Camp Big Cat 2008
Camp Big Cat just concluded our most successful season ever. This summer, campers ages 8 to 15 were a regular sight on property sporting their lime green camp shirts and enthusiastic smiles. Our camp director, Coleen Kremer, certified teacher Erin Newman, and our fabulous summer interns (Lauren, Will B, Fran, Sara, Andrew, Rich, Erin, Jaydin) instructed and entertained the 108 campers who attended one or more of our six weekly sessions. We enjoyed many returning campers as well as several families who came from out of state, as far away as California!
Summer camp themes included Animal Classification, Animal Behavior, Ecology, Animal Adaptations, Genetics, and Conservation. Fun and interactive, educational activities for each topic reinforced the concepts presented and guest speakers added interest and variety to the topics.
Florida Aquarium sent their outreach educator, Tess to present “Aquatic Field Exploration” and “Marine Science Investigations” for our campers in an ongoing collaboration. Our very own talented volunteers were invaluable for the campers’ experience. Pat O’Shea, taught about butterflies, including a visit to the butterfly garden to find evidence of caterpillars and butterflies in their various stages of life. Dr. Deborah Albert shared a spectacular slide presentation of her travels to Antarctica. Dr. Kelly Rice spoke about veterinary medicine and intern, Will B, shared his contagious passion for Conservation. We appreciate these speakers for sharing their time to provide wonderful learning opportunities for our campers. Thanks also to our volunteers who were ready, willing, and able to help with camp, namely; Beth Ann Bluder, Scott Milshaw, Mike Surdyk, Hawley Crary and Sharyn Beach.
Camp is not just for learning, it’s also for fun! Here are just a few of the many activities the campers enjoyed:
– daily hikes to observe the cats during various times of the day
– making omnivore diets and observing feeding
– observing operant conditioning with a cat or two; and some campers even got to practice using this new skill while training another camper!
– creating extinction proof animals
– building mock habitats
– extracting strawberry DNA
– competing in scavenger hunts
2008 summer camp at Big Cat Rescue was an unprecedented success! How can we be SO sure? The following quotes are just a few of the enthusiastic responses we received:
…from the parents-
“When I picked them up they were exhausted but they had a twinkle in their eyes and were so excited to tell me about what they had done that day. The phrase “it was SOOO cool!” was said again and again. I thank you and my children thank you.”
“Very impressed with the entire staff, friendliness as well as seeing how much they all enjoy the children who attend camp, educating them all about the cats ….everything is very organized and taken seriously in the care which is given by all, true dedication. All activities are creative and the campers are given a gift with memories kept forever.”
“She couldn’t stop telling me about all the interesting cats. Really hit home about cats are NOT entertainment for humans.”
“My daughter has been going (to camp) since last year. She loves it and can’t wait until next summer!”
…from the campers-
“My favorite activity was making the cats enrichment. It was so fun and it was so cool to see the big cats play around with the newly made toys.”
“What I loved about the camp was that we learn and enjoy the cats at the same time! I loved all the activities.”
“We got to see so many cool cats and learn about them and obviously have FUN!”
It’s no small feat to educate and entertain children onsite all day long at a working sanctuary, while keeping both kids and cats safe from one another. Plus, throughout camp season, private group tours continue with numerous other facilities bringing their campers to visit. The show must go on! None of this would have been possible without the active involvement of our dedicated staff. Our thanks go out to Scott, Kathryn, Jess, and Honey who handled the visiting tour groups and sent golf carts out to rescue ailing campers while doing all the other work they do every day.