Horse Show …

The dusty trail from Chicago ..

.. brought us back one more time to the last night of the Horse Show in Fort Atkinson.  

Flip flops and shorts were quickly exchanged for jeans and boots. 

Camp comes to a close ..

Last walk up with a friend ..

It has been one of the hottest June’s on record here in Wisconsin and this week at camp, the girls .. most of them anyway .. didn’t seem to mind.  Other than one day.  They rode in the morning and went to the pool in the afternoon.

“Well,” my daughter tells me on the way home as she is reliving some of the fun that went on this week outside learning better horsemanship .. “some of the girls got really crabby the last couple days.  I think it was just too hot.”

We laughed a little about it, especially since we were at that point, sitting in the air conditioned car.  I looked at the temperature gauge.  99 degrees.  According to the car.

Hugs, introducing parents and taking last day pics ..

Our 11-year-old absolutely loves this camp ..

Showing families all they’ve learned ..

This is only our second year of overnight .. but she’s been fortunate to come for years to the day camp.  There is something about it.  The place.  The people.  The other girls.  Learning something new.  Being close to home but not too close to start to really learn to feel more comfortable in her independence.  Perhaps most importantly, it’s just camp.  Late night chats.  Secret stories.  Running around like crazy.  Freedom of being a kid in a cool place and confidence building in life and social skills.  That experience she’ll remember for a lifetime.  That she’ll perhaps tell her own daughter about.

One last ride for this year anyway, on Quincy ..

She gave a few hugs.  Said many thank you’s.  Bought the standard camp sweatshirt.  Grabbed a Gatorade and we hit the road.  Ran errands.  Then having had enough of the heat all week, grabbed the dog and headed for the River to cool off.

What a beautiful day.

………………..

While she has a few other camps coming up yet this summer, ones that I know she will love in very different ways ..

As we were watching early 4th of July Fireworks from a friends pier on the lake last night and she is leaning on my chest with her arms around me, she says, “Mom, I really miss camp.  I’m worried I won’t be able to go back next year.”

“We’ll see,” I told her.  “If you love it that much and it is important to you, that might be one of the things we’ll make sure you’re able to do.”

She hugged me tighter and said thanks.

Summer camp ..

“She can check in starting at 2pm, and we plan to be there between 2 & 2:15 so she can get a “good” bunk.”
……………..
I met my ex and our daughter at drop-off for camp this past Sunday .. can’t believe we’re halfway through the week already.  
It’s the second year in a row now, we’ve done a week of overnight camp.   She’s wanted to do it for a long time but finally mustered up the courage this past year for her first week away from home.  She didn’t want either of us, her parents, to leave.  But then at pick-up, she .. as you can expect, also didn’t want to come home.
I’m so excited for her, camp was always something I enjoyed so much as
a kid, but never got to do much of.  Went to one track and field FCA camp .. basketball camp a couple times .. but that was pretty much it.  Ever.  I felt pretty lucky I got to go to those that I did.  And very few of our friends ever went either so I thought it was the norm that camp was a pretty big deal.
My (our) daughter on the other hand, has pretty much been in camp non-stop on some level each summer as she’s grown up, because quite honestly it’s been one of the easiest, most reassuring she’s in good hands and economical options for her parents (myself and the ex).  She’s gotten some great experience and had a ton of fun over the years.  Music, sports, water, pure social, acting, art, animals, you name it .. she’s probably been at the camp.  Week after week.  Just about every summer.
But last summer..
She asked to not have to go so much.  And as she’s gotten older, I agree.  There are better ways for us to manage the time involved, the value of and the expense of it all.  Plus, there are only a few camps anymore she really asks to go to .. some she’d like to attend and a few I think would be good for her.  And I want her to be able to have those experiences.  
This week, it’s horse camp.
And .. it’s only the hottest week so far of the year with temperatures soaring into the 90’s for days on end.  I’ve been a bit worried about the girls and the staff this week .. I called to ask a counselor this morning if there might be anything any of the parents can do or bring ..
“No, we should be good,” replied the young woman who answered.    
They will be spending perhaps not as much time on horseback this week and more time on field trips or in a pool or spraying each other with water.  Either way, she told me, they are good and camp will be keeping a close eye on them all.
Whew ..
Can’t wait to see her Saturday.  Hear all about it.  And have some downtime together before ‘Camp Bayfield’ next week, not really camp.  But where we’ll all be together with the Cowboy and his kids and a few friends .. and just have time to play.
…………….
“Did you go to summer camp when you were a kid,” I ask the Cowboy this morning as we chatted quick over the phone.
“No.  Well, we went to rodeo bible camp.  But our camp was going to rodeos every weekend with the family.  That was camp,” he added.
…………….
There truly are so many great values to camps:  Opportunities to learn new things, do good things, meet new friends, earn new responsibilities, grow, change, evolve, be active in ways you wouldn’t otherwise .. I feel blessed to have such great resources in our area to send her to.
However ..
I am just as fired up for her to have more downtime this year.  To not have to go all the time.  To not still believe every child gets to go to different, fun camps all summer long, because many don’t.  It is a luxury not every family can afford or chooses to even if they can.  But it’s a great option.
The other option we’re excited about .. (during her time with mom anyway) will be spent with the neighbor boy and his mother, who is a teacher.  She will be keeping them busy for awhile each morning doing some math and spelling to keep them progressing hopefully as they both head toward their first year of middle school.   That will be part of the day.  The other part will include responsibilities at home, chores around the house and taking care of the animals she so desperately loves and wants to have but truly has no idea how much work they are.  Most importantly she will also have a great opportunity to spend time doing what a lot of other kids do during the summer .. and that is, enjoy some free-time.  Figure out how to not be bored on their own.  Be a kid.  
Chances are .. anyone reading is all grown up by now and knows how quickly camp .. summer .. and being a kid flies by.


