P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center is in its last week of a new adventure — P.A.W.S. Pals Summer Camp — which brings children into the 123 John St. shelter to learn about the responsible care and treatment of animals.

The program, which is a half-day week-long program, has had five sessions this summer, with the last week concluding July 28, and has welcomed about 40 children through the doors, according to P.A.W.S. Program Coordinator Brandi Moore.

The camp is limited to 10 students each week, with morning sessions for 8- to 10-year-olds and afternoon sessions for 11- to 13-year-olds. Depending on attendance, some sessions have been combined.

"The idea of P.A.W.S. Pals is to reach out into the community and try to get animals and shelter out to kids, but in a fun format," Moore said.

The children learn about the role of P.A.W.S. in the community, hear from guest speakers, learn the proper handling of dogs and cats, make crafts — and, of course, spend time with the animals.

The participants have heard from past Board President Royan Bartley, who discussed animal behavior; Annette McNair, owner of Oh My Dog!, who taught the children the proper way to greet dogs; P.A.W.S. Operations Director Claudia Eekels, who discussed P.A.W.S. in a kid-friendly way and why there is a need for animal shelters (which includes a behind-the-scenes tour); and Andrea Benson, who led an animal-themed magnet craft.

Children also have been writing scripts and reading them on film to discuss the various animals up for adoption, which will eventually be used on Facebook.

The camp has been beneficial for the animals because they are getting socialized, and most animals in the shelter are desperate for attention.

P.A.W.S. is starting several new initiatives, such as a junior trainer program, which offers beginning and advanced sessions for 12- to 18-year-olds to learn how to train dogs.

Moore said the shelter is starting a dog foster program, in addition to an already-established cat program, and is looking for volunteers. P.A.W.S. brings in a lot of animals from kill shelters in the South and can bring even more if it has the necessary foster homes. Generally, the foster program is for dogs or cats that have just had new babies, need medications, or for socialization.

P.A.W.S. also offers the shelter for birthday parties, with tours and time to play and cuddle with the animals.

For more information about any of the programs, Moore can be reached at brandim@pawsadoption.org.

Courier Publications Editor Kim Lincoln can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at klincoln@villagesoup.com.