Summer Outdoor Discovery Day Camps




Important Summer Camp Update:

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MNHC is changing our 2020 summer camp season, including pushing back the start date to July 13th. We have consulted medical professionals, epidemiologists, the Missoula City County Health Department, the American Camping Association, and peer organizations. After thoroughly reviewing their recommendations, guidance, and new restrictions MNHC determined that we cannot currently operate camps and maintain the high quality learning experiences that are expected of our programs.  


  • The first 4 weeks of summer camp (June 15 – July 11) are cancelled.


  • Camps for 4-5 year olds are cancelled for the entire summer.


  • We are planning to hold camps the second half of the summer, beginning July 13, and are putting new systems into place to adhere to local restrictions as well as new safety and prevention practices.


  • Camps will look a little different. For the second half of the season we anticipate limited before/after care. Age groups will likely be mixed to allow us to keep families together as we implement safety recommendations and guidelines.

If you were registered for a camp that has been cancelled, please use this form to learn about and select your options.

We anticipate letting families know in mid-June what camp will look like for the second half of the summer. We are not currently accepting new registrations for the second half of the summer while we transfer campers from earlier in the summer into those camps. If additional space becomes available, we will notify the public.

MNHC also has a *new* option for learning and adventure this summer: Nature Explorer Kits, complete with everything you need for a week’s worth of fun and exploration in nature, including instructions, materials, games, ideas for exploration, and opportunities to connect and share with MNHC naturalists. Learn more and sign up at this link.

If you have questions, feel free to contact MNHC or give us a call at 406.327.0405. Thank you all for being part of the MNHC family. We are eagerly waiting for the time when we can explore the outdoors again together!


Click on the Links Below to Read More About our 2020 Camp Offerings!

Full-Day Camps

MNHC is proud to once again host full-day summer camps for kids ages 4-10, 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 full-day campers will experience the same camp theme, but camp groups are divided by age (4-5 years, 6-7, 8-10) so that our highly-trained camp instructors can create lessons and activities appropriate to your child’s learning level.

Cost for Full-Day Camps:

Ages 4-5: $245/$220 MNHC members; Ages 6-10: $225/$200 MNHC members

**Important note for Full-Day Camps**: 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, Geology Rocks! I and Geology Rocks! 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.

2020 Full-Day Camp Dates and Descriptions

Outdoor Olympics (Session II July 20-24) 

Do you love to leap like a frog, slither like a snake, slink like a snail, or sprint an antelope? This summer, the Olympics isn’t just on TV—it’s all around us!  Join us for an energizing week learning about the natural world through games and play in a non-competitive environment.  We’ll get outdoors, get active, and have fun while we learn about amazing feats of nature!

Nature Explorers (Session II July 27-31)

This week is all about exploring as naturalists! Spend your week on grand adventures to local natural areas, looking for animal signs, searching for insects, investigating wildflowers, and much more.  Each day, we’ll get outdoors, make discoveries, use naturalist tools, follow our curiosity, and learn about the world around us.

Fantastic Fish and Where to Find Them (Session II July 13-17)
Summer is a great time to fish Montana’s rivers and ponds. Wade right in this week and reel in adventure as we learn all about Montana’s fish, their environment, and how to reel em’ in!  Join us to 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!

Geology Rocks! (Session II August 10-14)
Calling all rock-hounds and fossil lovers: let’s dig in! Experience the rock cycle, investigate the different types of rocks and fossils, start a rock collection, create rock art, and visit local natural areas to explore the geology of Montana during this rockin’ good week of camp!

Earth Art (August 3-7) 

This camp will get creative and artistic (and probably a little messy!) as we explore art in nature. We’ll explore local nature and also look at nature-inspired art to fuel our creativity as we create our own masterpieces. We’ll explore nature-inspired art in many ways—join us for a fun-filled week as we paint, draw, sculpt, sing songs, create skits, and celebrate our amazing Montana environment.  The week will end with a First Friday art opening, showcasing the work created at camp.

Half-Day Camps

** NEW FOR 2020!** MNHC is proud to debut our new series of camps for kids ages 5-9, based at our location at the Native Plant Garden at Fort Missoula!  This is a wonderful, natural area for our camp setting, and we are excited about exploring nature there with your campers this summer!

Half-day camps feature all the same things that make MNHC summer camps great: skilled instructors, lots of time spent outdoors engaging directly with nature, and high-quality hands-on lessons as well as plenty of time for free exploration an play in nature—it is summer, after all!

These camps feature slightly shorter days, and an extended age range, to accommodate families looking for a shorter schedule, and also those with siblings in a variety of grades.

Half-day camps run from 9:00am-1:30pm.  Free before care and after care is available from 8:30-9:00am and 1:30-2:00pm.  Drop off and pick-up for half-day camps takes place at the Native Plant Garden at Fort Missoula

Ages: 5-9

Cost: $150/$140 MNHC members

2020 Half Day Camp Dates and Descriptions

Plant Power (July 27-31)

The Fort Missoula Native Plant Garden is a great home-base to learn about and explore the wonderful world of Montana’s plants!  Join us this week as we get up close with the plants and the animals that depend on them.  Participate in hands-on learning, creative projects, art, play, and explorations to learn more about what plants we have in Montana, how you can tell them apart, and some of the things that make them so special.

Amazing Animals (August 3-7)

Who’s that out in the woods with you?  Spend a week learning all about Montana’s amazing animals, from dragonflies to ducks to deer.  We will get outdoors to explore different habitats and search for creatures and their sign using naturalist tools. Through exploration, art, stories, and games we’ll learn what Montana’s animals do, where they live, what they eat, and why they are so important to have around.

EcoEngineers (August 10-14)

Do you like inventing things?  We’ve got an engineering challenge for you! Each day this week, campers will learn about a nature-based challenge and have the chance to work together to engineer a solution. These hands-on lessons and other nature explorations will give students an opportunity to be creative and to use the environment for ideas and inspiration.

Middle School Specialty Camps

**NEW FOR 2020!** We are excited to offer camps for older campers this year!  These camps, geared towards students who will be going into a middle school grade (ages 11-13) in fall of 2020, explore nature and natural history topics at a higher level, giving middle schoolers an in-depth and meaningful experience with nature and science.

Middle School Specialty camps are led by MNHC’s highly experienced staff teaching naturalists, and will also connect campers with other experts and role-models in the community as we engage in hands-on learning and unique experiences.  We’ll have a lot of fun too, taking trips to natural areas, making friends, trying new things, and enjoying summer camp in Montana!

Middle School Specialty Camps run from 9:00am-3:30pm.  Free before and after care is available from 8:30-9:00am and 3:30-4:00pm.  Camp pickup and drop-off for Middle School Specialty Camps takes place on the UM campus at the natural sciences lab on the 2nd floor of the Health Sciences Building.

Ages: 11-13

Cost: $225/$200 MNHC members

Middle School Specialty Camp Dates and Descriptions

Sustainability Heroes Specialty Camp (July 20-24)

Do you want to make our community a better place?  Join us for this special camp! Explore sustainability with MNHC naturalists and other caring middle schoolers as we learn leadership skills, meet with science and environment role models, visit natural areas, do hands-on activities, have fun, and take action.

Apply for a 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-March 1. We strongly encourage those interested in a scholarship to apply before March 1.

To learn more and apply for a scholarship, please click here to access our scholarship application form.

Camp Notes

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. Withdrawals after this deadline forfeit the full registration fee. 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.