Copyright © 2009 Audubon Nature Institute P.O. Box 4327 New Orleans, LA 70178 (504) 861-2537 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Last Week of Zoo Camp
It’s seems very fitting that this last week of zoo summer camp’s theme is “Gross and Grubby”. That is exactly how the zoo education area looks and feels right now. 175 children a week for 8 weeks has resulted in 4 broken water fountains, a broken table, countless broken chairs, a faucet broken off from the base of a sink, dozens of broken sand toys, 3 punctured swimming pools, 7 punctured rubber balls, (the jump ropes and hoola hoops don’t even last 24 hours), door handles and window handles broken completely off, a broken microphone, 3 clogged toilets, a broken bubble machine and they busted the axel off their wagon. They managed to remove hundreds of pounds of sand from the sandbox and spread it into every restroom, classroom, office and walkway in a three acre radius.
They have eaten over 400 pounds of animal crackers, goldfish and vanilla wafers and used several miles worth of toilet paper. They have used up 84 glue sticks and left the lids off of 168 colored markers. They also managed to lose almost every card and piece of every board game. The “lost and found” tubs are numerous and overflowing with lunch bags, damp towels, zoo shirts, single shoes, dirty socks and more. The zoo train drivers, carousel operators, dinosaur gatekeepers and maintenance staff ask me repeatedly when the last day of camp is. Then they whisper to themselves, “One more week, just one more week…”
Eight weeks of summer camp flew by. The campers had a great summer. They fed elephants, touched a sloth, played at Monkey Hill, rode the zoo train and Endangered Species Carousel. They explored every inch of the Audubon Zoo, they washed plastic sea turtles and learned about the oil spill, they attended an insect magic show, made pizza box solar ovens and cooked s’mores. They made adorable construction paper rats and squirt gun skunks. They did “animal yoga” with real live elephants doing the moves with them. Most importantly, they played outdoors and used their imaginations. I observed them digging, spying, running and playing together like kids used to before over scheduling, video games and television.
I think this was the best Zoo camp summer ever. We had great staff and great experiences. My job was to keep them safe and to create a connection to nature. I think we did it. We’ll start cleaning up, looking at what worked well and what we can improve on and I’ll be looking forward to greeting my little friends again next June.