One of the most rewarding things about having worked at HAWS for 5 years and running a day camp for that length of time is seeing the kids come back every year. It always amazes me not only how much they've grown physically, but how much more mature they are from year to year.
A few years ago one of our campers expressed disappointment that she would soon be too old to attend camp. Kat had always been one of the kids who showed a great amount of enthusiasm for animals and always enjoyed the activities -- she was a lot of fun to be around, and one of the kids I always looked forward to seeing every year. I assured her that when she was too old to come to camp that she would be old enough to be a volunteer counselor.
Sure enough, Kat is back this year, not as a camper, but as a counselor in training. She's jumped in with both feet -- taking on the responsibility of supervising the kids, running activities, and even doing the work that isn't a lot of fun such as cleaning up and taking the garbage out. I've promised Kat that when she is 16 next year I will hire her.
I'm gratified that our summer program is making an impact on how the kids who attend view and care for animals, and that they want to be a part of HAWS. I already have my eye on a number of 9 year olds to be counselors in training the summer of 2015.