Horse therapy camp a unique spin on summer camp

By Hannah Horne - bio | email

BLYTHEWOOD, SC (WIS) - A unique summer camp is happening in Blythewood and it's not in a campground or class room. It's in a barn.

It's called the Girl-Made Summer Camp, a local non-profit led by professional counselor Allyson Bowen.

"From a clinical standpoint, it's been neat to go outside the box and get outside the therapy room and give them a kinetic way of learning," said Bowen.

Believe it or not, activities with horses teach girls teamwork, leadership, confidence, and group dynamics. Much of that comes from a horse's ability to interpret non-verbal communication.

"When they get around people, they not only watch, pick up on emotional states attitudes and beliefs and respond to that," said Bowen. "They mirror the group."

The girls learned how to lead the horses, sometimes without ever saying a word.

"Make sure we are confident because horses can tell if you're nervous and serious about what you want them to do," said Bowen.

Bowen's program uses the activities to translate into real issues for teens, such as low self-esteem, bullying, and abusive relationships.

"We felt like it would be a great way metaphorically to teach girls about some of life's challenges," said Bowen.

Horse therapy is also used for family counseling, corporate team-building, and is being studied for use with military post-traumatic stress disorder patients.

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