I am so excited to be doing my SOS at Naples Equestrian Challenge. This was where I have been volunteering since I was 12. Naples Equestrian Challenge (NEC) is a therapeutic riding stable that provides therapy for over 400 children and adults with various needs per year!!! Every summer NEC puts on summer camps for both special needs and typically developing children. I was a camper here when I was eight years old and it sparked my interest in becoming a volunteer. I have been not only a regular volunteer at NEC but a camp counselor the past six years. This year I am in charge of running the summer camp along with being a volunteer manager for riding lessons and an intern in the office.
Camp does not officially start until June 10th so right now is the planning stages. I have been planning for camp since mid March. This included coming up with a camp counselor handbook outlining all the responsibilities of the counselors, a list of rules for the campers and counselors, a quiz for the counselors to take after our training sessions and arts and crafts ideas. Since coming home from school I have been meeting with one of the staff members that is going to be helping me with camp and we have been brainstorming ideas to make camp a success. Along with learning about horses and getting to ride the campers do arts and crafts, outside activities and learn team work. Right now my main focus is on the arts and craft and outside activities. It seems that every year we do the same games and crafts and this year we wanted to do something different. So I got on Pinterest and started pinning. It is hard to find crafts that children of all age and ability levels can do but there were quite a few I found.
Besides helping with summer camp I am going to be the volunteer coordinator on Monday nights at NEC's regular lessons. This job involves assigning volunteers to riders and horses, checking the riders in and assisting the instructor if they need any help. I have been learning how to do this job from the current volunteer coordinator (who has Monday nights off in the summer). It may seem easy to just assign volunteers to do certain tasks but that's not the case. I have to play matchmaker and make sure the volunteers that I assign work well with the horse or rider. We have ten unique horses with ten different personalities and to ensure the best and safest experience for all matching volunteers with horses is very important.
I will also be interning in the office at NEC. The people in the office are in charge of all the behind the scenes work that makes NEC function. I have been helping out the program manger for the last couple of years and this summer I will continue with that work. I have helped to get information ready for new volunteers, worked to help recruit new volunteers and done lots of filing so far this summer.
My goals for this summer is to continue to make a difference in the lives of children with disabilities. I also want camp to be successful and for everyone to have a fun and safe time. One of the things I am most excited about is to learn more about how NEC works so I can bring new ideas to my service site at school (Hope Reins) to help them in the improvement of their program.