Summer Camp 2020

Explore the Zoo, experience nature, and discover the excitement and wonder of animals! Hikes in the Zoo, visits from Animal Friends, crafts, train rides and so much more make Summer Camp a jam-packed week to remember!

In-Person Summer Camp

Registration Now Open

The Zoo will be offering Full-Day Summer Camps to 1st-8th graders starting June 29th through August 21st. All Half-Day Camps and all camps for 4 year olds/Kindergarteners, as well as all Before and After Care has been cancelled for the entire summer. These changes have been made in order to keep the number of kids coming and going from camp to a minimum everyday, to focus on age groups that require less physical contact and to reduce the number of children in a classroom together. All of these changes are in place to keep campers, Zoo staff and Zoo animals safe. It’s always our #1, top priority and now it takes even more careful planning and new restrictions. Zoo Summer Camp will still be the fun-filled, educational, animal rich, nature based program you and your child love, just with extra precautions. 

Please register children according to the grade they will enter in the fall.

Full Day Camps: 9:00am-4:00pm. Please pack a lunch (snack is provided). Topic is the same each week.

1st-2nd Graders

Full-Day Camp

Cost: Members: $235 / Non-Members: $250

Zooper Heroes

A bird that can fly at speeds of 200mph? A cat that can leap 12 feet into the air? Animals can be out of this world when it comes to their super adaptations. Come to summer camp and discover these animals and their incredible super-powers. Each day, we will look at a superhero with amazing super-powers and then see if our Zoo animals can measure up to their spectacular
Dates: June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14, August 17-21
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

3rd-4th Graders


Cost: Members: $235 / Non-Members: $250

Choose Your Own Adventure: Expedition Naturalist

Campers will get a chance to become naturalists, as they choose their destiny through different expeditions. These expeditions will traverse them through the world’s different biomes. As they complete each expedition they will become equipped with the knowledge and the tools it takes to become a real naturalist.

Dates: June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14, August 17-21
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

5th-6th Graders

Full-Day Camp

Cost: Members: $235 / Non-Members: $250

Exploring Enrichment

What do boomer balls, spices, braided butcher paper, and fish-sicles have in common? They are all different forms of animal enrichment! Animal enrichment provides stimulation to our Zoo animals and serves as an important tool that keeps their minds and bodies healthy. In this camp, we will learn about the different forms of animal enrichment, who and what they are good for, and the role of the Zoo’s enrichment committee in all of this through animal encounters, keeper interactions, games, and other activities. We will even get a chance to participate in the creation of some animal enrichment and brainstorm some new enrichment ideas.

Dates: June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14, August 17-21
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

7th-8th Graders


Cost: Members: $245 / Non-Members: $260

Working with Wildlife

Animal keepers, field researchers, forensic zoologists, animal trainers…the list goes on and on when it comes to jobs that work with wildlife. Throughout the week we will have hands on animal encounters, meet a variety of virtual speakers who have careers working with wildlife, and go on instructor led hikes to explore the habitats around the Zoo. This is a hands-on class, so be prepared to get knee or elbow-deep in exploration of some of the jobs and tools of the trade that come with a wildlife-related career! Participants will even get the opportunity to write and record an animal-related 90-second naturalist video that might be selected to be on the Zoo’s website!

Dates: June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14, August 17-21
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Summer Camp FAQ

What will be required of parents and children attending Zoo Summer Camp?

All parents will be required to complete an electronic waiver confirming they will adhere to all of the guidelines required by the Zoo and State of Ohio for safe participation in camp. This will be sent to all parents in advance along with important Welcome Information. Parents will be asked to wear a mask during drop-off/pick-up. According to new city and state guidelines campers will also be asked to wear masks while indoors or while in high traffic areas out in the Zoo. Every camper will receive a zoo themed face mask as part of their camp. Campers will also be required to participate in a COVID-19 health screening prior to each day of camp. 

What should I bring to summer camp?

