Opportunity for Military Families to Bond with Horses at FIT Camp

The Van Huysen family at Families In Transition (FIT) Camp in 2020.
The Van Huysen family took part in their first FIT Camp last year.

Military families seeking a unique summer experience that will allow them to bond with and ride horses are encouraged to sign up for Heroes In Transition’s (HIT) Families In Transition (FIT) Camp.

FIT Camp, which is free and open to military families in our region, gives participants the opportunity to connect with horses at Alliance Equestrian Center at Camp Lyndon in Sandwich over the course of five days. To apply, families should email families@heroesintransition.org.

Now in its ninth year, FIT Camp will take place during the following weeks: Monday, June 28 through Friday, July 2; Monday July 12 through Friday, July 16; and Monday, July 26 through Friday, July 30. Each day kicks off at 4:45 pm and concludes at 7 pm. Families are provided with dinner each night followed by separate activities geared towards parents and children.

Through FIT Camp, military families are able to experience the healing, forgiving nature of horses,” said HIT Executive Director Nicole Spencer. “Since we started this program in 2013, this week has given families a chance to heal while bonding with one another in a relaxing setting.”

Eric LaFranchise riding a horse at Families In Transition (FIT) Camp in 2019.
Eric LaFranchise, who serves in the Air National Guard, told us that FIT Camp was a much-needed activity that brought his family closer together in 2019.

The week begins with families paired up with a horse that they will connect with over the next five days. Together, they learn about the horse, groom and care for it, and ride it during the course of the week.

“My favorite thing about FIT Camp was it provided an opportunity for our family to relax and learn new things. We literally had to show up at the stables and everything else was taken care of for us, including dinner,” said Casey Van Huysen of Mashpee, a military spouse who attended her first FIT Camp last year with her husband Aaron, who currently serves in the Coast Guard, and their children. “We had never been horseback riding as a family before and it was so much fun to see our kids learn to care for and ride horses. It also allowed us to connect with other military families which is so important to us.”

“For me, I was amazed how FIT Camp provided an opportunity to tackle multiple aspects of healing,” said Air Force Major Sara LaFranchise of Sandwich who participated in the program two summers ago with her husband Eric, who serves in the Air National Guard, and their children. “This experience is something our kids still talk about years later and will be a lasting memory for us.”

Due to demand and interest, FIT Camp has expanded from being held one week each summer to three weeks in recent years.

FIT Camp is partially funded through a grant from the Woods Hole Foundation and support from its Community Partner Cape Cod Retractable, Inc. in Pocasset.