HAWS is always looking for new things for our repeat campers. We want to make sure that they don't get bored with our programs, but also give them something new to learn. This year for the first time we offered a camp that had a science theme.
We were fortunate enough to get a grant to allow us to purchase some microscopes. The campers learned about some of the parasites animals can get, and were able to look at slides with whipworm and roundworm eggs, as well as canine scabes and demodex. These are things that occasionally will show up on animals here at HAWS, and that are staff are trained to recognize. The kids also used the microscope to compare the hair from a person, dog, cat and rabbit, and to see what snake skin looked like microscopically.
We did a DNA activity and the campers learned that DNA testing is being used in wildlife protection and by breeders of domestic animals to eliminate common genetic problems and better breeding programs.
The kids put together simple studies of their own; do cats like sparkle toys better than catnip?, do dogs like the taste of Natural Balance treats or Pupperoni?
The kids got to dissect owl pellets (despite popular perception - they are not poop but rather regurgitation of all the non-digestible parts of their food.) Inside they found the remains of mostly rodents, but we also came across a few bird skeletons.
The most popular activity was watching surgery in HAWS spay and neuter clinic. This was a very special privilege and the kids were very respectful of the staff and asked some great questions. Many said they want to be veterinarians when they grow up, and really enjoyed watching surgery - even the "yucky parts".
Most of the kids who attended are all long-time HAWS camp veterans. They all said they greatly enjoyed this new camp, and voted that we repeat it next year!