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Zoo Camp Prep
567 camp t-shirts folded, 4 wagons to assemble, 84 bottles of glue to unpack, 800 markers to sort and check (why can’t children put the caps back on?!) and 100 pounds of healthy snacks to order—Audubon Zoo Camp is only 10 days away.
Everyone is hustling to get things prepared for my favorite time of year—Audubon Zoo Camp! We are pouring over the books-trying to find that perfect animal craft made out of toilet paper rolls and finding recyclable containers to house insects in. The last few weeks we have been training eager new camp staff to be camp counselors and I am perfecting my animal yoga poses and learning the “Baby Shark Song” to make the experience even better this year.
I love zoo camp, I wish I could have gone to a zoo camp when I was a kid. The camp kids and counselors are family to us. I have seen different generations of zoo camp kids come through the program. Many of my camp counselors are former "camp kids". It really is about a special phenomenon I call the “Audubon Family” –parents and children that we see daily and connect to here at the zoo and in the community. I see campers (and the trademark pink and white camp shirts) at the grocery store, snowball stands and movies. Camper’s parents are our doctors, vets, neighbors and pest control guys. There is excitement every morning as everyone is dropped off and then a different excitement as the campers are picked up and they are talking about the animals they touched, the fact that flamingos eat special food to make them pink and how they played in the stream at Monkey Hill with their new best buddy from camp.
I will probably blog a lot about camp. It’s important to me and the Audubon Nature Institute for several reasons-sure it is revenue for the education department, but it is a chance to let children explore the outdoors, nature and animals. I spent my summers on a bike or horse traveling the outdoors and having great adventures. Children do not have those same opportunities now. I want to make sure that they still spend time outdoors during the summer in a natural surrounding. We will have lots of adventures. There is a fascinating study that suggests children who spend more time playing outdoors have more friends. I know it’s true for me. I have 175 friends coming in 10 days!