As a veterinarian dedicated to sharing my profession with children, I have met with hundreds of kids between the ages of 8 and 12 years old who want be veterinarians. I have also talked with the parents of these children and helped them to understand what they can do to help their children explore their passion. During these times, I am often asked, "If you could give just one piece of advice to a future veterinarian or the parent of a future veterinarian, what would it be?" That's easy. If you or a child you know wants to become a veterinarian, attend a veterinary camp or zoo camp.
I am not the only veterinarian who is making this recommendation. Recently, my company surveyed practicing veterinarians across the country and asked them what advice they had for 8 to 12-year-old future veterinarians. Their top two answers were to "study science" and "get as many animal experiences as possible". Where can you do both in a fun and safe environment? Veterinary camps and zoo camps.
I have spent the past year attending, writing about and filming these camps in order to share them with the members of my website community. During that time, I have interviewed both the campers and their parents. What makes these camps perfect for future veterinarians is that they bring the science of animals to life in a fun and exciting way.
Zoo camps take children behind the scenes. Campers explore the areas where animals are kept and fed. As they explore, camp attendees meet with the zookeepers and learn about the animals they care for. In addition, most zoo camps have classroom time where campers get to touch and interact with the zoo's collection of smaller classroom animals.
Veterinary camps give children the same opportunity to interact with animals. In addition, campers have the chance to explore veterinary medicine in a realistic environment. At many veterinary camps, attendees get to do physicals on various animals, observe surgeries, learn the basics of radiology and spend time in pathology and anatomy. This fun, hands-on approach makes veterinary science come alive for the campers.
What I like most about veterinary camps and zoo camps is they solve one of the biggest dilemmas of the future veterinarian - getting animal experience. Even though the vast majority of veterinarians recommend that all children between the ages of 8 and 12 interested in veterinary medicine get as much animal experience as possible, it is easier said than done.
Most humane societies and veterinarian hospitals will not let children volunteer until they are well into their teens. This is because there are significant liability issues associated with having younger children in an animal facility. Zoo camps and veterinary camps are the perfect solution. They offer a way for future veterinarians to get animal experience and learn the science of animals in a safe environment.
Unlike other professions, the ages of 8 to 12 are some of the most critical years for a veterinarian. Nationwide surveys of practicing veterinarians have shown that these are the years when the vast majority of practitioners made their decision to become an animal doctor. These are also the years when a parent can best help their child explore their passion and get a head start on fulfilling their dream. Make zoo camps and animal camps the first thing you explore. They are just what this doctor recommends.
For more information on veterinary and zoo camps visit Ichabod Ink.
Dr. Carpenter is considered the Veterinarian for Kids. He has written books and articles for children on veterinary science and presented at schools and camps. A member of the American Veterinary Association and the National Science Teachers Association, Dr. Carpenter recently launched IchabodInk.com http://www.ichabodink.com/, then go to website for children who want to be veterinarians and parents who want to help their child explore their dream.
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