Outdoor Discovery Day Camps
Click on the links below to read more about our 2022 camp offerings!
Summer Camp 2022 Dates & Descriptions
MNHC is proud to once again host full-day summer camps for kids 1st through 5th grade, based out of our location at 120 Hickory Street in Missoula. Each day of camp features high-quality hands-on learning experiences about the environment, field trips to local natural areas, time for free play and exploration, and a chance to connect to nature and enjoy summer in Montana.
Each week, all campers will experience the same camp theme, but camp groups are divided by age (grades 1-2 and grades 3-5, based on the grades they will be going into in the fall) so that our highly trained camp instructors can create lessons and activities appropriate to your child’s learning level.
This year, we will also be offering Pre-K Family Camps. Each camp week we will offer Pre-K programming to campers and their adults in a local park! This camp will run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Each week will follow the same theme as the older camps.
Day & time: Camps run Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Before and after camp care are provided for those that need it starting at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $315 MNHC members/$335 non-members
**Important note** To make our camps more accessible to everyone this summer, we are offering each of our most popular camp programs twice. Both of these offerings will be very similar. For instance, Nature Detectives I and Nature Detectives II will include almost the same activities and field trips. Because experiences will be repeated, we do not recommend signing up your camper for both sessions of the same camp topic.
2022 Summer Camp Dates and Descriptions
Nature Detectives (Session I: June 13-17, Session II: July 18-22)
Nature is full of discoveries waiting to be unearthed, and mysteries waiting to be solved! This week, we’ll follow our curiosity as we investigate local nature—from plants to insects to birds to unidentified objects. We’ll use naturalist tools like binoculars, microscopes, nets, field guides, and our own creativity to ask questions, find clues, collect evidence, and solve mysteries about the world around us.
Amazing Anglers (Session I: June 20-24, Session II: July 25-29)
Summer is a great time to fish Montana’s rivers and ponds. Wade right in this week and get ready to reel in adventure. We’ll explore stream ecology, learn about fish and their ecosystems, discover how fish grow and survive, practice our fishing techniques, and try to catch the big one!
Citizen Scientists (Session I: June 27 – July 1, Session II: August 1-5)
Did you know that anyone can be a scientist? This week is all about collecting data and learning more about the scientific method. We will explore our community and help our ecosystems by becoming citizen scientists! This can look like collecting water samples, counting birds, or discovering what biodiversity can mean for our community.
Winged Wonders (Session I: July 11-15, Session II: August 8-12)
There are some incredible winged creatures in Montana! This week we will explore all things winged—from bugs to birds to bats.
Best of Camp (August 15-19)
Close out your summer with a week of greatest hits from the Montana Natural History Center! This week, we’ll experience a smorgasbord of the most fun and unique camp activities from the summer, all the while exploring local natural areas and learning a lot about Montana’s nature and wildlife—from mountains to rivers and everything in between. It’s the best of the best!
Butterfly House & Insectarium Collaboration: We’re collaborating with the Missoula Butterfly House for four camps this year!
Grades 1-2: July 11-15 and August 1-5
Grades 3-5: July 18-22 and August 8-12
**Please note: These four camps are not eligible for member discounts or scholarships.
Creative Creatures (Grades 1-2: July 11-15; Grades 3-5: July 18-22)
This camp sits right at the exciting intersection of art and science. Each day we’re going to create art projects inspired by nature! Thanks to our partnership with the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium we’ll be holding live Bug Ambassadors from around the world and will go on bug hunts to look for local ones to inspire our creative projects. Whether we’re holding bugs, observing the natural world, or creating art, we’re going to have a STEAM-tastic time together. This camp is perfect for all young bug, nature, AND art lovers alike!
Swim, Fly, Crawl – Animals in Motion (Grades 1-2: August 1-5; Grades 3-5: August 8-12)
Get ready to move with this fun and active camp all about how animals navigate their world. We’ll investigate how birds and bugs alike take to the air, how fish and aquatic arthropods swim in our rivers, and how animals of all shapes and sizes navigate the fields, forests, and deserts of the world. We’ll play games and get moving as we play to learn all week during this fun and exciting camp!
STEEM Camp for Middle School Girls
The STEEM Program provides middle school girls with a professional mentorship opportunity while simultaneously building their confidence and competence in the sciences.
The Summer Institute focuses on a STEEM topic. The week is spent building trust, confidence, and courage in the fields of science, technology, engineering, environment, and math. Activities include hands-on experiential learning opportunities with leaders in STEEM fields, leading programs for the community, and setting personal goals for professional and academic careers.
