Every summer, Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB) hosts a popular day camp, called Critter Camp, that helps kids ages 7 to 12 become empathetic and compassionate towards animals. “Every day of the week, they'll do something different and animal-related and will interact with the shelter animals here,” Maria Matlack, director of marketing at HSTB, said.
One example of how the campers learn about and benefit the shelter animals is by creating adoption flyers. Each kid will get to know the pets and use their flyers as an opportunity to tell an animal’s story. The flyers then live on the kennels and inform future pet parents looking for their forever friend. Young campers with dreams of becoming vets can grab a lab coat and spend a day learning about and exploring HSTB’s on-site vet hospital, too.
The shelter animals benefit from Critter Camp just as much as the kids do. “The more comfortable animals are with people and interacting with kids, the more it helps their animal-human bond,” Maria said. “And, of course, it's good for the dogs to get them out of a kennel and to give them some adequate time outside.”
At the end of the week, the kids end their time at Critter Camp with a celebratory pizza party (and they get a complimentary shirt, too). The campers leave with a new appreciation for veterinarians, animal activists and pet parents — plus, they now have the skills to be informed and compassionate pet lovers.
To learn more about our shelter partner or mark your calendars for next summer’s Critter Camp, read our article.
Photo by Humane Society of Tampa Bay