Survival 2 + Horse Camp: Day Five

Hello and welcome to the grand finale of my investigation. As a reminder, I’m Detective Coltrane Turtle, and I was hired to determine whether or not Tollgate campers had fun this week. Stick around to the end of the post to hear my final verdict.

Remember that more pictures can be found for Survival Camp HERE and Horse Camp HERE!

Plus, check out the camp slideshow here:

Investigating the wagon

…and taking it for a spin!

But first, my breakdown of today. It all started with something very familiar at this point: animal chores. However, there was something new during this animal chore session. A delivery truck came to give Tollgate more sheep food! And not a moment too soon because those sheep were hungry. 

MORE sheep love!

Fresh off the delivery truck!

And of course, we can’t forget about the goats!

Then, campers went to the garden for a fun project called “Seed Tapes.” Campers glued some seeds to a few sheets of toilet paper to create a seed tape that they could plant and grow anything from peppers to lettuce to all kinds of herbs.

Ready to be planted!

Hard at work

Then, something fairly rare here at Tollgate happened: Morning canoeing! It was so relaxing to be out on the water in the perfect weather!


Can you spot the camper in the middle?

Watch out for the algae!


After those great morning activities, it was time for some lunch. After campers had some yummy food, they were ready to continue the shelter-building saga. But today’s goal wasn’t to build; it was to dismantle them! This is part of our Leave No Trace philosophy.

Taking down what we put up

What a great week-long project this was!

After the peppers got back from the woods, they went straight to the lower barn’s survival maze. This is a game where each pepper gets a turn to find their way out of the maze. If they take one wrong step, it’s the next person’s turn!

Helping a teammate out!

I’m very slow so this game would take me a while, but the peppers really rocked it!

Then, the campers got to go on a wagon ride around the farm! They sang songs (“Purple Stew” is becoming quite the favorite) and chatted with each other as the wagon went all the way around the property.

What a grand time

A beautiful day for a wagon ride!

Towards the end of the day, we enjoyed some popsicles as we watched the pepper skits! Each group did a great job presenting a story or song for the rest of camp (and some parents!) to watch.

An Orange Pepper production

This morning, I also went to the horse pasture to look at plant species growing in the field. The campers brought picture cards to identify plants that are poisonous for horses. Thankfully Tollgate horses are smart and they hadn’t eaten the poisonous plants we found.

This plant is poisonous to horses

No poisonous plants here

Black walnuts are poisonous to horses

I also saw campers riding horses again today. They practiced all of the skills they learned earlier in the week around the whole arena.

Crossing the bridge

Cone patterns and obstacles

Practicing tight turns

On my way to survival camp I saw Sesame out for a walk. The campers practiced leading Sesame around the farm.

Out to the animal barn

Through the field

She’s back in her pasture!

In the afternoon, the horse campers enjoyed saddling Friday. They put on the saddle blanket, the saddle, and tightened the girth around her belly.

Putting on the saddle blanket

Putting on the saddle

Securing the girth around her belly using the cinch

I learned it is very important to clean a saddle in order to keep the leather clean and soft. Oil can be used to clean the saddle and bridle. It is important not to put oil on the bit that goes in the horse’s mouth.

They’re using oil to clean the leather

Thanks for keeping equipment clean!

Then they learned about different horse breeds. There are as many horse breeds as there are turtle breeds!!

This is a Clydesdale horse

At the end of the day, the campers played capture the flag to wrap up the week. What a great game!

Capture the flag

Because it’s Friday, we only had one morning Garden Kitchen session, but don’t worry! Campers had a scrumptious destination snack on the afternoon wagon ride that they had helped prepare in the morning.

Slicin’ up the greens

Beet bite preparation for the destination snack

Nothing like the crunch of a fresh green bean



Recipes of greatness

So, I know you’re all waiting for me to declare whether or not campers had fun this week. In answer to your question, I’ll allow you to take a peek at my investigation notes:

Pretty good handwriting for a turtle. . .

