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“Circle Up” at Kamp Kessa

‘Circle up” is a check in that starts with a rating of how you feel from a 1-10. Ten being the best you have ever felt, one being the worst. I’m usually scoring an 8 before a equine therapy ride and then I might feel like a 10, especially when Derby and I have accomplished a lesson together.

In the Native American Culture we hold a talking feather, stick, spoon or any talking piece of the moment. We share our name and how we feel. When we do this, it is important to remember that if I don’t speak my truth after saying my name, I would disgrace seven years of ancestors before and after my existence.

Prompted with a discussion question by Dr. Thecla Helmbrecht Howard, there is always something randomly asked which can and is safely discussed in this sacred circle. I have learned about my own inner thoughts and spoken them into existence during “Circle Up”. Not only have I learned about myself, I have also learned other people’s perspectives. Some circles have been small, 3-5 people and some as large as 20-30 people. Whatever the size these “Circle Up” bits of time signifies a unity, a come together, a collaboration of our talents and strengths. The last year and a half of participating in Dr. Thecla’s “Circle Up'' with those learning to ride for the first time, existing clients, and Youth Group and Youth Leaders Dawn Montgomery, Lisa Snider and Mike McColl of the First Christian Church in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky; Youth Group and Youth Leaders Jackie and Jim Summers of the First Christian Church of Bardstown, Kentucky; Scott Hollow and Michelle Brown and Youth Group of First Christian Church of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky; Rob Schrader and Youth Group of Beargrass Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky; and Kyle Brown and Youth Group of Indianapolis Geist Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana all participating in Youth Service Learning at Kamp Kessa. Before and after the Service Learning Event we would introduce ourselves in a “Circle Up” ceremony and close with a “Circle Up” giving gratitude with how we felt about working together for the day.

Coming together before and after a horseback ride or Youth Service Learning, “Circle Up” at Kamp Kessa, a program of Sheltered Risks, Inc. a 501(c)3 nonprofit at Cedar Fire Farm, LLC in Frankfort, Kentucky has been a favorite of mine. It is a way to connect with one another and have the support of those you are in a circle with. A time to demonstrate gratitude when we connect and say our name, share how we are feeling and greet one another.

It was a fun summer of Youth Service Learning and I am grateful we all could come together and make a positive difference!

For more info on how you can experience Kamp Kessa, visit

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