A friend just told me that the local Humane Society has a one-week day camp for elementary school-aged children. The experience gives the students an opportunity to learn the needs of animals and how to care for pets.
As I listened to my friend tell about the things her grandchild learned, my head was spinning with ideas. I thought that it would be a great idea for active senior communities like mine to run a day camp for local children. It should be done in conjunction with the Humane Society where the children would spend the first week. By the end of the second week, which is the one spent in Seniorville, the young ones would realize that both pets and folks on Social Security have a lot in common.
Pets and old folks have unconditional love for little ones who are kind to them. Pets give sloppy kisses to humans. Seniors give candy kisses (when parents allow) and real kisses also, unless of course the children are at the age where it will mortify them. It’s weird they never mind Fido’s kisses, but somehow Granny’s and Papa’s hugs can be embarrassing to preteens.
Another thing seniors and pets have in common is we don’t like to be confined. Dogs like going for long walks or to Dogie Parks. Children can accompany hosting seniors to local amusement parks or game rooms that permit children—or even on a neighborhood walk where they can share experiences. Verbalizing might be hard for some youngsters who usually only text the old folks in their lives. I’m sure they learned at Camp Humane Society that they had to talk to the pets because Fido doesn't text. After a week, the kids might even enjoy the archaic way of communication.
Pets love attention and have their spirits uplifted after an afternoon or evening frolicking with their owners. Likewise, grandparents glow when showered with attention from children…of any age. True, few grandparents can run as fast as Fido does after a ball, but many are still capable of shooting baskets or playing a decent game of tennis with the visitors. For those “campers” who prefer water sports, they can join the elders who are participating in water aerobics or pool volley ball.
Seniors who use a walker or cane don’t want to be excluded from fun just like a limping pup wants attention too. There are lots of table games that youngsters could enjoy playing with their elders—and these games aren't restricted to those gray-haired folks with aches and pains. Like pets, plenty of people of all ages and physical conditions prefer being in air-conditioned comfort. There are numerous other non-physical games for children of all ages such as Gin Rummy, Dominoes Chess, Bridge, Canasta or Mah Jong. These games, like rules pets must learn, are filled with rules players must master.
In Camp Humane Society, Fido gets the treat at the end of each activity from the “campers.” The roles are switched in Camp Seniorville. Here the visiting children would be receiving the instant gratification rewards from their “owners. “ In fact, in this one category, camping with the elders is quite superior to Camp Human Society. In Camp Seniorville, the children can be taken out of the community for a treat at any time during the day, be it ice cream or an indulging shopping spree. I know firsthand, the hosting seniors will gladly spring for the bill! Now y’all know that is something Fido would never do!