – and even canter and jump for a couple of lucky ones. 

Teach by doing, I always say.

We do this awesome thing called challenges, which mostly involves campers daring their counselors to do ridiculous things for a day or an afternoon.  (Leave it to two of the oldest boys to challenge each other to horse races, and then get me to teach them to canter after their trotting races.)

With an egg on a spoon in your hand, balance takes on a whole new meaning!

Ryan and Dan have been here for almost 3 weeks — one of which was spent in the icy waters of Lake Superior sea kayaking in the Apostle Islands—and they’ve been to horses nearly every day, acquiring their almost all of their beads, which mark what level rider they are and how much they know about the horses.  They’re great boys to have around and pretty darn helpful.  The two of them, along with RJ (another one of the older boys), have dubbed themselves the HLAs, or Horse Lady Assistants.  They come help out when they don’t want to go to other areas (because horses are awesome – naturally).  Sometimes they have even helped teach other campers how to groom and tack up, which I love to see.  The ownership and pride they take in their skills is awesome.

The kids have learned to steer at the trot by playing trotting games such as Postman’s Chase and Egg and Spoon.  Watching egg and spoon is hilarious, and the kids think it’s a blast.  I really like Postman’s Chase because it gets everyone involved in that the kids who aren’t riding get a chance to hold something for their partner to collect and they cheer on the other kids.  Game days are great, especially for the more competitive boys.  The counselors are really funny in them too because they totally get into the competitive spirit.  Some of the guys are trying to find a way to stay on for girls’ camp, so we’ve been getting a few offers—maybe we’ll take one select, top-of-the-line barn hand.

A few more weeks with me and this kid will be a top stable hand!

Along with in-camp stuff, we also send trips out into the wilderness in Outpost to go camping, and I was lucky enough to drive a group of 12 girls to Ontario for a 14 day sea kayaking expedition in Georgian Bay in Lake Huron.  Nine hours to get to our first campsite and then another two to the drop-off point for the girls.  That meant I got to drive a mini bus with a canoe trailer hooked up through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Canada.

It.  Was.  Awesome.

Driving that rig was great, especially since it’s kind of like driving a horse trailer.  (Maybe I’ll get picked to go bring them back too; they’re going to have some awesome stories.)

That’s all from Camp Manito-wish, where the boys are strong, the staff is upbeat, and the horses are mostly well behaved.  Also, it’s still raining.

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