Summer Camp 2020

summer campExplore 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!

Registration Now Open

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

Full Day Camps: 9:00am-4:00pm. Please pack a lunch. Topic is the same each week.
Half Day Camps: 9:30am-12:00 noon, 1:00pm-3:30pm. Two topics alternate weekly.

No Before or After Care available for Half-Day Camps.

All Camps include a summer camp t-shirt and snacks.

Full-Day Camp

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

Catch Me If You Can

Do you think you can catch these critters? Discover what it means to be a predator or prey animal and how they use their adaptations to try and outwit, outrun, and hide from each other! Come and explore their wild worlds and help uncover their sneaky, stealthy secrets through interactive games, hikes through the zoo and close encounters with animal ambassadors.

Dates: May 25-29, June 1-5, June 8-12, June 15-19, June 22-26, June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Half-Day Camp

Cost: Members: $120 / Non-Members: $135

Sensational Senses

Can you talk like an elephant or taste with your feet like a butterfly? Explore what sensory adaptations animals have and how these adaptations help them survive. We’ll spend the week looking at our five senses and seeing how they compare to other animals’ through close encounters with animal friends, interactive games, crafts, and hikes in the Zoo.

Dates: May 25-29 (am only) June 8-12, June 22-26, July 6-10, July 20-24, August 3-7
Times: 9:30am-12:00pm or 1:00pm-3:30pm

Bringing Up Baby

Do other animals live in families like humans? Are all babies raised by their moms? During this camp, we’ll experience up close animal encounters, make crafts, and, of course, hike around the Zoo to learn about why it can take a mom, dad, pack, or no one at all to raise a baby animal.

Dates: June 1-5, June 15-19, June 29-July 3, July 13-17, July 27-31, August 10-14
Times: 9:30am-12:00pm or 1:00pm-3:30pm

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: May 25-29, June 1-5, June 8-12, June 15-19, June 22-26, June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Half-Day Camp

Cost: Members: $120 / Non-Members: $135

Growing Up

What do polliwogs, cubs, and owlets have in common? They’re all babies! Spend a week learning how animals change and grow from the time they’re born until they reach adulthood. Each activity-packed day will help us discover how insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals grow.

Dates: May 25-29 (am only) June 8-12, June 22-26, July 6-10, July 20-24, August 3-7
Times: 9:30am-12:00pm or 1:00pm-3:30pm

Animal Chatter

Why is that lion roaring? What is that bird chirping about? This camp will explore animals and how they “talk” to each other. Join us for a fun-filled week, where campers will discover what animals are communicating, through smell (gross), facial expressions and sound.

Dates: June 1-5, June 15-19, June 29-July 3, July 13-17, July 27-31, August 10-14
Times: 9:30am-12:00pm or 1:00pm-3:30pm

Full-Day Camp

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: May 25-29, June 1-5, June 8-12, June 15-19, June 22-26, June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Half-Day Camp

Cost: Members: $120 / Non-Members: $135

ZSI: Zoo Scene Investigation

Footprints…teeth marks…broken branches…and scat? What can these clues tell us about the biology of wildlife and the events that occurred at the scene? Discover ways to study the evidence that animals leave behind as well as learn about ways that Zoo professionals are using science to help conserve wildlife.

Dates: May 25-29, June 8-12, June 22-26, July 6-10, July 20-24, August 3-7
Times: 9:30am-12:00pm only

Leaders of the Pack

During this week-long adventure, campers will discover animal leaders of all kinds, from keystone species to alpha males and females! After getting acquainted with animal leaders, campers will meet some leaders in conservation here at the Cincinnati Zoo. By the end of the week campers will have the opportunity to become leaders in conservation themselves!

Dates: June 1-5, June 15-19, June 29-July 3, July 13-17, July 27-31, August 10-14
Times: 1:00pm-3:30pm only

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 to present to the enrichment committee.

Dates: May 25-29, June 1-5, June 8-12, June 15-19, June 22-26, June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Half-Day Camp

Cost: Members: $120 / Non-Members: $135

Operation Conservation

This program will explore the ins and outs of wildlife conservation. through behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, hikes, and other activities, we’ll learn about real-life conservation research taking place at the Zoo, some of the tools researchers use to keep track of wild populations of species, and what we can do to help the wildlife in our own backyard.

