(and cats, and rabbits and…)by Lynn Rees Lambert
“I’m going to be a vet!”
For parents who have heard that declaration more than once, and for those with children who love getting close to our four-legged friends, there are some furrific camp options.
Be sure to check out the Off-Leash March Break Camp and PD Day Camps from the Ottawa Humane Society. Now in its fourth year, the March Break camp for kids aged six to 12 runs March 16 to 20 at the 245 West Hunt Club Road shelter. Programs during Professional Development Days continue to run, with the final two scheduled for February 13 and April 24.
But move quickly. Allie Holloway, supervisor of programs at the OHS, says the March Break program regularly sells out. Response has been excellent, says Holloway, adding the camp is extremely popular with kids in the seven to 10 age range.
And no wonder. For those who love animals, or those who would dearly love to have a pet but cannot (due to siblings with allergies, for example) the society offers an up-close-and-personal adventure with creatures big and small. There are dogs, of course, and cats—“loads of cats,” says Holloway—but also mice, rats, hamsters and rabbits. Sometimes, there’s the opportunity to see a “wild animal” that has been rescued.
In addition to a behind-the-scenes tour (always a hit, says Holloway), the program explains the process of rescue (or drop off) through to adoption. But it’s the vet techs that generate the greatest intrigue.
“Lots of kids come with the idea they want to be a vet, with no idea of the years of study that requires,” Holloway notes. But once they see the world of the vet tech, their thoughts can change. Children can peer into a microscope to examine live ear mites, parasites and fleas. And, provided they have parental consent, they can watch a spay/neuter surgery.
Another activity that generates interest is the temperament test in which staff members assess canine disposition. Hands-on dog time is also popular. Proper handling of dogs on a leash is exactly what some kids have been waiting for. All dogs are volunteer dogs, and the walking is supervised.
Holloway says the program has an impact on children, with many campers falling under the repeat customer category. “They love meeting the animals and they also love to help out.”
Often, kids become true blue supporters.
Children enjoy making toys for the animals, stuffing kongs or painting a dog dish. Many of them leave with the notion of raising funds for the shelter, Holloway points out. And they do: From making bracelets, running lemonade stands, posting to online donations forums and donating their birthday money, “They’re very creative when it comes to fundraising. It’s pretty adorable.”
The March Break program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $240 for the week. Extended hours are offered for an additional charge. P.D. Programs are $50 per day. Children are asked to bring lunch and a snack. The facility is not nut free, but participants are encouraged to follow this guideline. Registration for the March Break and PD Day programs is online at www.ottawahumanesociety or call the supervisor of programs at 613 725-3166 ext. 298.