Summer camps in Belize are aplenty – some hit the beach, some hit the sea, while others hit the jungles of the countryside. But this one camp is centering its activities on horseback riding. The Summer Horse Camp at Banana Bank Lodge and Jungle Horseback Adventures stands out as the only program in the country that has its young participants handling, riding and taking care of horses.
It’s a fun-filled summer camp that is packed with adventure, but at the same time teaches young children how to ride horses, communicate with them, train them and also teaches them responsibilities as they care, clean and saddle their own horse assigned to them throughout the entire camp session.
“Horsing around is allowed,” says Leisa Carr of Banana Bank Lodge who runs the camp and is in full contact with the children throughout the week-long camp. It’s all about the horses and even those who are not experienced riders or familiar with horses find themselves thinking about horses all day long – even dreaming about them.
On ‘Day One’ of camp, everybody is paired with a particular horse and their riding skills assessed. This allows each camper to create a bond with these beautiful animals throughout the camp. Everybody is taught how to tack and saddle their horse and instructions on riding commence immediately. The camp involves horseback riding along the expanse fields of the Banana Bank property and jungle rides, arena instruction (barrel race competition), halter training colts (learning to tie up young horses) and even an exciting night ride under a starry night!!
A highlight of the camp is a Horse Whispering session in which horse expert/trainer John Carr, founder of Banana Bank Lodge, sits with the children and discusses the concept of training and communicating with the animals. The campers in turn use this knowledge on colts, testing their communication skills and patience in handling the young horses.
Besides all the horse playing campers are involved in other activities that include arts and craft, campfires, bird watching and field trips. Activities change every year to keep the camp interesting and inviting for the children. This year the campers visited St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, enjoying the natural jungle trails while they did some bird watching and visited the inland Blue Hole, a natural attraction in the park.
Campers also got the opportunity to study the stars as they got a close up view of the planet Saturn at Banana Bank Lodge’s observatory. The lodge boasts a large mechanized telescope and observatory and each camper got the opportunity to experience a quick lesson in astronomy; a highlight of their campfire experience.
The camp takes about ten children every year in order to assure that each child is given personalized attention and guidance throughout the camp experience. Children from all over the country participated including some from Placencia, Belize City, Blackman Eddy Village and even San Pedro and Caye Caulker. The Horse Camp commenced in 2006 and has been running every year consecutively since 2010. It’s one of Belize’s most exciting camps that teaches children responsibility while they take care of their own horse, while they have all the fun imaginable during other classic summer camp activities, especially interacting with their peers and making new friends.
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