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Norwich Bulletin - 5/29/2005

The Dog Scout Camp

Looking for a new experience for vacation - either a one on one with you and your pooch or a family camping trip that centers around the dog? Here is the perfect answer: Meet the Dog Scouts of America (DSA). DSA is a non profit organization started by people who are dedicated to their dogs and to having a better life with their dog by experiencing all types of dog sports and skills with other people of like mind. If you feel that your dog loves to learn and have quality time with you, then you are the perfect dog person to look into this camping experience.

The Dog Scout Motto is "Let us learn new things that we may become more helpful." And you can do this by attending a six day, five night dog camp where you and your dog can come and learn new skills like Agility, Flyball, Backpacking, Water Rescue, Obedience, Herding, Sledding, Frisbee, Rescue and other dog sports and activities!

There are classroom studies too, where you can find out about wolf behavior, first aid, dog massage or classes on dog behavior modifications. There's even a great painting class where your dog will learn to paint and you will take home an original pup painting, which can be matted and framed. And if you are really into the whole scout thing, you and your pet can earn merit badges by completing a set of requirements in any given activity!

Maple Valley Conservatory is located in the Northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. The camp boasts a large pond and beach and boat area where you and your dog can swim, go boating or practice water rescue at any time of the day. There are miles of hiking trails through the forest.

There are spacious cabins that are available dorm style (five same sex campers to a cabin), private rooms available for couples or families and off site lodging for those who wish to bunk alone. The camp is over 80 acres and has showers and bathrooms. There are large fenced in areas for people who feel their dogs cannot be off leash with other dogs. But most of the dogs are dog friendly and romp and play together in groups.

You can do whatever you want at the camp, either structured activities or just goof off all week with your dog. The one activity that is highly recommended is backpacking. Each dog, no matter how big or small, can enjoy backpacking with their people and each dog is fitted with a custom backpack so it can carry its own water and waterbowl!

The cost for camp for a week is $650. This includes one person and one dog - all meals, training instruction, Dog Scout test, merit pages, 5 x 7 photon portrait, DSA bandanna and ID tag. Additional dogs and/or spouses with no dog can come to camp at a reduced rate.

Dog Scouts of America have a mission statement that describes their purpose as being one to "promote, enhance, and give recognition to the importance of human/companion animal bond, through a variety of educational activities and publications." There are also Dog Scout Laws describing a Dog Scout as friendly, well mannered, helpful and obedient. Owners are cautioned to never let their dogs be a nuisance, make sure that their dogs do not harass wildlife, never tie up your dog and left unattended or leave your dog in a closed vehicle and always show kindness toward your dog.

For those people who would love to just spend time outside with their dog or have a camping holiday with their family, Dog Scout Camp offers an opportunity for a fun vacation with special activities for everyone, no matter what age. You can write Dog Scouts of America, 5068 Nestel Road E, St. Helen, MI 48656, or log onto www.dogscouts.com.

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