Cowboy Camp Out weekends are my favorite weekends of the summer; I’m so sad they’re both over! I spend all year getting families signed up, and I do my best to thoroughly explain the weekend and paint a clear picture of what the families should expect. It isn’t until the families arrive, however, that they can fully understand all the fun we have in store for them.
We call it a Cowboy Camp Out not only because we like alliteration, but also because we try to keep the weekend a little “rustic” and unexpected. Upon arrival, each family is welcomed with a Camp Casey swag bag filled with all sorts of goodies to help make the weekend even more exiting. They are then given a key to their very own cabin, and directed to the woods to get settled. The cabins are clean and have all the comforts of home, but they’re tucked deep into the woods, right behind a big bonfire pit, and they really make you feel like you’re “roughing it”. The woods are truly breathtaking, and the sounds of summer are playing with the volume up high. It’s fantastic!
I’d like to tell you about my favorite part of the weekend, but I’m not so sure I can pick just one. I decided I’ll give you my highlight reel!
The first night, we have a bonfire and I finally get to meet all of the wonderful, deserving families for the first time. These are people I’ve talked to over phone, text, and email often for months leading up to our big weekend; it’s always so wonderful to meet them in person and see the excited smiles on their whole family! Also, I really, really like to make (and eat) s’mores 🙂
Next up on the highlight reel is the horseback riding. Saturday morning, those who are interested can sign up for an hour long trail ride through the woods. Not only are the horses beautiful and sweet, but the scenery is positively stunning! The ranch is incredibly remote and quiet; you feel like you’re the only person within miles when you’re riding through the woods on horseback. I clearly love riding and have gotten distracted – oops! My favorite part about horseback riding isn’t the actual riding – it’s the reactions of our Camp Casey families when they’re done! When they leave for the trail ride, they’re usually a little apprehensive and unsure about everything; most come to the ranch with no horse experience, while others are getting back in the saddle after years away.
When they return from the trail ride? They LOVE horseback riding and simply can’t wipe the smiles from their faces! Camp Casey: Mission Accomplished. Yeehaw!
The final slide of my highlight reel is the rodeo. If you know anything about me, you know that it’s rare to find me at a loss for words, but this rodeo leaves me absolutely speechless every. single. time. It’s put on by Buckin’ “E” Rodeo Productions and if you have the opportunity to check them out – take it! While I watch the cowboys and cowgirls wrangle, race, and ride, I can’t help but contemplate a career change; I think I have it in me – I really do!
The best part of the rodeo is when they ask for audience participation and our families have an opportunity to get a little dirty. Molly and I have to stay back to take pictures (of course!), so we’ve never been able to run through the mud and manure to play capture the flag with a herd of calves (it’s safe, promise!). I know what you’re thinking – we’re selfless. Well, we just do whatever we can to look out for our Camp Casey families, even if that means we have to stay clean and take pictures. They can always count on us! 😉
All-in-all, the weekend is always outstanding, and the families are always so kind and grateful. The thank you notes and testimonies we hear after our Cowboy Camp Out weekends are truly what make our job worth doing. The families we serve have a profound impact on each of us here at Camp Casey, and we’re lucky to be a part of some awesome memories with them.
I wouldn’t be the Program Director if I didn’t take this opportunity to say we are currently accepting applications for the 2017 programming season. If you know of a family that could benefit from what we do, please send them to our application for more information.
In health and horses,
Katie Avesian Patterson