by Morgan Seegmueller
Inner City Slickers Leesburg (ICS) will have its grand opening in the form of a one-day camp at Serenity Stables Saturday, September 28. The children attending the camp have been selected from the community and are considered at-risk youth. The camp will run from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. During this one day camp, Slickers will learn to rope, groom, feed, ride, and work together as a team. Not only will the Slickers work closely with horses, they will have the opportunity to ride a barrel-bull and engage in several trust building activities with other campers and volunteers.
On the surface, ICS is an equine-based program that gives at-risk youth an opportunity to have an Old West experience, learn about animals, and discover what it is like to work effectively with others. On a deeper level, it is a partnership between a community and its youth that says “we care, there is hope, and something can be done.” The principle-based values taught at the clinics become life tools for these youth. Also, by teaching and participating, the community volunteers become living examples of a more principle-based way of living and this shifts the entire culture.
Slickers learn what it’s like to be a cowboy/cowgirl and learn to live by a Cowboy Code of Ethics focusing on kindness, dependability, and responsibility. They also learn what it is like to trust and respect the horses, themselves, and each other. The ultimate goal is to instill ethical and moral codes that will stay with them throughout their lives.
“There is something that happens, a magical thing, when a child and a horse meet for the very first time,” says Founder and CEO, as well as former Three Dog Night drummer, Michael McMeel. “Maybe some suspicion and distrust at first, usually on both sides, but as the child and this magnificent animal start to relax and see what is in front of them –that is when the true magic begins. As they develop a relationship and sense of trust, you find that both of their lives are being touched in a unique and profound way. “
Maybe most importantly, after the Slickers have completed the program, ICS mentors continue to keep in contact with them. It is hoped that experiences at ICS events, combined with follow-up contact, will provide an opportunity for them to become responsible and caring citizens.
If you are interested in being notified to participate in future events, or would like more information on how to help, please contact Lori McCalvin at 229.395.8860. Serenity Stables is located at 493 GA HWY 32 in Leesburg.