Young People Dreaming of Careers in Veterinary Medicine Flock to 2024 Boiler Vet Camps

Friday, June 28, 2024

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Junior Vet Camp Group Photo
Junior Boiler Vet Camp student counselors and campers with Dr. Jim Weisman (far left), and PVM Dean Willie Reed (far right)

Dozens of young participants eagerly seized the chance to attend the 2024 Boiler Vet Camps hosted by the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine.  For two weeks in June, a total of 100 campers gathered at Purdue’s West Lafayette campus to take part in the in-residence Junior and Senior Camps.

The highly popular program draws participants from across the country.  The competition to get into the camps rivals the competitiveness facing students seeking admission to veterinary school.  Nearly 640 total applications were received for the two camps, each of which can accept 50 campers. 

Hosting the camps takes a small army of Purdue Veterinary Medicine student volunteers.  A total of 23 helped with the two camps this summer.  For both the junior and senior camps, participants are divided into groups and each group has a veterinary student counselor who serves as the group’s leader for the week.

A Junior Boiler Vet Camp participant uses a stethoscope to listen to a cow’s heartbeat
A Junior Boiler Vet Camp participant uses a stethoscope to listen to a cow’s heartbeat

The Junior Camp for rising 8th and 9th graders was held June 9-15 with 33 campers from Indiana and 17 from 12 other states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington State, as well as Washington D.C. The camp gave participants the chance to learn about the many opportunities available in veterinary medicine, from working with dogs and cats to cows, pigs, horses, and other farm animals. They completed numerous learning activities, with sessions such as “Cud It Out” that focused on cows, and “Fish Need Doctors Too!” that showcased veterinary care for aquatic species.  Additionally, the campers were able to watch a demonstration of the high speed equine treadmill and see an equine endoscopy that gave them a look inside a horse.  Other activities included visits to the Indianapolis Zoo and Fair Oaks Farms. 

The Senior Camp is for rising 10th through 12th graders.  Held June 16-22, this camp focused on the overall wellness care of dogs. The week kicked-off with the campers getting into groups, with each group receiving a dog from an animal shelter to care for throughout the week.  Learning sessions focused on subjects like surgery and anesthesia, and included the opportunity to be in the operating room for a dog spay/neuter surgery.  Other experiences included observing and identifying blood cells, learning how to administer a canine physical exam, and gaining an understanding what goes into a strong veterinary school application. There were a total of 32 Senior Camp participants from Indiana, with 18 from other states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia.

Senior Boiler Vet Campers enjoy time with their shelter dog that they “adopt” for the week.
Senior Boiler Vet Campers enjoy time with their shelter dog that they “adopt” for the week.

For each camp a head counselor was identified to serve as the on-site leader and ensure that everything ran smoothly.  Additionally, two veterinary students, Caden Helfrich, of the Class of 2027, and Audrey Evans, of the class of 2026, served as Boiler Vet Camp student assistants, which involves a two-year commitment, working throughout the school year to prepare for putting on the two camps and being responsible for logistics and everything behind the scenes.  “The biggest aspect of the Boiler Vet Camps involves introducing these young minds to the field of veterinary medicine, which is important whether it confirms their passion and future career paths, or shows them that their interests align elsewhere, involving other ways of helping animals and being around them,” Caden said. “Either way the participants are having fun and learning, which is why everyone involved with the camps volunteers time to make it happen.”

New this year, Boiler Vet Camp became the first camp at Purdue University to be accredited by the American Camp Association. The ACA is the only nationwide accrediting organization for all types of organized camps. Its rigorous accreditation standards focus on health, safety, and risk management and are used as benchmarks by government entities.

Senior Boiler Vet Camp student counselors with their campers
Senior Boiler Vet Camp student counselors with their campers

“There are so many logistical and organizational elements to manage when planning a weeklong in-residence camp of this nature,” said Dr. Jim Weisman (PU DVM ’97), assistant dean for clinical education and a clinical associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, who serves as the director of Boiler Vet Camp. “Earning the ACA accreditation provides confirmation that our procedures not only achieve the intended academic learning outcomes, but also ensure the safety of the young people entrusted to our care.”

Caden gives a shout out to Dr. Weisman for the ongoing success of the camps.  “Without him this camp would not be able to function,” he said.  “Not many other adults with important careers would voluntarily choose to spend two weeks living on campus in a dorm room among student counselors and campers alike all in the name of providing a positive and fun learning experience for others.”

The dates already are set for the 2025 Boiler Vet Camps.  The Junior Camp will be held June 8-14 and the Senior Camp will occur the following week, June 15–21. Click here for more information.

Writer(s): Kevin Doerr |

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