When you grow up with horses and compete in horse competitions, it takes a special program to impress an elite equestrian.
Kellie Holm is a Girl Scout Senior and is an equestrian enthusiast, horseback riding since she was just 18 months old. Her first horse was a gift from her aunt, and Kellie has been competing ever since. Kellie was so advanced for her age that competitions asked her to move from the youth division to the adult one. The first time she moved up, she took third place, at the ripe age of 7.
So, when Kellie’s mom (and troop leader) came home with information on a destination that was equestrian- focused, Kellie wasn’t instantly sold.
However, Kellie wanted to participate in a Girl Scout destination. She is a well-versed traveler and was looking for a new experience through Girl Scouts, so she decided to go ahead and register for the Happy Trails destination at Camp Misty Mountain in Arumchee, Georgia.
Kellie flew into Atlanta and made the 2 hour trip north with staff from Misty Mountain (a Girl Scout Camp in the Greater Atlanta Council). Upon her arrival she met the 22 other Girl Scouts from all over the country that she would be riding with for the next week.
On the first full day of the destination, the equestrian staff met with each Girl Scout individually to assess their skill level. Naturally, Kellie was the most experienced rider at camp, but she wasn’t alone. This was the first time she had met other Girl Scouts who had the same passion and level of expertise when it came to horses.
“I was little worried it would be like all the other camps for beginners. They were really great about catering it to everybody’s level,” Kellie explained.
The girls were divided into groups for the week, but each group interacted with each other during riding times.
“It was nice to have other girls there who could relate to things about horses! We could have conversations about horses and showing [them] that made sense to each other,” Kellie said.
While there aren’t many things that Kellie hasn’t done with horses, she did have an equestrian “first” while on her destination, she went on a horseback riding overnight!
One evening they packed overnight bags and saddled up their horses for a 2 hour ride out from camp. Her group set up a campsite for the night, tied their horses up in a pasture and they slept under the stars! The next morning they made breakfast and rode the two hours back to camp!
Throughout the week Kellie got to ride and continue practicing her skills. One of her favorite things was seeing other girls, those who don’t have as much equestrian experience as her, work on their own horseback riding skills.
“It was cool to get to see girls enjoying [their first] trail ride and mounting back up from the ground!”
At the end of the week Kellie found herself talking to the staff about returning next year and the possibility of her participating in a Wrangler in Training program!
After such a rewarding experience, Kellie hopes to see more girls travel and explore through Girl Scout destinations.
“Be yourself and talk about the things you like. People aren’t going to judge you there, it’s safe.”
The first round of applications for the destination program are due by November 15! There are over 35 domestic and international travel opportunities for Girl Scouts who are looking to expand their horizons, try something new, or learn more about something they’re already passionate about! See the full list!