From our WOW camp - June 30 to July 3, 2014
Just a short note to thank all of you who came to our camp and who made it so successful. This was our third joint camp with YRAP and every year we get a few more things right. I hope that you enjoyed having two instructors who were paired up and shared teaching as a pair to our three groups. I know that getting the daily schedules to you hopefully the night before will be a goal for next year.
If anyone has suggestions about camp, please forward them to me.
We want to thank Tik Maynard for the Natural Horsemanship Training Demo on Tuesday night. The interaction between horse and trainer and the trust that evolves from that is amazing to watch.
We also enjoyed the riding demo given by Sinead Halpin and Lynn Symansky on young horses narrated by Hannah Sue Burnett. All the kids from both groups were a completely attentive group during this session early on Tuesday AM.
Our HB and C3 prep sessions went well and we never have enough time to cover all that we want to.
I enjoyed our camp so much this year and hope to see all of you next year. Spread the word about how great this camp is to your club members who might not know out it or how much fun it is. Also, spread the word to adults who might want to be a kid at camp again. Our adults had as much fun as the kids.
Cathy Brogan, RS, NJ
A Summary of our 2013 YRAP/Pony Club WOW Camp - July 1-4, 2013 at the HPNJ
by Grace Lutfy, an HB/C2 from the Autumn Ridge Pony Club
The USEA and USPC worked in a joint effort to create the WOW camp and an amazing experience for the WOW camp attendees. The camp included excellent instruction by USEA instructors and USPC instructors, combined organizational efforts between Pony club organizers and the USEA organizers alike, and fun activities for WOW campers to enjoy. As a member of both organizations my sister and I participated in this camp since its inception in 2012 and are looking forward to the third annual WOW camp at the Horse Park New Jersey June 30th thru July 3rd 2014. So the question that seems to be worth asking is what puts the WOW in the WOW Camp and how does the combined efforts of the organizers create such an incredible experience for everyone involved? A short interview with a combination of two instructors from each track (USPC and the USEA YRAP program), the RS from the NJ region, the RIC from the NJ Region and the coordinator for the YRAP program answered a few of my questions on camp.
The organizers involved since the inception that will be planning the 2014 camp are Cathy Brogan USPC RS NJ region, Tricia Lutfy USPC RIC NJ region and Chris Donovan USEA-YRAP Coordinator area II. There were a total of ten instructors at the WOW camp, Sinead Halpin was one of the instructors for the YRAP track of the camp and Tik Maynard was one of the instructors for the PC track of the camp. As anyone knows who has been involved with successful teams in any situation, what I heard from all involved at the camp, and a quote from Tricia Lutfy (the NJ RIC) is, “There is no I in TEAM work! Cooperation is the name of the game in developing any successful program and a camp with multiple groups and disciplines certainly benefitted from this tried and true philosophy. Individually we simply cannot achieve as much as we can collectively so as it is often in life, working together we can achieve amazing things!”
Sinead Halpin, an advanced event rider with a long list of accomplishments that include being a graduate C3 from Palmetto Pony Club in South Carolina was one of the YRAP instructors at camp. Sinead was asked what she thought of the format and facility of the WOW camp? She replied, “ I think the WOW camp is an awesome platform to reach Young Riders that are just starting out and maybe don’t have access to professional help all the time. The WOW camp allows participants to work with multiple trainers over a few days, but more importantly, introduces what hopefully is a continued relationship with good instruction. The facility at the NJHP is super because it can facilitate a large number of clinicians teaching at the same time.” Sinead’s thoughts on organizations working together included, “I think you cannot do this sport alone and developing a network of peers and similar minded people with similar goals makes anything possible.”
Tik Maynard ,a graduate A from Vancouver, B.C. Lower Mainland who had been inducted in the Canadian Pony Club hall of fame, was National champion in Tetrathlon and International champion in the Price Phillip Games with a long active Pony Club life, was a great addition to the teaching staff. Tik pointed out that when combining youth organizations, “Sometimes different groups attract different kinds of riders and families with different skill levels, types of horses, budgets, etc., which can be tough for organizers and coaches.” Tik’s thoughts on key ingredients to developing a young rider included a list of things he feels are important for a rider to have, ”Confidence, not arrogance, a work ethic, a good horse, experience as well as enthusiasm, patience, thoughtfulness, empathy and lastly, a good coach that you believe in!”
