Camp Olympia Summer Camp, Riding Center & Country Day School in Rockville, Maryland
By Celeste McGee
Camp Olympia Summer Camp, Riding Center, and Country Day School was established in 1956 by Stephen and Elizabeth Benedek. Their amazing story is similar to ones we read about in American history books, but those of us lucky enough to know them, get to hear and live through their life stories.
Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Steve was a university professor and also the coach of the Hungarian modern pentathlon team (5 sports: riding, running, swimming, fencing, and pistol shooting) slated to win the Olympic gold medal. Having been a national champion in many of these sports himself, he was the perfect person to coach the team, hence the name of our farm, Camp Olympia. Elizabeth was a member of the Hungarian women’s national basketball team. They seemed to have everything going for them except that their country had been taken over by communism. This meant that in order to continue on the road to success, they would have to join the communist party. Being people of strong beliefs and principles, they refused. On the night before they left their native country, they were told that they would be arrested and executed the next day like many of their friends had been. When they left, they had no idea of what their future would hold for them, if they would ever see their families again, and where they would end up.
Eventually upon arrival in the United States, Stephen got a job at Georgetown University where he was later inducted into their Athletic Hall of Fame. Elizabeth became the Director of Women’s Athletics at Loyola College. While pursuing their careers, they started Camp Olympia, an old fashioned summer sports day camp, riding center, nursery school and kindergarten. They started it based on their beliefs of developing strong physical education skills from a young age through a wide variety of sports. Of course, through Stephen’s love of horses, he developed our year round riding center. He actually claims to have bought a saddle before a horse, and a horse before a car, which shows his priorities!
After 50+ years, Camp Olympia continues to thrive under Stephen’s guidance and teaching. Our riding center is home to 25 horses and ponies with over 150 students, children and adults. We have two outside riding rings, an indoor arena, a beautiful large jumping field, a grass dressage field, two cross country jumping courses, and miles of cross country trails. We have two children’s competitive riding teams. Annually we donate the use of our facility to host a dressage show for the largest dressage organization in our area. In addition, Camp Olympia hosts a CHA certification clinic every June. In July, we participate in a county wide open house farm tour by providing various riding and driving demonstrations every hour. Lastly, we donate the use of our facility for many Hungarian organizations such as the Hungarian Boy Scouts, which is Stephen’s and Elizabeth’s way of staying involved in the Hungarian community.
Camp Olympia has been a proud CHA program member 1992. We initially became CHA certified members due to a change in licensing requirements in the State of Maryland which mandated that all riding instructors in summer camps needed to be certified. We have maintained our membership and continue to be a clinic host site due to our strong beliefs in CHA’s mission, purpose, and dedication to improving the safety of our industry. We feel that we have benefited tremendously through our long standing association with CHA and look forward to our continued partnership in the years ahead! For more information, please visit our web site, www.camp-olympia.com.
Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions
By Tonya Rosie
It is a beautiful sunny day on a mountain top in northwest Pennsylvania and over 100 children have arrived to begin a week of summer camp. Once they are settled into their bunkhouses, the ranchers begin to explore the “old west” town, the veteran ranchers hurrying to their favorite spots such as Critter Corral or carpet ball while the first timers excitedly take it all in. As the week continues, these ranchers will find themselves facing new challenges, playing exciting games, participating in a variety of horse related activities, making new friends, building leadership skills, and developing valuable character qualities. Welcome to Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions!
For forty-six years, Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions (MMRM) has welcomed children of all ages, from all over the country, to this unique location which utilizes horses and a western theme to give its visitors a “mountaintop experience that will last a lifetime.” MMRM was started in 1963 by Dr. Dale Linebaugh as a Christian summer camp which focused on giving kids a great experience with horses, games, and activities while also teaching them valuable character lessons.
Today, MMRM is bigger in size and vision, but still holds to the foundational values Dr. Dale had in mind when he began. One of the aspects of MMRM that sets it apart is its use of horses. With a herd averaging seventy-five head, MMRM is never at a loss for horse related activities, overseen by CHA certified instructors.
