Pasadena shelter’s summer camp checks all the boxes

“Am I a bad mother?” Brooke asked.

“Yes.” I confirmed without hesitation.

We were on our usual morning commute phone call where we discuss important political issues, solve the world’s problems, and talk about people we think are ridiculous. It’s a morning ritual that gets the day started off right – and since I don’t drink coffee, it’s the only thing that wakes me up.

“Summer camp.” She stated, an air of resentment punctuating the words.

There was a long pause, indicating I must have missed my queue. “Summer camp.” I repeated flatly. “Go.”

Brooke has been my best friend for half my life – so our topics of conversation on our morning commute to work has shifted over the years as we moved begrudgingly into adulthood. Our 20’s was all about romance, drama, and fashion. Our 30’s were spent talking about mortgages, 401k’s, and fashion. Now, in our 40’s, our conversations consist of kids, covering up grey, and the endless pursuit of a nap. Oh, and fashion.

I was hoping to spend this morning’s commute talking about the three white chest hairs I found last night – but whatever. Kids it is.

“I read ‘Parenting for Dummies’ cover to cover, and nowhere did it mention how hard it would be to find good summer camps for kids. There are NO options!”

Since I don’t have children, I am often caught wildly unprepared for conversations involving how to safely raise them. So instead, I just listen and offer what I believe to be reasonable solutions.

“Can’t you just drop her off at the mall?” I asked (Hi, reasonable solution!).“Also, sidebar – is there really a Parenting for Dummies book? Are there pictures? I have questions.”

She went on to tell me how difficult it is for working parents of young children to find reasonably priced, academically and socially well-rounded summer day camps.

Everyone I know who have children have said the same thing. It is difficult to find summer camps for kids that check off all the boxes: safe, conveniently timed, reasonably priced, and actually fun for the kids.

Listening to Brooke talk about how challenging it’s been to find programs for her daughter, it finally dawned on me the reason our summer Critter Camp is so successful year after year, and books up so quickly. It truly is the Holy Grail of summer camps for animal lovers.

Critter Camp at the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA is a week-long program for animal lovers 9 to 12 years old. Campers get hands-on with animals as they learn about dogs, cats and other critters in our shelter, as well as animal behavior, pet adoption, co-existing with wildlife and careers with animals.

For this summer, we’ve made some pretty exciting changes to our Critter Camp format too. Parents can choose from three different tracks: Animals in the Arts, Junior Vets, and Media Mutts. Our amazing humane educators have lots in store for our pint-sized animal lovers – and have really re-imagined a format that is fun and exciting for kids. It’s pretty cool.

For Animals in the Arts, campers will create beautiful animal artwork with watercolors, oil pastels, clay and more. The activities over the week culminate in a fun art show that campers family and friends can view the spectacular artwork created over the course of the week.

Ideal for kids interested in animal science, our Junior Vets track educates campers on basic animal anatomy, behaviors, wellness and conservation skills. At the end of the week, campers will celebrate their completion of camp with a Junior Vet white coat ceremony.

Given that we live in the entertainment capital of the world, we are introducing a track for kids interested in careers in the film and TV industry. Working alongside a small production team, the little actors and directors in your life will discuss, write, and develop animal-themed content that informs the community about animal behavior, exercise, health and conservation. On the last day of camp, parents and family are invited to our film preview party!

We’re currently registering for this summer – so if you’re looking for fun summer activities for your kids this year, check us out at