PORTLAND - With around 1,000 applications and only 250 spots, the Oregon Humane Society summer camp could be Portland’s most popular.
Six weeks out of the summer, third through seventh graders help walk dogs, play with cats and learn how to read an animal’s body language.
“People used to line up around the building to try to secure a spot so we went to a lottery system last year,” explained the director of the camp Jessica Wiseley-Kruger. “We teach them to look at everything. The eyes, the tail and the body can tell you if they want to be approached or touched.”
If they’re comfortable with the idea, the children also get a look at surgery being performed on cats and dogs and visit with a veterinarian.
During their five, seven-hour days in the session, the children can come in contact with 300 different animals of all kinds.
As you might expect, many campers want to bring a new pet home at the end of the week.
“She was the bunny who caught my eye,” said third grader Hillary Saal, “I traded my iPod Touch to get $150 from my brother so I can bring the rabbit named Two Dot home if my parents say it’s okay.”
The director says the camp leads to many adoptions each week and it also helps to build the Humane Society’s volunteer base.
“I came to the camp, I was a counselor and now I’m a volunteer,” said 15-year-old Ella Hickcox.
The lottery system does allow a “buddy system” which can double your chances of getting in. You list the name of the friend on your application and your friend does the same. If either one of you gets in, the other will too.
The cost is $200 a week and applications are taken as early as January with the lottery scheduled for March.
“I know most kids come in loving at least one animal, but when they leave here I hope they love all types,” concluded the director.