During the summer camp season, ranchers are offered a variety of opportunities to spend time on a horse. Trail riding is a popular choice, as over 600 acres of woods, fields and streams beckon riders to explore. Others choose to participate in horsemanship classes where they are instructed in equine care and are taken through CHA levels of riding. Also popular are horse camps such as English Camp, Horsemania, Vaulting Camp, Horse Handlers, and Wilderness Riders, all designed to give riders more time with their equine friends.
Beyond summer camp, MMRM hosts retreats year round. These include Horse Lover’s, Horse Training Clinic, Jr. and Sr. Snow Camp and more as well as two standard CHA clinics. All of these give attendees opportunities to discover a love for riding or to continue in their pursuit of better horsemanship as well as enjoy time away from the busyness of everyday life.
MMRM is also home to the Camp Apprentice Ministry Program (CAMP). This unique program is designed for post-secondary students who want to develop character, learn how to better minister to the needs of others, and build Biblical foundations that will last a lifetime. The students in CAMP are given the opportunity to be a part of the MMRM horse program as they learn lessons in barn management, training, and instructing.
All students participate in the summer camp program as counselors, horsemanship instructors, or maintenance crew members. Since 1981, over two hundred students have graduated from CAMP and have gone on to work in ministry, in summer camping, in the horse industry, or in the corporate world.
Another aspect of MMRM is the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) outreach. The Executive Director of MMRM, Dr. Lew Sterrett, travels the country using horses to illustrate biblical principles and demonstrate loving, successful horse and trainer interaction.
Thousands of people gather at various locations throughout the country every year to be a part of this special presentation and walk away both encouraged and challenged in the ways of horsemanship, leadership, and relationship building. Dr. Sterrett has also begun Leaders by H.E.A.R.T, a seminar series that presents the importance of responsible relationships and leading with integrity in the workplace, on the playing field, in the school ground, in churches, and in the home. Dr. Sterrett is a former CHA President and the 1983 Manual Revision Chairman of the CHA Composite Horsemanship Manual.
As you can see, a lot happens under the umbrella of Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions, but our focus remains instilling character lessons by investing in the lives of individuals through a variety of activities and outreaches. If you would like more information about MMRM please visit our website at www.mmrm.org.
Princeville Ranch Stables, Hanalei, Hawaii
By Roxanne MacDougall
Princeville Ranch Stables is a CHA Accredited trail riding facility which has been in business on Kaua`i’s beautiful North Shore since 1978. It is owned and operated by the Carswell family, who are fifth generation descendents of the first missionary to settle in Hanalei. Princeville Ranch consists of 2,500 acres, which run from the base of lush mountain ranges to dramatic ocean bluffs overlooking Hawaii’s largest reef.
Four unique trail rides are offered:
Waterfall Picnic Ride,• which includes a short, steep hike into a tropical valley where guests picnic and swim at the base of an 80-foot waterfall
Ocean Bluff Ride,• which traverses rich pasture land and offers 360 degree views of ocean and mountains, including Bali Hai, made famous in South Pacific
Cattle Drive Ride,• which is offered every 7-10 days, when the herd of approximately 500 Brangus cattle are moved to their next pasture
Private Ride,• where guests have options to customize their rides with their guide.
In 1994, the Carswells took over the lease on the Ranch lands and began their cattle operation. The working cattle ranch provides a picturesque backdrop for the trail rides. Guides share interesting and entertaining information about the cattle business and Ranch history (which dates back to 1831), as well as the flora, fauna, culture and history of Kaua`i.
CHA has played an important role in the high standards at Princeville Ranch Stables. There are three CHA certified instructors on staff: Manager Lorri Makaneole, Guide Trainer Eileen Donohue and trail guide Nicole McKamey. CHA guidelines and information are used in the guide training program and in the guest orientation before each ride.
Princeville Ranch Stables has long had a reputation for high quality horse training and care, professional guides and an excellent guest experience. CHA is a valued partner in ensuring that this reputation is earned and continues to foster widespread support and effective word-of-mouth marketing among residents, visitors and travel industry professionals.