Conservation

Summer Camps

These day camps are designed to encourage hands-on learning through outdoor explorations, activities, games, crafts, and more. Camps will be led by naturalists. Campers are asked to bring a water bottle and sack lunch for day long camps. Prepackaged snacks will be provided.

Summer Camp Registration Opens - March 6, 2023 at 7am

Ages 6-7

Noisy Nature Camp

Session 1: June 8-9, 2023 - 9-11:30am - FULL

Session 2: July 6-7, 2023 - 9-11:30am - FULL

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of us exploring nature and its many sounds! Join us as we listen and create our own sounds using materials we find in nature.

  • Fee: $40
  • Registration deadline is May 25 and June 22
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park, Shelter #5
Nature Explorers Camp

June 12-16, 2023 - 9-11:30am - FULL

Five days of explorations in nature…what could be better than that!?! Come and spend a week at Jester Park hiking, playing games, working on projects, and getting to be part of the nature that is all around us. From the animals to the plants, to the soils and the waters, this week will definitely be the best of the summer.

  • Fee: $100
  • Registration deadline is May 29
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center
Frog, Toads, Snakes Camp

Session 1: June 26-27, 2023 - 9-11:30am - FULL

We will explore the world of reptiles and amphibians while hiking the trails, playing games, making crafts and meeting special guests. Campers are sure to discover everything that makes these creatures ‘toad’ally cool!

  • Fee: $40
  • Registration deadline is June 12
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center

Ages 8-9

Nature Discovery Camp

Session 1: June 21-22, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

Session 2: July 19-20, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

Discover the wonders of nature and unlock some of nature’s mysteries. How does a snake catch it’s food? Can a lizard really regrow its tail? Whose footprints were left in the mud? Bring your nature detective skills for two days of discovery. Bring a sack lunch and water bottle. 

  • Fee: $90
  • Registration deadline is June 7 and July 5
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center

Water Detectives Camp

July 5-7, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

Get ready to uncover the wonders of water as you become a Water Detective! Throughout the week, we will explore what makes freshwater so important for both plants and animals (including humans like us). We’ll investigate wetlands, ponds, creeks, and lakes as we discover how we can help to keep our waters clean.

  • Fee: $135
  • Registration deadline is June 21
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting Location: Jester Park Nature Center
Can You Dig It? Camp

August 8-9. 2023 - 9am-11:30am

There are billions of interesting things to discover underground, let’s explore the world of soil and learn how important it is!  

  • Fee: $90
  • Registration deadline is July 25
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center

 

Ages 10-11

Junior Naturalist Camp

Session 1: June 12-14, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

Session 2: July 18-20, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

Do you know a child who loves the outdoors? Campers will spend go fishing, canoeing, hiking, geocaching, building campfires and more while exploring the outdoors. On the last day of camp, campers will receive a badge and certificate. Bring a sack lunch and water bottle. 

  • Fee: $135
  • Registration deadline is May 29 and July 1
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center

Botany Camp

July 10-11, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

It's time to geek out about plants! We’ll take a hike to uncover the amazing diversity of plants and trees in the park, discover what flowers look like under a microscope, press a few flowers, and even try painting plants with watercolors.

  • Fee: $90
  • Registration deadline is June 26
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center

Spaceship Earth Camp

July 14-15, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm

Volcanoes, glaciers, ecosystems, black holes, and constellations. Learn about what makes planet Earth and the space around us so amazing. Be a part of an interstellar camp at Jester Park where we’ll investigate the awe-inspiring features that make us so lucky to call this place home. 

  • Fee: $135
  • Registration deadline is June 28
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting Location: Jester Park Nature Center

 

Ages 12-16

River Rats Camp 

June 13-14, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

If you have a young experience paddler looking for a challenge, then this camp is for them. We will explore two different Central Iowa rivers and test their paddling skills. Not only will we paddle, we’ll also learn about river ethics, safety, geology, ecology, and take time to just play. Prior paddling experience required. Trips led by American Canoe/Kayak Certified and experienced instructors.  All transportation, equipment and PFD’s provided. Trips may be cancelled due to inclement weather.

  • Fee: $90
  • Registration deadline is May 26
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting Location: Jester Park, Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center
Shooting Camp

June 20-21, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm - FULL

This camp will introduce participants to the lifelong sport of target shooting. We'll learn the basics of archery, air rifle and even throw Atlatls. The experience continues with a visit to the Butch Olofson Shooting Range where we'll practice our skills using .22 rifles and 20 gauge shotguns. All equipment, ammo, targets, ear and eye protection provided. All shooting activities led by certified trained range instructors.

  • Fee: $90
  • Registration deadline is June 6
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Day 1 Meeting location: Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center
  • Day 2 Meeting location: Olofson Shooting Range, Polk City
Survival Camp

Session 1: June 22, 2023 - 9am - 3:30pm

Session 2: July 25, 2023 - 9am - 3:30pm

Set your kid’s imagination and adventurous spirit free as they learn about the natural environment and important survival skills. Activities range from plant identification, animal tracking study, and survival skills like fire and shelter building. Kids will gain confidence and comfort in being outdoors, while have a great time and staying active. Bring a sack lunch and water bottle. 

  • Fee: $45
  • Registration deadline is June 8 and July 21
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park, Shelter #5

Mad Scientist Camp

June 28-30, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm

July 26-28, 2023 - 9am-3:30pm

Embark on a series of science adventures like no other during mad scientist camp! Using a combination of games, science discovery, and hands-on fun campers will explore different sciences in nature and conduct their very own experiments. Please bring a sack lunch and water bottle.

  • Fee: $150
  • Registration deadline is June 19
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting Location: Jester Park Nature Center
Pathfinders Experience Camp

July 19-21, 2023 - details below

Lions, tigers, and bears…nope, we don’t have any of those, but we do have two and a half days of adventures for students aged 12-16 looking for a unique summer experience. We’ll spend a few days exploring and getting to know each other, then spend the night at Jester Park! Making food, going on a night hike, and having a campfire are all highlights of this new program. Bring a sack lunch for Wednesday and Thursday and water bottle. Dinner, and breakfast provided.

  • Schedule: July 19 - 9am-3:30, July 20 - 9am to overnight through July 21 to 11am.
  • Fee: $150
  • Registration deadline is July 5
  • Limited to 12 campers
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center

Adults

Adult Summer Camp Retreat

Session 1: June 10 @ 9am-3:30pm

Session 2: August 12 @ 9am-3:30pm

That’s right, this is summer camp, but for the grown-ups. Sign-up with your friend, your partner in crime, your family, or just by yourself. We’ll spend the day outdoors while we go on a several mile hike around the varying terrains of Jester Park exploring, learning, and adventuring. Focus will be on animals, plants, habitats, and more as we take part in a variety of engaging activities. This retreat is great for anyone wanting to learn more about nature in Iowa in a safe space. We’ll also spend time reflecting, making new friends, and being a little bit goofy. Bring your own lunch, snacks will be provided.

  • Fee: $50
  • Registration deadline is June 5 or July 29
  • Ages: 18+
  • Meeting location: Jester Park Nature Center