Looking for the Farm To Table Dinner?

The correct link for the Farm to Table Dinner is myalumni.msu.edu/tollgate. Click the link for more details about this awesome event!

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Check Out the Tollgate Camp Video!

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Animal Camp + Horse Camp: Day Five

TGIF! Welcome to the final day of the Terrific Tollgate Tour! Today’s tour will be a little different; because Animal Camp and Horse Camp did so many of the same activities, the tour will bounce between camps instead of one and then the other.

But first, let’s take a look at this week of fun:

For the final day of animal chores, campers are checking in with the chickens and jumping into the rabbit hutch to make sure they have food and water.

Saying hello to Opal!

Inside the chicken coop with the Red Peppers

A hard goodbye

Over at horse camp, it’s journaling time! Looks like those peppers are pretty focused on writing down all their thoughts about their Tollgate Horse Camp experience.

Detailing the week much like I do!

His “writing face”

Now, let’s check back in with animal campers. It looks like they’re going on another animal-finding hike! I have to say, I quite enjoy going on a nice morning hike. It’s a wonderful way to wake up!

Not an animal, but this mushroom is too cool not to pause for a photo op!

The expedition crew

And as we come back from the forest, make sure to look at the horse arena because it’s riding time! Today, campers did another obstacle course, practiced turning in circles, and did some trotting and cantering. You’ll notice that the improvement from Monday to today is amazing!

Lookin’ good, Jade!

Happy Friday, Friday!

Cantering on Tulsa!

Let’s head to the Activity Center to see what’s going on in Garden Kitchen. I heard a rumor that Ms. Leah is absent today. . .oh yes, look! Each edu-leader is leading the morning Garden Kitchen for their own groups!

Campers love a good critter canoe!

On Fridays, we have morning Garden Kitchen and afternoon destination snack (see below)

Now that it’s afternoon, campers are gathering together again for the water slide of fun! The sprinkling sky isn’t stopping them from having a blast with Mr. Mister and a giant slip-n-slide!

Water slide smile

Sliding into the weekend like…

So. Much. Fun.

And now, I think I see the stewards and SITs presenting the campers with popsicles! This is a tradition for Fridays here at Tollgate, and it’s one that I, for one, love!

Brain freeze!

Friends who ride horses and eat popsicles together stay together

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for…the EGG DROP! This is where we put the nests that the campers have been working all week to the test by placing an egg inside and dropping it from the tower in the Children’s Garden. I was holding my breath the entire time, but a lot of groups had really great results!

Anxiously awaiting the start of the drop tests

The drop!


Only a slight crack!

And now, before we say goodbye, it’s time for the destination snack! Ms. Leah prepared it yesterday, and I can’t wait for these “Adventure Bites.” An appropriate name considering all the adventures that campers got up to this week.

Snack crew

Parting is such sweet sorrow, but these adventure bites are just sweet

A fantastic Friday

Food for a Friday

And that concludes my Terrific Tollgate Tour! Thanks for sticking with me through this week full of new experiences and friendships. I loved meeting all of you and I hope you had as much fun as I did. Whether it be next week or next year, I hope to see you again!

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Animal and Horse Camp: Day Four

Happy Thursday! It’s once again time for the Terrific Tollgate Tour! I’m your host, Coltrane Turtle, and I can’t wait to show you the Thursday adventures that went down in today in Animal Camp and Horse Camp.

Reminder: Please send your camper(s) with their swimsuit and towel tomorrow! It’s water slide day!¬†

Today’s tour will be done on horseback

By now, I bet you can guess what we’ll see first: animal chores! Today, the peppers are doing a thorough cleaning of the barn– and feeding the goats and chickens, of course! The campers are really starting to know exactly what needs to be done and how to best care for each animal.

The chickens and the campers have become fast friends

Chilling with some goats

Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere

Next up, let’s see what is being harvested in the garden. Oh! It looks like green beans. I wonder if we’ll see those in the kitchen later. . .

Nothing like frolicking in the garden!

Check this bean out!

Garden fresh

Then, if you’ll direct your attention over to the horse pasture, you’ll see that Horse Camp and Animal Camp have come together again for another camper favorite: pony rides! The animal campers had a blast getting to circle the pasture on either Scout or Zoey, and the horse campers did a fantastic job leading the ponies while keeping everyone safe.


Just trotting along ūüôā

Smiles with Scout

And after a yummy lunch, we are ready to move right along to “Where’s My Apple?” which is a game where campers each get an apple that they have to draw. Then, the apples are scrambled, and peppers have to identify which apple was theirs based only on their drawings! Taking bites is not allowed!