Holding onto my thumbs, for now .. (catch up post from the weekend)

I love learning something new each day.  I love getting my hands dirty, getting involved, putting myself in situations that challenge me and make me think about who I really am and what I am capable of or able to do.

But there are also many times where I thoroughly appreciate learning something through the eyes of others and sharing their stories.

……………

The owner of the ranch hosting the Cowboy’s roping clinic had this past Sunday asked if I wanted to ride as they were all roping in the arena, and said it’d be a favor to him if I’d run one of his.

So I did.  A little bit.

And it didn’t take long for the Cowboy to ask a question I knew would be coming.

“Want to chase a steer?” he says to me.

He’s been after me to give roping a try .. which I’d love to.  And I’ve tried my hand at it, very meagerly, on the ground, a few times.

But I’m thinking I need like a year or two, where I can take off of work entirely and do nothing more than rope, to have all that much fun with it.  And more importantly, not injure anyone including myself.

It’s an incredibly acquired skill.  And while I consider myself blessed to be able to pick up most things quite easily…

This is one sport where I’m concerned I might lose a thumb.  (Which isn’t all that uncommon, apparently.)  Get completely tossed and break a limb.  Maim or plow over the steer because I didn’t better ‘steer’ my horse.  Or quite possibly, severely injure the person I would otherwise be roping with.  Like throw the rope around them .. and pull.

That .. would .. be .. bad.

“No thanks,” I replied to the Cowboy kind of chuckling under my breath.

The horse I was on would have loved nothing more than to rope that day, too and he was trying to let me know in no uncertain terms he was ancy to get to work doing what all his buddies were.  All he wanted to do is run.  Fast.  And chase more than the air I was giving him up and down the other side of the arena in-between the guys running the steers.

(All my own horse ever wants to do is walk, maybe trot.  She fights me to get her to lope.  But we’re working on that.  It would help if I would get out to ride her more often.  That’s a whole other story.)

“C’mon,” said the Cowboy.  “Just chase one out, see what it feels like, you don’t have to even have a rope” he added, as he walked me over and into the ‘box’.  I tried backing Roper in, kind of.  Didn’t feel good about it.  And walked him out.

“Not ready for that,” I nervously smiled and said to the Cowboy.  He laughed.

…………….

‘What is it, about roping that has so many people seemingly addicted to it,’ I asked the Cowboy Sunday night after we had both returned home, my daughter was asleep in bed and I had originally sat down to write this.

“It’s competitive,” he replied.  “And it’s kind of addicting.  Rodeo is addicting.  The people, the competition.  The gambling.  It’s like gambling, only you have some control over it.”

He laughed.

“Well, in theory you do.  Have control over it.  You put the money up and you win if you do well.  But you have two horses, two cowboys and one steer.  A lot can go wrong with that.  But if it goes right, it’s great.”

The Cowboy used to practice two to three hours a day .. and have a ranking most others strive for, I believe.

While he’s removed himself the past couple years through life changes from the rodeo circuit for the most part .. and says he doesn’t miss the 10 hour drive to get somewhere, the money it takes on gas and to enter, having to win and knowing if he didn’t the truck payment wouldn’t get made that month ..

He still loves the sport.

And says one of his favorite things now, is helping others learn.

Learn how to get along better with their horse .. how to use their rope better .. how to win more when they do enter.

This past weekend must have been a win for everyone .. because there’s already an invite for next year’s clinic.  Same time .. same place ..

Next clinic:  next weekend in Wisconsin.

(And I’m thinking I might put down the camera long enough to try a little ground work with the rope, get going on that yearlong or lifelong project to learn this sport, myself.)