Dates: June 1-5, June 15-19, June 29-July 3, July 13-17, July 27-31, August 10-14
Times: 9:30am-12:00pm only

Nature Navigators

What’s that tree? That bird? That insect? Who made that nest? That call? That…scat? What wildlife, big and small, can be found in my own backyard and how can I be their habitat hero? This camp will explore the tools, behaviors, and knowledge it takes to be a naturalist. Through hikes, animal encounters, and hands-on investigations at the Zoo, participants will learn the skills they need to explore the wilds of their own backyard, schoolyard, and beyond while becoming stellar stewards for the wildlife that lives there.

Dates: May 25-29
Times: 9:30am-12:00pm only

Dates: May 25-29 (am only) June 8-12, June 22-26, July 6-10, July 20-24, August 3-7
Times: 1:00pm-3:30pm only

Full-Day Camp

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. We’ll meet some people who work with wildlife, some of the critters they work with, and tour some behind-the-scenes areas that help them do their job. 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 animal-related podcasts that might be selected to be on the Zoo’s website!

Dates: May 25-29, June 1-5, June 8-12, June 15-19, June 22-26, June 29-July 3, July 6-10, July 13-17, July 20-24, July 27-31, August 3-7, August 10-14
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm

Eco-Explorers @ Bowyer Farm

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

Become a backyard biologist while exploring our fields, forests, and wetlands out at our 600-acre Bowyer Farm! Participants will learn to protect wild spaces through activities such as bird watching, butterfly tagging, and animal tracking. Our camp will encourage your child to get back in touch with their wild side and build confidence as they hone their naturalist skills. On Friday, your camper will lead you on a nature hike to show their new skills.

This program is located off-site at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Bowyer Farm in Lebanon. You will receive address and directions once registered.

Dates: June 1-5, June 8-12, June 15-19
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm
Note: this camp takes place at a satellite location, the Zoo’s Bowyer Farm in Lebanon, OH

Summer Camp FAQ

Hours, Cost, and Forms

What are the hours of camp?

What are the hours of camp?

Half-day camps are available for all ages from 9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. or 1-3:30 p.m. Full-day camps are from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Check-in begins 10 minutes before camp. Children not picked-up by 12:15 pm (for a.m. Half-day camp) or 4:15 pm (for p.m. Half-day and Full-day camps), will be brought to the after-care room, and parents will be charged a late fee.

Do you have before and after camp care?

Before and After Care is available for Full Day campers only. Before-Care begins at 8:00 a.m., and you may drop your child off at any time between 8:00 and 8:50 a.m. After-Care begins at 4:15 pm and ends at 5:30 p.m. Before and After-Care are supervised by camp staff and include games, coloring, and educational activities.

What should I bring with me to Zoo Camp?

As a parent/caregiver, please bring: your confirmation (printed or electronic) and a completed “Camp Dismissal and Contact Form”. The confirmation sheet includes directions to the Harold C. Schott Education Center, parking instructions, and vital camp group information. Anyone picking up your child (they must be listed on the “Camp Dismissal and Contact Form”), must bring a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state identification card. If you forget your “Camp Dismissal and Contact Form” we will have extra copies available for you to fill out on Monday.

All campers should wear weather appropriate clothing and closed-toed shoes and pack a reusable water bottle. All Full Day campers must bring a packed lunch. Full day campers in the 4-year-old-Kindergarten camp can bring a pillow and/or small blanket for the after-lunch rest time.


How do I register my child for Summer Camp?

You can register online or by phone. Registering online is the easiest method and is available 24-hours a day. To receive member pricing, you must enter your current membership number.

You may also register over the phone with our registration team during our business hours of 9am-5pm Monday-Saturday (Sundays from March 15). Call the Education Registration team at 513-559-7767.

The Cincinnati Zoo accepts Visa, Master Card, Discover and American Express.

Will I receive anything in the mail?

All program materials are sent via email. You will receive a confirmation receipt with your ticket, camp welcome letter, and Camp Dismissal and Contact form as a link or attachment.

What if I must cancel my child's registration?

If you must cancel your child’s registration, please call the Education Registration team as soon as possible to reschedule or cancel. Refunds are only given for cancellations made two weeks prior to the start of the camp. For cancellations made within two weeks of the camp start date will receive a class credit that may be used for any Cincinnati Zoo education program.

How many weeks can I register my child?

