You have planned your summer horse riding camps, have wonderful horses at your disposal, have marketed the camps to the right audiences, and your facility is ready. What else do you need to do to present successful summer horse riding camps?
Louise Bienieki, the Equestrian Center Manager at Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden, Vermont, and Lisa Moosmueller-Terry, Director and Intercollegiate Dressage Association coach at Emory & Henry Equestrian Center in Virginia, offer tips for running a successful summer camp.
Pick the right staff.
Working with kids is not for everyone. “High-energy, happy staff makes for a great experience for the kids,” Bienieki said.
Have a detailed plan.
In the plan include a time schedule for each day of camp, said Moosmueller-Terry.
Have a backup plan.
When the detailed plan goes off course, a backup plan can save the day. For example, Bienieki said, if it’s a rainy day and you don’t have an indoor arena, an equine-themed scavenger hunt can keep campers busy. Similarly, if it’s too hot to ride in the arena, it can be the ideal time to turn the lesson into a hands-on opportunity to learn about bathing a horse.
Keep it challenging and fun.
Safety is always the top priority, but creating activities and lessons that promote advancing the rider’s skills along with fun activities are also important for a long-lasting camp program. “If you do this, you’ll see years of repeat customers,” Bienieki said.
Offer an array of non-mounted activities.
Campers come to learn about riding and improve their skills, but mixing up the program with non-horse activities keeps staff and riders energized and enthusiastic about lessons.
Learn about your riders' goals.
Understanding what your riders want to learn before you give instruction allows you to relate what you are teaching to their individual goals, said Moosmueller-Terry. “This keeps students motivated,” she said.
This series of planning and executing summer riding camps has been brief, but it has given you some basics that you can use to start or expand your program. Winter is the time to start your planning. Know who your audience is for your planned program, understand how to market to that audience, and run a fun and educational program to keep 'em coming back for more!