So this is the second year I've organised a wobbleberry camp at the amazing Somerford Park Farm in Cheshire - 80 acre XC training ground, 4 camp stable yards, 4 campers pavilions and about a gazillion arenas to use- the facilities are second to none.
24 people ACTUALLY paid to attend this year's camp- surprising given that last year
one instructor pulled out 2 weeks before
around 25% of campers fell off
the air ambulance had to be called
-and that was my first ever camp - never even been to one never mind organise one!
So 24 campers descended on Somerford for the hottest week-end in the history of the universe - we were forecast 27 degrees - it was HOT!
There'd been lots of anticipation (or is that apprehension ) about camp. Being aimed at Wobbleberries you sort of expect that - and it's fine. Everyone supports everyone else in the Facebook group - so at least people feel confident enough to turn up (which is a good start!)
Friday night arrival is always a bit frantic and fraught - it's a bit of a rush getting horses settled, tents/sleeping arrangements up and ready for the first campers meal. Some campers have never camped, tension is high as people start panicking about the impending lessons. I've always made it clear that we'll support people who are jumping smaller fences (50cm) but I think they still worry that they'll be over fenced - they won't, or that the instructors will push them beyond where they're happy - they won't.
A Friday night ice breaker came out of the feedback from last years camp so I'd prepared a horsey quiz - campers teamed up with their lesson buddies for the quiz and it worked a treat as they were all too busy chatting to listen to my quiz questions!
I pinched my lesson timetable from a super instructor I use who does 3 day clinics - so my wobbly groups do flat first, then grids then xc then sj. That gives them and their horse times to settle without having to worry about jumping! It also gives the instructors an opportunity to judge the level of confidence and capabilities of horse and riders.
It works a treat!
It's SO good I understand that my "A" team were at one point all in tears just because one camper accomplished something she didn't think she would.
And this is the level of camaraderie that you get when you bring together a group of Wobbleberries-everyone supporting everyone else - outstanding.
I could list every camper and make a positive comment about them as they all did absolutely brilliantly but to give you a flavour of what people achieved:
Linsey 'just' wanted to jump a small log xc - she jumped loads- tyres, steps, logs, water She also managed the grid competently - difficult given her horse used to be a racing trotter.
Sarah and her horse had had a bit of a confidence knock - you'd never know - they looked very comfortable whizzing around the xc
Jen didn't throw up!
Grace and Adriana and their horses looked so much more together compared to last year
Julie's horse jumped the fences with ease - apparently she sometimes decides she's not going to jump!
An absolutely petrified Tara jumped the grid competently, having not jumped a grid in 8 years after falling and breaking her back doing grids - there were tears here too.
We do have people jumping 80+ at camp and it's great watching them pop round, but I have to say I get a great deal of pleasure from seeing the less confident riders grow in confidence over such a short period of time. Their sheer delight is just a joy to experience. I feel like a proud camp mum with all my brood achieving.
There are several components that have made this camp exceptional:
These riders came with a will to TRY. No excuses- fabulous.
Our instructors just 'get' Wobbleberries - they're brilliant
But the other big component is the support, connection and positivity in camp-this really helps people realise that other people have similar/other challenges and that they're not alone.
There's been a HUGE buzz on the camp Facebook group after camp with some fabulous pictures. We even got all the berry ponies together for a pic (had to be done!) with Ianberry, Snozzleberry, Mintyberry, HBberry, Cloudberry, Loganberry, Deeberry, Icanberry, Flashberry, Ucanberry & Bucklerberry(who is now missing)
And as if that wasn't enough outstanding achievement a proportion of the camp income is donated to The Wobbleberry Challenge.
If you'd like to find out more about Wobbleberry Camp at Somerford, Cheshire please go to our Facebook group Facebook Camps Central North .I hope to run 3 camps next year, April, June and September.