A trio of awesome apple artists!

There’s her apple

While we were watching the apple game, something really special happened, thanks to one of our master gardeners. A pepper group was walking through the garden and discovered a bird that had passed away. The gardener asked the camper who found it to find a nice spot to bury it. As they were digging, another pepper spotted a few eggs as well, so the gardener showed them to all the campers. While peppers were sad for the bird, it was a sweet moment among all the people here at Tollgate.

Creating a final resting place for our lost bird friend

Campers get a glimpse of the egg

Now we’ll continue the tour. For the next 40 minutes, we will be walking through the forest with the peppers. But someone else will be joining us…some goats! The campers seem to really be enjoying hanging out with their animal pals in situations other than just animal chores, so a goat hike is the perfect activity!

Walk with two goats for twice the fun!

Are goats the new dogs?

Goat hikes are the Greatest Of All Time

For more photos of Animal Camp Activities, click here! Also, scroll to the end of the horse camp section for a link to the advanced horse camp photo album, which contains more pictures of the combined-camp pony rides!

It is time for my tour of Horse Camp. I am excited to show you how much fun they are having today! Here in the arena, they are trotting and cantering.

Friday is trotting

Jade is cantering

Go Tulsa Go!

I’m thinking that horse camp can’t get much better….and then I see the campers driving Max around the arena! He is wearing a harness that would connect to a wagon. They are practicing good safety and trying it on the ground.

Max is wearing a very large bridle with blinders

Max knows voice commands

Whoa. Time for the brakes

It’s time to clean Max’s harness

Under the tent, campers are staying dry. They are writing in their journals. The question today: what is your favorite part of horse camp? Campers are shouting “RIDING!” That must be the favorite!

Writing about riding

They love trotting and cantering

As you can see, campers love horses! I cannot wait to see them again tomorrow. If you would like to see additional photos of horse camp and animal camp pony rides, you can find them HERE!

Before we part for the day, let’s see what those campers have cooking in Garden Kitchen. I think I smell…garlic?

Ready for a snack!

The best kale around

Nothing beats that kale crunch

Green bean eating machine!

Fancy green beans! The source of that great garlic smell¬†Today’s adventures

I can’t believe the Tollgate Tour ends tomorrow. I’m having such a good time guiding you through the adventures that the campers get up to– adventures that are sure to end with a bang tomorrow. See you then!

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Animal 2 and Horse Camp: Day Three

Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Terrific Tollgate Tour! In case you’ve forgotten, I’m your guide, Coltrane Turtle, and today I’m here to show you around the farm during this busy Wednesday.

Yours truly

The day started out with something you’ll probably be familiar with if you were on the Monday or Tuesday tour: animal chores!

When you love the animals but don’t like the smell

Chicken enthusiast

Majestic chicken

Now as we come up on the garden, you’ll notice that the peppers are harvesting some kale and basil for Garden Kitchen later. Yum! And if you’re wondering what those bins are, they are for our vermicompost worms! It looks like the campers are saying hi to those guys as well.

Making new friends at animal camp


If looks could kale

Ms. Delaney explains how to harvest kale

And now, you can see that the two camps have joined together as they did yesterday; today, the horse campers are teaching the animal campers how to lead a horse! They are practicing with Sesame, a good friend of mine.

Follow the leader

Two camp groups coming together = twice the fun!

Leading good old Sesame

And now that everyone is filled up on lunch, let’s continue on. I’m thinking we should go to the forest because it looks like the peppers are doing their animal hike, where they walk through the woods and look for as many animals as they can find!

A great day for a hike!

A trusty walking stick is always a bonus

I see some frogs, crickets, and squirrels!

Now that we’re back from the forest, I think it would be a good time to watch some pepper groups practice sheep herding. The sheep are out on a little trip, so campers are pretending to be sheep and herding¬†each other!¬†How fun!

Learning about sheep habits

Nothing like pretending to be a sheep to get some energy out!

Now, for you returning tour guests, you’ll likely be wondering how the nest building is going. Well, take a look for yourself!

Making some mud to act as glue!

Now that’s a quality nest!

Peppers make the best nests

Looks like a pretty quality day here at Animal Camp. I took even more pictures from this Wonderful Wednesday; click here!

It’s now time for my Horse Camp tour. The campers are riding again this morning. They are practicing skills in the arena at a trot today.