So there you go! Campers not only had a great time, but learned new skills, made new friends, and created lifelong memories. How cool! I will report my results to the Tollgate bosses immediately. Thanks for sticking with me through this investigation. Hope to see you again soon!


***If you happened to leave a personal item at camp, you can stop by the activity center and pick it up!***

Lost and Found

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Survival 2 + Horse Camp: Day Four

Good afternoon and welcome back to my investigation. I’m Detective Coltrane Turtle, and today I will dissecting this penultimate day of camp, both survival and horse. Let’s jump right in.

Campers continued to perform animal chores today, and I noticed a few peppers giving some extra love to the sheep this morning.

I’m a camper and I like warm hugs

Setting the stage for goat milking

Then, campers headed up to the garden to check on their solar stills! And guess what? They collected water overnight! I may have to set one of those up next time my tank levels get low.

Condensation for the win

This camper got about half a cup!

They also paused for a little kale snack

Then, it was time for campers to truly put their survival skills to the test with fire building! Peppers collected materials from the forest and used a magnifying glass, flint and steel, and matches to create a spark!

Where there’s smoke. . .

This camper’s on fire!

Attempting the flint and steel method

After the fires were put out, it was time for lunch. But before long, everyone was back at it with shelter building! Today was the final day of building before show and tell tomorrow. Check out these awesome camper creations!

The power of teamwork

A stellar shelter

Then, it was time for the next installment of LNT. Today’s discussion was about treating animals and plants with care and not disturbing them. As an animal, I fully support this sentiment.

“What a bunch of hams!” -Ms. Madeline

And then, it was time for a Survival Special: archery! Mr. Jason from MSU came to teach us the ins and outs of how to shoot a bow and arrow. I have to say, I was surprised at how well the peppers picked this skill up! I only took cover in my shell a handful of times.

Practicing the T stance!

Ready, aim . . .

Thanks to our stewards and SITs for being a great help during this activity!

How cool! For more pics of Survival Camp, click here!

I also made time to check in on horse camp, since I was getting paid to look into BOTH groups. I heard some laughter in the horse tent, and went to check it out. . .

Time with horse camp!

The campers were matching pictures and descriptions to learn tack and equipment. I learned about bits, bridles, and halters. I listened earlier in the week when the leaders discussed grooming, so I already knew about curry combs and soft brushes!

Matching tack and equipment

Then the campers participated in a relay race to find the tack items in the bucket. It looked like a tie to me!

Finding the curry comb in the tack bucket

Then it was horse time! Campers practiced trotting, obstacles in the arena, and walking over the bridge.

Over the bridge

Walking over the rails

Riding obstacles in the arena

After lunch, campers learned about basic horse care. Horses like to eat grains with molasses. Then they measured Sesame, Big Max, and me using a weight tape. I was 1/2 of a hand. Sesame was approximately 10 hands and 195 pounds. Big Max was 18 hands and over 1500 pounds! (1 hand is 4 inches)

The molasses smells good

Sesame is 10 hands

Max was 18 hands

Horse jeopardy looked really fun this afternoon. The campers raced to answer questions about tack, horse basics, Tollgate horses, horse colors, and horse anatomy.

Pick the category

Time to buzz in to answer the question

The answer is….!

The campers loved time with the horses! Here are the different horse groups: red, orange, yellow, and green.

Red group

Orange group

Yellow group

Green group

If you are interested in additional photos, you can click on this link!

And of course, both camps combined for a grand Garden Kitchen! I was especially impressed by the stir-fry– it smelled fantastic!


Giving Ms. Leah a hand with the stir fry

I wonder if I could get Ms. Leah to stir fry some turtle food for me…

“Quinoa Castle”

A critical piece of the puzzle: recipes!

Very interesting. . .

I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of the investigation! This week is flying by. Because it was so fun? Possibly. But I’ll wait to call it until I’ve seen the final day’s festivities. Until then!


