June 18, 2018
Summer break is right around the corner, which means the ZooCamp staff here at Seneca Park Zoo are preparing for months of non-stop fun for hundreds of ZooCampers! From helping zoo keepers and up-close animal encounters, to new, hands-on activities every day. How else would you want to spend a summer?
As a Camp Coordinator, it’s my job to make sure that counselors have everything they need to provide campers with an immersive and memorable week at the Zoo. This starts by cleaning the camp spaces and stocking them with craft materials, snacks, first aid kits, and plenty of games. A seemingly small task, but it makes a huge difference once the hustle and bustle of camp is in full swing. Putting together the daily schedules and making sure the campers have plenty of activities during their time at camp is also a big part of getting ready for the summer.
After sitting in classrooms for a majority of the year, we know that kids are ready to get outside, meet new friends, and just have fun. ZooCamp allows kids to do exactly that while learning about new themes and subjects at the same time. Instead of teaching about conservation issues in a classroom, like climate change or habitat loss, we have the ability to give campers hands-on experiences with real-world conservation projects like testing how clean the local water is or making a mural out of recycled plastic. When discussing a theme such as animal poaching, the campers can look into the eyes of one of the four beautiful African elephants at the Zoo and see for themselves that this animal’s life is worth much more than what you could sell their ivory for.
My favorite part about leading ZooCamp is being able to connect with the kids over a shared love of animals and the environment. To watch campers of all ages engage with some of their favorite animals up close and get excited about discovering ways that they can help conservation efforts from their own home is incredible. I believe it’s important for the younger generation to witness first-hand adults, young and old, who are excited about nature and animals just as much as they are. Being able to share my passion for conservation with young minds is so important to me; everyone can make a positive change in the world, no matter how old they are.
If you have a child that is curious about animals and nature, is interested in working at a zoo one day, or even just loves to be outside, then ZooCamp is the right choice. While talking to your child about their day at camp, you may even learn something new yourself!
– Heidi Van Buskirk, Camp Coordinator