Listening to instructions

Tulsa trotting

Big smile!

Concentrating on the cone ahead

Over at the tent, campers are working hard to make horse treats. They are mixing oats, molasses, and water to make a delicious snack for the horses tomorrow. It’s fun to treat the horses after a great morning ride!

Adding water

Adding molasses

I am back at the arena to learn about the digestive system. How do hay and grass travel through the horse?

Painting the digestive system


More painting

Colorful hands!

Painting always leads to bath time! I am going with the campers to watch them bathe Max. They have horse soap, curry combs, and a hose to clean up the paint. He is a great canvas and enjoys clean up time!

Using curry combs to scrub off the paint

Washing off the paint

The last activity of the day is reflecting in journals. Question of the day: which Tollgate horse is your favorite?

Writing in journals

This camper loves Friday

That concludes my horse tour for today. You can find additional photos HERE!

You’re hungry, you say? Let’s see what Ms. Leah has cooking in Garden Kitchen.

Zoodle deliciousness!

Cutting the cucumber 

Nothing beets pink hummus!

Everyone gets a turn to make a zoodle!

Try your camper’s favorite recipe at home!

What you’ll be seeing on the tour today

And that about wraps up the tour for today! I hope you all enjoyed seeing what these two camp groups got up to on this beautiful Wednesday. If you did, check back in tomorrow for all the details of Thursday’s adventure– it’s sure to be great!

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Animal 2 + Horse Camp: Day Two

Welcome back to the Terrific Tollgate Tour! I’m your guide, Coltrane Turtle, and today I will be walking you through the second day of both Animal and Horse Camp. It’s another beautiful day, so buckle up and get ready for another day of adventures!

Excuse me. Just getting my morning tanning in before we start for the day

Also, please remember that camp is a NUT-FREE ZONE, so no peanuts/tree nuts are allowed. 

First up, we have today’s block of animal chores! As you can see, right now peppers are giving some attention to the goat kids and the chickens.

Two chicks

Just a group of “kids”

Then if you look to your left, you’ll see an intense game of bacteria tag is in full swing. I’m a little too slow to be successful at any sort of tag game, but it sure is fun to watch!

Run, bacteria, run!

You’re it!

And now, if you’ll direct your attention to the horse corral, you’ll see the horse campers are showing the animal campers how to groom Red, Zoey, and Sesame! It looks like they are really getting the hang of it!

Zoey is pretty new, so campers are giving her a warm Tollgate welcome!

Horse hugs

Sesame smiles

And beautiful braids!

What a busy morning! Let’s take a minute for lunch. Next up is something really exciting– oh look, they’re starting already! Let’s get over to the docks to watch the campers FISH! I wonder if they’re biting today. . .

Indeed they are!

Kiss the fish!

Fishing & happy about it

Now, please direct your attention to the pepper spots, where peppers are working hard on their STEAM nest building project. Today, campers got to collect materials and begin construction on their nests; they’re looking great so far, and I’m wondering how hard it would be to get my hands on one to spruce up my tank.

Making the best nest!

A beautiful home for any creature!

And now, we’ll travel over to the pavilion because I’m smelling something great: soap! Campers are making colorful soap with Tollgate goat milk and using essential oils to make it smell extra yummy. Use some in the shower tonight! (More info on goat milk soap)

It’s a little messy before it’s used to clean

Frosty the soap-man

And a soap narwhal!

For more photos from the Animal Camp portion of the tour, click here!

Now I will show you around Horse Camp! At the arena, horse campers are enjoying horse time! They are practicing trotting, stopping, and riding in a straight line between cones. They are riding Friday, Jade, and Tulsa today.


She’s riding the Jade!

Look at him go!

Next, I am passing campers learning about tack. They are learning about English and Western saddles. What are the differences? You will have to ask your camper!

Practicing tack in the grass

Saddling Sesame in the barn

Over here at the black walnut tree, campers are playing a game. They are leading each other through the maze to identify tack and grooming tools.

They are starting the course

She says this is a bridle!

She has the saddle pad

In the pasture, campers are helping with animal chores. It is important to keep the troughs clean for the horses to drink water. I think they are very thorough. Maybe they can clean my tank when it gets dirty.

Cleaning the horse trough

Cleaning the trough for Jade and Tulsa

Scooping up the dirty bedding

Over here the campers are feeding Max and grooming him. It takes a lot of horse food to feed a Percheron this big!

