Every barn has rules, and almost every barn I’ve visited has a sign or poster displaying those rules. Camps usually devote some time each session to going over rules. However, rarely do I stop to read anyone’s rules.
But Barb Koster of Barb Koster’s Riding Academy in Southwest Ranches, Florida had a bulletin board of rules that made me want to stand and read every one. I commented on it when I was there. I kept thinking about what a clever idea it really was. Barb had written out each rule and then had the campers draw a picture depicting that rule. Some were pictures of what would happen if you didn’t follow that rule and some were of kids doing as they should.
I am absolutely stealing that idea this year, but I’m going to add a game to it. This is what I am doing for the “Barn Rules Project”
- I’m going to write each rule on a slip of paper and put it in a bowl.
- Each camper draws one out
- Each camper must draw their picture without telling anyone what their rule is.
- Once everyone is done, the kids try to guess from the picture what the rule is.
- Once you have all your precious artwork and appropriate rules written on each picture, put each in a plastic sleeve taped shut to keep out barn dirt.
- Then attach each image to a large bulletin board and display in the barn.
I ran a trial game on a rainy Saturday with three kids who happened to be at the barn. There was an extreme range in age, 8, 12 and 15. They ALL loved it. I put out paper, pencils, a book on cartooning, colored markers and let them make up their own rules. The result was great. It’s even better when the rules are personalized to your own barn, i.e. “Don’t use Dave’s stuff without asking.”
Barb was also thinking of creating a spiral book with copies of the pictures and an explanation of why the rule is so important on the back of each page. “Learning disguised as fun” continues to be the mantra for every successful camp idea.
Try this, whether you run a camp or not, and maybe for the first time ever, you will find people stopping to read “The Rules”.