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Bella’s Camp Story | Camp Hebron

Below is an article that was published on Camp Hebron’s Website in November 2015.  This describes more of Bella’s experience at camp and Meadowview Stables.

Source: Bella’s Camp Story | Camp Hebron

Isabella McCleaf does not remember much of her first experience at Camp Hebron. Isabella, better known as “Bella,” was just two years old in 2005 when her family attended a summer Family Camp. Her parents believe that she enjoyed her time at camp and received her fair share of attention and care from her camp counselors. During this camp, her family connected with the leaders of Camp Hebron’s horsemanship program, Dean and Susan Berger.

Prior to attending Family Camp, Bella’s family had been planning to sell their house in Carlisle. After attending Camp Hebron, however, they became attracted to the peaceful rural setting of the Halifax community. They immediately sold their house and within two months Bella’s family relocated to the Halifax area.

Fast-forwarding a few years, Bella developed a strong love of and interest in horses, mainly through reading books. This interest developed into a desire to take horseback riding lessons. Her parents remembered Camp Hebron and the Bergers, and Bella began taking riding lessons in 2013.

Bella cherishes every moment that she has to ride on and be with the horses. After asking Susan if she could help out around Meadowview Stables, Bella began volunteering in 2014, helping out a few hours during the week after her schoolwork is completed. Her tasks include feeding and grooming the horses and cleaning stalls. Volunteering has also enabled Bella to spend more time with the horses and with Dean and Susan.

During the summer of 2015, Bella participated in the week-long Wrangler-in-Training (WIT) camp. At “WIT Week” she began developing the skills that she will need to eventually become a wrangler. Her biggest challenge during the camp was preparing and performing her “demo,” where she instructs riders on the proper care and use of the horses and equipment. After successfully completing this week of training, Bella officially became a WIT, which enabled her to have more responsibilities such as leading trail rides and helping with mounting and dismounting of riders. After WIT camp, Bella volunteered during several of the other summer camps, including Saddle Straddle II and Colts and Fillies.

Bella’s experiences at camp and the stables have helped improve her confidence and public speaking skills. Being around the horses and camp has been healing therapy for her, too, especially after suffering the sudden tragic loss of her older brother Isaac in 2011.  She is able to connect with God, nature, and other people, including Camp Hebron staff, through her experiences and through the peaceful, majestic quality of the horses.

After seeing the positive influence that camp has had on Bella, her family has become involved in supporting the horsemanship program and participating in other camp activities. Recently, Bella and her mom attended the mother-daughter slumber party weekend at Camp Hebron.  They experienced a peaceful time connecting with each other and other women. They were encouraged in their walk as ladies in Christ and to speak words of life to others. It was a beautiful time of fellowship without the daily life distractions, and a blessing to both Bella and her mom.

Bella is looking forward to continuing to participate in the horsemanship program and other activities at Camp Hebron. She will continue to volunteer at the stables and help with the Yellow Breeches program. Through these activities, Bella will share with other children the peace and healing that she has experienced through one of God’s amazing creatures: horses.

These are some of the great things that happen at Camp Hebron. You can make a tremendous impact for campers like Bella by making a donation today.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2016 in Family Updates

 

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Our “Caped Crusader”

We are excited to share some good news with you about our oldest daughter!  Thanks to a nomination from Camp Hebron, Isabella (who goes by Bella) was recently recognized as the “Caped Crusader” in March’s Central Penn Parent publication.  The article below is reposted from Halifax teen uses horses to help others | Central Penn Parent.  Congratulations Bella and thank you Camp Hebron!  To God be the glory…

Halifax teen uses horses to help others


March 16, 2016

Bella McCleaf has always loved horses.

She first grew to love the animal by reading about them in books. From there, she eventually took riding lessons.

Today, the 13-year-old’s work with horses has turned into much more. Bella now volunteers at Camp Hebron in Halifax, helping take care of the horses that aided her through her tough time.

In fact, Bella volunteers at least five times more than anyone else there, according to the camp.

“Her dedication and drive are beyond her years,” said Tammy Briggs, communications director at Camp Hebron. “She’s got great leadership qualities already at a younger age.”

Perhaps the biggest mark Bella has made at Camp Hebron has been left through the camp’s Yellow Breeches program. As part of a joint effort with the Yellow Breeches Educational Center, Camp Hebron has helped special needs and at-risk youth with hands-on learning through its horsemanship program, and Bella has worked closely with some of those children involved.

“There are just so many stories you hear during Yellow Breaches with all these kids coming from so many different backgrounds and lives,” Bella said. “Some of them are really sad, so it’s great to help them out.”

Bella began taking riding lessons at Camp Hebron in 2013. At the time, her older brother had just passed away and she just wanted to take part in something that could help ease her mind.

While the lessons were difficult at first, she said she loved it from the start as it proved to be a great healing mechanism.

“It was a lot to get used to because the only time I had been on a horse was for a pony ride, so it was a lot different being in control of my own horse,” said Bella, daughter of Andrew and Brenda McCleaf.

After about a year of learning to ride, Bella decided that she couldn’t get enough of the horses through just lessons. She first approached Susan Berger, the leader of Camp Hebron’s horsemanship program, about volunteering.

Her volunteer work started as a few hours a week, feeding and grooming the horses and cleaning the stalls after her daily home-school sessions.

It didn’t take long for her role to expand.

It was during her first summer helping at Camp Hebron that Bella was first introduced to the Wrangler-in-Training program. Too young to partake in the program, Bella helped out behind the scenes, ensuring the program ran smoothly for all the WITs at work. Her efforts were noticed and a year later, Bella was a WIT herself.

“That first year, everyone just assumed I would be joining the program next year,” Bella said. “So when WIT week rolled around this year, we got a text asking if I was in. I said, ‘Of course.’”

Through the WIT training, Bella learned all the skills to one day become a horse wrangler. She was also able to develop more responsibilities at camp, which included leading trail rides and helping with the mounting and dismounting of riders.

Bella took advantage of the situation by volunteering even more, helping out with several summer camps, in addition to the Yellow Breeches program.

For now, Bella plans to continue volunteering with Camp Hebron and taking lessons with her favorite horse, Benjie. She hopes to one day work with horses as a career.

“They’re just awesome,” Bella said about the horses she works with every day. “They’re just great at helping you heal.”

Christopher Hopkins is assistant editor/web of Central Penn Parent.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2016 in Family Updates

 

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