Critter Camp

During the school year, classrooms around the metro foster many of the ARL's small pets. Students learn the importance of caring for animals like guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters, and help promote that they are available for adoption.

Critter Camp Teacher's Guide

Thank you for taking the time to incorporate our Critter Camp program into your school year. Fostering homeless animals and promoting their adoptions inspires compassion and teaches future animal-loving generations how to be responsible pet owners.

Getting Started Checklist

  • Fill out the Critter Camp Registration Form below.
  • Use the Critter Camp Lesson Plan provided to educate your students about their future classroom pet. Note: We ask that you do the lesson with students before the ARL brings the animals to the classroom.
  • Based off the dates and times requested in your registration form, we will contact you to set up a time for your students to present what they have learned about pet care. The ARL will talk to students about how fostering plays a crucial role in our organization and will bring the pet the same day as the presentation.
  • The ARL must have parental permission to use any photos of children. If your students’ parents are comfortable with us using photos of them to promote Critter Camp in the future, please send home the photo release form provided.

Materials and Supplies

The ARL is largest shelter in Iowa, caring for many thousands of pets each year! Without federal, state, or United Way funding, community support is the only way that caring for such a large number of animals is possible. Initial supplies, including the cage, will be provided. Generally, classrooms take on the responsibility of food and enrichment items for the animal after the initial supplies the ARL provides are used up. We are more than willing to provide you with supplies for your pet, but we are at the mercy of what is donated to us. We encourage you to check out the ARL’s Critter Camp Pinterest Board to find cost effective and creative toy ideas for your students to make at home. We also encourage teachers to make a Critter Camp Wish List for parents to get involved by making donations to the classroom pet.


  • Name your new friend
  • Care for your foster pet
  • Socialize - get them used to being around people
  • Promote adoption
    • Blog - Share stories, videos and DIYs online for people who might want to adopt
    • Make posters to hang throughout the community telling people how awesome your foster pet is!

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: What should I do with my foster over the weekend and during breaks?
A: Typically our Critter Camp classroom teachers will leave enough food and water for the animal over the weekend and make arrangements for someone to check on it. Over breaks, our teachers normally take the pet home. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of bringing the animal to your home, please contact William at to make arrangements.

Q: Are there rules or guidelines to handling the animal?
A: Handling the animal varies depending on what kind of animal you are given and the age of your students. We will provide care guides for each pet and trust the teacher to use their best judgment. If you have questions about handling and socializing, we are more than happy to answer them.

Critter Camp Registration Form

All fields marked with * are required.

Please provide 3 dates/times Tuesday-Friday that would work for us to come talk to your class and set up your new pet. The presentation normally takes about 30 minutes and we would like a week's notice, if possible.