There are a lot of reasons for kids to be excited about attending a summer camp at the Cache Humane Society — like any good summer camp, there’s plenty of tie-dye, crafts and activities to enjoy. But Jake Larsen, an eighth-grade student at North Cache Middle School, really only wanted to go to the camp for one reason.
“I just love playing with dogs,” Larsen said.
Under the supervision of the Cache Humane Society team, the kids get to socialize and train dogs at the shelter. Melissa Smith, education coordinator at Cache Humane Society, said the camp also teaches kids important lessons.
“We are just trying to educate the youth, teaching them the principles of being a responsible pet owner,” Smith said. “We also teach them how to be safe around animals, especially animals they’ve never met before.”
There are also lots of crafts involved, including making dog treats to give to shelter dogs or pets at home. Participants also decorate picture frames to display a photo of themselves with their favorite dog from the shelter.
The camp also invites guest speakers to educate campers about different careers working with animals. This year’s camp features presentations by an animal control officer and professional dog trainers. Smith said the most important goal of the camp is to teach the next generation how to responsibly care for animals.
“Maybe one day we won’t need shelters, because every animal will have a home,” Smith said.
Natalie Heckathorn is a youth volunteer at the animal shelter who also donated her time to the summer camp.
“I really love it,” Heckathorn said.
Heckathorn said she was grateful for the opportunity to help with the camp.
“It’s kind of like I get to do it for free, because I’m here and I get to learn everything from everyone that’s coming,” Heckathorn said. “I also like hanging out with the younger kids, because I learn from them, too. Sometimes they know more than I do.”
Sophie Rees, a seventh-grade student at Spring Creek Middle School, was especially interested in learning about the guest speakers’ careers.
“I think that being a vet or doing something with animals in the future would be fun,” Rees said. “At the camp, we kind of get to see how it works with the volunteers and the people who work here.”
Rees has two dogs at home and said she was excited to share what she learned with her family. Still, there was no competition for her favorite part of the camp.
“I really like being able to meet all the dogs,” Rees said. “They were all kind of different. Some were more energetic and some were calmer. They were all just really fun.”