Ah what’s this? A camp related post yes I think it might be. Please help me. I’m having serious and very real camp blues. I literally never would have thought that camp would have impacted my life so much after one summer but here we are. It’s a different world and I miss it! So to help heel my broken heart, I have a post all about what I got up to in a typical day at camp.
If you’re new to this blog, hi welcome to my questionable life! But I was a horseback counsellor in upstate New York all summer and I loved it! (Have I mentioned that I loved it yet?) I spent my entire summer as ‘Paige horseback’ and that is my name now, Paige HBR.
For just a bit of background, we actually drove to Vermont during our orientation week to a massive ranch where we (three HBR staff and Cowboy Steve) got to try a selection of horses and pick who we wanted to bring to camp! An actual dream, can you even imagine how much this filled the child’s heart inside me?! So I’ll gift you some photos from that time. To be fair, it’s actually kind of difficult to gage what you’re getting in a quick two minute wrecky on a horse but we pressed on. We chose our ten and they were delivered to us a matter of days later. Whilst we had them before the kids arrived, we referred to them all with such terms of endearment aka Buddy, Fiesty, Bitey, Pete, Big Red etc because these beauties weren’t going to be named until the kids arrived but until then, we needed to distinguish who was who. Fun fact, we gave the kids four categories- superheroes, planets/space, drinks and duos which they voted via cheering at line up and superheroes was the category that won. So all our babies were named after such!
Anyway, those pictures I promised..
[HBR staff 2018]
[Your gal trialling soon to be Superman]
[Soon to be Thor]
[Soon to be Spiderman with Thor in the BG and Black Panther’s nose hanging right]
[LR: tail end of Mystique, Thor, Superman, Spiderman, Logan, Tony (Iron Man)]
[LR: Superman, Spiderman, Logan, Tony]
[Flash and Wonder Woman]
Soooooo, a day in the life of Paige HBR (working in the 24hr clock because across the pond that’s not a thing??):
7:12: The cacophony that is my alarm wakes me up
7:12-20: Me rolling out of bed sometime between here and getting a face splash, teeth brushed, dressed situation and then I leave to hike my way up the hill
7:30ish: Team HBR meet at the top of corral hill, get the horses in and fed
8:00: We’re down in the dining hall for junior camp breakfast (literally all other staff bar junior and head staff have breakfast at 8:30 but horses gotta eat u know)
8:30: MORNING LINE UP. When line up finished, I headed off towards the hill
8:45ish: Collect and clean feed buckets, groom and tack up horses for activities
9:30: ACTIVITY 1
10:20: ACTIVITY 2
11:05: MMS (mid morning snack) which was sooo far away for us and we only got it because Tom Mountain Biking would bike the distance and deliver it to all us staff who would never make it back in time for third. Bless you, Tom!
11:10: ACTIVITY 3
12:00: FIRST CAMPER’S CHOICE
13:00: LUNCH LINE UP
13:40ish: REST PERIOD (sometimes we were expected to be with our CAIL bunks but more often than not, I’d be back up at horseback sorting the horses with water and hay- especially after Molly left and we had sooo much to do between the pair of us)
14:35: ACTIVITY 4
15:25: ACTIVITY 5
16:10: AFTERNOON SNACK (Again thank you Tom for biking down and delivering all the goods)
16:25: ACTIVITY 6
17:15: SECOND CAMPER’S CHOICE
18:15: DINNER LINE UP
19:00: THIRD CAMPER’S CHOICE
19:45: SHOWER TIME (My favourite part of the day??? Washing off my daily mud bath thank u horses)
20:30ish: EVENING ACTIVITY (Junior/Middle/Senior divisions were assigned different activities and you’d go with your CAIL kids. So my kids were seniors and I’d join their activity some evenings.) I was told we had to attend two of these a week but if you’re around, they were fun so why not, I went to a few! Failing that, unless you were on duty that night, you’d be free to leave camp with a 1am curfew.
21:15-21:45: CANTEEN (yep let’s give kids sugar before bed???) If you weren’t on duty, Activity Counsellors didn’t have to attend this. As my kids were seniors, they were on the later end of the timetable
22:45: SENIOR LIGHTS OUT idk what the times were for other divisions but this was ours. Again, if I wasn’t on OD, I wasn’t in the kid’s bunk- I’d likely be chilling in the Clounge or off camp that evening *cough* Applebees.
1:00: CURFEW- this was the time we’d have to be back on camp and signed in for. Unless you were on OD- you didn’t have to sign in cos u ain’t leaving and you’d stay in your CAIL bunk until one of the bunk staff got back, then you would go back to your own housing and SLEEEEEEEP.
