WINSTON — Children entered the magical world of Harry Potter this week at Wildlife Safari’s Fantastic Beasts summer camp.
Matthew Pouck, 8, said he loved the adventure and the weirdness of the books and movies.
“Some animals can actually do magical things,” he said.
The education center had signs posted that no muggles were allowed, referring to people without magical abilities.
Inside, Lead Summer Camp Counselor Christina Pintado had divided the 20 students into four different houses —Red Lions, Yellow Badgers, Green Snakes and Blue Ravens— named after the animals displayed in the crest of Hogwarts, the school of magic from the book and movie series.
Members in the houses could win points for good behavior and lose points for bad behavior, at the end of each day the house with the most points would win a prize.
The classroom was decorated with Harry Potter banners and all the books were on display. Campers worked to make dragons, color the Hogwarts crest, and Pintado added some Harry Potter socks to her beige Wildlife Safari uniform.
“It’s been great,” Pintado said. “They’re asking really great questions and are a little more thoughtful and insightful.”
Pintado and her fellow camp counselors taught students about animals displayed in the Harry Potter universe and how they corresponded with real animals.
For instance, the books talk about the billywig, a magical insect native to Australia, who would turn the people it stung giddy and cause levitation. It’s similar to a blue ant, which is native to Australia, can fly, and has the same blue color as the fictional billywig; however, students also learned that its sting causes severe burning and swelling.
Students created a field guide comparing magical creatures to real ones, listing the names of both and writing down commonalities as well as differences.
Campers also had the opportunity to meet a lot of animals that were in the books, such as the ones used for the names of the four houses. Wildlife Safari does not have a raven, but instead, the team used a red-tailed hawk as its animal.
“We’ve learned lots of things,” 9-year-old Iris Henry said. “African elephants ears look like Africa outlined. That’s how you can tell they’re African elephants. And also because their backs slide down.”
Charlotte Tronnes, 8, added that the group covered balloons in papier-mache to fill with treats later this week for the animals.
On Wednesday morning, students got a lesson about owls from Amanda Alyea. Alyea brought out a great horned owl named Gussie.
“Owls are completely silent when they fly,” Alyea said, adding that they hunt small things that move in the night.
The campers then moved over to Cheyenne the bald eagle and the red-tailed hawks.
Wildlife Safari’s king snake also resides in the classroom. It is named Kingsley, after one of the characters from the Harry Potter series.
Students also get a chance to do science experiments in their potions class, which includes making a lava lamp and fizzing ice.