All summer campers should bring a packed lunch and water bottle. We also recommend that campers wear close toed shoes. All campers will be given a zoo themed face mask. If you would like to pack extra masks for your child please do. Please bring your camper’s belongings to camp all in one bag with their name clearly marked on the outside of the bag, on their lunch bag, and the water bottle. All belongings must all fit in one bag.

Will there be after-care or before-care?

After careful consideration, we will not be able to provide before-care or after-care programming for Summer Camp in 2020. Our traditional after-care model brought campers together from different classes into one after-care group. This model is no longer possible as each class must remain a safe distance from other classes. Please know this decision was not made lightly, as we understand the important role before-care and after-care plays for families.

Will you be offering half-day camps?

The tough decision was made to cancel all half-day camps for the summer of 2020. Half-Day camps bring large volumes of children in and out of the Zoo in the morning and afternoon. We need to limit the number of children and adults coming and going per day. Also with a limited number of resources and space, we are hoping to make the most impact by offering our full day camps. We are offering week long virtual summer camps running in June for 4 year olds through 8th grade. Our virtual camps for 4 years-Kindergarten will be one hour long. Virtual camps for grades 1st-8th will be a three hour long program. 

Will my camper still receive a summer camp t-shirt this year?

We have worked with our partners in the Zoo Gift Shop to offer an optional camp shirt for our camp families to purchase at an additional cost. As always, our summer camp instructors will be wearing these shirts on Friday of each week and we invite any and all campers to join us! Campers will all receive a zoo themed face mask for free. See section regarding face masks. 

Will you still be providing a snack during camp?

Yes, we will still continue to provide a snack for our summer camp program. The snack will be passed out by an instructor wearing gloves. Your camper may also bring their own treat for snack time. The campers will have their snack placed on a clean, sanitized lunch tray. Campers must provide their own lunches.

Are you allowing aides to come with campers?

Unfortunately, not at this time. The state of Ohio mandates no more than 1 adult per 9 children and not more than 10 people per day camp group to prevent additional spread. Under this new rule, it does not allow us to admit an aide. We understand that this is disappointing, and we are offering virtual camps in the month of June for campers aged 4 years old to 8th grade. We look forward to offering camp to all children as soon as possible.

Will drop off and pick up be the same?

Campers will be dropped off directly to their instructors. Parents will stay in their car during drop off and pick up. We ask that if possible the same adult does all drop off and pick up when possible.  Each age group will have a designated drop off and pick up location to minimize contact. If your family has siblings attending in different age groups, you may have different designated drop off and pick of locations. More information can be found in the drop off/pick up procedures. You will receive specific instructions in your Welcome Information emailed prior to camp. 

What is the size of the camp groups?

The guidelines issued by the state of Ohio require that we have no more than 9 school age children in an indoor space. All of our classrooms are located inside of the Harold C. Schott Education Center and provide the minimum standard of square footage per child as required by the state. There will only be one adult Zoo Educator per classroom of 9 campers as per the guidelines required by the State. Campers from different classes will remain a safe distance apart at all times, and shared spaces will be disinfected between use.

What is your cleaning protocol for summer camp?

The Cincinnati Zoo staff will be cleaning all shared spaces (like bathrooms) in between each use with approved COVID-19 cleaning supplies. Staff will be taking campers to the bathrooms for handwashing throughout the day and utilize hand sanitizer. Campers will wash hands upon arrival, before eating, and before departure. 

Will Campers have to wear masks during camp?

According to state and local guidelines masks are now required. While indoors (the education building and animal buildings throughout the zoo), campers will be required to wear their masks. The exception to this rule is when the children are eating lunch. In this case, the children will be encouraged to spread out within the classroom to provide ample space between each other while eating.

When approaching high traffic areas within the Zoo, camp counselors will instruct campers to put their masks on. Some locations in the Zoo are consistently considered high traffic areas and have been designated as locations where masks must be worn. For example, Hippo Cove is an outdoor location where campers will have to wear masks. We are well aware of what locations are considered high traffic areas and prioritize taking campers to these locations first thing the morning when there are fewer people within the Zoo.

