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Spotlight: Bully in the Barn camp

This Winter term, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the Bully in the Barn camp. It is the first term-long camp I’ve led by myself, and I wanted to share some of that experience with you all!

The Bully in the Barn program started back in 2013. However, due to staff changes and the development of other camp programs, the Red Barn did not hold Bully in the Barn in 2014 or 2015. It began again with two separate, short sessions this past Fall. I helped in the second session and really enjoyed the kids and the style of the camp. Unfortunately, the staff member who led the Fall sessions was unable to work her schedule out to lead again in the Winter. Joy approached me about filling that role, and I was more than happy to.

We have five kids enrolled in the camp this session. Two of them took riding lessons here this past Fall, but the other three were new to the Barn going into this term. It’s been exciting tailoring lessons to keep both old and new students engaged and to bring them together. Also, I have to give a shout-out to the staff members and intern who have helped plan and run the sessions. Everyone please give Bekah, Elisabeth, JesseRuth, Jordan, and Alex high-fives whenever you see them next!

Each session starts with some sort of short icebreaker activity. We’ve played Big Wind Blows, Charades, and other fun games. After about 15 minutes, we move on to the main activity for the day. The first week we observed herd behavior of the horses, goats, and bunnies. We then compared and contrasted the three different herds and talked about which type of animal we identified with the most. The second week we did approach activities with all three animal groups. We discussed how different each one was, like how the goats happily approach and even jump on people while the bunnies often run or thump to signal that they want space. We then related those responses back to how people may feel differently about others approaching them. Finally, we paired up and did an approach game with our partner and talked about personal space bubbles.

Other activities have included brain game grooming and a five senses (minus taste) game where kids close their eyes and touch, smell, and hear several different objects before opening their eyes and observing a picture. Those two games work on cooperation and perspective, respectively. A few times we finished our activities early and had time for free art, which the kids loved.

I’ve really grown attached to this group of kids. Being in charge and directing the camp has helped me develop a better understanding of each child. I’m much more observant of every little mannerism they display, as I want learn more about them so that I can design each activity in a way that engages all five kids. They’re a diverse and fun group and I’m very glad this ended up being my first bunch of students!