It's summertime! The weather is nice and hot, the smell of barbecue is in the air and all those kids who were occupied with school are now sitting around at home bored.

Yet have no fear. Parents need not suffer the constant complaints of "Mom, there's nothing to do!" With summer vacation comes the annual Zoo Edventures offered by Lee Richardson Zoo, and this summer promises to be one the campers will go "ape" over.

It's a big primate party this summer as all of our camps will focus on primates throughout the world and, of course, take a look at the ones we have here in the zoo. But we are mixing things up a bit this year. Instead of our usual Tuesday through Thursday camps, all our camps will be an action-packed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to noon event. We also have added camps for students going into first and second grade so more kids can join the fun.

Our first camp for first- and second-graders was this week. Campers had a great time making crafts, visiting our primate exhibits and getting up close to some of our special animal ambassadors.

Campers got the chance to leap like lemurs, use their senses to explore their surroundings and practice observation skills to distinguish monkeys from apes. With all the fun activities going on, they often didn't realize that they were learning about primate adaptations at the same time.

If your child missed out on this camp, don't worry. Another camp for first- and second-graders is planned for July 20 through 24.

Even though we will still be learning about primates, this second camp will focus more on how primates survive in their habitats and how they find food, interact socially and how we care for them at the zoo. There are still openings available, so be sure to sign up for this adventure-filled week.

We also are offering two camps for students going into the third and fourth grades. Simian Splash will be held Monday to June 26. This camp will follow a raindrop through the water cycle as it splashes down in the rainforest and travels through streams to the ocean. Along the way, campers will discover primates and other animals that make the rainforest their home.

The second third- and fourth-grade camp is called Garden City Jones and the Temple of Zoo and will take place July 13 though 17. This camp will take us on a journey to the past as we try to solve the mystery of the hidden monkey. Campers will dig for fossils and learn about prehistoric animals, all while playing games and making crafts to take home.

Lastly, we are offering a camp for students going into the fifth- and sixth-grades. Chimp Chat and Gorilla Gossip will take place July 6 through 10 and will explore the variety of ways that primates communicate.

While vocalization is important in primate communication (just think of all the ways humans use sound!), it is not the only way primates express themselves. Body language, facial expressions, color and social interactions are all ways that primates get their point across.

So for only $35 per camp, you can eliminate summer boredom and your child can swing like an ape, dig for dinosaurs or listen to monkeys, all while learning about how important these amazing animals are.

Stop by the Finnup Center for a registration form, hop online or call the zoo office at 276-1250 for more information. You won't want your child to miss this fun opportunity to learn and monkey around.

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