Durango is back! Frost Valley is incredibly excited that we are running another session of our Boy sleep away camp. This is only our second session, ever! We are lucky enough to have another full cabin! This year Durango are living in a huge cabin. Cabin 16! This is a great place for the boys as they can all see each other from their beds but have their own personal space! When the boys arrived, they unpacked and made a sign for their beds with their names on to make it easier for them to get to know each other. Once everyone had arrived the boys and counselors introduced themselves and told everyone a fun fact about themselves. This helped to break the first meeting ice! We then asked the boys to give us some expectations they would like to live by. This consisted of things like respecting each other and each other’s belongings, being kind to one another. Even down to not touching hair products which seemed very popular! Durango then went to their first meal at Frost Valley, Dinner! In this time they learnt all about how our dining hall works and what options we have for them to eat. From hot food on our main line to soup, fresh salad and fresh fruit. Here at Frost Valley we like to recycle as much as possible so we showed Durango our compost bins for any leftover food so this can be broken down and used in the soil that goes in our gardens! Once dinner was over we went back to the cabin to change into warm clothes, ready for our Opening Camp Fire! Opening camp fire is a time where all of the Wawayanda villages get together. This is normally held on the hill at CIT point but due to some rain this had to be moved into lower Geyer where we used the built in fireplace to have our fire. During opening camp fire, counselors from each village come up to introduce themselves and perform a skit. Durango and their sister village Mustang performed a skit which involved squishing bananas on their heads which the Durango boys found very funny and loved watching their counselors perform. When all the villages had performed the boys headed back to their cabin and was incredibly tired from their long day. After they all changed into their pajamas and was ready for bed, their councelors Marc and Jalles did a daily report with each camper. This is a chance for them to speak to the councelors about what they did and didn’t like about the day and also for them to give ideas of what activities they would like to do within the session. Then the boys fell asleep in anticipation for the next day!

The first morning!
The boys are ready for their first full day at Frost Valley! Every day we have Flag Raising. In this time of reflection we raise the flag and pledge allegiance. Followed by campers birthdays and if anyone is missing teeth! (happens a lot at camp!) We also do words of wisdom and campers can share with the villages something that they like to hear. For example a camper today said “treat others how you wish to be treated”. Then it’s off to breakfast! Today we had biscuits and the boys enjoyed them. Along with all the fruit and yogurt from the salad bars. This helped them gain their energy for water front! Today we had a lot of orientations on how the water front and boating works and what to do when we have a LBD (lost bather drill). Our life guards always practice this drill at the start of the session so the campers understand what to do if a camper was to be missing at the water front. Normally if an LBD is called, it is because a camper has gone to the bathroom without returning their buddy tags. You obtain a buddy tag by initially doing a swim test. This consists of swimming from one end of the blue section to the other and back again without touching the floor or the dock. Once this is completed the campers will be allowed to use canoes and swim in more areas of the lake. After the first swim test the life guards will have the campers tread water in the green section for two minutes and if this is completed, the campers will be allowed to use all boats and swim in all areas of the water front. This also includes the awesome trampoline and slide! We have a huge range of swimming capabilities in Durango as well as the staff that love to splash around in the lake! Once we are all dry and changed Durango met up with their sister village Mustang to practice singing their chants for the Lunch time Hoopla! The Hoopla is where all the villages get to show off their chants to each other and see who can be the loudest. Durango have made up their own song and its also about mangoes! Then its off to rest hour. Some of the boys like to read, some like to make lanyards and some even like to Nap!
On our first day at the barn we have what we call an evaluation ride to determine what level of a rider they are. This is great fun as they get to meet some of the horses and potentially the one they will ride for the whole session. Whilst some are riding, others are doing what we call a Ground Lesson. This is where the campers get to learn all aspects of horses. From grooming, tacking, leading and tying, down to parts of the tack, vet care and much more. We like to give the campers a sense of independence when they are around the horses. They always lead the horses down to the arenas, ride independently and understand what it takes to be a rider. Once we finished up at the barn I got to take the campers on a hay ride! We have a big John Deer Tractor and two huge trailers that we drive down our Neversink trail. Along the way we sand some camp songs and ate snack! After dinner our evening program was Paper Bag skits. This is where we separate the campers into groups and give them a bag of random items. This could be anything from a hat to ice cream scoop. They then have fifteen minutes to come up with a small skit/play to show to the rest of the group. They all get so creative and incredibly funny! But now its time for bed! The campers are tired from our fun filled day! Ready to ride again tomorrow and meet their horses!

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Chantelle Brooks

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