For parents looking for something different for their child, maybe a horse camp would be right up that alley.
Pyramid Equine, operated by Melanie Aitken just five minutes outside Ponoka, is running some summer camps for kids ages six to 10. While the first camp is already underway this week, there are three more weeks to go — July 27 to 30, Aug 3 to 6 and 17 to 20.
“Each camp runs all day Monday to Thursday and we offer a combination of activities throughout the day with the focus being on horses,” said Aitken about the sold out camps.
The day begins with an Equine Assisted Learning activity, where the children are introduced to a particular skill and develop it by working in pairs on the ground with the horses.
“The obstacles and challenges have been specifically chosen to hit an outcome of skill development, such as relationship building, communication, problem solving, focus, negotiation, and trust. They are learning valuable life skills in a fun and exciting atmosphere while working with horses,” she said.
That’s followed by some time doing crafts and taking part in cooperative games. The afternoon consists of both classroom and beginner riding lessons.
In class, the children learn the basics of horsemanship and caring for horses. In the ring, they develop the skill to ride as well as safely groom and tack up a horse.
For Aitken, this is the first year of offering up a summer camp and she’s excited that it’s happening, as it wasn’t looking that good just a couple of months ago.
“It was looking like camps for kids were not going to be possible this year until the province began to slowly open sectors again and released the announcement that day camps were given approval to offer programs to kids,” she said.
“The response from families in Ponoka and the surrounding area was overwhelming. Our dates filled up quickly as parents were looking for activities for their kids to be a part of.
“It wasn’t just school that was closed last March. So many kids in our community were suddenly no longer a part of their sports, community activities and social events. Physical activity and socialization is so very important to child development and I am happy to be providing a piece of that to kids in our community this summer.”
Aitken, who taught elementary school for 25 years, obtained her Equine Assisted Learning Facilitator certification in Aug. 2019 in order to combine her love for teaching kids and love of horses.
After the summer, she is looking ahead to offering more skill development for kids ages eight to 12 through a program called Building Blocks.
“The curriculum is research-based and developed to encourage self-esteem and self-confidence through hands-on experiences working with horses on the ground without riding,” she said.
The program will run after school, twice a week for four weeks, with the kids working on one objective at a time and then continuing to build upon those skills each week.
To find out more about the programs, head to www.pyramidequine.com.