Vermont camp is more than horses; it’s a new pathBy WILSON RING
The Associated Press | July 14,2014AP PHOTO
Aidan Brown, 7, picks raspberries at a summer camp run by the nonprofit group Unbound Grace in Starksboro.STARKSBORO — The dozen or so kids who get dropped off at Sentinel Farms some mornings during the summer frequently start the day by doing farm chores, but mucking out horse stalls and sweeping the barn eventually leads to riding the horses and, along the way, learning lessons they might not otherwise get.
The four-week camp, run by the nonprofit organization Unbound Grace, will take any child who wants to learn and many are on full scholarship. Some come from families dealing with alcohol or drugs while others have lost parents or friends to suicide and some have been tormented in school, all scars that can last a lifetime. Some of the children are referred to Unbound Grace by counselors, others by their parents.
Coming at a time when Vermont is trying to break the grip of heroin and other opiate drugs, the camp is designed to help children choose a different path for themselves, said camp president Kerry Kurt.
“All our children are doing is using their thumbs to play video games, and there’s a heck of a lot more to learning how to be humane, and one of them is learning how to sweep an aisle appropriately, learning how to clean a stall thoroughly,” Kurt said.
Sometimes boys will come to the camp without ever having used a tool.
“He gets to use a hammer for the first time, a saw, a weed whacker, learn how to use a shovel, but really what this program is about is teaching kids to be in touch with their body as a tool and know how to use other tools,” Kurt said.
The campers can pick raspberries or swim in a nearby river and spend one night sleeping out, new experiences for some of the children who come from backgrounds that could lead them into the world of drugs or despair.
“You just feel so important. You have a place here. I’m here, it’s important that I’m here,” said Emily Lowell, 14, of Starksboro, who attended the camp last week and takes part in after-school programming at the farm that has horses, cattle and chickens.
Eliciting that kind of reaction is the goal of the camp. The organization is also designed to help integrate children with Vermont’s traditional working landscape.
Kurt served three terms in the Vermont legislature in the 1990s. She moved to Colorado for several years, working in prisons and with the homeless. She always planned to return to Vermont to work with children near where she grew up in Charlotte.
The camp is more than just horseback riding, but that’s what the kids remember.
“When the wind whistles gently in your ear and you suddenly have no fear,” said a line in a poem written and recited by 11-year-old Scout Hall. “Oh, when the sun shines down on your face at the horseback camp Unbound Grace.”
MORE IN Vermont NewsThe leader of the Vermont Workers’ Center is taking his fight for higher wages and affordable... Full StoryMONTPELIER — A man seen manning big fishing rods and harpooning huge fish on the reality show... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.