While there is no limit to the number of camps for which you may sign up your child, full day camps have the same curriculum each week and half day camps alternate between two topics. To avoid excessive repetition, we recommend that your child does not repeat the same topic.

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

If your child will not 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. Campers must be enrolled for the grade band they will be entering in the fall for school. if you feel you child would fit better in a younger grade band we do make exceptions for moving children down a grade. We cannot allow children to move up a grade band.

Can my child and their friend be in the same camp?

Yes, when you register your child for the camp session, have their friend’s parent register them for the same group (i.e. A, B or C). When you register, there is a question asking if you would like your child in the same group as another child. In this section, enter the friend’s name.

If a section fills before a friend can add to it, please call the Education Registration team at 513-559-7767. On rare occasions, we can accommodate these changes, however, we cannot move other registered campers to place friends together. Please note: All adjustments to sections must be made prior to the Wednesday of the week before your child is scheduled to attend camp.

What should I do if I registered my child with a friend and they are not in the same camp?

If you discover your children are not in the same camp before you arrive to camp, please call our Education Registration team at 513-559-7767. Due to camp scheduling and enrollment, we cannot guarantee that moving groups will be possible. If you have arrived at camp and have discovered your child is not in the same group as asked, please speak to a camp supervisor. We will do our best to place your children together. Please note that we will only place campers together that are the appropriate age for the camps; we will not place younger/older siblings or friends in a camp for which they are not the appropriate age.

My child is too young for the 4 year old-Kindergarten camp but will be the appropriate age just a short time after the camp starts. Can she/he come to camp anyway?

In order to provide age-appropriate activities and instruction to all campers, we ask that all children are 4 years-old within two weeks of their camp start date, are completely potty trained, and are able to participate in long hikes.

We’ve registered, but now need to change dates, order an extra shirt, add/remove Before-Care and/or After-Care?

You may contact the Education Registration team for any changes at 513-559-7767. To better serve you, please provide us with: order number, name of parent/guardian, name(s) of camper(s), camp attending, week attending camp, phone number or email address and your change(s) and question(s).

How much do extra shirts cost?

Each child will receive one camp t-shirt for each camp for which they register. Extra t-shirts may be purchased for $15.

Health and Safety, Medication, and Allergies

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 instructor 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?

Contact the Registration Desk at 513-559-7767 and they will be able to get in touch with the camp coordinators.

What happens if my child gets sick during camp?

Depending on the severity of your child’s condition, we may call you to come and pick up your child. If necessary, our Park Safety officers will assess your child’s condition and seek treatment if deemed necessary. We want camp to be a safe, fun, and enjoyable experience for all campers; please keep your child home if they are feeling sick or had a fever within 24 hours.

My child has special needs. Can I attend with my child or can I send along a sibling?

Summer Camp is an experience for all children to enjoy, and we want to make sure every child in camp has the best experience possible. If your child has an aide in school, we require that you provide an aide for them at camp. That aide may be either a parent/guardian or a sibling at least 18 years of age. Please contact our Education Registration team at 513-559-7767 or [email protected] with any concerns. When registering, please provide details of any special needs.

My child is in a cast, and/or has difficulty walking. Can they still come to camp?

If you and your child decide that they want to come to the camp, please do! We do play a few games that require moving around, but your child will still be able to participate in them. If this condition began after you registered for camp and you wish to try to reschedule your child’s camp, please contact our Education Registration team at 513-559-7767 and if a space is available, we will place your camper in a different date or camp. Due to camp scheduling and enrollment, we cannot guarantee this will be possible.

Lunch, Snacks & Breaks

Do you provide snacks?

Yes, we provide all campers in both full and half-day camp with a snack. Snack items are all peanut-free and may include pretzels, animal crackers, bananas, raisins, baby carrots, or ice pops. We do ask that each child brings a reusable water bottle to use throughout the week. If your child has food allergies, please include this information on the registration form and whether it is airborne or ingestion only. Please note that the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is not a peanut free facility, however, we do avoid serving products that contain peanuts to our summer campers. If you are concerned about allergies and would like to provide a snack for your child, you are welcome to pack one for them to eat during snack time.

Do you provide lunch?

While we provide a snack for all campers, full-day campers must bring their own lunch. Additionally, camp is a “high energy” activity, so all campers should eat a hearty breakfast before arrival. All campers should bring a reusable water bottle. We encourage you to use reusable lunch packaging if possible. Campers cannot purchase food from the Zoo’s concession stands or restaurant, nor can any camp staff leave to purchase food for campers. Please note that neither refrigeration nor a microwave will be available for use.

