Animal Haven: Cub Creek Science and Animal Camp
At Cub Creek Science and Animal camp, everyone has their favorites: Camp director Anna Ulrich is particularly fond of Nigel the groundhog and Clover the bushbaby; office assistant Anita Krueger loves Jazz the Canadian lynx; and Ari Farley, assistant camp director, has a soft spot for Molasses the alpaca, having hand-raised him from infancy. Farley says the kids treat King Julius, the geriatric lemur, like a rock star. But Lori Martin, who founded the beloved summer camp, says she can’t possibly pick one creature over another. “A mother would never choose one of her children to be the favorite—they all are!” she says.
By ‘all,’ Martin means the 300-plus creatures that call the camp home, from the smallest (a hissing cockroach) to the biggest (a one-humped dromedary). So it’s lucky that down in leafy Rolla, Missouri, there’s ample space for everyone to live together happily. “Some of us are here all year round,” says Farley, who joined the staff as a counselor in 2012. “We have to be, with all of these mouths to feed!”
While Cub Creek is heavily animal-focused, it also incorporates many of the traditional elements of summer camp. “Campers can spend all of their time with animals if that’s what they want,” Farley explains. “But we also promote outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, fishing, ziplining and riflery.” She says water aerobics has been particularly popular the past few years, and the list of activities is always evolving. “We like to keep things fluid and encourage creativity,” she says.
To that end, painting, pottery and photography classes are offered. So are cookery and science. Budding thespians can find their niche in a theater program, and the outdoor adventurer can become immersed in a survival skills course that teaches kids how to find water, build a fire and forage for wild edibles.
Farley says enrollment numbers are proof of Cub Creek’s growing popularity. “More campers came last summer than we’ve had in the last two years,” she says. “And we have 100 more kids signed up in January than we’ve ever had before.” She attributes this to the overall strength of the Cub Creek family. “Former campers return, and their friends sign up, too,” she says. “Word is spreading.” The lure of the animals also is a powerful force that brings children back. “They miss King Julius, and they can’t wait to see Fendi the Arctic fox,” Farley says.
She adds that, as always, she is excited for the summer ahead. It’s highly likely that some new (furry) members of the Cub Creek family will have been born by then, and Farley says everyone will be waiting for the fun to begin.
Cub Creek Science and Animal Camp serves children ages 7 to 17 for one- to six-week sessions. Located on a 300-acre exotic animal ranch just north of Rolla, Missouri, it offers more than 100 activities and hands-on encounters with more than 100 species of animals. For more information, call 573.458.2125 or visit cubcreeksciencecamp.com.
Cover design by Allie Bronsky
Cover photo courtesy of Cub Creek Science and Animal Camp
Pictured above: A camper with Dominic, a miniature Sicilian donkey.