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 $85 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.

Winter Mini-Camp

February 17, 9am to 4pm — Registration is open
Animal Enrichment
Animal husbandry goes far beyond feeding and cleaning!  Join us for camp today to learn how we foster good mental, physical, and emotional health of our zoo population.  General camp information applies; see section below.

Winter 2020 Mini-Camp Registration:  Click Here


Spring Break Camp

This year in Essex County, about half of the school districts are on Spring Break for the week before Easter, while the other half of schools are on break the week after.  To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to join us for camp we are offering camp days both before and after Easter.  Session 1 (before Easter) and Session 2 (after Easter) will cover the same content.  Campers may sign up for one day or the full session (either session 1 or session 2).

Where the Wild Things Live
This mini-camp is all about wildlife conservation.  We’ll examine some of the conservation challenges that many animals face including habitat loss, climate change, and the pet trade.  Your campers will also learn some simple actions that the whole family can do to protect their favorite wild things and wild places.  Join us for one day or for the full session.

Registration links are forthcoming.  See below for Spring Break Camp dates.  General Camp Information applies; see section below.

Session 1:  Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, April 8-10, 9am to 4pm
Session 2:  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, April 13-15, 9am to 4pm


Summer Camp Open House

It’s never too early to think of summer!  Turtle Back Zoo hosts week-long, fun, science-based summer camps for ages 5 to 14. Teacher-guided lessons, behind-the-scenes experiences, up-close animal encounters, fun crafts, and time in the Zoo make this camp a must do on your summer fun list.

Join us for Essex County Turtle Back Zoo’s Annual Summer Camp Open House to check out what’s new and fun at camp for Summer 2020. On Saturday, February 29th from 11am to 2pm you can meet some of our camp counselors, learn about our science-based curriculum, try a camp-styled activity, and say hello to a few of our Camp Animal Ambassadors.  There will be several activity stations to visit and record on an Open House Passport.

This is a free event and we ask that you register in advance, but day-of walk ups will be welcome.  This is not a drop-off program for children; all attendees should register.  We are scheduling 1 hour time slots (11am, 12pm, 1pm) for tickets to ensure that we can accommodate the needs of our future campers and their families; please attend the ticket time for which you’ve registered.  Registered participants who complete all visitor activity stations before 2pm are eligible for same day zoo admission at the off-season group rate ($8/person – note that TBZ closes at 3:30pm in February).  The Open House is located at the Berson Education Center (adjacent to the TreeTop Adventure Course) on the east side of the Zoo complex.

Summer Camp Open House Registration:  Click Here


Save the Date! Online registration for zoo summer camp opens to Zoo Members on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Registration for the general public opens two weeks later.


General Camp Information for All Camp Sessions

  • 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 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 $85/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