Written by camper Tom S. and published in the 2017 winter edition of the Pine Needle.
I volunteer year-round with an organization called Horseability. My love for horses began at Horseability when I was a toddler recovering from a birth injury. My success in traditional physical and occupational therapy was slow and difficult. My parents, looking for something different to help with my strength and mobility, found a program offering hippotherapy. “Hippos” is the Greek word for horse. Hippotherapy translates as therapy with the use of a horse to promote motor planning abilities. It also stimulates the central nervous system and activates weak muscles. Therapy can be done with or without a saddle and is given by a physical or occupational therapist. The goal is to improve the rider’s posture, mobility and balance. The greatest gains in my recovery came from hippotherapy. For the first time, the therapy I needed did not hurt. My therapy horse, Henry, became a beloved teacher and I could not get enough time in hippotherapy.
As I healed, I moved into therapeutic riding (actual horseback riding instruction) and now I am an equestrian and compete on the IEA team for my home barn. I have never forgotten how it feels to be in hippotherapy. It takes a tremendous amount of courage. I work in any capacity needed at Horseability but I am always drawn to hippotherapy sessions. In my role as a sidewalker, I provide both physical and emotional support to the rider. If I am working as a leader, I am guiding the horse through the session.
There are of course many barn chores to be completed. Often my time is spent working in the barn grooming horses and tacking them for their lessons. One of my favorite chores is working when there is a 15-ton hay delivery to the barn. The hay is sent up to the loft on a conveyor belt from a tractor-trailer. The bales are very heavy and we work as a team to catch and stack the hay.
Horseability riders in the therapeutic riding program have the opportunity to showcase their skills in the Long Island Horse Show Series for Riders with Disabilities. I enjoy assisting at their competitions and celebrating their successes.
As soon as I return home from Pine Island in August, I volunteer at Horseability’s week-long camp for individuals with special needs. It’s a great week sharing the joy of horses through equine-centered activities!
I work at Horseability every weekend and during school vacations. My favorite horse in the herd is named Gunther. He’s a chestnut Belgian Draft horse born in 1992. In his past he was a jousting horse. He is a gentle soul and a blessing to everyone at Horseability.
Pine Island’s 115th season was another great one! Our campers earned ranks in their favorite activities and built solid shelters in woodcraft, well-crafted projects in the workshop, and most importantly, a community in which each boy’s participation and energy was needed. They also logged an impressive number of miles on the trails and waterways of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Sixteen boys earned their 50-mile patch, 13 earned their 100-mile patch, 10 earned their 150- and 200-mile patches, 12 earned their 250-mile patch, and 11 boys passed their 250 career mile mark this summer. That’s a lot of miles! It was an incredible summer and we’re grateful to our campers, parents, staff and volunteers for making this season such a success.
The Pine Needle is on its way to mailboxes around the globe. Here’s another preview, this one from the Campers Write section. This was written during the 2013 season by Henry S., a 12-year-old camper.
Most kids go to camp to learn about water skiing, tubing, and other types of activities that include the use of modern technology. Pine Island campers receive something more. We learn about how life used to be by doing more with less. When my friends from home tell me about their experiences from camp, telling them that I spent six weeks living in a tent with no electricity or running water probably won’t sound like much fun. I think the reason people don’t think it sounds fun is that it’s different. When I decided to come to Pine Island, I considered it a leap of faith. I knew that it was either going to be spectacular or mediocre. My risk has paid off, and I am having one of the best times of my life. When I go home and tell my New York City friends of my summer hiking mountains, learning to kayak and sail, and making so many new friends, I think they might have trouble thinking of a comeback. Pine Island gives kids the fun that they want and also something that they don’t always realize. Pine Island makes kids better people in the long run. Pine Island has made me a better person!
Here’s another one of our favorite pieces from The Pine Needle. A poem by Matt H., Isaac F., Dean R., and Xander S., four of our NYC campers.
In NYC you hear ambulance sirens and car horns. At PIC you hear loons calling on the lake.
In NYC to turn on a light, all you have to do is flip a switch. At PIC to turn on a light, you can’t.
In NYC you ride in cars, busses and the subway. At PIC you ride in canoes, rowboats, kayaks, sailboats, and the K.W.S.
In NYC you can see a show on Broadway, but at PIC you can see a campfire or an SNS.
In NYC there are rats and small dogs. At PIC we have sacred animals.
In NYC you can get organic vegan gluten-free Indian food 24/7. At PIC you can get an apple from the kitchen just about any time.
In NYC you have to find an apartment to live in. At PIC we live in tents, which are bigger than some studio apartments in NYC!
In NYC we listen to Johnny Cash. At PIC we listen to Johnny Credit Card…live!
In NYC we play video games. At PIC we read.