Ok, I need to brag for a minute. Grab a snack and hunker down, because to be honest, I’ll probably gush for more than a mere minute. I’m nothing if not enthusiastic in my pride for my coworkers and the work they do every day to make this a better world for our animal friends.
As I’ve mentioned before, we have a fabulous summer camp for animal lovers 9 to 12 years old called Critter Camp. We have week-long programs over the course of 6 weeks from June through July where 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.
It has become wildly popular over the last couple of years – and for good reason. The programming is always fantastic.
But seriously, folks – this year the bar has been raised. Like, a lot. In fact, I can’t even see the bar anymore. It’s somewhere hovering above a skyscraper laughing and pointing. Since hiring Loni, our new Humane Education Coordinator, the level of creativity and experiential learning that our kids get to enjoy is off the charts bonkers fun.
Along with Isabel, our humane education associate who can best be described as a magician, and Maya, our super cool camp counselor – this small team of educators have created something truly wonderful for kids that far exceeded my expectations when it was rolled out.
For the first time, the team decided to build the week-long curriculum around fun themes.
The first, we called “Junior Vets”. This particular week would focus on kids who are interested in animal science and overall pet health and wellness. They get to learn basic animal anatomy, behaviors, wellness and conservation skills from real experts in veterinary medicine.
Each day during this week, kids learn pet first aid and CPR, and they even learn proper bandaging techniques. This one blew me away. Get this – they are also learning how to do sutures (which, apparently the kids are completely obsessed with)! I can’t even with how cool that is to watch!
By the end of the week, campers get to have what’s called “The White Coat Ceremony” where they receive their Junior Vet certificate in a graduation ceremony in front of their friends and family. #adorbs
The second themed week we called “Media Mutts”. Working alongside a small production team, the little actors and directors get to discuss, write, and develop animal-themed content that informs the community about animal behavior, exercise, health and conservation.
Last week, a gaggle of Media Mutts were filming all over campus creating their own version of a local broadcast news program called “PHS News”. Everywhere I went all week long, I would see little people setting up shots, saying things like “ok, let’s go for take 2 people!” and “Cut!”
On Friday I went to the film “Premier” along with a standing room only crowd of family and friends to watch the PHS News broadcast. It was…ah-may-zing!
These kids brought their A-game to this project, let me tell you. They taught viewers about what to do when one finds a litter of kittens, as well as gave us the inside scoop on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) to help care for our community cats. Not only was it side-splitting hilarious, but it was also sharply accurate and informative. We’re talking investigative reporting at it’s finest.
This week, the kids are focused on a different type of artistic expression with “Animals in the Arts.” Right now they are working on creating comic strips about dogs, cats and critters. Later in the week they’ll spend time helping us market our adoptable pets by drawing and writing fun narratives to put on the kennel cards to try and get animals adopted faster. Finally they’ll complete a mixed media art project – Animals on Canvas. This will all culminate in a high-class art show exhibit for friends and family. Move over Warhol.
So yeah, I have an amazing team doing amazing things for our communities kids who are now doing really wonderful things for animals. People often remind me (rather loudly at times and in all caps) that I have the best job in the world.
They would be right.