This year, we will focus on the science of flight by building gliders, working with community members and organizational partners, and meeting with scientists in the field! This week will culminate in a service learning project where the campers will be able to effectively communicate science concepts to our community members, and engage in a meaningful way.
In this way, STEEM creates a support system of peer mentorship, sisterhood, and stewardship through science!
2022 Camp Info:
Dates: June 27th – July 1st & July 25th – July 29th
Cost: $285 for non-members, $265 for members.
Duration: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm
Location: Camps will meet at the Montana Natural History Center and visit different labs and locations around Missoula.
Apply for a STEEM scholarship below:
Apply for a Summer Camp Scholarship
The Montana Natural History Center is able to provide a limited number of need-based scholarships for our summer camps. The scholarship application period is February 1-19. We strongly encourage those interested in a scholarship to apply before February 19.
Registration will open at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 13th.
Quick tips for an easier registration day:
Navigate to the “Summer Camp Dates & Descriptions” tab above to plan your camp schedule.
Some camp themes are repeated; we don’t recommend signing up for two sessions of the same camp theme.
Renew your membership! MNHC members receive a discount on each camp. Click here to become a member today!
Full payment will be due upon registration.
We’ll also be selling summer camp t-shirts – $15 each, and you can purchase them when you register.
Give us a call if you have any questions or need help setting up your account: 406.327.0405.
More details about 2022 Summer Camps:
Our registration system requires you to create an account for your family and you’ll need to add each child individually. Add each of the campers you plan to register to your account in advance so you will be ready to sign them up Sunday afternoon. You may also want to set up your payment method to speed up the registration process. You will use that same link on our website to register for camps at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, March 13th.
Camps can fill quickly on registration day. If you don’t get a spot in the camp you want, you should add yourself to our online waitlist. We highly recommend adding yourself to the waitlist if the camp you want is full. Camp spots often open up.
Don’t forget, MNHC members save on each summer camp. Not a member? Click here to become a member today!
Parents are saying great things about MNHC summer camps!
“MNHC camps get kids outside with the care and guidance from staff who can model curiosity, enjoyment of the outdoors and a conservation ethic. That’s pretty special!”
“Your kids come home tired and dirty and totally happy! They learn so much about the outdoors and how to take care of it.”
“[My daughter now] teaches us about things she sees outdoors and where the birds are going and traveling from.”
“If you want your child to have a fun, outdoor experience outside with other kids in Montana this is it!”
“This is what childhood and summer are all about!”
Field Trips and Activities: Our summer camps participate in a wide range of nature-based activities. Your child can expect to be outside every day. We take time to explore natural areas from the perspective of a naturalist: a scientist, artist, and writer. Each camp will also include games and time for play in the outdoors, which research shows is important for children. Kids can expect to learn a lot while having fun!
All summer camp groups will take field trips using our activity buses. Preschool camps can expect to stay in town for field trips but 1st-5th grade camps may travel as far as the National Bison Range, Seeley Lake, or Beavertail Pond. All buses are equipped with safety belts, and staff are trained, have passed required certification tests, and are evaluated for safe driving. Parents may provide a booster seat for their child though they are not required. One of our buses has a lift to accommodate wheelchair users. Specific field trip and activity information will be provided for you on your first day of camp but you may contact us with questions.
A parent or guardian will be asked to sign a release form and provide emergency contact information before camp starts. Participants are responsible for following camp safety rules and procedures.
Refunds: Program fee is refundable ONLY if a cancellation is made 30 days before the start of camp, minus a non-refundable administrative fee of 25% the program fee per camp. No refunds will be issued for cancellations made after this deadline. Membership fees are non-refundable.
Montana Natural History Center trips are permitted on the Lolo National Forest (Clause VII.B).
Montana Natural History Center is an equal opportunity service provider.
While we’re thrilled to be holding our traditional summer camps this year, we remain committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our campers and staff through safe social distancing and the wearing of masks. As the COVID-19 pandemic situation continues to change in 2022, so may our protocols for safe camper experiences. As these change, we will be notifying you via email prior to the start of your camp. At the time of registration, these are our current protocols. All campers and staff are responsible for the following at all times:
Maintaining a safe distance of 6 feet from other campers and staff whenever possible.
Wearing of a mask over the nose and mouth at all times while on the bus.
Using hand sanitizer before and after eating, and before/after touching shared camp supplies.
Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water as resources allow.
Should a camper begin exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 while at camp they will immediately be isolated and quarantined under supervision at the Montana Natural History Center and will need to be picked up by their parent/guardian.
