Many summer camps offer horseback riding as part of their overall programming. The Youth Farm Bible Camp is developing its summer horse program into a year-round ministry.
The camp, situated near Rosthern, already has a full-time, year-round horsemanship director in the person of Cheralyne Gibson. A former camper and wrangler at Youth Farm, Gibson is a certified western riding instructor and is also trained in English riding and jumping techniques. According to the camp’s website, “Her passion is to see lives impacted by horses and transformed by Jesus.”
Currently, Gibson offers riding lessons two days a week at a facility near Hague, Sask., about 20 kilometres south of the camp. But Youth Farm executive director Mark Wurtz would like the program to be based entirely on the Youth Farm campus.
To this end, the camp plans to build an indoor riding arena, pending Mennonite Church Saskatchewan approval. The 1,900-square-metre facility is expected to cost $325,000.
In addition to offering riding lessons, the camp plans to offer a program of equine-assisted learning, through which students with academic or behavioural challenges learn to interact with, and care for, horses.
With equine-assisted learning, says Wurtz, the horse actually teaches the instructor what issues the student is dealing with. Working with horses can help high-risk teenagers mature and overcome inappropriate behaviours.
Wurtz says the camp is expanding its horse program in order to use the camp’s 12 horses to greater capacity.
The camp will be raising awareness of its new program through its First Annual Skijoring Competition and Fun Day. Skijoring is a winter sport in which competitors on skis, snowboards or toboggans are pulled by horses. The event will take place on March 10, beginning at 10 a.m.