Our Hike that Became a Healing When Horses Spooked

By Becky Carter

There are powerful proofs of God’s care every year at the A/U Ranches. The following is an account from one of our cherished Youth Camp bunkhouse parents, who was on an adventure this past summer during a day off with other bunkhouse parents, and ended up right where she – and all of them – needed to be to provide help and care to campers and staff. 

Healing and spiritual growth happen every summer in the corral.

After the usual morning activities, the day was anything but usual. 

Wake up, cabin inspiration time, flag, cabin cleaning, inspection, breakfast, all camp inspiration… those were all usual. Even the campers leaving for their three-day adventure away from camp was somewhat routine, although longer than normal. 

The bunkhouse parents intended to hike to Kroenke Lake, so five of us gathered in my Subaru and set out for the trailhead. This is when the day became interesting – and full of Love in action.  After a couple of missed turns, we arrived at the trailhead 15 minutes up the canyon, climbing dirt roads. I was reminded that at camp (as it should be in life), no one minds the wrong turns, because the scenery is beautiful.

When we got out of our car at the trailhead, two horses were walking toward us. Both were fully bridled and saddled and had lead ropes they were dragging. Neither had riders. I had no doubt that we needed to wrangle the horses; dragging lead ropes is not good. It took barely any cooing to have them nuzzling us, and then we had their lead ropes in hand. Not knowing they were A/U Ranches horses, we started walking the animals up the trail where they had come from, assuming we would find their owners and return the horses, having done a good deed for the day. Then along came Karl, the Sky Valley corral program head in full chaps and riding gear.

At this point I realized that we were the representation of God’s calm presence on-scene of an unfoldment in progress.

A dog had spooked the horses and the herd had stampeded, throwing at least one rider, and the pack horses broke free. We had arrived within minutes of the incident. The immediate need was to find campers, horses and gear, in that order. Amos and Moses, whom we had just met, were the pack horses now free of their burdens. 

Pouring in love

The next several hours were spent usefully, and entirely not as we had intended. Instead of hiking the four miles to Kroenke Lake, we hiked the first mile of the trail several times – and what a beautiful trail it was. 

About a mile up the trail, we met the group of corral campers and staff. Everyone was present and accounted for, including the horses, now that Amos and Moses were reunited with their equine friends. Calm motherly Love, water, hugs, snacks and reading the Christian Science Bible Lesson with campers were immediately poured forth – all the bunkhouse parents were strong metaphysicians who knew how to meet the need. Several campers were upset, crying and scared. A counselor was angry at the dog’s owners for having the dog off leash in a leash-only area. Parents gently inserted themselves with a camper or a staff member who presented a need, and quickly each need was filled.

New gear from camp replaced the three broken sets of reins. I helped a counselor, whom I have known since she was a small child, write four pages of an incident report, as she was the lead rider in the pack. I also took a statement from the camper who fell off. I quickly treated both counselor and camper for minor scrapes from a kit in my car with small bandages and chocolate. Once again, the completeness of God meeting every human need was so evident.

Communicating between the camp and the group was another essential role we played. With five bunkhouse parents each having their own cell phone, we had the power and the service to receive cell phone signals from all the points along the trail. 

Most of the time was spent gathering the gear, which was scattered across two miles of trail, and keeping the kids metaphysically traveling on a path from scared to content to happy. We replaced the anger with stories of epic heroics and gentle calm, and reminded each individual that the love, strength and power they had claimed earlier in the day was still with them. 

Forgiveness and healing

I was reminded of the spiritual inspiration I had learned in my Wilderness First Aid class. My instructor had stressed the conflict between human first aid and your goal of reaching the peak of the mountain. The instruction was meant in a literal sense, but I had always appreciated his firm assertion from a figurative perspective: Don’t let the human needs stand in the way of reaching the mental “Horeb height where God is revealed” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 241). 

Looking around at the dozen or so cherished individuals and just as many gorgeous horses in the middle of an idyllic alpine forest, I knew that the bumps along the human road could not stand in the way of the heights this group would achieve during their time on the trail. In many ways, greater spiritual upliftment was being obtained because of the human challenge they faced – more forgiveness, more love, more understanding.

We walked with the horse line, leading the two pack horses, to their newly determined North Cottonwood campsite about a half mile down the road we had driven up. This put two corral patrols next to each other, which wasn’t the original plan, but worked out great as they could share resources and again be reminded of their divine purpose. Turns out the wilderness isn’t so big after all. 

By the time we left at 4pm, the kids were happy and ready to get back on their horses. The anger had subsided, the dog was forgiven and forgiveness was starting to be found for the dog’s owner. Everyone was fed and watered. The horses were about to be watered as we were leaving.  

As we had no water, the bunkhouse parents went to K’s for ice cream and returned to camp in time for 6pm dinner up at the high school camp where my daughter was a counselor. I was able to meet her cabinmates, and she met the bunkhouse parent group. After dinner we sat by the lake and enjoyed the view together.

Have you ever considered volunteering during the summer as a bunkhouse parent? Learn more by clicking the button below. You can also support the work at the A/U Ranches with a gift.


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