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Summer camps: Something for everyone

Douglas Malick puckers up with the farm's 3-year-old camel
Douglas Malick, 22, a farm hand at Full Moon Ranch, puckers up with the farm's 3-year-old camel, Alladin. Dennis Grundman/Daily (Buy photo)

2-month old pot bellied pig
Rowdy, is a 2-month old pot bellied pig at Full Moon Ranch in Clarke County. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Jennifer Cossette walks one of her ponies
Jennifer Cossette, owner of Full Moon Ranch, walks one of her ponies at the farm. Cossette has a pony party ride business and summer camp. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Josette Keelor - jkeelor@nvdaily.com

Camps have long been ingrained in children's summer vacations, offering memories of fun in the sun, the chance for children to enjoy their independence and friendships that last a lifetime.

Many options exist, offering everything from sleep-away camps to weekend seminars. From art camp to science camp, something is available for every age and interest.
Horseback riding camps are exciting at any age. Shenandoah River Farm in Toms Brook, Full Moon Ranch in Clarke County, and Iron Horses Ranch in Fort Valley offer various equestrian activities for children.

"I usually do a traditional camp," says Robin Hall, owner of Shenandoah River Farm, which last year offered three summer riding camps. This year she will try something different by offering Summer Riding Day Camps for beginners on June 26 and July 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with 12 spots available in each camp for ages 4-12. Cross Country Schooling will be on July 31 and Judged Trail Riding on Aug. 21, for advanced riders, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Discounts are available for participants who sign up for the first two or second two camps.

Jennifer Cossette, owner of Full Moon Ranch, offers camps mostly for beginners to children with some experience caring for horses and other animals.

"It's basically a three-day camp," she says of her summer arts and riding camps for ages 5-13, which have three sessions throughout July and into August. The focus is on "safety and having fun with animals," she says.

Campers at Iron Horses Ranch will learn about horses, nature and a complete ecological system, says horse trainer Twyla McRay. The day camps are mainly for children interested in farm management or horse management, she says, but she welcomes anyone interested in animals or nature. Speakers will talk about veterinary tasks, prosthetics and animal reproduction.

"We really strive to get whoever has a specialty there," says McRay. "We're gonna try to be really different."

She plans to offer two camps in June, two in July and two in August, and will provide lunches, including vegan meals, if requested.

Much of what she will offer at the camps will depend on what her campers want to learn about.

Motor skills is an option for those who like working on cars.

"We do have a complete garden, too," she says, offering gardening activities as an opportunity for interested campers.

"Whatever they're interested in, we're interested in educating the kids," she says.

Camps at Blandy Experimental Farm at the Virginia State Arboretum in Clarke County also mix education with fun. Bugs, Beetles and Butterflies; Mysteries of Science and Eco-Explorers will keep children outside while teaching them about nature, says Steve Carroll, director of public programs.

For children who like the traditional camp experience of arts and crafts and swimming, participating in a camp at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center in Front Royal or through the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Shenandoah Valley in Winchester might be just the ticket to summer fun.

Avery Born, assistant programming director at the Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center, says that the center specializes in offering camps for ages 9-13, with counselor opportunities for 14-year-olds. The intention in offering camps is to help children find a safe way to have fun throughout the summer so they ultimately can become productive adults.

"[It is] easier to build a child than repair an adult," Born says.

Activities include canoeing, swimming, archery and horsemanship, she says.

Though the 4-H center accommodates 18 counties around Virginia as well as the city of Alexandria, Born says that children planning to attend should come to camp when their county is slated to attend. Frederick and Page counties are scheduled for June 27-July 1, Clarke and Warren counties for July 11-15, Culpeper, Rappahannock and Shenandoah counties for Aug. 1-5.

Other summer camps available at the 4-H center are Cloverbud Weekend Camp, for ages 5-8; Parent/Child Cloverbud Camp, July 23-25; and 4-H Horse Camp, Aug. 8-12.

The Boys and Girls Club of Northern Shenandoah Valley offers its summer camp from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, from June 16 to Aug. 20. A club membership of $25 is required for admission to the camp. Summer camp is $180 for the summer. Activities include field trips, swimming, bowling and arts and crafts.

