1. How far away from home do you want to go?
You need to talk with your parents about how far they are willing to send you away to camp. Some parents are happy to put their camper on a plane and send her to another state, but your parents may want you to stay close to home. Once you know how far your parents will let you go, you can start looking more closely at camps.
2. How long do you want to go to camp?
It might sound great to go to camp for eight weeks, but are you really ready to spend that much time away from home. How long have you spent away from home? If the longest you’ve been away is a weekend or two you might get homesick. Talk to your parents about how long they think you should go to camp.
Most camps offer stays of one week to eight weeks.
3. What kind of riding do you want to do at camp?
If you’re a western barrel racer, you probably don’t want to go to eventing camp. Decide what kind of riding you want to do, for example: hunter, jumper, eventing, trail riding, or western, and then see which camps offer this kind of riding.
4. How much money do your parents want to spend on camp?
Camp fees vary from camp to camp. Some are more expensive than others. Ask your parents how much they plan to spend on your camp experience and once you have an estimate you can check out how much each camp costs.
5. Where will you stay at camp? Cabin? Tent?
If you’re used to your own room, air-conditioning and a hot shower, you might not be very comfortable at camp if you’re going to be living in a tent and sharing a bathroom with 40 other campers! Before you show up with your suitcase, it’s nice to know what your living arrangements will be like. Some camps have bunkhouses, but others have tents. Some camps may have a bathroom in the bunk house, but others may have a separate building that you’ll have to make a trek in the dark to use.
6. What kind of food will you eat at camp? Are you a veggie?
If you have special dietary needs, you need to find out if the camp can accommodate your diet. Most should be able to, but the camp cook will need to have advance warning so he or she can supply the kitchen with the foods you can eat.
7. How much time will you spend in the saddle at camp?
Most camps offer at least one riding session a day, but some have more. Find out exactly how much time you’ll spend riding when you’re at camp. And find out what kind of riding activities you’ll do each day. Will you go on trail rides? Will you jump every day? Will you be able to school a horse by yourself?
Some camps “give” you a horse for the whole session so it feels like you have your own horse—at least for a week or two! Find out if the camp offers this option.
8. What other activities are offered at the camp?
What will you do at camp when you’re not riding? Are other activities offered at the camp? Most camps have swimming pools or lakes so you can spend time in the water. Some offer art or drama programs. If you want to play tennis or softball when you’re out of the saddle, choose a camp that offers these sports.
9. Is the camp coed?
If you don’t feel like spending your summer surrounded by the opposite sex, then a girls or boys camp is for you. Just remember that if you go to a riding camp, there are usually more girls in a riding program than boys. If you’re a girl and you want a coed camp experience, you should look for a camp that also offers sports that many boys like, for example swimming, baseball, basketball and archery.
10. How experienced are the camp’s riding instructors?
Check out the teaching credentials of the camp’s riding instructors before you book your bunk. Are they experienced riders? Have they taught at a camp before? You don’t want to be taught by someone your own age that spends the entire lesson talking on her cell phone and ignoring you! Camp instructors should be experienced riders who are confident, positive trainers.