Feeding Max

It’s time to wrap up the day! At the tent, campers are reflecting in their journals. The prompt today: Create your horse farm. Where would it be? What animals would you have?

Writing in journals

I love spending time with the horse campers. That concludes the horse section for today! You can find additional photos HERE!

And of course, we HAVE to stop by the AC for Garden Kitchen! My friend Ms. Leah said that she’s serving up two delicious salads today, and judging by the looks on the campers’ faces, she wasn’t lying about the delicious part!

Shout-out to this camper, who I know is a daily blog reader!

Tie-dye salad because tie-dye is not just for shirts anymore

Some chopping assistance

That’s one scrumptious salad

Need a side dish with dinner tonight?

A look at the day

That’s it for our Terrific Tollgate (Tuesday) Tour! But the week is just getting started, and I have a feeling that tomorrow will be just as fabulous! If you want to follow camper adventures throughout the day, check out our Instagram (especially our stories!).

See you tomorrow!

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Animal 2 + Horse Camp: Day One

Hello everyone!¬† Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Coltrane Turtle, and I will be your tour guide for the Terrific Tollgate Tour. This means I will be guiding you through the farm and showing you the various activities going on with Animal Camp and Horse Camp, Monday through Friday. Campers split up today into four pepper groups (from youngest to oldest: green, yellow, orange, red), and I will be covering all of them! So buckle up, and get ready for a week of fun!

Also, please remember to send campers with sunscreen!

Get ready for a bumpy ride!

So as we begin, you’ll notice on your right is the animal barn, which is bustling with campers doing animal chores! Peppers take care of pretty much every animal here at Tollgate.

Breakfast time!

So fluffy!

Welcome baaaaack, peppers!

Then if you look over by the lower barn, you’ll see something big and colorful– a parachute! The campers had a great time bouncing balls and making a tent with the rainbow parachute.

Umm…where did the peppers go?

A little parachuting always brings a smile to my face

The campers, like you on this tour, really wanted to see the¬†whole¬†farm, so a wagon ride was the perfect solution. I volunteered to drive the tractor, but Ms. Nicole said she “had it handled.”

A great way to see the farm

Horse campers and animal campers enjoy a ride together

It’s now lunch time, so we’ll pause for a minute to refuel. After all, the campers need energy for the next activity: nest building. Oh look, they’re starting now! For some background, nest building is the STEM project that campers will be working on all week. Today’s step in the process was brainstorming blueprints for how a nest might be built. It looks like those campers have some great ideas!

Looks like a well-thought-out plan!

It’s storming…BRAINstorming, that is!

And it’s not time to put away the markers yet, because the next activity is all about getting crafty. As you can see, the campers are creating brand new toys for the animals on the farm to keep their habitats new and interesting. Peppers are drawing everything from swirly-swirls to math equations to keep the animals entertained. The finishing touch? Stuffing some food inside!

The perfect gift for the animal in your life

Those crafty peppers

Presenting Opal with her new toy!

Continuing on, you can see that some campers are pouring various materials into a fish tank, and you’re probably wondering why. This is because they are reading a story about pollution and are using the materials as representatives of the pollutants in the tale.

Doesn’t look like any water I’d want to be in!

Syrup represents oil that may have leaked from a car and gotten into the river

For more Animal Camp snapshots, click here! 

Welcome to my tour of Horse Camp. First, let me show you riding time in the arena. The campers are warming up by walking and trotting around the arena. They are demonstrating still hands, short reins, and good posture in the saddle. The campers are riding Friday, Jade, Tulsa, and Zoey.

Leading to the mounting block

Riding in the arena

Listening for instruction

Under the tent, you will see campers working on journals for the week. They are making unique covers for the journals and answering a journal question: “if you could be any breed and color of horse, what would you be?”

Looking through horse magazines for cover ideas

Drawing designs

Great creativity!

My last stop is the barn to show you Big Max. The campers are feeding Max. He enjoys being brushed while he eats his meal (who wouldn’t?).

Grooming Max


That concludes the horse camp portion of my tour today. If you would like to see more photos, you may find them here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/RX1HeqAB4ctTNz9T6

Now, let me show the Activity Center, because I have a feeling Garden Kitchen will be going on. Ah yes, it looks like both camps are making some super tasty treats!

Holy guacamole!

Rainbow (rock and) roll

Big bite

Today’s itinerary

Try the snacks yourself!

And that wraps up the Monday tour, folks! Remember to come back tomorrow for a comprehensive look at a Tollgate Tuesday. Until then!

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