The Dog Days of Summer Camp

by Diane Rose-Solomon, June 21, 2017, Diane’s Blog: Helping Pet Lovers Celebrate Compassion

Don’t you just love summer?

Are you the kind of family that loves the long warm summer days at home… kids sleeping late, or at camp during the day? Maybe a few trips to the lake or beach? Or do you love getting far away from it all? Do you prefer a relaxing sitting by the pool kind of vacation? Or are you more of the adventure seeking type? Or a mix?

And- have you ever been on a vacation or even a staycation (the vacation where you stay at home) that gives back to the community or to our planet?

Here are some great ideas for you animal-loving families.

Let’s start with the staycation. School is out, kids need something to do for at least part of the time. They love animals, you love the idea of them getting a humane education year round. But of course, we want it to be fun, right?

Did you know that many animal shelters offer summer camp weeks?

If you are staying close to home, it’s a fabulous option.

Shelters offer kids camps with activities ranging from arts and crafts projects, to reading, guest speakers, scavenger hunts, puzzles, and some offer hands-on work with shelter animals. Perhaps they do a little dog training, some outdoor activities, and socializing with shelter animals. I just learned that some groups either have a veterinarian on staff or bring one in to camp to show kids how to suture after a spay and neuter procedure (using a banana!) and in some instances, kids can even watch a real procedure (having a signed waiver from their parents of course and age appropriate).

The kids are having fun while learning!

Next, what if you are going for an extended stay somewhere and want to get to know the area. Let’s say you are visiting Kauai, Hawaii (lucky you!). Your children can join the Kauai Humane Society Critter Camps and do all of this in Hawaii. At Kauai Humane, the kids get to do a mock surgery with a stuffed dog and the “Critters” put on gloves and cute animal masks and pretend to be the Vet and the Vet techs. They usually find a toy that the dog has swallowed or chocolate. Their imaginations go beyond!

The kids are engaged, having fun all while learning.

This frees you up to have a little bit of adult time exploring, AND, if you are itching to give back while traveling (yay you!) one of the most popular programs at Kauai Humane is the “Take A Dog Out For A Day ” or Field Trip program. People come in and pick out a dog to take out for the day. They can take them on hikes or the beach, or even just for a ride to the mall or their home for a few hours.

The dogs get more exposure because they wear an “adopt me” vest and many tourists end up adopting and taking the dogs home to the mainland!

What a great way to be on vacation and get to be a part of the local humane experience. You get your “doggie fix” while exploring the local area while giving back to the dogs and ultimately the community.

Sign me up!

If you recall my visit to Best Friends Animal Society two years ago, I was able to have a sleepover with a dog.

I love learning that other organizations are also allowing dogs to go out on hikes, get some socialization and who knows, might become your newest family member.

A few organizations that I know of running summer camps this summer are:

New Hampshire SPCA

Humane Society of Charles County Maryland

Humane Society of Truckee- Tahoe California

Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, Florida

Potter League for Animals- Middletown, RI

Lollypop Farm Summer Camp- Rochester, NY

Valley Humane Critter Camp- Pleasanton, CA

Let me know how you plan to spend your dog days of summer!

Diane Rose-Solomon is a Certified Humane Education Specialist, and the award winning author of children’s book JJ The American Street Dog (featured in the START online store) and How He Came to Live in Our House, and the sequel JJ Goes to Puppy Class. Using her books as a tool, Diane helps parents and educators teach children about compassion and speaks to school children about responsibility, kindness, bonding and unconditional love- some of the prevalent themes in the books. She is a big supporter of START. For more information on Diane’s work, please visit her website: