Summer Camps for Nature Lovers

These summer camps may be just the thing for your budding gardener.
Summer Charms

Summer Charms

Photo by: Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Kids get hands-on with nature, including vegetables and plants, during summer camps offered by the Atlanta Botanical Garden and other organizations.

If you’re seeking summer camp options for your kids and teens, consider cultivating their interest in gardening or giving them a spectacular setting to spend their days. 

You’ll need to act fast, though—some of the summer camps offered by botanical gardens and other groups fill up fast. Registration typically begins in January and February. Some gardens also have spring break camps.

Weekly rates range, on average, from $130 to $200 or more (for a full-day camp). If you’re a member of the garden or organization hosting the camp, discounts are available.

Some unique camps are sponsored by companies and organizations that have all expenses paid to attend. One of those is the Katie's Krops Camp, which is part of a South Carolina student's nonprofit organization seeking to fight hunger through gardening. The camp brings about 15 students from across the country to South Carolina to work with founder Katie Stagliano, a teenager, and learn about growing techniques, food safety and host a service project. The weeklong camp is sponsored by WP Rawl, a fresh vegetable truck farm, and students are joined by parents or a chaperone.

Here are 10 summer camps and what they offer:

The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, N.Y.: Offers half-day sessions in July and August for kids ranging from 3 to 12. You can sign up online

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pa.: Offers daylong camps for kids ages 6 to 15, with themes about treehouses, art,  textiles, writing and digital photography. You can sign up online

Growing Gardens, Boulder, Colo.: Several half-day and full-day camps throughout the summer are geared toward ages 3 to 11 at its urban Children’s Peace Garden. Themes include: Bats, Insects, and Spiders; Birds, Butterflies and Bees; Urban Safari, Green Thumb Detectives; Art and Photography in the Garden. You can sign up online

Atlanta Botanical Garden: A variety of half-day and full-day camps in June, July and August, for ages 4 to 12. Themes range from exploring the gardens to cooking. You can sign up online

Ithaca Children’s Garden in Ithaca, N.Y.: Offers half-day and full-day camps throughout the summer. Past themes have included Garden Magic: Fairies, Elves and Potions; Farmer’s Market Camp; and Garden Explorers/Habitat Mania. You can sign up online

Chicago Botanic Garden: Camps in June through August offered for six months to 15 years old, ranging from less than 2 hours to full-day camps. Themes include Mad Scientists, Art in the Garden, Treasure Hunt, Science Explorers, Alfresco Art, Botany in the Kitchen, Insect Investigation, Chemistry, Dirty Jobs and Grossology. You can sign up online.

Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Ariz.: Camps offered by this Southwest garden focus on exploration and discovery. You can sign up online.

Denver Botanic Gardens: Offers week-long summer and farm camps with cooking, activities, time to explore the gardens and even plants to bring home. You can sign up online. 

Red Butte Garden at The University of Utah in Salt Lake City: Offers week-long camps that combine the natural world with art, science and more. You can sign up online. 

Seattle Tilth: Offers kid and teen day camps for ages 1 to 14 focused on exploring plants and animals in the garden, developing garden skills, making art, cooking and even running through sprinklers. Camps are offered at its different Seattle area sites, including a children’s garden, beach learning garden, urban and wetlands, and a 21-acre farm. You can sign up online

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