My child is allergic to peanuts/wheat/dairy/etc. What should I do about snacks?

We offer snacks that are peanut-free or nut-free products. Be sure to note these allergies on your registration and Camp Dismissal and Contact form and advise your camper’s instructor of any allergies. If your camper has a severe allergy or medical condition that affects their diet, please feel free to send a snack that meets the needs of your child.

Can I meet my child for lunch?

We apologize, but no, you cannot join the group for lunch during summer camp. The lunch break is an important bonding time for campers and may vary in its timing day-to-day.

My child is 4-5 years old and needs a rest in the afternoon? Do you have a break time?

Yes, as per state guidelines, we provide the 4-year old/kindergarten Full-Day camps with a 30-40-minute quiet time after lunch. This is a time for them to nap, rest, and cool down from the morning’s activities and get ready for the afternoon’s activities. During this time, children will either listen to a children’s book or calming music. If your child will take this time to rest, they may bring a small pillow or blanket with them preferably fitting into their backpack.

How often does the group take bathroom/water breaks?

We stop at water fountains and restrooms before and after hikes and whenever requested. Campers will carry reusable water bottles with them on hike.

Camp Staff & Miscellaneous

What are the qualifications of your teachers and assistants?

All Zoo educators are college graduates or college students. All must pass a criminal background check, drug/nicotine screening, and are CPR and First Aid certified. Camp assistants are teen or adult volunteers in our ZooTeen or Volunteer program. All adult Volunteers must also pass a background check. Both are there to assist the teachers.

How are campers supervised?

Campers are supervised at all times by camp staff. Teacher-to-student ratios are 1:12 or 1:15 depending on age group. Volunteers and ZooTeens provide additional help and supervision in the classroom and on hikes.

This is my child’s first camp away from me. What if they not ready to go?

Our camp staff is very experienced in helping campers (and parents☺) take those first few steps away into the park. We are happy to assist and will do everything we can to help you and your child have an enjoyable first camp experience. Remember, a confident, assuring, loving, and quick drop-off will make the child also feel more confident. If a camper isn’t ready to go to camp that day, our supervisors will work with you to plan for another attempt if possible. Due to camp scheduling and enrollment, we cannot guarantee this will be possible. Refunds are not issued due to non-participation.

Will my child get to touch zoo animals or go behind the scenes?

We have a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates that are safe for handling by our trained summer camp staff. Campers will get to touch many of these throughout the week! For the safety of the campers and our animals, most behind-the-scenes tours and activities are restricted to older age groups.

My child is afraid of snakes/spiders/butterflies/etc. Will s/he have to get close to them?

No, not if they don’t want to. If a camper is uncomfortable around an animal, our staff will share their experiences to encourage your child to participate, but all activities are “participate by choice.” Campers may come into direct contact with some of these animals during animal encounters, but they do not have to touch animals if they do not feel comfortable doing so.

Will the weather ever cancel Zoo Camp?

Camps will continue rain or shine. Campers will tour the Zoo in all weather, so dress appropriately. Rain coats and hats are recommended. Umbrellas are not recommended as they can obscure the view of other campers. In the unlikely event that extreme weather conditions occur, campers are brought indoors to a secure area until the severe weather has passed, and activities are conducted indoors.

Do you have a Lost and Found?

Yes, the Zoo has a lost and found at the Harold C. Schott Education Building and Security offices. Please label items (jackets, water bottles, lunch boxes, etc.) with campers first and last name. The Education Department holds on to all lost and found items for approximately two-weeks, and then sends all items to Security. All water bottles are disposed of by Security. Please call the Education Department at 513-559-7767 if you believe your child has lost something.

Health, Safety, Medication & Allergies

Is there an orientation for parents or campers?

There is no orientation for parents, but camp staff will be available to answer questions. Each camper will review the summer camp expectations and rules with their camp instructor.

What is the camp drop-off procedure?

Check-in will take place at the Harold C. Schott Education Center which is located on the corner of Erkenbrecher and Dury Avenues. Campers may be checked into their classroom no more than 10 minutes before camp is scheduled to start. For those requiring earlier check-in times, please check out the Before Care offerings for your desired week of full day camp and see the Before-Care FAQs below.

