Friday, September 4, 2009

Animal Welfare and Boys

I’m always amazed at the ratio of girls to boys in Educational programs at Humane Society Silicon Valley. It’s not a problem, just an interesting factoid of note. Many more girls than boys volunteer and get involved with animals, but when the boys are impacted by what they learn and connect it with compassion, I’m always very impressed. I love that boys learn to be more nurturing and gentle when they come to our programs – and I just know that translates to a kinder and gentler world.

Adam, who was a camp counselor at HSSV’s summer camp stood out to me this year. The summer camp program was a joyful thing to see here on the HSSV campus – kids running around in bright orange camp t-shirts, learning, having a ton of fun, playing games and creating different projects

(see Jesse and his artwork) – and most important, becoming compassionate future community members who connect with something larger than themselves.

We asked Adam to share what was special to him at summer camp this year. When I found out that he had originally been required to complete community service through his high school, I was especially excited about what he ultimately shared about his experience during the summer. He wanted to come back to be a counselor again – and not as a requirement for school – he was inspired! I’ll share a few paragraphs of his letter, but highlights for me were that he most valued forming a bond with the campers and that camp gave him an opportunity to be a role model for other boys in the program.

This is from Adam:

While volunteering, the funniest moments were those that happened when the kids were in the opening circle. The kids were so involved and excited about the songs, and that involvement always brought a smile to my face. There was such creativity in those songs – one camper performed it “Valley Girl” style and another performed it astronaut style. Those versions made me laugh the hardest.

As a camp counselor, the most important thing for me is forming a bond with the campers. This happened for me within a matter of hours! My most memorable camper was Josiah. He absolutely adored me from the minute I sat down to color a picture with him. He had so much energy while jumping around on me and playing with a beach ball. He was always in good spirits. He loved to introduce new games for the other campers. I will always remember him and the relationship we formed during those five days.

The camp involved a lot of fun activities that taught the kids about animals while still keeping it interesting. We made dog food and had a competition to see whose dog food was the best (Buster was our taste-tester and admittedly, he seemed to pretty much like ALL food). It taught the kids what type of food is good for animals and highlighted which foods are bad, especially in large quantities.

The kids also learned to train with the Director of Education's dog, Buzz, a CGC certified pitbull adopted from Bad Rap. They also learned to always ask the pet owner before petting an animal. They learned about cats and why there are so many in Santa Clara County and how to help. They also got to see presentations by the Youth Science Institute and Happy Hollow Zoo so that they could, learn which animals actually make appropriate pets.

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