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.  Extended care drop-off is no earlier than 8am, extended care pick-up is no later than 5pm; availability is limited.  Camp fees are $450 to $475 per person per week. 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.  The curriculum is repeated every week throughout the summer.  Most campers only sign up for one week, but you are welcome to sign up for multiple weeks if you wish.  Face coverings are mandatory; no exceptions.

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 and Spring Mini-Camp Sessions at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, Dates and Themes

Spring Break Mini-Camp:  Ecosystem Engineers – In-Person at Turtle Back Zoo!    

Registration is full for both age groups and for both sessions (3/1/21).  To add your name to the waitlist please email mhunt@parks.essexcountynj.org.  The waitlist is free and doesn’t obligate you to accept a spot if one opens.  You’ll only be contacted about the waitlist if a spot opens up.

Many animals create nests, burrows, or even decorative structures used to attract mates.  Some structures end up being shared with other species while other structures might be eventually re-purposed or re-used.  No matter the function, each structure is a reflection of the builder’s life history and of the habitat where it lives.  Join us to learn about the form and function of animal-engineered structures!  The curriculum for each session is the same; choose only one session for your camper to attend.  Register for one day or all three!  Mini-camp includes zoo tours, animal presentation, games, experiments, and more.  Ages 5-10 from 9am to 4pm.  Face coverings are mandatory; no exceptions.

Animal Engineers Session 1:  March 30 – April 1

Animal Engineers Session 2:  April 6 – April 8

To add your name to the waitlist for a Spring Break In-Person Mini-Camp session please email mhunt@parks.essexcountynj.org

 

2021 Summer Camp Virtual Open House

The 2021 Summer Camp Open House on February 27 was a success and super fun.  If you missed it, but would like to see what everyone learned, you can access everything through the Summer Camp Virtual Open House Google Classroom page.  There you’ll find a recording of our virtual open house session, camp information, documents, resources, and activities.

From the Google home screen, select Classroom from the app menu in the top right corner (the nine dots). Click the “+” in the top right corner of the Classroom home page; select “join class” from the drop down menu and type in the following Google Classroom Class Code: tyzk7i6

 

2021 Summer Camp at Essex County Turtle Back Zoo

The current plan is for full-day, in-person summer camp for 2021.  Camp dates and themes are below.  Camp is for age 5/rising K through rising grade 8 except where noted.  See below for Covid-19 mandates; mandates will be updated as we receive further guidance from our local health agencies.

Camp registration opens for zoo members on March 13; March 27 for non-members.  Zoo members received an email from the Zoological Society with the registration link at ~5pm on 3/11/21.  If you are a zoo member and have not received your camp email, please contact the Zoological Society at 973-731-5800 ext. 241.  On March 27 the camp registration link will be available to the public on this webpage.  The curriculum is repeated every week throughout the summer.  Most campers only sign up for one week, but you are welcome to sign up for multiple weeks if you wish.

 

To Register for Summer Camp:  Click Here

 

Camp Sessions:  all age groups are offered each week except week 10. 

The curriculum is repeated every week throughout the summer.  Most campers only sign up for one week, but you are welcome to sign up for multiple weeks if you wish.  Extended care drop-off is no earlier than 8am, extended care pick-up is no later than 5pm; availability is limited.

  • week 1:  June 28- July 2
  • week 2:  July 5 – 9
  • week 3:  July 12 – 16
  • week 4:  July 19 – 23
  • week 5:  July 26 – 30
  • week 6:  August 2 – 6
  • week 7:  August 9 – 13
  • week 8:  August 16 – 20
  • week 9:  August 23 – 27
  • week 10:  August 30 – September 3 (Ages 5-10 only; no extended care options; curriculum is the same as the rest of the summer)

 

To Register for Summer Camp:  Click Here

 

Summer Camp Age Groups and Themes

  • rising age 5 and entering K:  Zoo Tales – Celebrate the Seasons
  • rising grades 1 and 2:  Say What! – Animal Communication
  • rising grades 3 and 4:  Growing Up Wild – Animal Development
  • rising grades 5 and 6:  Backyard Conservation – NJ Conservation and Beyond
  • rising grades 7 and 8:  Zoo Crew – All About Being a Zookeeper

The curriculum is repeated every week throughout the summer.  Most campers only sign up for one week, but you are welcome to sign up for multiple weeks if you wish.  Extended care drop-off is no earlier than 8am, extended care pick-up is no later than 5pm; availability is limited.

 

To Register for Summer Camp:  Click Here

 

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

  • Camp hours are 9am to 4pm (give or take 5-10 mins)
  • Extended care drop-off is no earlier than 8am, extended care pick-up is 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
  • The curriculum is repeated every week throughout the summer.  Most campers only sign up for one week, but you are welcome to sign up for multiple weeks if you wish.
  • 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.

COVID-19 Mandates

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

 

About Virtual Camp Sessions

Applies to virtual mini-camp sessions only

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.

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
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.

 

ONLINE REGISTRATION INFORMATION

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

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