Zoo Camps

Zoo Camps

Join us at Turtle Back Zoo for some wild fun!

The mission of Turtle Back Zoo camp is to foster an appreciation for wildlife and the natural world through fun and educational activities.

To further our mission of conservation, education, and stewardship, campers will be introduced to the extraordinary world of animals, nature, and science.  Children will enjoy age appropriate camp activities that include games, teacher-led lessons, behind-the-scenes visits, up-close animal encounters, hands-on science projects, and fun crafts.  Join us for a week during the summer or on a school holiday during the school year.

During the summer, we offer week long summer camps for children entering Kindergarten and grades 1-8.  Camp is 9am to 4pm, with extended care options available.  Camp fees are $450 to $475 per person per week.  We also offer mini-camps throughout the school year on days that coincide with many of the major school holidays.  Available for ages 5 to 10, our mini-camp days are from 9am to 4pm (no extended care option).  Mini-camps are $90 per person per day.  We provide a fresh fruit or veggie snack for all camp sessions; campers bring their own lunches or additional snacks.  We do our best to host a tree nut-free environment for our campers.

Upcoming Mini-Camp Sessions 2019-2020

Does your child have an upcoming school holiday?  Join us for one of our mini-camps at Turtle Back Zoo!  Campers ages 5 to 10 will enjoy a full day of animals, zoo tours, games, and environmental stewardship.  For information call 973-731-5800 ext 103 or email mhunt@parks.essexcountynj.org.


Spring Break Camp

In an effort to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo is cancelling Spring Break Camp for the 2020 season.  Both weeks of camp days are cancelled and will be refunded or credited per the request of each camp family.  We apologize for any inconvenience; we would much rather host a super fun few days of zoo camp!  Stay safe and healthy everyone!

Spring Break 2020 Mini-Camp information:   email Marguerite Hunt at mhunt@parks.essexcountynj.org



Summer Camp 2020 at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

To Register:  Click Here

Age Groups and Camp Themes

• Age 5 & Entering K: Zoo Tales
Stories from the book series “Over in the…” inspire learning about animals and our world.

• 1st and 2nd grades: Wild Colors
Focuses on colors and how they help animals adapt to their environments.

• 3rd and 4th grades: Wild Appetites
How and what do animals eat? Herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, decomposers, consumers and producers will all have a place at the table.

• 5th and 6th grades: Junior Conservationists
Explore the world and learn how animals are protected and conserved locally and globally.

• 7th and 8th grades: Zoo Crew
Learn all about being a zoo keeper from feeding the animals to creating enrichment, to building habitats.

Curriculum is repeated throughout the summer. Weeks 1 through 9 are for campers ages 5 and entering K through rising 8th grade; week 10 is only for ages 5-10. Before and After extended care is available for weeks 1-9 only with limited availability.

Week 1: June 29 – July 3
Week 2: July 6 – July 10
Week 3: July 13 – July 17
Week 4: July 20 – July 24
Week 5: July 27 – July 31
Week 6: August 3 – August 7
Week 7: August 10 – August 14
Week 8: August 17 – August 21
Week 9: August 24 – August 28
Week 10: August 31 – September 4 (Wild Colors and Wild Appetites curricula only)

To Register:  Click Here


General Camp Information for All Camp Sessions

  • Camp hours are 9am to 4pm
    • Limited availability extended care sessions are available during summer camp weeks 1-9 only:  Before-care is drop-off no earlier than 8am; After-care is pick-up no later than 5pm
  • Drop-off and pick-up are at the Berson Education Center, located on the east side of the zoo complex (there’s a large giraffe statue in front of the building) unless you are directed to a different location in advance; transportation to and from the zoo is not provided
  • All campers must be signed-in and -out by the accompanying parent/chaperone; adults must present a valid photo ID to sign-out
  • Campers must bring their own lunches; major allergen-free foods are very appreciated
  • Campers must be dressed to go outside; camp is rain, or shine, or snow, or cold
  • Please label any medications; check-in medications with the counselors
  • If there is a major weather event, you will be notified via an email from CampDoc if there is a delay or cancellation
  • General daily schedule; varies per camper’s age group, animal availability, weather, etc.
    • check-in
    • discovery activity/game
    • lesson
    • snack
    • zoo visit
    • lunch
    • animal presentation
    • lesson
    • zoo visit
    • craft/scientific experiment/take home activity/game

Please Note

*New Jersey is considered a “no touch” animal state. Campers will see a variety of animals up close, but contact is limited to only domestic species, touch tank, aviary, butterflies, and giraffe feeds.

General Registration Information

*Please note, some sessions may already have sold out. You can sign up for the wait list through the registration link above.

Don’t have a CampDoc account yet? Read below to learn more about our new online registration system.

Payment must be made in full at the time of registration through CampDoc.com in order to secure your child’s place in camp.  Camp tuition for single day camps is $90/camper.  Summer camp tuition is $450 for ages 5 through grade 6; $475 for campers entering grades 7 and 8.

Cancellation/Refund Policy
For mini-camps, cancellations with full refunds will only be accepted up to two weeks before the first day of your registered camp session.  Cancellations made within two weeks of the first day of your registered camp session are not guaranteed any refund.

For full-week summer camps, cancellations with full refunds will only be accepted up to three weeks before the first day of your registered camp session. Cancellations made within three weeks of the first day of your registered camp session are not guaranteed any refund. Cancellation requests can be submitted via your CampDoc.com account or emailed to mhunt@parks.essexcountynj.org.



We have a new system to register for zoo camps. All registration and forms can now be filled out online!

The first step is creating an account through the camp registration link found under the camp you want.

Have more than one child? All the information is kept under one account. Just add a new participant and enter in the information.

We know you might have questions with this new system, so feel free to reach out to us at #973-731-5800 (ex 103, 230, 275, or 236) or use some of the resources below to help answer some of your questions on the new system.

CampDoc has an extensive support page that you can access by clicking the Lifesaver Icon located in the top right corner. Here you will find many helpful documents that can help you use CampDoc to its full potential!

Here is a direct link to the support documents: https://support.docnetwork.org/hc/en-us/categories/115000363510-Participants.
If at any time you have questions that may not be in our support pages, you can contact our Help Desk at 734.636.1000 or you can email them at help@campdoc.com.[/minti_box]

Turtle Back Zoo

The Essex County Turtle Back Zoo is temporarily closing to the public effective March 14, 2020 following the lead and directive of our state health and government officials as a measure to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in our community.Learn more