We know this is a hard adjustment for young children and we will do everything we can to make them feel comfortable throughout the day. We will allow breaks from masks especially during times like recess. We also know we need to encourage water breaks even more than usual and will do everything to keep you child hydrated and happy throughout the day.

Campers will be given a zoo themed face mask that is being kept at the Zoo each day. However, you may want to provide a backup mask for your child each day. We have been getting pretty sweaty at camp and your child may want to swap masks midday.

Will Counselors and staff be wearing masks during camp?

Counselors will always wear masks when in close proximity to campers – less than 6 feet. Counselors will always wear masks when interacting with camp families and parents. Counselors may take their masks off during lunch time, and during that time campers will be sitting six feet away from counselors. Counselors may also take their masks off other times when they can maintain 6’ distance from campers in their own group. Counselors would also be required to take off their masks if needing to perform CPR.

Are campers expected to stay 6 feet apart?

It is not currently a guideline for children to maintain 6’ distance within their class for an entire camp day. When campers within a class are going to be near each other for a greater length of time (for example, during lunch) they will be distanced. Campers from different classes will remain a safe distance apart at all times, and shared spaces will be disinfected between use.

What if someone gets sick at camp?

Following guidelines, if a camper develops a fever or otherwise exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 or any other ailment, they will immediately be moved to an isolated location, while being supervised by two staff members wearing Personal Protective Equipment. Their family will be notified and they must be picked up from camp as soon as possible. Please refer to our policies below for more information about cancellations and refunds.

What if a camper is reported sick outside of camp hours?

Camp families will be notified in the event a serious, contagious illness, including COVID-19, is detected at camp. This will be done anonymously. Please refer to our policies below for more information about cancellations and refunds.

What if a counselor gets sick at camp?

If a counselor gets sick at camp, they will immediately go home and be quarantined until they can be tested for COVID-19. All camp staff will participate in a daily temperature and symptoms check. If camp staff are symptomatic, or have a temperature above 100 degrees, they will not report for work, and they will immediately seek testing.

If camp is cancelled due to illness or if my child cannot attend due to illness will I be refunded?

Yes, if the Zoo cancels camp due to illness or if your child is sick your program fees or a portion of your program fees will be refunded. A refund will be issued based on the number of days of camp missed.

What if I want my child to only come for two of three days instead of all five?

If your child will not to attend all five days of a session, please inform Zoo staff ahead of camp which days they will attend. We do not pro-rate or offer daily rates, so you will pay the full session fee.

May I enroll my child in a camp for an older/younger age group?

No, age requirements are not negotiable and are enforced. Please register your child for the grade band they will be entering this fall.

My child needs to take medication/inhaler. How should I arrange for this?

The Cincinnati Zoo is not responsible for administering medication to children. We will remind them to take their medicine or inhaler by themselves if needed. To ensure a positive experience for all campers, it is IMPERATIVE that you notify us of special needs or medical conditions your child may have. In most cases, we can accommodate these needs and will do so to the best of our ability.

My child has an allergy. Can I provide you with an epinephrine injector?

Yes, you can. Your child or our staff will carry it with the group throughout the day. Please make sure to speak to your child’s counselor on the first day of camp to discuss your child’s allergy and go over the specifics of their injector.

How do I get in contact with a Camp Coordinator or my child during the camp if there is an emergency?

Please check your registration information for the phone number for the camp coordinators.

Can I visit the Zoo while my child is at camp?

No adults, outside of the camp counselor, or visitors will be allowed to come in contact with any campers. A safe distance will be maintained between campers and any one outside their group. When the Zoo re-opens Zoo Members and all visitors will be invited to reserve admission online for pre-scheduled dates and times. Capacity will be limited. Anyone is invited to make these reservations online in advance. Learn more here.

Will the Zoo be open to the public during camp and will my child be around members of the public?