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Survival 2 + Horse Camp: Day Three

Happy hump day from me, Detective Coltrane Turtle. Today I will be continuing my display of evidence in the investigation Are Tollgate Campers Having Fun? As usual, Horse Camp will be about halfway down the page, and Garden Kitchen will be at the end.

Today, animal chores were a bit hectic (in the best possible way). Not only did campers care for the normal chickens and rabbits, but they also had to milk four goats instead of one and clean both pens. Even the goat kids got to have a little playtime in the hay.

Goat love

Got milk?

Hay there

Some cool chicks

Then, down in the edu-garden, campers started a really interesting project. They dug holes in the ground of various sizes and put in cups with plastic wrap over them. Tomorrow, they will check back in for any signs of water or condensation!

They dig camp

Digging circle

And then, it was time for a classic Tollgate activity: Fishing! I noted that the fish were a little quiet today (likely due to the recent rain), but a few peppers managed to snag some fish friends!


Fishing & wishing

An interesting texture

Then after some lunch, it was time to hike on over to the shelters-in-progress and add to them! The peppers were really using some great teamwork skills to make this batch of shelters some of the best I’ve ever seen!

The new wallpaper trend? Bark!

These guys made sure to build in a coat rack

After campers found their way back to the pavilion, the settled in for a little lesson on signaling for help. Then, campers split into two groups and put their skills to the test as they tried to find the group that was signaling for help. With the help of the new techniques (waving a bright piece of clothing and creating a trail out of sticks), both groups were able to locate the “missing” campers.

Any bright clothing can be used to “flag” people down!


Ms. Claire imparting some wisdom

Then…give me an “L,” give me an “N,” and give me a “T.” What does that stand for? Leave No Trace! Today, that meant learning about how to look at things without taking them. The peppers then practiced their LNT principles in the Children’s Garden by walking through and looking, but not touching.

LNT: a great camp philosophy!

Sometimes things are meant to be left right where they are

For more awesome Survival Camp snapshots, click here!

Here I was at horse camp! I took a walk around the corral where campers ride horses every day.

Just call me cowboy Coltrane

Don’t worry! I moved back into the grass before the campers entered for riding lessons. They practiced trotting, turning, and going over the bridge.

Praising Tulsa for a job well done!

Walking on the bridge

Riding around cones

The horses were dirty after some time in the pasture. The campers were excited to groom the horses in the round pen! They used curry combs, hard brushes, soft brushes, and mane and tail combs to remove dirt and hair from the horses.

The hard brush removed dirt and hair from Friday

She loved time with Sesame

They brushed Friday until she was soft

Friday looking fabulous

In the afternoon, I knew I wanted to visit with the farrier. She came to trim the horses’ hooves! She brought hoof clippers, a HUGE file, and a stand. She cleaned the sole, removed dirt from the frog, and trimmed and filed the hoof wall.

The farrier brought lots of tools

Can your camper label the parts of the hoof?

She trimmed the hoof wall with big clippers

It rained for a brief moment this afternoon and I loved it! It did not dampen the campers’ spirits! They used a poster to learn the parts of the horse. Then they painted the parts on the horse.

The campers labeled the parts of the horse

She painted the hoof

Big Max looked great!

I loved spending time with Jade and the campers! Clearly, I didn’t need paint because I am a painted turtle!

Jade was a work of art!

The day ended with a fun game of horse pictionary! A camper drew a picture and their team guessed the drawing as fast as possible.

Drawing was fun

The campers had good guesses

To view more of the photos I took while I was out hanging with Horse Camp, click here! 

Today, Ms. Leah was back and in action for Garden Kitchen. Those zucchini noodles and pesto really made me wish I could eat human food.

A smile almost as big as a single zoodle


Cool cucumbers + fabulous fennel = one great salad!

The making of a zoodle

I’ve discovered this list of today’s activities

And I even got my turtle hands on the recipes from today!

