Me: “Have you ever been on a horse Dwayne?”
Dwayne: “Nah, but that’s no problem, it’ll be no big deal for me. I can handle that horse. Come on fellas, I’ll show you how it’s done.”
We walked down the hill and across the pasture to the stable. The closer we got to the horse, the more fear I could sense in Dwayne. The horse was suddenly very large and looming in front of him. The group of us suited up and it was now time to get on the horses. Dwayne’s horse shook and whinnied a bit –
Dwayne jumped back: “What is he doing?”
I replied, “He’s greeting you Dwayne, that’s what horses do.”
We got on the horses and slowly began walking out of the barn. Suddenly Dwayne’s horse shook. Dwayne leaped off the horse and was standing on the ground in front of me.
Dwayne: “Did you feel that?”
Me: “Feel what?”
Dwayne: “My horse is going crazy!”
Me: “Your horse had a fly on him and simply shook it off.”
Dwayne: “I don’t know if that’s what it was, but I am not getting back on that thing, and don’t you tell anyone that I jumped off that horse.”
I spent the next 15 minutes calming Dwayne down and talking him through his anxiety. Dwayne was one of our campus “tough guys”. People couldn’t know that the horse got the best of him. Like many of our guys, he grew up in an urban area and really hadn’t had a ‘traditional’ childhood: in fact he had pretty much been taking care of himself for years. Many of our guys are like Dwayne – they haven’t had the experience of being in nature, around animals, “woodland creatures,” and starry night skies. Many don’t have happy memories of their childhood. Camp gives them the chance to overcome a fear, conquer a challenge, create happy new memories and quite simply, to be a kid.
After 15 minutes Dwayne got back up on that horse, and he rode the next day too. When I asked him how he liked it he smiled a little bit and said, “Mr. Rieger, it was ‘awl-right’.” It doesn’t get much better than an ‘awl-right’ from Dwayne. That’s good enough for me.
- $1,000: Sponsors the ENTIRE TRIP for one Bonnie Brae boy to go on the Conscious Kids Summer Expedition for an incredible week
- $500: Helps pay for the weekly rental of a cabin at the campsite
- $150: Helps to provide meals for the week, including roasting marshmallows by the campfire
- $85: Helps to provide horseback riding lessons for one boy for the week
- $30: Purchases fishing supplies, bait and equipment for a Bonnie Brae boy to catch the “Big One!”