By Amanda Casteneda, Education Manager
Beginning in April, I work with the Interpretive Center and the Animal Care department to come up with a schedule for the special enrichments and behind the scenes experiences that are unique to Zoo Camp. It takes organization, creativity, and a little finesse to make sure that each class gets to see animals related to their theme, make it work with the class schedule, and fit it in with the keeper’s and the animals’ busy routine!
Believe it or not, preparing for camp means a lot of writing! Each year I have to write new camp descriptions, brochures, advertising, job postings, training manuals for teachers and teens, confirmation and policy forms. . .
As camp gets closer, there is a lot of cleaning, organizing and shopping to do. All year long I scour the school supply sales for the best deals on pens, glue and paint. I go to Michaels for foam visors and paint pens. My new favorite place to shop is RAFT, a discount store for educators. You can buy all kinds of cool stuff there to make any kind of craft you can imagine. They have everything from cardboard tubes and old CD’s to all of the stickers and pipe cleaners you could ever want. I also get to pick out and buy all of the camp shirts. This year I went with frogs, it is leap year after all! Serina designed the cute little stamp on the back of the shirts; I think it will be a Zoo Camp signature from now on. Serina also does some serious snack shopping! Imagine a flatbed warehouse shopping cart filled 4 feet high with granola, gram crackers and goldfish. We get some funny looks from other shoppers.
In the final days we are getting all of the signs, tables, and other equipment out of storage, dusting it off and seeing what needs to be replaced. Before camp we did a dry run and set up everything we normally need in the morning to make sure we are fully prepared. Of course that means we forget something later. That’s the fun part of camp. So much is going on that it really is controlled chaos. I love coming in every day and meeting new challenges, and chances for creativity. And who wouldn’t love starting every work day singing silly songs with a bunch of crazy kids?