I have always loved animals. I remember spending hours during summer break giving my stuffed animals “check-ups” and wrapping their “injuries” in Ace bandages.
My passion did not develop into a career path, but if Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA camps had been around when I was a kid, things might have turned out differently. My recent visit to one of the camps kicks off RAK magazine’s third annual My Day at Camp summer series.
I spent a morning with children participating in Camp Vet, an excellent introduction for children interested in careers in the veterinary field. They will use actual equipment—just like real veterinarians and vet techs—including a stethoscope to check a kitten’s heartbeat. They also learn skills like putting in an IV (into a banana), suturing (on fruit, chicken legs and wings or stuffed animals), organ dissection, microscope viewing, hands-on pet first-aid and more.
Even if your kids don’t grow up to be veterinarians or stars on “Animal Planet,” what they learn at these camps will nurture a lifelong love of animals. One of the camp instructors, Jonathan Rooney, attended camp as a 6-year-old. Though he is studying engineering in college, his face lights up as he gently removes a kitten from a carrier for the kids to examine.
If your kids are lining up their stuffed animals and asking where you keep the Ace bandages, consider signing them up for one of the camps offered at the AAWL & SPCA. It may light a spark for a future career or it may just make them better pet caretakers. Either way, the animals win.
Camps at the AAWL & SPCA run all summer for ages 3 to 17 and cover everything from basic animal care to surgical observation. For more information, call 602-273-6852 x122 or register online at aawl.org/summer-camp.
Harrison Healy (12) examines a kitten’s ears while instructor Jonathan Rooney assists.