The organizers of WOW seemed to work especially hard at bringing together a group of incredibly talented coaches and trainers to give campers the opportunity to be exposed to something broader than they many normally have the chance to experience. One of the highlights of this camp from my perspective is that at any given moment, if a camper wasn’t riding or tending to their horse, they could audit excellent instruction. The philosophy and foundation of all the trainers had a common thread. Sitting ring side right next to any instructor was encouraged, especially if you made yourself useful and brought an instructor a water! One of the best lessons at WOW for me was auditing a lesson with Lynn Symanski, which reinforced an earlier lesson I had mounted with Tik. The consistency in the training was clear even when the delivery of the information varied. Campers may have had a great lesson riding, but often lessons came from what they saw, heard or observed in various lessons at the HPNJ where ten lessons were being taught at any given moment in Dressage, Show Jumping, Cross Country or an unmounted activity.
Sometimes the opportunities for learning were not planned. I asked Sinead about one such situation. Sinead, at WOW camp we were lucky enough to observe you in a training session on Manior de Carneville aka “Tate”, your four star horse and On Cue an up and coming horse that you rode at HPNJ. Many campers felt this reinforced what they learned throughout the camp. Was this planned before you came to camp as a learning opportunity? Sinead explained, “No, this was a last minute addition, but I think visual leaning is hugely important and seeing something in action tends to solidify what you are trying to learn.” Some of the visual learning, however, was planned, such as the inspiring demonstration Tik gave to music in the indoor on Wednesday evening. Tik demonstrated the ground work he does with sport horses and gave goose bumps to the crowd as he worked with a number of horses. When asked how Tik sees the connection of the ground work to the competition horse he replied, “There are a lot little things, but when you think big picture, it is so that horses understand and enjoy learning and can cope and have fun with new things. It also can take your relationship with your horse to an entirely new level.” We are lucky enough to have Tik coming back to WOW camp this year and you can catch Tik again in Kentucky at Festival where he plans to do one of his demonstrations that leave everyone wanting more!
Each year WOW camp continues to improve and grow. The unmounted and educational opportunities will expand again this year with a Horse Management track that will excite everyone. The planning for camp begins the week after camp ends. I asked Tricia Lutfy when planning for WOW camp 2014 began and she replied, “The week after WOW 2013 ended Mrs. Brogan was booking the dates for 2014, it is a year-long process at this point!” I asked Chris Donovan, what in her opinion were the key ingredients to running a successful camp with multiple organizations involved? Chris said, “Ensuring to keep the groups small and adjust to the specific talents of the campers. Simple things like ponies with ponies is important for show jumping, but not XC schooling. Positive attitude, so everyone works together and approaches learning with an open mind. Always being available at camp where people can find you, for me it was in the front of barn B. Hiring instructors you trust to establish the lesson plan for each camper and what works for them, we never dictate instruction.” Tricia Lutfy agreed strongly, “We hire instructors we have full confidence in and we support them at the facility, but we do not manage anything to do with how they want to teach. The best part about WOW camp in my mind are the gifted and generous instructors we have been able to provide to the campers!”
When you combine almost 100 campers, 10 instructors and of course all the horses, there must be challenges, when I asked Chris Donovan what, if any, challenges did the organizers face during the organization of the WOW camp? Chris said, “The largest challenge early on was the concern about being “fair” with the management of funds from the two non-profits. As an organizer, it was critical that I kept my own board focused on their own contributions and our expenses as it relates to camp. Not having a single set of books for camp is a positive solution that both organization’s treasurer were satisfied with and that helps keep it clear. The second largest challenge is scheduling the nearly 100 campers across 10 riding locations for 5 rides in 3 days. Adjusting those ride times as needed when it rains, or instructors request changes. We manage this with a lot of paper, two notice boards, emails, text messages so everyone knows where to be and when.” Tricia Lutfy added, “The schedule being fluid is important, but presents challenges, we are getting better every year and cooperation, patience and communication are the key ingredients that make the system improve. The other aspect is that there is a need for many volunteers and fortunate for us we have been able to rely on that fact that Pony Club families and USEA alike attract especially great volunteers that are willing to step up and help out.”
According to Cathy Brogan, when asked what is the key to a successful camp, her reply was, “To sum up what components to make our WOW camp work well are leaders who work well together, who are open to new ideas, who are always looking to enhancements to make the experience more meaningful for those participating and attention to detail in all areas – from instruction, to stabling, to the food, to safety issues, to crafts, etc.”
The formula of success of WOW camp’s joint effort between organizations seems to be the correct combination of top notch instructors, supportive volunteers, qualified organizers and a balance of structure and chaos that is dynamic enough to facilitate a learning environment where everyone involved seems to have fun. In horses, things always have to remain flexible to keep it enjoyable. It is a credit to everyone involved with the camp at the HPNJ each summer that every camper seems to leave with the memories of a WOW experience.