Circle Square Ranch, north of Halkirk, hosts a ride-a-thon through the picturesque Paintearth Creek valley on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m.
With fall colours now appearing, it’s expected the three- to four-hour ride will offer some spectacular scenery.
Joining the ride this year will be Miss Rodeo Canada, Arleta Bowhay of Sundre. Bowhay worked at Circle Square Ranch before earning her rodeo title.
Multiple prizes are being offered to participants in the categories of most money pledged, youngest rider, oldest rider, rider travelling the furthest, as well as a draw for an iPad.
Snacks and beverages will be provided halfway through the ride and beef-on-a-bun will be served at the conclusion.
Money raised from the ride will go toward maintaining the horse program at Circle Square.
“The horse program is the biggest part of the camp,” said Cynthia Perry, who along with her husband Kevin are the camp directors.
During the busy summer months, 60 horses are required each week in the popular program that teaches children to ride and offers certified horsemanship training.
More than 1,000 youths, aged six to 18, visit the Western-themed Christian camp during the nine-week summer program.
For many of these kids, it’s their first exposure to horses and leads to a lifelong love for the animals, Cynthia Perry said.
Each year, five to 10 horses need to be cycled out of the program. The need to replace those horses, as well as replacement of tack, is what prompted the ride-a-thon.
In addition to the horse program, the camp offers many other activities, such as mountain-bike training, boys’ adventures, back to nature, skateboarding and the new high-ropes course. The camp has an outdoor swimming pool, canoe pond and gym. Time is set aside daily for devotion and prayer.
Teepee Village is home for the six- to eight-year-olds, while the older children bunk down at Western Town.
Circle Square Ranch is open year-round. Local schools hold camps and year-end trips at the ranch, which also hosts retreats, conferences and meetings in the off-season.
There are five fulltime employees at Circle Square, with 50 to 60 staff workers during the busy summer months.
Many of the young people who attend the summer camps often come back as staff members when they’re older.
For more information on the Circle Square ride-a-thon, contact Kevin or Cynthia Perry at 403-884-2444.