HINSDALE – Eyes wide and tongue ajar, Flash trotted into an Elmhurst Animal Care Center meeting room June 11 and was greeted by 10 enthusiastic summer campers.
Almost immediately, the black and white, short haired canine plopped down between Quinn Willman and Shannon Blacher, two nine-year-olds from Hinsdale, ready to get his belly rubbed.
"He doesn't want to move now," Elmhurst Animal Care Center Marketing and Events Coordinator Lissete Arambula said.
A meet and greet with a few playful pups was just one day in a week-long, fun-filled "Animal Adventures" summer camp, hosted by the Hinsdale Humane Society. On June 11, the 9-11-year-old campers from the Hinsdale area visited the Elmhurst Animal Care Center to learn about animals and how to keep pets healthy and safe.
Hinsdale Humane Society obedience instructor/humane educator Kym Iffert is leading the camp for her third time and said the 25-camper turnout is the largest enrollment yet.
"When they come in, they're here to learn and they're here because they love animals," she said.
The week-long camp from June 9-13 featured outings like going to the Hanson Center in Burr Ridge to learn about therapy horses, taking a behind the scenes tour at the Hinsdale Humane Society and traveling to the Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn to learn about Illinois wildlife.
Campers also debunked myths about animals, discovering that wolves are not vicious predators, not all snakes are dangerous and donkeys are not stupid.
"The kids were very surprised to learn that donkeys are very smart, smarter than horses, and that's why they're good pack animals," she said. "Sometimes they're safer to ride than a horse might be."
Iffert explained one of the goals of the camp is to not only have kids interact with and learn about animals, but for them to leave knowing that every animal has a purpose – even giant cockroaches, which the kids got to touch.
"Everyone of them pet the giant cockroach and it was kind of a nice thing to open up their minds," she said.
Iffert said while she has been running the camp for the past three years, it has been a Hinsdale summer staple for 12 years.
"We try and vary it [each year] because we do have a few campers who repeat, but we have some things similar because they're always popular," she said.
One of those returning campers was Shannon.
"It was really fun last year so I wanted to do it again," she said.
While Quinn had a great time at the Elmhurst Animal Care Center, the previous day was her favorite part of the camp.
"I liked learning about the horses at the Hanson Center," she said. "That was awesome."
----• The Aug. 4-8 "Animal Adventure" Hinsdale Humane Society summer camp is filled, but names are being taken for the waiting list.• For more information, visit www.hinsdalehumanesociety.org or to view the brochure, visit www.hinsdalehumanesociety.org/files/SummerCamp2014Brochure.pdf.
Top-6 facts about animals learned at camp:
1.) Cockroaches like to be "pet." It turns out they have sensory receptors on their sides, which is why they go into small spaces to feel safe and have the sensation of touch on each side.
2.) Brown recluse spiders don't want to hurt you. They're called "recluse" for a reason – they hide. Just don't stick your hands into dark places where there could be spiders.
3.) If a dog's face is tight looking, mouth closed, it means they're nervous.
4.) Red foxes can give off a scent like a skunk. These foxes have a scent/musk gland that gives off a potent odor in cases where they're scared.
5.) Wolves are not vicious, but rather are protecting themselves as a survival instinct.
6.) Donkeys are actually smart.