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Meet Walt Thomas, Equestrian Director at Camp Cedars

May 12, 2014

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Walt Thomas is returning to Camp Cedars in 2014 for his 15th consecutive year. He will have 25 to 30 horses for use throughout the summer, including a mare with a newborn foal at her side.

The equestrian program will include trail rides, the Horsemanship merit badge, junior equestrian, equestrian obstacle course, basic and advanced roping, jumping 101, overnight outpost, basic riding skills, advanced horsemanship and medieval jousting. Newly added this summer is the Animal Science merit badge with the horse option. Scouts taking the Indian Lore merit badge will once again assemble a travois, and get to ride on it while being pulled by a horse. Scouts taking the Art merit badge will have the choice of drawing or painting a picture of a horse, or drawing or painting a picture ON A LIVE HORSE!

Walt was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout in Omaha, Nebraska in the 50s; he was a troop committee member, assistant Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster in the 70s. He was a Webelos den leader, Cubmaster and assistant district commissioner in the 80s, and started planning to bring horses back to Camp Cedars after an absence of 34 years in the late 90s.

The most rewarding moments for the wranglers at Camp Cedars include giving youth who had a bad experience with a horse at another location a positive experience through time and special individualized help. It is so rewarding when those Scouts leave camp with a new found love of horses.

One of the most memorable moments for the equestrian staff in recent years came last year when a first-year Scout in a wheel chair was attempting to complete his Kit Fox hike, but was unable to, even with adult help because of heavy rain the previous night which made the Malmstein Pass a muddy mess. The boy rode his wheelchair to the equestrian center, used the ADA approved ramp to transfer to a horse, rode the horse unassisted to Camp Eagle and back, and then transferred back to his chair to complete the hike. He did the entire hike without leaving his group of buddies.

When asked what advice Walt would give to those considering applying for a staff leadership position at one of our council camps, he said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are the kind of leader we need.”

When not on camp staff, Walt is a certified financial planner, and president of Associated Financial Planners, Inc. in Omaha. Most of his spare time is spent taking care of his horses who he describes as his “four-legged family.”

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