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Summer is almost here (believe it or not)

Posted by: Jessie Maxwell, Education

Can you be a snake? 2014. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

You can feel it in the air—it’s that time of year again: the hustle, the bustle, the warm temperatures. Before you know it, the kiddos will be out of school and it will be summertime!

Campers enjoy an up-close raptor program at the zoo. 2012. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Too soon, you might think? Not in my world; that’s why I have one of the best jobs at the zoo! I manage Woodland Park Zoo’s summer camp program. To campers, I’m known as the “Alpha Dog,” so for me summer is always near!

Can you be the canopy of a rain forest? 2014.  Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo.

Summer camp at the zoo is a wonderful blend of learning and fun as campers (ages 3-14) explore the zoo with their peers and teachers for a week at a time. Through imaginative play, games, activities and crafts our camp instructors weave together zoology content, wildlife conservation and just plain fun to make their groups’ week of camp a success.

What could this be? 2012. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

One of my favorite things about camp is who I am surrounded by. I love sharing my love of animals and the natural world with the kids who come to camp, and I love learning from them! Even if coming to camp is your child’s first time ever at Woodland Park Zoo, everyone has something to share. Every camper’s fire for discovery and joy of learning is inspiring to us all, and summer camp has it in spades.

Camp staff and campers, exploring and playing together. 2012. Photo by Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo.

Our camp staff members come from diverse backgrounds: experiences range from being classroom teachers, to doing international field work, to being professional actors in live theater. They come to us from local communities and even other states. Each camp group is led by a dynamic instructor and assistant pair and is assisted by our knowledgeable and devoted Counselors-in-Training (CIT) and ZooCorps volunteers.

Summer camp staff with zookeeper Eric and hornbill, 2014. Photo by Jessie Maxwell/Woodland Park Zoo.

ZooCorps volunteers assisting with a theatrical performance. 2013. Photo by Britt Boyd/Woodland Park Zoo.

This summer we are offering some exciting themes like “Magizoology” in our Discoveries Day Camp program where the campers will embark on imaginary adventures to feed dragons and prepare for the opening of a new chimera exhibit at their magical zoo. Campers in the Zoo UniversityWild Ecosystems” program will become familiar with how humans impact their ecosystems in positive and negative ways and what a person like them can do to create change for the better for ourselves as well as the animals we love.

Zoo U students studying Exhibit Design. 2007. Archive photo by Kathie Nesci/Woodland Park Zoo.

We are gearing up this summer to offer more sessions of camp than we ever have before! Registration for camp is now open. We can’t wait to see you this summer!