Children’s summer camps and wilderness programs for boys and girls in the United…

December 15, 2014

Experience Summer Camp in the Wild West

horseback-riding-summer-campsAll across America’s Wild West, soccer moms of the Great Plains and the blustery Northeast become fewer and farther between as rodeo moms fill the competition ring stands. As a NY Times journalist visited Utah this fall and talked to quite a few rodeo parents who firmly assert that “Riding and Wrangling Beat Virtual Adventures.”

Real rewards come in a family sport

Some rodeo families attend up to 50 competitions a year, preparing their kids for the big-time money making opportunities when they can enter the adult divisions. “There were 5-year-olds riding woolly white sheep and fourth graders astride 600-pound bulls, all trying very hard not to fall off…First-place winners, and sometimes [second or third], receive small cash awards. But the real prizes in the Utah league — with titles like “Champion Bull Rider” — come at the end of the season…after a year’s worth of points are added up.” Whether the kids are in it for the title or the thrill, they all share the common joy of the sport and the way of life that accompanies it. Families with kids from 4 to 14 can compete in their own rodeo activities and then spend the rest of the day cheering on their siblings. In this very family-friendly sport, kids often practice together at home, support one another, and travel together all across the West seeking the exhilaration of the rodeo.

Farming and horse camp teaches responsibility

But you don’t have to live in the Wild West to enjoy such an adventurous sport. Horseback riding camps are a great opportunity for those who want to test out their interest. These summer camps create a wonderful opportunity for teaching accountability to teens. Horseback riding camps and other rodeo-related adventure camps often include basic care like feeding, cleaning, and even some grounds maintenance.

In addressing dwindling numbers of rodeo associations, many families acknowledge the appeal of indoor entertainment: “And the lure of the video game — a sport played from a warm couch — can seem far more enticing to a teenager than feeding horses at 5 a.m. at the height of a Wyoming snowstorm.” But, as one parent notes as he watches his granddaughter in a practice ring, “‘Look at the responsibility that the kids learn,’ Mr. Heiner said. ‘ Because guess what: She’s not going to have time to get in any trouble.’” Instead, his granddaughter is dedicating her free time to caring for and practicing with her horse, Jasmine.

Find horseback riding and other adventure camps on

Kids of all ages and in all regions can spend their summers in one of America’s richest and most cherished cultural pastimes. Whether your child is excited about gliding on horseback across the arena, thrilled by the idea of wrestling a 600-pound beast, or charmed by the thought of caring for farm animals, you can peruse for summer camp opportunities.