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 age 5) 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.  Face coverings are mandatory; no exceptions.

2021 Winter Mini-camp Sessions at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

Mini-Camp Dates and Themes

1/18:  Winter Wildlife Trackers – Virtual via the Webex Platform

Join us in search of signs of local wildlife and learn about their magnificent winter adaptations!  Enjoy a virtual zoo tour, animal presentation, and live interactive educational activities led by our Educators as we uncover the secrets of animals in winter.  Ages 5-7 from 9am to 11:30am, ages 8-10 from 1pm to 3:30pm.

To Register for the 1/18 Virtual Mini-Camp session:  Click Here

2/15:  Theme TBD


About Virtual Camp

Ages 5-7 from 9am to 11:30am

Ages 8-10 from 1pm to 3:30pm

A typical virtual camp day begins with introductions and a discovery activity called “Who Am I?”  Campers will explore our zoo with a virtual zoo tour, play games, try a scavenger hunt, and then return to the virtual classroom in time for an up-close animal presentation and review of the day.  We’ll also provide plenty of supplemental activities, crafts, videos, and worksheets that can be accessed from our virtual camp google classroom.

We use Webex (Cisco) for our virtual platform.  The app is free and can be downloaded from your app store.  Access to the virtual program and all supplemental materials will be provided via email in advance of the program.


COVID-19 Mini-Camp Update

We have received directives from the Essex County Parks Department, Essex County Health Department, and State of NJ regarding the safe implementation of our Mini-Camp Program during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  We are working hard to create a safe camp experience and will be implementing many policies to safeguard campers and staff.  There may be further changes as the situation evolves in this region.  Measures include, but are not limited to (or may be discontinued under guidance):

  • You can receive a full refund if you cancel at least 2 weeks before the start of your registered camp week (our normal cancelation policy is 3 weeks)
  • Camp group capacities are decreased
  • Temperature checks will be required of staff and campers before reporting to work/camp
  • There will be health care staff to check temperatures
  • Camp will have its own dedicated custodial staff to sanitize camp spaces and bathrooms multiple times a day
  • The HVAC system in our building will be serviced before and during camp to ensure fresh air intake and proper function
  • A regular schedule of handwashing will be maintained
  • Many of the items that would normally be available for touching will be limited (stuffed animals, biofacts, etc.)
  • Parents/chaperones will not be permitted in the camp classrooms
  • Drop-off and pick-up procedures will be modified to reduce mixing of camp groups
  • The water fountain that is used for camp will be for filling bottles only (no drinking from the fountain)
  • Suspected COVID-19 cases will be separated and sent home (campers and staff)
  • Mixing of camp groups will be limited; mixing of camp groups with zoo visitors will be as limited as possible
  • Masks will be worn by staff and campers at all times, except for while eating snack and lunch or water breaks
    • The state encourages everyone to wear masks at all times
  • Camp will be outside more than usual; the zoo has allocated dedicated outdoor, covered spaces for us (the Party Gazebo and Education Patio)
    • Please keep this in mind should you register your child for camp; we will always have indoor spaces available for campers, but we will definitely be spending more time outside



General Camp Information for All Camp Sessions (in-person)

  • Camp hours are 9am to 4pm
  • 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 waitlist 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.orgFor Summer Camp 2020, the cancellation policy for in-person camp has changed to 2 weeks until further notice.



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

Please note the Zoo will be closed from January 1st - January 31st.