WHOA-TWHBEA Youth Camp 2008
MONTVERDE, Fla. - It was a busy, fun-filled week for the 38 participants, 14 volunteers and four riding instructors attending the 2008 WHOA-TWHBEA Youth Camp held June 10-14 at the Montverde Academy in Montverde, Fla.

The camp, which attracted riders and horse enthusiasts from 7 to 16 years of age, provided almost non-stop entertainment along with interesting and educational equestrian activities. Again this year, the camp attracted many campers from various states including Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Colorado and Utah. For the first time, this camp was sponsored jointly by WHOA and TWHBEA, working together to make a successful and educational experience for the industry’s youth. Several campers from the Florida area had never seen a Tennessee Walking Horse and were able to learn about the breed.

TWHBEA President David Pruett commented, "This camp is truly a testimony to what our industry can accomplish by working together.  I could not be happier with the relationship we have established between WHOA and TWHBEA. Montverde Academy is a true friend of the walking horse and we appreciate all of their efforts to promote our breed."

A new opportunity was offered this year as the Montverde Academy custom coach traveled to Shelbyville, Tenn., to pick up campers and volunteers. The bus made scheduled stops along the way to Florida to pick up campers. This was a great opportunity for the campers and volunteers to get to know one another prior to arriving at camp.

The beautiful Montverde Academy campus was again the setting for the event, and offered wonderful dormitory and cafeteria facilities in addition to its equestrian facility. The Montverde Academy is unique in that it offers the nation’s only all Tennessee Walking Horse facility to its students. There, in addition to being able to learn basic horsemanship skills and take riding lessons, the students are also able to compete on the school’s horse show team and are quite active on the Florida show circuit with the Academy’s horses. For more information on Montverde Academy go to www.montverde.org.

In addition to a wonderful equine facility and setting, this year’s campers were fortunate to be able to learn from some of the industry’s very best youth instructors. Leigh and Paige Bennett of Bowling Green, Ky., Carol Wakefield of Lewisburg, Tenn., Alice Klein of Shelbyville, Tenn., and Sara Womack of Murfreesboro, Tenn., were on hand to instruct the campers.

The campers began their week with a traditional bonfire and cookout, followed by a few rounds of Foxes and Hounds, an action packed game similar to hide and seek, but consists of two teams, the Foxes and the Hounds.  A lot of good-natured rousing from the winning Foxes team made for entertaining camaraderie and fast friendships.

One of the many highlights of the event was a visit to the Florida Carriage Museum in Weirsdale, Fla. There, museum owner Gloria Austin gave personal tours to the group which were highlighted by a short overview of the importance of horses in history, the opportunity to learn about other breeds of horses and a tour of the many historical carriages in her collection. The jewel of the collection is an Austrian Imperial carriage that was used in state and formal occasions by Austria’s ruling family prior to World War I. The carriage was located and personally restored to its original condition by Austin.

Other activities scheduled for the week included visits to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the Florida Carriage Museum and Arabian Nights Dinner Show. Wayne Conkle also provided a performance horse exhibition during the week and gave many campers the opportunity to ride a performance horse for the first time. A Painted Ponies art contest gave the campers a chance to show their artistic talents, and the traditional horse show at camp’s end gave them a chance to practice and show off what they had learned during the week with Tracy Pinson judging the final camp event.

"The camp was a huge success and we are proud of the cooperative steps taken through WHOA and TWHBEA to give these young people not only a fun- filled, horse-oriented experience, but also an educational opportunity. We had 14 volunteers make the trip this year to help with everything from dorm monitor duties to chaperones at the many events attended throughout the week. We could not do these programs and events without the help of volunteers and we thank you!

“WHOA Youth Director Dee Dee Sale worked very hard to make this happen along with TWHBEA Youth Coordinator Paulette Ewing. Montverde Academy once again gave the campers a wonderful experience by providing a fantastic equine facility, horses and housing for the event. Montverde also provided the custom coach that made it possible for even more campers and volunteers to attend. We cannot thank Kasey Kesselring and the Montverde Academy staff enough for everything they do for our industry", said Mark Taylor, WHOA sales and marketing director.