BASHAW, Alta. — With almost 60 children working with cattle, dipping T-shirts in buckets of dye and painting at craft tables, cow camp is an example of organized confusion.
That freedom to choose and create is part of Cecilie Fleming’s plan to foster their independence.
“The goal is to have fun and be creative and allow the children some independent thinking and make decisions on their own,” said Fleming, the camp organizer and a cattle producer from Granum, Alta.
“It’s time for them to find their place. I try not to coddle them. We’re not looking for perfection. We’re looking for participation and allowing them to find their creative side.”
For two days, children ages three to nine can take part in showmanship, grooming, clipping and conformation classes at cow camp. It is part of the annual Canadian National Junior All Breeds show in Bashaw.
Most camp participants have older siblings or cousins who show cattle in the national event here and without the camp, they would have little to do.
Fleming sees it as an opportunity to introduce younger children to the cattle show world.
The children learn about marketing, are encouraged to speak into a microphone to boost their communication skills and they learn about farm safety.
“It’s a social thing. This will be the last event these kids do with all their cow friends for the summer,” said Fleming.
Many of her students from earlier camps are now adults immersed in the show cattle world and they come back to encourage the younger people to participate.