Cowgirl Camp teaches confidence
June 22, 2017
Abbey Arabie and Lindsey England are helping to raise the next generation of confident Grand County women.
The third annual Cowgirl Camp is taking place at Hither's Edge Ranch in Tabernash this week, bringing together girls ages seven-to-fourteen to participate in yoga, arts and crafts and of course horsemanship.
The camp runs Monday-Friday, and is focused on teaching the girls transferrable skillsets that will help them in their everyday lives. 19 girls are attending this year, up from just eight last year.
"They're transferrable life skills," said England, an ex-art teacher who is currently working on her masters in integrated teaching through the arts. "We teach how to be confident, how to be assertive and how to lead. "It's our third year and for the first time we're seeing what it's like to see girls who have been here for a couple years model and teach the younger cowgirls. It's not just us teaching kids. Its them teaching each other."
The camp is the brainchild of Arabie, who felt that her own upbringing lacked some essential skills, especially for those living in Grand County. Her only experience with horses growing up were mounted police units trotting down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, and she was afraid of them.
She decided she needed to learn after meeting her husband, Aaron Samuelson, and her in-laws, Cathy and Richard "Sambo" Samuelson, who own the ranch.
"I had never ridden horses until I met my husband, I was terrified of them," said Arabie. "I had to learn, and Cathy taught me from the ground up. I saw the value in that, and the confidence that it gave me to be an entrepreneur and to do anything that came forth. I knew that girls could use this skill at a much younger age."
Every morning the girls are given a mantra to help them focus on different lessons for the day. For example, Wednesday's mantra: "I am the sky, and everything else is just weather." The focus of the day was understanding that they are in control of their emotions and who they are.
The girls participate in yoga every morning and at the end of every day. They also do art projects and can even learn archery. Horsemanship and outdoor skills are the biggest draw of the camp.
The girls get to work with horses every day, leaning how to properly approach them and ride them bareback. At the end of the week there will be an overnight camp-out where the girls will learn campfire skills and participate in a fashion show.
"I was never raised to chop wood, stack wood, start a fire or any of those skills that are so vital up here in the mountains," said Arabie. "We're using each skill and we're repeating it and teaching it. We've got s'mores, hotdogs and fashion show. But we're not glamping."