Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Amazing Animals Summer Camp - Camp Counselors Tell Their Side

Last week, Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV) started its Amazing Animals summer camp. We are junior volunteer camp counselors, but you could say we have some experience already—having worked in the same camp last year. However, we aren’t the only ones returning! Many of the campers this year told us they begged their parents to sign them up again after all the fun they had last year. Twenty minutes into the first day of camp, a little girl came up to us, grinning, and plainly stated, “I love this camp!” And we agree; it’s been exciting from the start.

As counselors, we have to wake up early to set up, but it is more than worth it when kids, clad in bright orange t-shirts stream into the building, calling us by our “pet names” (as opposed to our real names, which they are begging to find out). On Monday, we welcomed all the new faces, each one riveted to any mention of meeting animals up close and in person. The highlight of the day was meeting Harriet, a 7-year-old Golden Retriever. Each of the kids, armed with a treat, had the chance to introduce him or herself to Harriet and have her perform a trick like “sit,” “down” or “shake.” The room was buzzing with talk of the dog long after we had finished training her! On Tuesday, the kids had already gotten acquainted and eagerly awaited the next animal appearance. Instead of a single animal, Happy Hollow Park & Zoo brought several animals. We saw parrots, a Rainbow boa, hissing cockroaches, a guinea pig and a porcupine!

We as counselors note that exposing the campers to both adoptable and “wild” animals broadens their horizons and helps to promote their love for them. During the presentation, they asked questions nonstop and giggled at t he noisy, singing parrot in the background. With different animals to meet every day, we find ourselves right alongside the campers, guiding them and sharing their enthusiasm. Every junior volunteer counselor knows what it is like to love animals from a young age, which just makes it all the more fun to work with kids and animals at the same time. You can never have too many animal lovers!

Tomorrow, we’re going to meet an 8 foot long boa constrictor, play with baby kittens, and later, take the Dog Food Taste Test Challenge. We can’t wait to tell you all about it!
-Sniffie & Spaz, HSSV camp counselors

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