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Reading Camp Visits Alpacaville

At first glance a scheduled event for the St. Luke’s Children of the Book Summer Reading Camp might have looked like it was taken straight from the pages of Dr. Seuss. The Friday Funday adventure did not take them to Whoville to visit the fictional Whos, however, but instead they visited Alpacaville, a local Alpaca farm.

When they arrived at their destination they were greeted by Olaf and Bruno Mars, two shy but friendly creatures who are part of a small herd Alpacas who reside on the farm, along with a few pigs and some chickens. The children were invited to tour the farm and offered a chance to feed the Alpacas, who proved to be quite gentle. They also visited the barn and the chicken coop, and they even had a chance to hold one of the chickens. They completed their morning with two craft projects and a lunch of hotdogs and watermelon.

Alpacaville is owned and operated by Dan and Shauna Anderson. The farm and gift shop is located at 4463 Mahanna Road in Bemus Point. The Andersons have been raising Alpacas on their small hobby farm for three years and opened the Alpacaville Gift shop, last year. Their animals have won awards at regional events, and the herd is growing, with two babies expected in the next few weeks. The farm and store the only Alpaca gift shop in Chautauqua County – are open to the public from 2-5 p.m. every Saturday, or by appointment at 664-0663.

Anderson, a retired biology professor, told the children all about the animals, their habits and their usefulness. He explained that their fur makes them special, because it is 3 to 5 times warmer than wool, and he and his wife showed them samples of the fleece, and products that were made from it.

“We love to have groups come to visit us. That is part of the fun of the farm,” Anderson said. “We welcome visitors every Saturday, or you can call us to schedule a tour. We have had small school groups and adults as well. We even had a few visitors from Sweden.”

The excursion to the farm was part of the curriculum of the Children of the Book Summer Reading Camp, whose theme this year was “Better Community/Better Me.” The special Friday Fun-day programs were intended to broaden the children’s world-view in order to increase their reading comprehension levels. Along with the trip to the farm, the group was also visited by healthcare professionals and took field trips to Cummins Engine and Jamestown’s Fenton History Center.

“Studies show that targeted interventions like these help to increase fluency and understanding.” said Luke Fodor, Rector of St. Lukes. “Many of these children have not been exposed to the types of things that we have tried to show them this summer. These experience-based outings and programs not only help to improve their reading skills, but also serve as examples of stewardship to the earth and to the community and values that will be important to them throughout their lives as they learn to understand the world that they live in.”

The Children of the Book Reading Camp will conclude on Friday, July 29, with a final Carnival themed Fun-day hosted by St. Luke’s Journey to Adulthood program. Reading camp participants, the Library’s Summer Reading Challenge Participants, volunteers and their families are invited for fun, games food and more from 8 a.m. to noon in Dow Park, across from the James Prendergast Library. (In case of inclement weather, the program will take place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 410 North Main St., corner of Fourth and Main).

For more information about the camp, call the St. Luke’s church office at 483-6405 or visit the Children of the Book website: childrenofthebook.org.

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