After three days of investigation, it’s really starting to look like the campers are indeed enjoying themselves. But it could all change tomorrow. Join me then, won’t you?


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Looking for the Farm To Table Dinner?

The correct link for the Farm to Table Dinner is Click the link for more details about this awesome event!

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Survival 2 + Horse Camp: Day Two

Welcome back. If you’ve forgotten, I’m Detective Coltrane Turtle, and I’ve been hired to determine whether or not campers are having fun here at camp. What follows is my day two investigation.

Elementary, my dear reader

The campers were back at it with animal chores today. Those animals sure do require a lot of care! Luckily the campers are always willing to help out.

Well hey there, sheep

Chicken check-in

Then, campers continued on down the path all the way to the edu-garden! Campers got to take a tour of the various fruits and veggies, and they even got to harvest some rainbow chard and onions. Maybe I’ll see those veggies in Garden Kitchen soon. . .

A pepper harvests rainbow chard

Look at that chard!

Garden fresh onions are the best onions

Then back at the pepper spots, campers got another Leave No Trace lesson. Today, they talked about the effect that trash has on the environment, and the importance of treating nature with care. They also had a yummy snack during this activity!

You can’t go wrong with watermelon and pretzels!

Some good food & great conversation

And the morning wasn’t even over! The peppers got to do something really exciting: a slackline walk! This tightrope-like line is tied between two trees to form a very skinny and bouncy path that the campers must walk across. I was shocked at how well the campers handled this challenge! (And they did it a lot faster than I ever could.)

Lookin’ fine on the slackline

A balancing act

After everyone made it across the slackline, it was time for a lunch break. And the campers needed to fuel up today because they had quite the afternoon! The first thing on tap was a little lesson on wilderness first aid.

A successful sling

The peppers burrito-wrapped Ms. Claire!

While they were out in the woods, the campers also added to their shelters. It’s only day two and they are already looking really great! I mean, it’s not as convenient as just having a shell on your back, but still.

Check out that shelter!

Safe and secure

After that, the campers CONTINUED to hang out in the woods for a foraging hike! This is where campers search the forest for edible greens such as dandelion and cattail.

Delicious dandelion!

So all in all, a pretty busy day! For more photos from my “Tollgate Investigation” folder, click here. 

Meanwhile in Horse Camp, campers were riding again. Today, the saddle went on Tulsa and Jade, who are both great friends of mine. It looks like the peppers are really starting to get the hang of things!

Helping Jade navigate the cones

Look at that horsey tail!

Campers also had some great discussions about the way that the horses are treated here on the farm. Ms. Nicole S. and other Tollgate personnel always make sure they have lots of space, food, water, and shelter. Additionally, campers talked about the different colors and markings that can be found on horses.

So much to learn!

Then after lunch, campers got to learn some other horse-related skills, such as how to lead them and tie them to a post using a quick-release knot.

Knot your average horse camp

Follow the leader

Horse campers also did a few fun projects! First up was horseshoe decoration, which really let the campers express their awesome creative skills!

Looking good!

Second, peppers created nests to protect an egg. They then performed the ultimate nest test by dropping them from the tower in the Children’s Garden.

Teamwork always helps a project along

NEST TEST RESULTS: 2/4 eggs survived

For more awesome Horse Camp pics from my investigation, click here!

And of course, all campers came together for a wonderful Garden Kitchen! We only had afternoon GK today, but it was delicious enough to make up for the missing session.

A tablespoon of water makes the hummus nice and smooth!

Pink hummus: what could be better?

You can’t beet a Garden Kitchen treat

Thanks to Ms. Tanya for filling in today in Garden Kitchen!

Day o’ fun

So as you can see, I’m getting a ton of material to make my case. But my ultimate conclusion? You’ll have to wait a little longer for that. Check back in tomorrow for all the details!


Posted in 2018 Summer camp, Camp Blog, Summer Camp, Survival, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Survival 2 + Horse Camp: Day Two