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09 Feb, Thursday
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Montreal Families

Riding camp wins Award of Excellence

Sans Souci Riding Centre, an equestrian camp in Ste.Clotilde, Que., has won the 2013 Award of Excellence by the Canadian Camping Association. The award is given annually to an individual, camp or organization that has made outstanding contributions within their province.

Owners Don and Carolyn Sedgwick said they were very proud to have been honoured. “We’ve put in so much work for so many years that it was unbelievable to get this recognition,” Don Sedgwick said.

Sedgwick and his wife purchased the 250-acre farm 19 years ago, when it was already operating as a camp. They had a few tough years at the beginning when a lot of time was spent making improvements; Sedgwick, a carpenter, rebuilt many of the buildings himself. He and Carolyn then came up with a winning formula: a specialty residential camp dedicated strictly to horses and English riding lessons.

The camp offers four, two-week sessions throughout the summer to campers ages 8 to 17, as well as spring and winter weekend sessions and riding lessons for former campers who wish to continue with the sport. Each camp includes several hours of riding and horse care each day, and the two-week summer sessions finish with a horse show.

Their hard work has paid off: the camp has been full to capacity with a waiting list for the last 15 years. Sedgwick credits his strong partnership with his wife as a big reason for their success but adds that they don’t have much time to rest.

For six months of the year, the two of them have to work every day taking care of the farm and its 50 horses by themselves.  They are both Equine Canada certified riding coaches, and Sedgwick still rides and actively competes – a way of ensuring that the quality of instruction at the farm remains high.

Sedgwick says that many of his campers return year after year and some even become counsellors. It was one of their former campers who nominated Sans Souci for the award.  The Canadian Camping Association chose Sans Souci, in part because: “there is an immediate sense of calm and serenity when you step onto the Sans Souci grounds. Selflessly and tirelessly, Don and Carolyn have worked to benefit their campers and staff. They have created a loyal community whose devotion to the camp and the program extends beyond their camper and staff years.”

As for the Sedgwicks, they are happy to be enjoying the recognition for their hard work, especially after tough times in the beginning when there was “not a cent to be made” from the property. “Our business has been a straight uphill climb,” Sedgwick says. “We’re very proud of what we’ve built.”

For more information, visit sans-souci.qc.ca

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