Activity periods were 45 minutes long and in the first week, all of our kids who came to horseback were riding in the ring. We taught the kids ring work and made them do the basics of walking, stopping, turning, maybe trotting etc. Because we were all new HBR staff, we had never seen the kids ride so that was for our own peace of mind, and equally, if the kids didn’t ride at home, then it was a nice refresher. After that, activity periods were us taking the bunks out on trail rides- the quicker they got up the hill to our activity, the longer a ride we could take them on!
During camper’s choice periods, this was the time where the kids could go to whatever activity they wanted. Generally, we had regulars who would always be with us and occasionally a few new faces. Third was always a popular one because even though we never rode in it, the kids loved helping to feed the horses. That was a period where we’d either get two kids or fifteen! Camper’s choice periods were more specialised- so the kids we had all the time, we did more advance riding such as canter work. Sometimes we’d split if the kids wanted to do separate things and one of us would be on a trail ride and the other teaching in the ring. I dished out a few private lessons for those kids who wanted a more 1-on-1 approach and wanted to learn more about riding rather than just chilling out on the trails. Eventually these became kinda popular and it was more of a 3-on-1 in the ring but hey ho, flatwork is important!! Sidenote: Yeah I’m an eventer through and through but as I’ve gotten older, I looooove flatwork, I’m so sick at schooling. Underrated.
Once a week we would have an extended camper’s choice where it would be an hour and a half (I think) and we basically did the same as any other camper’s choice except trails could be far longer and ring work was a lot more effective for those who wanted it.
We also had to do lunch rides during the week where we took the kids who signed up to the old lake and had lunch there! These were quite good fun although I have never eaten so much bread in all my life. Seriously, I was very much considering hunger strike, and if the rain hadn’t rained off so many of these lunch rides, I 10000% would have skipped lunch. A gal can only eat so many PB&J sandwiches. Lierally, before camp I would eat bread like six times a year if that, and lunch rides were making me go through a loaf a week by MYSELF I swear, madness.
Then in between teaching activities, we would have every other horse related task you can name ie. keeping water buckets topped up (they loved kicking these over yes thank u), haynets, field maintenance etc the list goes on. So when three staff became two, I literally lived up the hill like I was always there because there was always something to do and it was so hot like 30 up every day and the horses needed a constant eye. Plus I loved them! It was a hard graft but at the same time, it was so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, there were days when I thought I’d had enough but there were no bad days just bad moments u know- you put some decent music on and you cracked on!
P.S. I cried so much when the horses left like omg I cried in the morning when I found out what time they were being picked up, I cried when I went up to feed them, I cried when I said my first lot of goodbyes, I cried when a few of our regular kids came up to say goodbye, I cried on my next lot of goodbyes, I cried at lunch, I cried when I said goodbye again, I cried sat waiting for the trailer to collect them, I cried when the trailer got there, I cried when I led my two faves down the hill, I cried whilst the other horses were being loaded, I cried no like I really cried when I handed over Wonder Woman to the man, I cried even more when I handed Logan over, I cried when I turned around to see my final four waiting to be loaded, I cried SO much when the guy said thanks for looking after them, I cried when the trailer door was shut, I cried as I walked around the trailer looking for Logan, I cried when it drove away like I sat on the floor and I cried. I cried all freaking day. (Spoiler, then the kids left the next day and I cried even more and then the day after, all us staff parted ways and I cried a lot then so thanks.)
And just a few snaps cos that’s what we’re all here for!
[Your gal and Superman]
[Spooky Logan pony who was not a fan of water]
[Best buds Superman and Wonder Woman]
[Your fave tour guide and her noble steed]
[Your trail rides led by dumber and dumber omg I miss this pony someone PLS]
[Team HBR ft Cowboy Steve ps look at my wonky sunglasses that definitely did not get jumped on/stepped on/attacked]
[My natural hay-bitat]
[THAT’S MY CO-STAFFFFFFF. Tag team best team]
[Logan and I down the old lake]
[Wow look at my broken boots rip]
[Bareback masterclass led by yours truly and Wonder Woman]
[After dark run checking all the gates were locked, can confirm they were]
[After dark check up, camper favourite, Black Panther]
[A daily struggle dealing with this clean Captain America. Tell me please what is it with horses who have any ounce of grey on their body, constantly being filfthy cos it’s an actual thing]
[After dark with BP and sensible footwear ps the pregancy look down one side of my bod is all the BREAD it’s a bread baby]
[Fan favourite, Thor]
[Post International V USA
soccer football match. Obvs the intl team won and wow don’t I resemble Buzz Lightyear here yes good angle x]
A day in the life.
Peace and love