Last May our co-op of 10+ years disbarred. It was a sad day when we said good-bye to the church that had become a home away from home for over a decade as we met together with fellow “home” schoolers and dear friends every Wednesday to teach our children and allow them opportunities that are hard to facilitate in a home environment.
When our co-op began, our babies were all in preschool-3rd grade. At the end of the school year last year those same “babies” were entering their senior year with most of our kiddos working independently and no longer needing the co-op classroom environment for academics. It was an end to a beautiful era of life, one that we hated to say good-bye to, but knew we had outgrown the co-op’s original purpose.
Although we no longer needed the academic support that co-op was originally created for, we were still feeling the need for regular social get-togethers with our co-op friends who have become a second family over the years.
Our solution was to move our get-togethers out into the community and to meet twice a month rather than weekly. We decided that to facilitate these social events, and to make sure we made time for them to happen regularly, we (the moms) would each take a month of the school year and plan two field trips, outings, or holiday parties for the kids to meet up and connect with friends.
I signed up for October and the first outing I planned for the month was to Living Treasures Animal Park.
This park has a special place in my heart, as it is home to so many sweet memories. Our first visit here was with Gracie as a baby. We have visited it with my sister and her kids, my parents, my brother, my grandfather and many friends. Over the years we have created many sweet memories at this special place, and two Fridays ago we created a few more.
We arrived as the doors opened and met up with the other co-op families in the parking lot. Because we had a group that exceeded the 20-person minimum for a group rate we were able to get in for $6.99/person, half the normal rate. We also purchased animal feed for the animals…
Because that is the best part of Living Treasures!
This particular animal park is set up to allow visitors opportunities to interact with the animals more intimately than is possible at a zoo.
The proximity and amount of interaction depends on the type of animal.
The animals that you can pet and feed by hand include deer, cattle, alpaca, goats, and the wallabies.
Bigger animals are fed through feeding tubes that drop their treats into a food dish. These critters eagerly wait beside their bowls hoping for a handout. This system allows kids to interact with the animals up close without the risk of losing fingers.
The monkeys at Living Treasures are fed with a bucket system. Visitors can place carrots or special monkey pellets in a bucket attached to a chain, and the monkeys can pull the bucket to the cage and fish out their treats.
The animals all understand this system well and know what it means when little people with buckets come walking their way. The critters tend to swarm you when you approach, especially if you are among the first visitors of the day and everyone is still hungry.
It was a beautiful day to be outside and it was wonderful seeing friends we hadn’t seen in a while…
And to enjoy it while loving on fur-babies made it all the better!