Yes, the Zoo will be open to the public during camp. Currently, the Zoo is carefully managing the number of guests allowed in the park to keep crowd size small.  As part of camp we will be leaving our private classrooms and taking hikes around the Zoo to visit animal habitats. During these hikes there will be members of the public also visiting these same indoor and outdoor spaces. Camp counselors will do their best to maintain a safe distance between campers and the visiting public. Campers will be using private restrooms not accessible to the general public. When campers are in their classrooms visiting with animals, playing games, crating, etc. they will be in their own space away from the general public. During recess time campers will also be away from other campers, outside their group of 9, and away from the general public in a private recess space.

Tips for preparing your campers for camp

Summer camp will look a little different this year at the Cincinnati Zoo. To help prepare your child for camp, it might be helpful to talk to your child about some of the changes ahead of time. 

  • There will be additional rules added to help keep campers and staff safe each week. Our campers can help counselors follow the rules by turning on those listening ears, and doing their best to comply. Our camp staff appreciate all efforts made to help everyone have fun and stay safe!
  • Keeping everyone safe and enforcing a respectful community of learners in the classroom is always important. With new restrictions this is even MORE important. We will not be able to provide additional staff to support and redirect poor behavior, or to separate children from the group if their behavior is disruptive. If a child’s behavior is disruptive or requires additional support, parents will be required to pick up children immediately. Every camper and parent will be asked to sign a behavior contract agreeing to this policy. If you are unsure that your camper will be able to follow this policy at this time, we recommend checking out our virtual camps. At this time, we are not allowed to admit adult aides due to room size constraints.
  • Our Summer Camp staff will be wearing masks during camp, and friends in camps may choose to wear them too. This doesn’t mean they are sick, they are just trying to be safe and keep everyone healthy. 

You may consider using these talking points from respected sources when you talk with your children:

Pick-Up/Drop-Off Procedure:

To be in compliance with Covid-19 State Standards the Cincinnati Zoo has implemented the following Pick-up and Drop-off Policy. Please check your email one week prior to your child’s camp for important Welcome Information including directions and a map to your pick-up/drop-off location.

Pick-Up/Drop-Off Policy:

  • It is mandatory that adults stay in their vehicles during Pick-up/Drop-off.
  • Pick-up/Drop-off will take the form of a car line. Cars will wait single file, then proceed to a designated drop-off location. More information and maps describing this process will be contained in the weekly Welcome Email.
  • We respectfully request adults dropping off and picking up their campers wear a facial covering when interacting with staff in the car line, unless it is unsafe for that person to do so. Staff will be wearing facial coverings.
  • It is recommended by the state guidelines that the same parent/guardian conduct pick-up and drop-off each day. We recognize the exceptional burden that places on working families. As we seek to comply with as many guidelines as possible, we request that families please limit as much as possible the number of adults participating in check in/check out. 
  • Adults must bring a form of ID to pick-up campers. Please have your ID ready during pick-up.
  • Please bring your camper’s belongings to camp all in one bag with their name clearly marked on the outside of the bag, on their lunch bag, and the water bottle. All belongings must all fit in one bag.

Health Screening Check during Drop-off:

  • Drop-off will include taking your camper’s temperature and answering questions about symptoms and exposures. Our policy states that any individual answering “yes” to these questions or with a fever of 100 degrees or higher may not stay at camp.
  • In the last 14 days, has your camper tested positive OR is waiting on test results for COVID-19?
  • Within the last 72 hours has your camper, or a person your camper has *CLOSE daily contact with (immediate family, grandparents, neighbors) displayed any of the following symptoms? Cough, Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, Fever, Chills, Muscle pain, Sore throat, New loss of taste or smell.
  • In the last 14 days, to the best of your knowledge, have you had *CLOSE contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19?
  • In the last 14 days, to the best of your knowledge, have you had *CLOSE contact with someone who has been tested for COVID-19, the test results are not yet available, and the person had the symptoms of COVID-19 (described above) at the time of the contact?

*CLOSE = within 6 feet for a period of time longer than 15 minutes