Kids Taking the Reins

220701 SUNDERLAND RANCH KLB 0443   Blog Post Horizontal

For Kayzlee, horse camp holds a special place in her heart. As a recipient of an Alaska Housing Youth Summer Camp & Activities Scholarship, Kayzlee has spent two summers at Sunderland Ranch learning not only how to ride and manage horses, but also about the care required to own and stable a horse. Each camper actively participates in grooming, feeding, and more related to their upkeep.

I just love this camp – you get to be around a ton of animals,” says Kayzlee. “We learn how to saddle up the horses and how to properly groom them, which is really fun.”  

The camp provides a true ranch experience for participants along with long-term life skills that include the importance of working hard, working as a team, and integrity. As the camp progresses, relationships are born between the campers and organizers see clear connections being made between horses and riders.

During her first summer camp experience, Kayzlee met a horse named Honey who had just given birth to a foal. Their interaction has grown and when she returned for her second year, the two became inseparable.

“I just love her because she is really easy to ride on trail – even though she sometimes stops and snacks on dandelions.”

– Kayzlee, Alaska Housing Youth Summer Camp & Activities Scholarship Participant

Character Building

New campers at the ranch are often timid at first around the horses and a little shy. As the camp progresses they change throughout the experience. The gentle acceptance of the horses helps campers learn how to manage things in their lives, as well as how to build relationships and connect with one another. 

The overall outdoor experience and having the ability to be away from the regular day-to-day stresses of life is a bonus. These elements combine to help build character and an understanding of how important it is to care for others. 

Making A Connection

Bret Gilleland has been influenced by horses since an early age and can speak personally about how they have changed her life and the changes she sees each summer with young riders. She is the barn and camp manager for Sunderland Ranch and sees first-hand the unique impact that the Alaska Housing Youth Summer Camp & Activities Scholarship program has on participants.

“Horses help kids develop their confidence and become a little bit more independent,” she says. 

In this case, Alaska Housing Youth Summer Camp & Activities Scholarship opens an outdoor world to campers and for many a first-time opportunity to spend a week with horses in a wholesome environment. 

“The Sunderland family are some of the most open, loving, kind people I've ever met, and they welcome everyone onto this ranch as family. Their beautiful herd of horses is just a recipe for success for children to come out and grow just a little bit, or a lot,” says Gilleland.

“There's just something about being able to become totally comfortable when you're a small child learning how to control such a huge beast. Maybe it helps them figure out how to control little things in their life too.”

– Bret Gilleland, Barn and Camp Manager for Sunderland Ranch

How To Apply



  • You can pick any summer camp, activity, or sport you choose. 
  • Eligible families can apply for scholarship assistance for up to two youths per household. One Family = One Application.
  • Scholarships are up to $500 with a $25 co-pay per youth for the cost of the camp/activity and associated fees.
  • When the application period is open, the application will be made available here. If you need a special accommodation for submitting an online application, please email

Scholarship application period

  • All households with eligible children will receive an email and/or flyer with more information regarding the application period opening and deadline in April 2023.
  • We encourage all eligible residents to apply!