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Young Rider Horse Camp

~connect with horses, maybe for the first time!~

This small-group session is designed for our younger campers looking for an introduction to horsemanship and ranch life.

2022 Young Rider Camp details

July 26-31

Ages: 8-11 years

Capacity: 16 campers

Tuition: $1,000 (base rate), $1,300 (restoration rate)

Session Info

This session was created in 2016 as an answer to the high demand for very limited spaces for beginner riders in our All-Level Horse Camps. Campers will learn basic horse handling and riding skills, plus we'll do lots of crafting, music and fun ranch projects.

Our approach to horsemanship emphasizes the special relationship between children and horses. Everyone spends time grooming and caring for the horses and learning safe ground habits. We ride primarily bareback, especially with beginning riders. This may seem counter-intuitive, but 30+ years of experience have taught us that children learn to ride much faster bareback, gain their balance more quickly, develop a more empathetic relationship and better communication with the horse, and are actually safer without the trappings of tack to get tangled in and distracted by.

This year, Young Rider camp will run parallel to Music Camp. The two groups will share most meals, but riding sessions, sleeping quarters, and almost all activities will be separate (with the possibility of guest star opportunities if campers are interested!).

If you haven’t already, please visit our main About Camp  page

to get a feel for our camp philosophy, history and the scope the Ekone Summer Camp program

Please contact us with any questions! summercamp@ekone.org509.773.4536

Please visit our Apply Here! page for information about applying for a space in summer camp and a link to our registration system.

Lead Staff for Young Rider Camp

Jenna Milton

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Jenna brings her quirky sense of humor to the horse program, and she ain't afraid to get dirty in the process!

Jenna was a horse crazy 11-year-old when she first started coming to summer camp and has been returning ever since then, as a camper, intern and camp staff. In 2013, she graduated from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, with a BA in Studio Art, spent the summer working at camp, and then jumped on a sailboat from Seattle to New Zealand. Ask her about it sometime!

She has experience in the hunter ring and has been teaching riding skills to campers and lesson students for more than ten years. One of her favorite things about summer camp is watching campers' deepening connection with the horses and increase in self-confidence that comes hand-in-hoof with the riding and horsemanship skills.

In January of 2018, Jenna joined the year-round Ekone staff team and now calls the ranch home for four seasons a year!

Morgan Kavanagh

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Morgan enjoys sharing her love of music and song as powerful tools for storytelling, for weaving community and for bringing joy.

Morgan first came to work at Ekone in 2014. Never having been to summer camp as a kid, she feels extra lucky to be living out the dreams of her 8 year old self by playing in the woods, riding horses all day, and singing songs at Ekone Ranch. 

Morgan grew up riding any/all horses that she could climb on. When she was eleven, she and her mom adopted a wild Mustang and began the long process of training through building a relationship built on trust and communication. Along the way she discovered that horses ask humans to develop sensitivity, patience, empathy, self-confidence, and a leadership style that is both gentle and firm.  Morgan holds a degree in Visual Art/Art Education from the Evergreen State College. When she's not at summer camp, she enjoys cultivating creativity in kids of all ages, writing and performing music, and traveling. 

Her favorite Ekone activity: helping to facilitate relationships between kids and horses, and watching the magic that inevitably happens.

Shonie Schlotzhauer

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Shonie first came to camp in 1994, because of a picture just like this one.

She first showed up at camp as a horse-crazy teenager, and began serving as the Executive Director of Sacred Earth Foundation and Ekone Summer Camps in 2009.  She lives full-time on the ranch and has a great passion for sharing this special land with children of all ages and inspiring earth stewardship.  Shonie has over ten years of leadership with Ekone summer camps under her belt, and brings her natural sense of responsibility, practicality, and FUN to the task.

Shonie has a degree in Community Development and Food Systems from The Evergreen State College.  She has a wide variety of professional experience in the non-profit, educational, and agricultural sectors, including serving as the Food & Farming Program Manager at Sustainable Connections in Bellingham, WA.  She is certified in Wilderness First Aid.

Her favorite summer activities?  "Watching the kids fall in love with the land and learn big life lessons from our patient horses."

Kayla Kawalec

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Kayla loves doing ALL OF THE THINGS!

Complete chance and pure intuition led Kayla to Ekone in the summer of 2021. She arrived as the garden intern on the record-shattering hottest weekend in the NW and hasn’t been able to keep her cool about how much she loves the ranch since! After staying on through the wildly fun and busy summer ’21 season she’s back again to get a dose of that Ekone magic everyone’s always talking about.

Kayla received her dual BS/BA degrees in telecommunications and sociology from the University of Florida in 2016, and hasn’t done anything remotely related since! She’ll be happy to share one (or all) of her tales of adventure over a meal at the YT, but loves more than anything hearing and collecting stories from everyone else who pops up throughout the summer. In fact, her absolute favorite part of Ekone is all of the amazing people it attracts and the stories they have to share.


It’s hard to say where the most likely place to find Kayla on the ranch is. She’s been known to go on early morning runs with Julia, get into all of the mischief with Adela, sing along out of tune to the Moon Song, hold meetings of the Tender Hearts Weeding Society in the garden with Michelle, Shampoothie in the bath house, stroll to Mizar’s Bluff with Caitlin, or maybe dig a grave in her spare time!

Julia Hess

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Julia first arrived at Ekone in 2010 as a camper with a fascination and love for horses.

She came for the horses and stayed for the incredible people that make up the Ekone community. Julia is excited to be part of the horse staff and to learn from the other staff, horses and campers. She has ten years of riding experience in western and english riding that compliments her knowledge of Ekone horsemanship. She loves how Ekone’s horse program is focused on developing communication and trust with the horses and enjoys getting to know all of their unique personalities. Julia also loves leading chore crews, helping with bedtime and doing service projects.

When she isn’t at camp, she can be found running, cooking, backcountry skiing or backpacking. She is from Whidbey Island and will be attending Whitman College this fall as a freshman.

Her favorite Ekone activity is coming up with fun, creative challenges for campers to do on horseback!

Coming up!

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So much fun and community and meaningful service!