A unique children’s camp in Aldergrove has been growing by leaps and bounds and shows no sign of falling by the wayside.
The Loft Country Children’s Horse Camp began on a 20 acre farm in south Otter in 1997 when Trent and Sherry Sulz purchased the property.
However, it was five years ago when the couple began a major outreach and opened its doors to the community, with a summer day camp program. That first year saw 176 youths participate in the equine and farm activities and it has enjoyed burgeoning growth since then.
This coming year the farm is expecting more than a thousand youths to descend on the farm for their spring break and summer holiday programs, and Trent sees a day in the near future when the farm will host 2,000 kids each year.
“We will be maxed out at that point and will have to look at buying a bigger piece of land if we want to continue to grow this number,” said Trent.
The week-long camps run from Mondays to Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with some optional sleepovers for the participants. Each weekly group of 120 to 140 kids get quality time with the horses, as well as enjoy Trent’s falconry displays, and participate in dance, drama and crafts programs. There are also wagons pulled by draft horses, bumper cars and other outdoor activities.
The program is geared to ages seven to 12, although there is one week set aside every summer for the four to six year olds. The program runs for two weeks during spring break and eight to nine weeks during summer holidays.
“We are not a daycare; we are raising our future,” observes Trent, noting that the program emphasizes work, cooperation and mutual respect among the participants, along with the fun and play.
The fee for the week at camp ranges from $250 to $289 for each participant.
As a Christian-based organization, the farm also fundraises to pay all the costs for about one hundred youths who would not otherwise be able to afford to go to the camps. The recent Christmas dinner held in the farm’s large main hall was packed with supporters who raised $27,000 for this cause.
The farm also relies on their “Wranglers” — about 50 youths aged 13 to 18, who meet at the farm every Thursday evening. These youths also volunteer every spring and summer at the camps.
In addition, there is the Youth Leadership Team, about 15 youths who meet every other Saturday. This is the farm’s core group which works on personal development and overcoming adversity among youths at the camps.
“They are dedicated youths who take the work seriously, they are out in the barns at 7 a.m., getting the horses ready and helping make the camps a meaningful part of the kids’ lives,” said Trent.
“The kids smile when they arrive, and cry when they leave.”
For information see website www.loftcountry.com or call 604-607-1387.