Local parks and recreation departments also offer programs across the gamut throughout the summer.

At Clarke County Parks and Recreation Department, a variety of fun activities is available through its Specialty Camps, such as Comic Book Camp, Printmaking Camp, Fiction Writing Camp, Things That Fly Fantasy Art Camp, Musical Theatre Camp, Outer Space Camp, Let's Get Cook'in Camp and Pottery Camp, as well as various sports camps. Outdoor adventure camps and overnight trips are available for ages 9-17, and even the little ones can participate with options like Sing, Clap, and Tickle Camp for ages 18-26 months, or Sing and Play Camp for ages 3-5.

Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department's Sailing Camp is new this year, inviting children ages 8-14 to learn to sail on the Potomac River. Other camps, focusing on fitness, dance, theater, swimming, art, gymnastics, sports and horseback riding, will keep children occupied all summer doing what they love.

"We've got quite a list this summer," says Thomas Jones, recreation program supervisor at Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation Department. From pre-school through high school, programs are available for sports like gymnastics, cheerleading, basketball, football, soccer, golf and volleyball, he says.

Waterdays camp will take place at the Edinburg Pool; Lil Tykes, for ages 3-6, will be at W.W. Robinson Elementary in Woodstock; and Multi Sports Camp will be at the recreation center at the old Edinburg School.

Outdoor Adventure Camp includes hiking, climbing and canoeing.

"That's one of our brand new camps that we hope will do well this summer," Jones says. The department tries to have athletic and non-athletic options available each summer, he says.

Winchester Parks and Recreation Department will offer its "No Kid Left Inside" Summer Fun Day Camp, for ages 5-12, June 21-Aug. 20 at Jim Barnett Park. Other day camps throughout the summer cater to ages 3-10, offering activities like Little's Half Day Camp, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun camp and Pirate Adventures.

Most of the programs advertised through Warren County Parks and Recreation Department will take place through Warren County Public Schools. The U.S. Sports Institute Golf Camp will take place through the recreation department. Those interested are asked to learn more at the recreation center.


• Clarke County Parks and Recreation Department
Phone: 955-5140
Address: 225 Al Smith Circle
Berryville, VA 22611
Website: www.clarkecounty.gov/parks

• Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department
Phone: 665-5678
Address: 107 N. Kent St.
Winchester, VA 22601
Website: www.fcprd.net

• Shenandoah County Parks and Recreation Department
Phone: 984-3030
Address: 508 Piccadilly St.
Edinburg, VA 22824
Website: www.shenandoahcountyva.us/parks_new

• Warren County Parks and Recreation Department
Phone: 635-7750
Address: 200 E. Eighth St.
Front Royal, VA 22630
Website: www.warrencountyva.net/parks_and_recreation.asp

• Winchester Parks and Recreation Department
Phone: 662-4946
Address: 1001 East Cork St.
Winchester, VA 22601
Website: www.winchesterva.gov/parks

• Blandy Experimental Farm at Virginia State Arboretum
Phone 837-1758
Address: 400 Blandy Farm Lane
Boyce, VA 22620
Website: www.virginia.edu/blandy

• Boys & Girls Club of Northern Shenandoah Valley
Phone: 723-6665
Address: 598 N. Kent St.
Winchester, VA 22601
Website: www.bgcnsv.com

• Full Moon Ranch
Phone: 955-5636
Address: 1691 Swimley Road
Berryville, VA 22611
Website: www.ponytogo.com

• Iron Horses Ranch
Phone: 933-6269
Address: 1572 Seven Fountains Road
Fort Valley, VA 22652
Website: www.ironhorsesranch.com

• Northern Virginia 4-H Educational Center
Phone: 635-7171
Address: 600 4-H Center Drive
Front Royal, VA 22630
Website: www.nova4h.ext.vt.edu

• Shenandoah River Farm
Phone: 327-9477
Address: 82 Island Ford Lane
Strasburg, VA 22657
Website: www.shenandoahriverfarm.com



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