Summer camp helping kids and dogs

Harrisburg

GRANTVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – A summer camp is teaching kids and dogs to help others.  It’s called the Susquehanna Service Dogs Summer Dog Camp.

The program for 2019 is July 8-19.

As kids, most of us spent the summer at the pool or playing with friends. We’re highlighting a unique summer camp that allows kids to help others while having fun.

These campers enjoy arts and crafts and picture day but one thing makes this camp extra special: dogs, and lots of them. 

Each camper, like Megan Orris, is paired with a lab for the week. Megan describes her partner Amadeus as a sweet, friendly dog who loves belly rubs. Right now, he’s working on basic training.

Some day all these dogs will hopefully go on to help people with disabilities.

“[These dogs will help] veterans or non-military related PTSD, children and adults with autism,” said Pam Foreman, director of Susquehanna Service Dogs. “The dogs can also be hearing dogs and facility dogs to help in schools and courthouses. There’s a wide variety.”

Twenty to 25 dogs graduate from the program every year. The nonprofit is currently holding a capital campaign to expand its facility in Grantville, in Dauphin County.  The goal is to train more dogs and help more people.

“We have 56 acres,” Foreman said. “We have a kennel yard which is an advanced area for training dogs. We also have a converted horse barn that is their residence Monday-Friday. That’s one of the things where we would like to have a better facility.”

It takes two years to train a service dog. This summer camp is just the beginning. 

“Honestly, I love being with dogs,” said camper Megan. “I also love knowing they’re going to go to help people who need them and help them live better lives.”

The camp ends July 19. It will be back in the summer of 2020. Twenty-four campers ages 10-14 are graduating this year. It costs $425 for each camper to participate. All proceeds benefit the nonprofit.

The camp is in high demand. All 24 slots filled up within three minutes of registration opening online. Right now, the nonprofit is focused on raising money in its capital campaign to expand the facilities. Once they do that, they’ll consider expanding the program to more kids.

SSD is also looking for people throughout the year to be puppy sitters, puppy raisers, and volunteers. To learn more about the organization or to volunteer, click here.

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