If you, your child, or anyone in your household is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, do not bring your child to camp. Please notify Camps Coordinator, Alyssa Giffin, by calling 406.544.9791 or emailing agiffin@montananaturalist.
Symptoms of COVID-19: fever, loss of smell or taste, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If any campers or MNHC staff test positive for COVID-19 during your child’s camp, MNHC will take appropriate measures to communicate with parents/guardians to ensure the safety of those exposed. This could result in MNHC canceling or pausing camp, if necessary.
2022 Summer Camp Instructors
Miriam Bayer (she/her)
Summer Camp Instructor
A nature lover and general science enthusiast, Miriam completed her MS in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana and was first author on three publications before switching her focus to education. Miriam has over nine years of teaching experience through Sylvan, the Clark Fork Watershed Education Network, Washington and Lee University, and the University of Montana. Previously, she worked for the Montana Natural History Center as a summer camp instructor and participated in their Visiting Naturalist in the Schools program. In 2021, she helped design and run the Waldorf-inspired summer camp Connecting Hearts to the Arts. Miriam is also the sole proprietor of her tutoring company which educates learners at the middle school level and up in math, science, and English year-round.
Owen Curry (he/him)
Summer Camp Instructor
Owen grew up in Virginia and moved to Missoula in 2019 after graduating college and receiving a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy. Since then, he has been working in outdoor recreation with kids as well as teaching in the Missoula public schools for more than a year. His passions include biking, skiing, and backcountry camping, all of which he enjoys doing in the Missoula area. This is Owen’s first summer with the Montana Natural History Center and he is excited for the adventures to come!
Wren Filardi (she/her)
Summer Camp Instructor
Although Wren spent the last school year down in Salt Lake City, she’s always called Montana her home. She’s grown up in the Missoula area and loves to enjoy all that it has to offer. Some of Wren’s favorite activities are skiing and fishing. Natural history has always been a huge part of her life and she looks forward to sharing it with the next generation of naturalists!
Tom Hobday (he/him)
Summer Camp Instructor
Tom is from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He attends Saint John’s University, where he is a student naturalist in the Saint John’s Arboretum. He helps lead field trips for hundreds of students, and his favorite field trip is the science of maple syruping! In his free time Tom loves to play ultimate frisbee on the Minnesota state team. On campus, he is on a student documentary team focused on social justice, called Extending The Link. Tom is also a member of the Peer Resource Program, where he has led canoe trips to the Everglades and the Boundary Waters. He is looking forward to exploring Missoula this summer, and meeting all of you!
Trevor O'Brien (she/they)
Summer Camp Instructor
Trevor grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has had a passion for wildlife and paleontology for as long as they can remember. They attended college at the University of Montana, majoring in Wildlife Biology and Geosciences. Early on in their college career they discovered their true passion was in wildlife and paleontology education, and set off to gain as much of that experience as possible. They worked and volunteered with a variety of educational groups and programs during and after their college education, including Animal Wonders Montana, the UM Paleontology Collection, the Montana FWP Be Bear Aware Program, the International Wildlife Film Festival Artists and Scientists in the Classroom, and the New Mexico Natural History Museum. They also recently started an educational YouTube channel dedicated to wildlife and paleontology. They are an avid fan of a variety of outdoor activities including camping, hiking, birding, herping, spelunking, fossil hunting, canoeing, kayaking, and scuba diving. Outside of the natural world, they enjoy reading, making and editing videos, playing board and tabletop games, sword fighting, and listening to and playing music.
Anka Rashed (she/her)
Summer Camp Instructor
Having grown up in the dense urban landscape of Hong Kong, Anka spent the first few years of her life satisfying her yearning towards nature and wildlife mostly through books and David Attenborough documentaries. After moving to Illinois for university in 2015, she was finally able to get out and start exploring the outdoors, leading her to discover how much she feels at home there. After graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in robotics, she decided to pursue her love for the natural world instead, which brought her to Montana. Outside of naturey things, Anka enjoys climbing, travelling, tinkering with robots, and working on her musical project, The Dawn Patrol.
Zane Roush (he/him)
Summer Camp Coordinator Assistant
Zane was raised in Helena, Montana, where his parents fostered in him a love for the outdoors before he could even walk. Living in Montana has offered him tremendous opportunities for backpacking, climbing, skiing, and just about any other means of exploring the world around him. This time spent outside has led Zane to be immensely passionate about conservation, education, and sharing the outdoors with others. After spending a summer working at MNHC as a summer camp instructor, he is excited to be returning as the Camp Coordinator Assistant. He is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Montana studying Ecology and Wilderness Studies, and he hopes to have a career where he is outside and learning something new every day.