To ensure a secure environment and your child’s safe arrival in the camp classroom, you must escort them to their classroom on Monday and check-in with the camp instructor in charge of that group. We do offer “Kiss-and-Go” Tuesday-Friday for full-day campers, where you can drop your child off in the parking lot if they are comfortable walking in without you while escorted by a teen volunteer.

What is the camp pick-up procedure?

All camp pick-ups will take place at the Harold C. Schott Education Center which is located on the corner of Erkenbrecher and Dury Avenues. There are two options for pick-up: classroom pick-up or curbside pick-up. For classroom pick-up, simply park your car in the Education lot, proceed to your child’s classroom, and present your photo ID. Camp staff will verify your photo ID with the list of approved adults for pick-up on the Dismissal Form and release your child to you. For curbside pick-up, pull up to the camp staff at the Erkenbrecher gate, present your photo ID along with your child’s information (name and classroom). The parking staff will verify your photo ID, and a teen volunteer will retrieve your child and escort them to your car. Please keep your pick-up slip all week to make the process quick and smooth.

To ensure that your child receives the full camp experience and to minimize disruption to other campers, children may be picked up no earlier than 15 minutes prior to the end of camp without special arrangements being made. We ask that all late drop-offs and early pick-ups happen at the 12pm lunch hour.

Do I need to provide a photo ID to pick up my child every day?

Yes. Valid, driver’s license, state photo ID, or passport are accepted.

What is Before-Care and After-Care?

Our Before Care program is available for full day campers of parents who are unable to drop their child off between 8:50 and 9:00 a.m. Before-Care begins at 8:00 a.m. and is staff supervised. Children will be engaged in activities such as group games, board games, coloring, etc. Our After-Care program is available for -day campers of parents who are unable to pick their child up at 4:00 p.m. After-Care begins at 4:15 p.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. During this time, campers will be engaged in activities such as group games, board games, coloring or an age appropriate movie. Space for Before and After-Care is limited, so register quickly.

How early can I check my child in for the regular camp programs?

Children can be dropped off no more than 10 minutes before the start of a camp. Staff is not available prior to these times. If you wish to drop your child off earlier, you must enroll them in Before-Care.

What should I do if I am going to be late dropping my child off?

If you are going to be just a few minutes late (under 15 minutes), you don’t need to contact the Zoo. If you arrive late and your child’s class is no longer in their classroom, stop at the Registration/Information desk in the lobby of the Harold C., Schott Education Center. They will help you locate your child’s class and give you directions on where they are located, and you will have to escort your child to their group’s location. Do not leave your child with anyone except a member of the summer camp staff; your child must be checked in by a summer camp staff member only.

What will happen to my child if I am late for pick up?

If you are going to be just a few minutes late (5-15), you don’t need to contact the Zoo. We realize traffic can be a challenge, and we’ll be there with your child when you arrive. After 15 minutes, your child will move to our after-care location. You will be charged a fee. Before registering, if your camper is in full day camp and you know you are not able to pick your child up between 4:00 and 4:15, you can sign up for After-Care.

What should my child wear/bring?

Zoo camp operates rain or shine; please come prepared for changing weather. Full-Day Campers should bring a packed lunch, reusable water bottle, sunscreen, and hat. All Campers should wear clothes that are appropriate for the weather and for high-energy activities. Closed toed, closed heel shoes are required, such as sneakers. Shoes such as Crocs tend to fall off during games. Flip flops are not permitted. Your camper may bring a phone or camera for pictures.

Can my camper buy an item from a Zoo concession stand or gift shop?

Campers are not permitted to purchase any items from the zoo concession stands, gift shops, or restaurants during camp sessions. Please do not send money to camp with your child. You may purchase items from concession stands or gift shops after you pick up your camper.

Can I bring a dog or other pet to the check site when I drop my child off?

No. Due to USDA regulation, pets are not allowed on Zoo grounds or in the Zoo’s parking lots. Pets may not be left in vehicles in the Zoo’s parking areas. Children may not bring family pets to show to Zoo class.

Can I observe my child while in camp?

No, for the safety and welfare of all campers, the camp is a camper-only experience. Please feel free to ask your child’s teacher any questions about your child’s day – they are happy to talk with you! All parents are provided with a camp itinerary, so you can talk to you child about camp. In instances of home-sickness, we often find that parental presence exacerbates the problem rather than helping. Our staff is trained to assist campers with issues of homesickness.