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Saddle up for summer fun
Seasonal camps offer learning and adventure
WEB mares feeding young colts
Two mares with colts enjoy an afternoon in the sun at Gravel Hill Farm of Flemington, which will hold horseback riding and horse caretaking camps this summer. - photo by Randy C.Murray

According to YMCA’s website, summer camps help kids stay active, seek adventure and establish independence. The YMCA is not the only organization offering summer camp opportunities, however.

Other local public and private organizations are offering summer camps for Liberty County youth and provide activities that prevent summer boredom with fun ways to learn horseback riding, swimming, weight training and garden-ing.

“We’re offering beginner-to-advance (horseback) riding lessons,” said Alicia Floyd, owner and manager of Gravel Hill Farms, which is offering three riding camps this summer. “A lot of kids never get to ride a horse. Here, they’ll not only get English- or western-style riding lessons, they’ll also learn how to take care of a horse. They’ll even a chance to shovel out a horse’s stall. That might not sound like fun, but if they’ve ever dreamed of owning a horse, our camp is a great way to learn what’s required to take care of one.”

Gravel Hill Farms has 28 horses on its 24-acre ranch in Flemington. Although some of the horses are show horses, Floyd said they have several horses ready for young riders, including a brown gelding called Monster Inc. that has an apparent sweet tooth.

“He’s very docile,” she said as she fed Monster Inc. a Lifesaver. “Our camp is for kids 5 to 18 years old. There’ll be a lot of hands-on learning with the horses to include the types of bits and bridles used. It won’t be boring, though. They’ll even get a chance to feed our two young colts.”

Floyd said the cost for each 3-day camp is $150. According to horse trainer Ivy Owens, that’s an excellent deal for the riding lessons alone.
Camp dates are from 8 a.m.-noon. June 5-7, June 26-28 and July 10-12. For more information about Gravel Hill Farms’ summer camps, call 977-1366 or go to

According to Jimmy Martin of the Liberty County Recreation Department, registration for summer programs starts May 1. He said the programs offered include day camps, swimming lessons, sports camps (i.e.,  golf, tennis, soccer, basketball and disc golf), weight training, aerobics, cheerleading and dance camps.

The Liberty County Recreation Department is on Highway 84 next to the National Guard Armory. Call 876-5359 for cost information about camps or go to

Georgia State Parks is offering three day camps through its Junior Ranger Program at Gen. Coffee State Park near Nicholls, which is about a two-hour drive southwest of Hinesville. This year’s summer camps include:

• Wee Rangers Day Camp for 6- and 7-year-olds is scheduled for 9 a.m.-noon June 4-7. This camp introduces children to outdoor activities, nature games and crafts. Cost is $35 plus $5 for parking. For information, call 912-384-7082.

• Junior Ranger Summer Camp for 8- to 12-year olds is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. June 18-21. Campers can earn Junior Ranger badges, take nature hikes, go fishing and canoeing and make arts and crafts. Cost is $45 plus $5 parking. For more information, call 912-384-7082.

• Heritage Farm Camp for 9- to 14-year-olds is scheduled for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. July 9-12. Kids can learn what farm life was like in the 1800s.

Activities include animal care, candlemaking, soapmaking, gardening and open-hearth cooking. Cost is $45 plus $5 parking. For information, call 912-384-1584.

The Hinesville YMCA will conduct its Camp Cherokee, May 29-Aug. 3. Registration is $35 with weekly fees based on YMCA membership.

Each week offers a new adventure, including sports, swimming, day camps for 5- and 6-year olds and overnight camps for 9- and 10-year olds.

For more information about summer programs at the Hinesville YMCA, call 368-9622.

The above organizations say that summer doesn’t have to be boring, and summertime entertainment doesn’t have to be amusement only.

Summer camps provide children with opportunities to get outside, exercise and participate in fun, learning activities.

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