Last week, my nine year olds went to a 4-H and Extension Service sponsored camp that we called “farm camp” or “goat camp”. We called it “goat camp” because they actually got to care for pygmy goats for the week. I loved that my city dwelling children got to learn about and care for farm animals. Other animals were available too – miniature horses, llamas, dairy goats, and rabbits. Each child got to pick an animal to be “theirs” for the week.
My boys got to learn how to wash a goat and how to brush it. Their goats were named Gizmo and Symphony. The children learned how to feed the goats and to watch for the signs that the goats were getting sick. It wasn’t their favorite part, but they even learned how to clean the goat’s cages. They also learned the rules for how to show an animal in front of judges, and how to identify the many different parts of the goat.
And they got to take the goats for a walk. I have to say, the sight of ten children walking goats was hysterical. The boys said that the goats pulled hard at the leashes, that it was easier to walk our dog.
On the last day of camp all the children showed their animals before parents and judges. One of my boys was awarded “Most Caring” and the other one got “Best Goat Handler”.
In this high tech age I am so thrilled that the boys got to experience this small taste of farm life. I’m also glad they learned something about animal care. The only drawback for “farm camp” is that the boys are a little sad about missing “their” goats. They are also asking for more pets. I should have seen that one coming.
More on Summer Camps: