August 2012 newsletter
Throughout my life horses have taken me to places I probably would have never seen like Newmarket England, Colorado State University and Billings, Montana. Showing horses in Georgia has given me an education about Georgia. Thanks to horse shows I know where Tallapoosa, Red Hill, Evans, Edison and Fort Gaines, Georgia are located. Horses have also led me to meet some of the most fascinating people. I’ve also been privileged to enter many spectacular business and facilities all because of horses including farms like Calumet and Lanes End in Lexington, KY, the L'espirit complex in Louisville, KY. Training facilities such as D. Wayne Lukas at Santa Anita, Rohara Arabians and Lasma Arabians. Like many of you I have been in awe of the beauty at Keeneland, The Kentucky Horse Park and Churchill Downs.
Little did I know that we have a growing facility here in middle Georgia that is really trying to make a difference. Just outside of Roberta, Georgia is a well-kept secret called Camp Grace.
Founded by Pastor Dave Pridemore, Camp Grace strives to provide a Christian camping experience for inner city youth that are considered to be “at risk”. Pastor Dave had a vision that if he could show these at risk youth some of what life had to offer outside of the inner city environment that perhaps some of these children could be guided into a better life. Many of these youth live in a world where teenage pregnancy, school drop-out, crime and gang life rates are high. Dave reasoned that if children could experience other activities and build bonds with mentors that they had a higher chance of success navigating these troubled waters they had been born into. It has taken many years and many donors working together but he has built a facility where children can truly experience the joys of camping, fellowship and learn new life skills.
As you approach the farm the bright red roof of the Fort rises above fields of Coastal Bermuda hay growing on the farm. Camp Grace began as a day camp in Atlanta but with the construction of the Roberta facility campers now come for an entire week. The Fort currently has 10 cabins capable of housing 70 campers and counselors. Each cabin has multiple bunks, showers and sinks. Each day campers can receive points for cabin cleanliness that lead to prizes for the winners. Cabins are divided into small groups of boys and girls and a counselor is present with each group 24 hours a day.
Campers range in age from 7 to 12 years. In addition two weeks are available for teens ages 13-16. Many children enjoy the experience so much that they come back year after year. Life at camp is a busy one, with a wake-up call, morning devotional, breakfast and cabin cleaning all done before the “Power Hour” fellowship meeting. Then it’s time for the activities. Campers rotate through the myriad of activities available, such as swimming, the climbing wall, archery, horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, nature walks and of course arts and crafts.
In addition each camper must make a selection for an activity that they will spend 4 days to achieve a selected goal. If they choose horse back riding they must be able to saddle, bridle and ride in 4 days!!!! Lacey Pearce is the Equestrian director; a student at Georgia Southern University she says this is the perfect job for her as she is majoring in occupational therapy. Her class size is limited to 8 campers. She says that most of her campers have never seen a horse, never mind touch, brush and ride.
Other campers may choose music where they
learn to write music and make musical
instruments. Learning to swim, dance,
photography, newscasting, basketball, sewing and outdoor living are also popular. In the outdoor living course campers learn to sustain themselves outside and get to spend the night in the Teepees!
Campers also participate in camp games such as “The Food Fight” and “Storm The Castle”. Each day ends with an evening devotional and a strict "lights out" at 10:30PM.
Colette Kellar is the Camp Director. Colette reports that the camp has plan to expand the Fort to three times its current size. The construction of the gymnasium is going to allow fall and winter camps for indoor activities to begin for a year round camping experience opportunity. A Christmas camp, Fall Festival and Spring Festival are also held. In addition there are opportunities for Father & Son camping as well as Mother & Daughter.
The success rate at Camp Grace has been high. Many campers have come back several times and then came back to become counselors. Like most non-profit companies Camp Grace relies 100% on donations. The swimming pool came as a result of a proud father who was so pleased with the transformation of his unruly daughter that he came and built the swimming pool for future campers. Another proud parent returned to build the amphitheater where pageants and weddings are held. Other donors have contributed building supplies and services.
Equestrians director Lacey Pearce reports that they have plans to expand the horseback riding program but they also need donations. Currently all of her saddles are adult saddles. She needs child-sized saddles for young riders. She could use more horses, tack and fencing. Volunteers are welcome as well.
In addition to expanding the Fort, plans include building a dining hall and finishing the sports pavilion.Colette reports that the website is currently under revision but you can read more about Camp Grace at www.visionatlanta.org. If you would like to see more images from Camp Grace visit our Facebook page by clicking here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about this unique middle Georgia facility. It’s just one of the many ways in which horses can enrich the lives of so many.
Are you doing something unique with horses? Please let me know! We want to share your story.
Well that's all for now, thank you for reading our newsletter.