Seymour girls work to keep horse camp going at SpringHill


Mia Prewitt was a different girl after her first year attending the horse camp at SpringHill Camps in Seymour.

Different in a good way.

That was all thanks to a horse named Bud.

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“She came out of her shell,” said her mother, Crystal Prewitt. “There were other girls there that were from all over the place that she came home and talked about. When we picked her up, she was like a completely different kid because she was always so quiet, and she just couldn’t stop talking about the horses and what they did and where they were.”

She was ready to see Bud again.

“All summer long, it’s all we heard about was this horse camp and ‘Mom, can I go next year? Can I get the same horse again?’” Crystal said. “Bud was family. His picture went on the wall. We talked about him every time we started talking about anything.”

Mia’s friend, Macy Casner, has been impacted by horses at the camp, too.

“When I first went, I got my first horse named Julie. She was the nicest horse ever,” Macy said. “Then this year, when I got Blossom, Blossom was different. We had something that you can’t explain. You can never explain something that you have with a horse. You can have a special bond with a horse. You know it when you find the one.”

Before going to this year’s camp in June, however, the two Seymour girls were worried about the future of it.

Macy’s mother, Missy Casner, received an email asking if the girls would still attend camp if the horse program was no longer offered. Macy and Mia were devastated.

“They both love the camp, but especially when it involves the horses,” Missy said.

Both girls then made poster boards promoting the girls-only weeklong horse camp in hopes of increasing attendance.

“The root of the problem the girls see is that people don’t know about the program,” Missy said. “I work for the American Camp Association, and until I used our web tool called to find a horse camp to send Macy to in 2016, I didn’t even know we lived within 20 minutes of this awesome camp.”

This summer was Macy’s third time going to the camp and Mia’s second, and they saw the number of girls decrease.

There were weeklong sessions in June and July, and 83 girls participated, said Emily Anderson, Indiana overnight activities and guest services director. There are separate sessions for girls in grades 4 through 6 and grades 7 through 9.

“We need to have six campers per week per age group — upper elementary and middle school — to run that week of horse camp,” Anderson said. “In order to make our staff ratios work, if we can get more than that involved, then it makes sense to run. If we start getting less than that, then it’s just hard to run a program from a staffing perspective.”

Anderson said the question in the email was asked to gauge interest in the horse program.

“Ultimately, we were trying to make sure, ‘Was this something that still remained central to where we’re trying to go with the organization?’” she said. “I think as long as there is still interest in it and people coming and having life-impacting experiences, which is part of our philosophy, then we want to continue to offer that as we can.”

The first year of the horse camp was 2000.

Natalie Gilbert, a horse wrangler at the camp, said the girls are taught how to ride horses in an arena setting, and they go on trail rides and do ground work, which includes learning how to act and be safe around a horse, grooming and putting on a saddle.

She tries to pair girls with horses that match their skill level.

“I think one of the really cool things about the program in itself is getting to see the girls come year after year and you get to see their confidence grow,” Gilbert said. “Even girls that are first time coming, throughout the week, you get to watch their confidence grow, and that’s something that I think is really unique with the program.”

Gilbert said her life has been impacted by horses, and her parents saw her confidence grow through horses.

“There’s just something beautiful about watching a girl who’s in love with a horse get to just be around horses,” she said. “They love just being around them, but I don’t want the program to just be, ‘Here’s a horse you can pet.’ I want to teach them, ‘Yeah, there’s work that goes into this.’ It’s very satisfying to take care of an animal and have it give you love back.’”

She said horses speak a different language, and sometimes, girls who have been in rough situations can make a breakthrough by interacting with a horse at the camp.

“Yes, I can do so much and I can teach them and do my best to help them learn, but in the end, it’s the horses that are doing the work through kids, whether or not they have had trauma or anything that’s going on,” Gilbert said. “Even if they are just there to have fun with horses, they are always learning something, and they are healing in one way or another. This is why the horse program needs to be here.”

Gilbert said there are other personal benefits for the girls.

“We can speak into the girls that come and provide a Christian environment but also speak into the girls and how we grew up in our faith and help them with their faith,” she said. “And girl to girl just talk about things that maybe they wouldn’t be willing to talk about in a boy-to-girl ratio type of thing.”

The camp costs $799. Discounts and scholarships are available to those who register early.

Missy said she’s on a monthly payment plan for next summer’s camp and is received an early registration discount.

“If you plan ahead, if you start planning now, it’s not this big amount of money,” she said. “Even if it is a big amount of money, you can apply for financial aid. If there’s a will, there’s a way. If a kid wants to go, it shouldn’t be the money that matters. … There are different types of scholarships out there to get people to camp.”

At the end of this year’s camp, Mia and Macy wrote letters to their horses sharing their experience and the impact they made.

It’s clear how much the girls love the horse camp.

“There are so many smiles that come out of all of these kids,” said Macy’s father, Monty Casner. “It’s amazing.”

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SpringHill Camps is at 2221 W. State Road 258, Seymour.

The facility offers summer camps, day camps and youth and group retreats.

The cost is $699 for a classic camp or $799 for a specific camp (horses, water sports, outdoor adventure and paintball).

Scholarships and discounts are available to those who register early. When registering online at, use the promotional code LOCAL25 for an additional 25 percent off of the cost of tuition. That can be combined with other discounts, and it’s limited to the first 25 individual registrations.

Information: 812-497-0008

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“You can never explain something that you have with a horse. You can have a special bond with a horse. You know it when you find the one.”

Macy Casner of Seymour on the impact of attending the horse camp at SpringHill Camps


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