Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Horseback Riding Camp


“Whatever you might have heard from your kids” the camp director started, and AdventureMan and I looked at one another with concern, “it is just rumors. The counselors did not have a big drunken party, and we have the situation under control.”

We hadn’t heard anything. We were there to pick up our son and his best friend from Horseback Riding Camp. They were eight years old and this was their first time away. We had dropped them off a mere week before, at the clean clean little chalet camp in Southern Germany, where they would learn to ride and take care of their horses.

“So, son,” AdventureMan starts with that casual voice grown-ups use with their children when about to launch an interrogation, “tell us about the camp!”

We were driving back, and wanted to get a campers-eye-view of the week. Our eight-year-old son was exhausted and not very talkative; it was only during the following week that most of the details came out.

He hated horseback riding. He hated taking care of horses. The instruction they got was minimal to non-existent. Most days they missed their horse riding lessons because the counselor overslept. The kids got up and got their own breakfast – cereal – until the milk ran out, and then they ate it dry.

Horrors. We had done everything right. We had checked the camp references, had visited and inspected the camp before deciding to send him there, had met the counselors – horrors! In fact, our son enjoyed the week, but mostly because they had a TV, and no supervision. They spent most of the week watching TV.

In the following years, he went to other camps – adventure training camp, karate camps, Space Camp (that was the best organized) and then became a camp counselor himself, teaching karate. Our most graphic memories as parents, however, are of picking him up at horseback riding camp and learning how loosely organized and supervised it was, compared to what the brochure said and the inspection visit promised.

April 25, 2009 - Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Germany, Leadership, Lies, Living Conditions


  1. This is horrifying. We try so hard to do research and protect our children. It’s almost too big of a responsibility. Sigh

    Comment by Q8Dutchie | April 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. Fortunately for us, the greatest harm was negligence in this case – the kids were allowed to do what they wanted, and mostly that was watch television. But you are right – horrifying – and we had done everything right, checked references, visited the camp, met the counselors, saw the daily activity schedule . . . all for naught.

    Problem is, Q8Dutchie, I don’t think this is all that uncommon. I think many summer camps are a little loosely wired . . .

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 27, 2009 | Reply

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