One Spade Youth Packers is a program started in 1995 by Reid & Eileen Hopkins to develop both character and leadership skills in boys and girls ages 9-17. The program seeks to teach the kids the importance of setting goals and working to attain those goals, with personal responsibility, discipline, and dedication.
Working with mules and other kids of different ages teaches them the importance of team work, sportsmanship, ethics, improves self esteem, and the importance of being honest in everything we do.
Success comes from hard work “PERIOD”.
Many of our participants are "at risk" or economically disadvantaged.
We give the kids an outdoor experience with mules that may otherwise be inaccessible to them to instill discipline and respect for themselves, others, and nature.
One Spade Youth Packers was established in 1995 by Reid and Eileen Hopkins. Having grown up working around mules and Pack Stations early in their lives, they knew that mules and packing were going to have a huge role in their future. As time went on they began to see fewer young people in the back country every year. They felt something needed to done. They began having local kids pack in with them. Before long they were getting more requests from local kids than they could handle. At one point someone suggested they should form a youth pack team and take them to Bishop Mule Days to compete, so it begins. . .
In January of 1995 the first One Spade Youth Packing team was selected. The team consisted of twelve boys and girls, between the ages of eight and seventeen. The kids were selected based on their need and desire to learn about mules, horses, and packing. Reid and Eileen knew from that first Mule Days that they were on to something. As the program grew, so did the cost. Reid and Eileen were able to enlist the financial support from a host of community organizations and numerous private businesses.
We use a “hands on” approach to teach wilderness ethics, mule anatomy/physiology, shoeing, feeds/feeding, equine nutrition, shoeing, first aide, packing techniques, including Decker, Sawbuck and Aparejo. The kids are also required to learn the history of packing mules and the role they played in the development of our great Country.
The team begins training each February, working every other weekend (Friday evening-Sunday) at the Hopkins’ Ranch in Kernville. The team competes against kids and adults at the World Famous Bishop Mule Days over the Memorial Day Weekend.
The entire program is provided at no charge to the kids or their families. Donations are critical to the success of this program. There are no salaries taken from this organization, all volunteers donate their time. We are grateful to our Sponsors - with their support the success stories will continue.
We work with youth to show them how life used to be, before vehicles. Mules were packed with supplies, gear, and everything you need to migrate across the new frontier. These youth have learned to use Farming Implements pulled by Mules. From preparing the ground and soil, planting seeds, and harvesting the crop. Mules pulled the wagons into town for supplies and family outings.
We would love to hear from you. Please visit "Contact Us" page.
We are a 501 C3 nonprofit organization and always appreciate help, especially financial support. It cost a lot of money to care for Mules, and feed growing youth.