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Kids learn about important animal-related issues at camp hosted at Santa Maria Animal Center

Dave Alley/KEYT
Kids attending CAMP H.O.P.E. walk through the Santa Maria Animal Shelter on June 19, 2023. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A summer camp hosted by the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation is providing a group of kids with a week long of fun activities, as well as several educational opportunities to learn about important animal-related issues.

"Fifty percent of all animals, the intake, from the county shelter comes from North County, so being Orcutt, Santa Maria, so that's a huge number, so we kind of target North County to bring information to the kids. Kids are our future, and so if we can teach them about the issues that are going on in our community," said Linda Greco, Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation President. "Hopefully what will happen is as they get older, they teach that to their children, they teach it to people that they know around them."

CAMP H.O.P.E. (Humane Outreach through Progressive Education) began its week long run on Monday morning for the first time since 2019.

Due to the pandemic, the program has been canceled over the past three years. This year, it's returning with dozens of kids taking part in the popular camp.

The camp introduces children ages 9-to-12-years old a variety of hands-on learning experiences that allow exploration of career and volunteer opportunities, basic pet responsibility, important life skills, and local animal issues.

Each day runs six hours in length and includes a number of different activities, including guest speakers, crafts, and time with shelter animals.

According to the Animal Care Foundation, campers are taught what to do if they lose or find an animal, how to protect themselves from being bitten by a dog, why animals are surrendered, how Santa Barbara County shelters work, how Animal Control Officers act as first responders for companion animals, disaster preparedness, the benefits of spay, neuter and vaccinations, and the responsibility of training and health care for pets.

"It's a week of fun," said Greco. "They work with the animals here. They'll be reading to cats. They'll be helping to start training some of the dogs a little big. One of the neat things about it is that it's kids and animals, and so there's nothing better than an animal spending time with kids. On the other end, the shelter can market those animals as animals that do well with children, so it's kind of a win-win for both sides. The. kids are helping the animals be adopted and animals are getting the benefit of the time with the kids."

The camp is run through an all-volunteer basis and is directed and funded by the Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation.

For more information about the Santa Barbara Animal Care Foundation and CAMP H.O.P.E., click here.

Article Topic Follows: Animals
animal care
Camp H.O.P.E.
Community Involvement
Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation

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