Experienced equestrians and complete beginners can both find a home at the Widji Ranch. Ranch Camp at YMCA Camp Widjiwagan provides campers ages 6-17 the opportunity to experience all aspects of horsemanship, from skills in the saddle to feeding and mucking stalls. Campers not only learn about horses, but about themselves as well.
HELPING KIDS GROW
Camp Builds Strong Kids
A connection with any animal is special, but learning to trust and work with a horse as a partnership is extra special. Ranch Campers are assigned their own horse for the week and together, horse and rider build a relationship built on trust and respect, forming the ultimate connection.
Horses are hard work. Each week, Ranch Campers step up and help take care of their horse by feeding, filling water buckets, cleaning stalls, and learning basic horse care. Ranch Campers spend the week experiencing not only how much fun horses can be, but how much care and responsibility they require.
The first lesson Ranch Campers learn is that communicating with horses is different than communicating with fellow campers. Is the horse tired? Bored? Hungry? Horses use body language and a different set of cues, and it requires campers to listen, to pay attention, and be patient as they learn this new “language.”
There's No Safer Place to Ride a Horse
Safety is our top priority at the Ranch, as well as Widji as a whole. With strict safety procedures in place, Ranch Campers can expand their comfort zone and equine skillset in a safe environment.
Every rider wears an ASTM/SEI certified helmet in proper condition that correctly fits their head. Long pants are recommended and closed-toe tennis shoes or boots with a heel are required at the Ranch.
Before each ride or ground lesson, a proper safety check is performed that checks the horse, rider, and tack.
Safety first starts with knowledgeable staff. Our Equestrian Director is a Certified Horseman’s Association instructor, and all Ranch staff go through a week-long training prior to the start of camp.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Ranch Campers get the best of both worlds; they spend a portion of their day at the Widji Ranch, but still get to take part in traditional camp activities like daily swim time and the Big Game. Time at the Ranch is comprised of two parts.
Note: Ranch activities canceled due to weather may not be rescheduled.
Part of their time at the barn, Ranch Campers have ground lessons to teach horsemanship skills needed outside of the saddle. These are things like properly grooming and tacking a horse, leading a horse, or how to give a horse a bath. Ground lessons also include purely fun activities like paint-a-pony (with animal safe paint) or making horse treats.
Each day, Ranch Campers have a riding lesson with one our riding instructors. All riding levels are welcome, and campers will be paired with a horse that matches their experience level. Lessons are progressive throughout the week, so no matter the riding level, each camper learns new skills during their week at Ranch Camp.
OVERNIGHT RANCH CAMP
Overnight Ranch Campers, like Day Ranch Campers, spend a portion of their week at the Ranch but also participate in traditional camp programing like the swim time, the Big Game, and Beach Party. Both programs have the same amount of scheduled time at the Ranch, but there are differences between the Day and Overnight Ranch Camps.
MORE TIME AT THE BARN
Because Overnight Camp in general has a looser schedule, Ranch Campers tend to spend more time at the barn, even if they don’t have more scheduled ride time than Day Ranch Campers. And, because they’re onsite in the evenings, if a ride time gets rained out due to bad weather, there’s usually an opportunity to make it up later in the week.
Being at camp in the mornings and evenings has its perks. Ranch Campers have the opportunity to do special activities that Day Ranch Campers simply cannot do, like a sunrise trail ride or assisting with evening chores.
For a truly special horse experience, Specialty Ranch Camps are overnight camp programs that have specialty programming unique to just that program. Rodeo Riders get to try roping an (inflatable) bull, Girl Power campers take a shot at mounted archery, and Advanced Ranch Camp might take a trotting trail ride, allowing these campers to have a Ranch Camp experience unlike any other.