When I think back on my childhood, some of my fondest memories are of all the fun field trips and experiences I got to have as a kid. I remember these times being the happiest of my life, bright with possibility and excitement with each new place I got to visit. I remember one trip in particular when I was in sixth grade. My class went to visit an animal sanctuary, and we learned about all the animals that were cared for in the facility. Up until that point, I was a child who was completely uninterested, if not terrified, by the thought of snakes, spiders, and the like. I didn’t understand why we had them, but an opportunity to get out of class was appealing nonetheless. I was excited for the trip.
At one point we all ended up in a small but cozy room where a lady talked to us about all different types of reptiles. In the middle of her spiel, she pulled a very large snake out of its cage; it was a boa constrictor. She asked the question everyone was waiting for: “Does anyone want to hold it?” I shifted in my seat. I was pretty nervous. But I was also excited. Being the outgoing child I was, I rarely backed down from a challenge. Tentatively, I raised my hand. She called on me! Oh my gosh, I was doing this! “Okay, breathe,” I thought. I walked up to the front of the room and stood there breathless, waiting for the weight of the snake. She laid the boa across my shoulders and down both of my arms. I breathed out, surprised at how easy that was, and how very non-scary the whole experience turned out to be. Whew! “This is actually pretty cool,” I thought. I got to spend the rest of the day as the cool girl from class who held the boa constrictor. Not too shabby.
I don’t know why that particular memory has stuck with me all these years, but it’s definitely a fond one. Do I like spiders now? Definitely not. But at my ripe old age of nearly 28, I now have an appreciation for the nature and animals around me that make up our ecosystem. I will even spend time with my friend’s pet lizards every now and then!
Thinking back on this memory, I am particularly excited for this Saturday because KVTA is hosting a Madagascar Picnic with the Animals! This event will be a unique and fun time for kids to come meet and greet some of the cast of our upcoming show and – you guessed it – learn about animals and even get some hands-on experience! Judy Corrigan from Willowhaven will be paying us a visit with many of her creatures in tow, including box turtles, snakes, and bunnies! I spoke with Judy earlier this week to talk about the event, and her passion for nature and the environment was apparent after just a few minutes. Judy works very intimately with all the animals and cares for them daily. She talked about the relationship she’s developed with each individual animal and how that impacts their care. One of her little critters, a box turtle, is so accustomed to Judy and their routine that he will beg for food if he doesn’t get fed right on time! Judy is looking forward to the event Saturday and can’t wait to share her passion with the children in hopes that they, too, will develop an appreciation for animals and caring for the nature around us!
Anyone attending the event will get to have fun with the animals, meet the cast, take pictures, and make their own animal mask! The event is from 10 am to 12 pm on Saturday, October 14, at the KVTA Studios located at 1 Stuart Drive in Kankakee. The cost is only $2 per child and adults are free! Any children attending should bring their own lunch and KVTA will provide water and lemonade. Plus, for a chance to win a special prize, you can decorate your lunch bag or lunch basket with the Madagascar theme! We can’t wait to see you there!