Critter Camp (2023-2024, 2022-2023, 2021-2022, 2019-2020, 2018-2019, 2016-2017, 2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2013-2014)
Animal Samaritans, the Coachella Valley’s largest most-comprehensive animal welfare organization, is a 501 (c) non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of animals and people. During school time, our Humane Education program educates youngsters about responsible pet ownership and pet safety through in-classroom presentations. During the summer, we provide free-of-charge Critter Camps for children ages 7 through 11 in Desert Hot Springs Recreation Center, Desert Hot Springs Family Resource Center, Mecca Family & Farmworker’s Service Center, and now in Mead Valley Family Resource Center.
Critter Camp is a fun and informative day camp which provides children with hands on experience with animals, animal-related activities, and animal-related arts & crafts to teach respect for all living creatures. We use prizes to motivate our campers to participate in all activities. All campers receive a camp shirt and a camp bag with goodies. In addition, we provide our children from Family Resource Center (Mecca, Desert Hot Springs, Mead Valley) free lunches and snacks.
Critter Camp activities include:
• Live Animal Presentations: We believe that children need to interact with different animals to understand them and respect them. Our certified therapy dogs under our Animal Companion Therapy program help children practice kindness hands-on by petting and brushing them. Sloane, a rescued dog from Envigo Laboratories, teaches our campers the importance of kindness and compassion as well as pet responsibility.
• Arts & Crafts: Our camp art is always related to an animal the children will meet during camp or has learned about it through our educational PowerPoint presentations. Our campers show their love for animals through their artwork and cherish it as if it were the actual animal. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment when they see their art project completed. This year’s main arts & crafts projects are Model Magic Dogs and making a Coral Reef to bring awareness about the importance of saving the ocean.
• Animal-Themed Games: Camp is not camp without fun games. Every summer we play our loved Hot Potato game but with a stuffed animal. Our campers pretend the stuffed animal is a real guinea pig. Although our campers want to go fast to win, they must be gentle when giving the pet to the next person. This game helps our campers practice patience and how to be gentle with pets. Any mishandling of the stuffed animal during the game will disqualify the camper. We also play Basic Pet Care Bingo. If time permits, we play Animal Charades. This game has our campers act out an animal and helps them build up their teamwork skills.
• Camp Lesson: Each summer we offer one to two 30-minute PowerPoint presentations regarding proper pet care, pet safety, and how to be kind to animals. The main lesson varies each year. This summer we are having our Basic Pet Care and No More Bullying lessons along with an educational video about the importance of coral reefs.
As much as we educate adults, it is children who will make a difference in the future. It is our goal to teach them pet responsibility and help them practice kindness in order to see the positive change we want to see. Animal Samaritans believes that to learn a skill, you must practice the skill. “We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle
Contact: Diana Martinez, Humane Educator