June 24, 2017
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RP summer camp brings pets and kids together

  • Otto Ignatius, 5 years old, holds two kittens on his lap, while his big brother, Ivan Pietro, focuses on petting his new kitten friend. Christina Molcillo

  • Animal shelter employee Jessica Saavedra gives Maple the front desk cat some petting. Christina Molcillo

  • Supervisor for Rohnert Park Animal Services, Mickey Zeldes, holding a litter of five-week-old kittens. Christina Molcillo

By: Christina Molcillo
June 2, 2017

As the school year draws to a close, many Rohnert Park families start looking for day camps and activities to keep kids interested in learning throughout the summer months. Many parents find their choices limited to the same sports or craft camps offered at the YMCA or the Community Center. While these are useful, it tends to be the same kind of curriculum found in school, which can underwhelm a kid who’s looking for something different during their vacation months. 

This is where Rohnert Park Animal Services comes to the rescue (pun intended). Each year they sponsor the Kidz ‘n Critters Summer Camp, offering one week sessions for students in grades 2-7through July. The sessions run Monday-Friday, 8:30-1 p.m. and focus on animal care with everything from guest speakers to demonstrations and hands-on activities. 

Mickey Zeldes, the Supervisor for Rohnert Park Animal Services, explains further, “We try to make the camp educational but in a fun way. I believe it’s important to teach about kindness and empathy from a young age so that we develop adults that are compassionate and caring. Kids have a natural love for animals so it’s easy to build and nurture that instinct. We are always looking for ways to make our camps fresh and different while still teaching the core values of responsible pet care. We have a new lead counselor this year so there definitely will be some changes!  And since we have use of the Community School next door we are expanding the number of campers accepted into each session.”

Parents who have taken their children to this camp in years past have all had wonderful things to say about their kid’s experiences, “Our first year (last year) attending this camp was so fun for my son that he talked about it all year. He kept reminding me to make sure I signed him up!  Wonderful program.” It also helps kids think long term about the career opportunities they can have later in life, “Every day he came back home with fun facts about animals that were discussed. He had a great time. We don’t have pets & he wants to be a Vet!  This camp encouraged him more.”

Besides being a good experience for kids, taking part in activities at the shelter helps provide comfort and care for our community’s unwanted animals. To learn more about this summer camp experience, visit the Rohnert Park Animal Services website: