Youth Summer Camps 2024

Our Outdoor Discovery Day Camps are now American Camp Association Accredited!

As camp professionals, we understand that your biggest concern is for the safety of your child. We also know you have goals for your child’s development related to the powerful lessons the camp experience provides in community, character-building, skill development, and healthy living. We share those same goals, which is why we have taken the added step of becoming an accredited camp through the American Camp Association (ACA).

ACA accreditation serves as an assurance to families that our camp cares enough to submit to a transparent, thorough review of our entire operation. Our goal is to provide parents with as much information about our camp, to reassure you about your camp choice. Our voluntary participation in the professional development and accreditation process of the American Camp Association demonstrates our commitment to providing you and your child with the best possible camp experience.

Outdoor Discovery Day Camps: Join us for nature adventures in summer 2024. Our camp age groups are as follows:

  • Pre-K – Kindergarten*
  • 1st – 2nd Grade
  • 3rd – 5th Grade

*4 and up: Must be able to use the restroom independently and without accidents. 

The Montana Natural History Center is hosting a total of 10 weeks of camp. Each theme week runs twice throughout the summer.

Camps run from 9:30-3:30. Before and aftercare is available for free for those who need it (no extra charge, no additional registration) from 8:30-9:30 & 3:30-5:30.

Cost: $315 for members, $335 for non-members per camp. 

Summer 2024 Dates and Themes - Click on the bar to expand
Nature Detectives

Welcome to the Nature Detectives Summer Camp, where young explorers embark on a thrilling adventure to unravel the mysteries of the great outdoors! This camp is designed to ignite the curiosity and passion for nature, and foster a deep connection with the environment through exciting and educational activities.

DATES: June 10 – 14 & July 22 – 26

Water Wonders

Dive into a world of aquatic excitement at our Water Wonders Summer Camp—a thrilling exploration of water’s mysteries and marvels! This unique camp is designed to inspire awe and appreciation for the vast wonders of rivers, lakes, and all things aquatic. Young water enthusiasts are invited to join us for a week-long adventure filled with immersive experiences, hands-on activities, and unforgettable water-themed exploration.

DATES: June 17 – 21 & July 29 – August 2

Fossil Finders

Dig in to this prehistoric adventure at Fossil Finders Summer Camp, where young paleontologists-in-training unearth the mysteries of the past! This camp is a thrilling journey into the world of fossils, designed to ignite curiosity, inspire scientific inquiry, and foster a deep appreciation for the ancient wonders that lie beneath our feet. Our Fossil Finders Summer Camp promises a week of hands-on exploration, interactive learning, and the chance to make remarkable discoveries.

DATES: June 24 – 28 & August 5 – 9

Nature's Architects

Embark on a creative journey into the natural world at Nature’s Architects Summer Camp, where young minds are invited to explore the fascinating realm of animal architects and ecosystem engineers. This unique camp is designed to spark imagination, nurture problem-solving skills, and foster a deep appreciation for the incredible structures and habitats created by nature’s most ingenious builders.

DATES: July 8 – 12 & August 12 – 16

Wild Wanderers

Saunter on a wild and whimsical adventure at Wild Wanderers Summer Camp, where young explorers are invited to unleash their curiosity, explore the critters that call this place home, and journey across different landscapes. This camp is designed to ignite a sense of wonder, foster a deep connection with nature, and instill a spirit of exploration in the hearts of our campers.

DATES: July 15 – 19 & August 19 – 23

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 different STEEM topic each week. 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, practice in science communication, and setting personal goals for professional and academic careers. 

REGISTRATION OPENS FEBRUARY 18th, 2024 at 9 AM.

Duration: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm*

*Some camp weeks may have an overnight element. 

Please feel free to contact our Museum Youth Programs Coordinator, Fern Bodnar, if you have any questions: fbodnar@montananaturalist.org.

2024 Dates and Themes
Conservation & Wilderness Management

DATE: June 17-21

COST: $295 for members, $315 for non-members.

NOTE: This camp week has an overnight element. We will be camping Thursday night on a conservation land easement. This camp week is $315. 

This camp is dedicated to fostering a love for nature, scientific inquiry, and the critical role that STEEM disciplines play in conservation efforts.

Participants in this camp will embark on an exciting journey, exploring various aspects of conservation through hands-on activities, field trips, and engaging workshops led by experienced mentors. From understanding biodiversity and ecosystems to learning about endangered species and habitat restoration, girls will gain a deep appreciation for the importance of preserving our planet’s natural treasures.

Our camp emphasizes the intersection of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in addressing conservation challenges. Girls will have the opportunity to explore cutting-edge technologies used in wildlife tracking, conservation mapping, and environmental monitoring. Through interactive experiments and real-world applications, they will develop practical skills and a solid foundation in conservation science.

Field trips to local conservation sites, land easements, and wildlife reserves will provide participants with firsthand experiences and insights into the diverse ecosystems around them. Guest speakers, including female leaders in conservation, will share their journeys, encouraging girls to envision themselves as future champions for conservation and wilderness management.



Climate Resiliency

DATE: July 15-19

COST: $265 for members, $285 for non-members

This empowering and innovative camp is specifically designed for young minds passionate about making a positive impact on our planet. Get ready for a week of inspiration, exploration, and hands-on learning as we delve into the crucial field of climate science.

Throughout the camp, participants will embark on a journey to understand the challenges posed by climate change and the innovative solutions that contribute to building resilient communities. Engaging workshops, interactive experiments, and insightful discussions led by experienced mentors will empower girls to explore the intersection of science, technology, engineering, environment, and mathematics (STEEM) in addressing climate-related issues.

Our camp goes beyond the classroom, providing opportunities for real-world applications. From field trips to climate-resilient projects, girls will gain practical insights into how STEEM plays a pivotal role in creating sustainable and resilient solutions. Work collaboratively with like-minded peers, and be inspired by guest speakers who are leading experts in the field of climate resiliency.

Zoology

DATE: July 29 – August 2

COST: $265 for members, $285 for non-members

This camp is tailored for young girls with a passion for wildlife, biodiversity, and the exciting field of zoology.

In this camp, participants will embark on a thrilling adventure, diving deep into the realms of animal biology, behavior, and conservation. Engaging workshops, hands-on activities, and interactive sessions led by experienced zoologists will provide a comprehensive understanding of the diverse and incredible creatures that share our planet.

Girls will have the opportunity to explore anatomy, physiology, and taxonomy through exciting experiments and dissections. From learning about the adaptations of different species to understanding animal habitats and ecosystems, the camp offers a holistic approach to zoological sciences.

Field trips to wildlife research areas and natural habitats will provide participants with firsthand experiences and opportunities to explore wildlife. Guest speakers, including accomplished women in the field of zoology, will share their expertise and inspire girls to envision themselves as future leaders in the study and conservation of wildlife.

Hydrology

DATE: August 12 – 16

COST: $265 for members, $285 for non-members

Immerse yourself in a hands-on, engaging experience that explores the fascinating world of water science. This camp is a unique opportunity for young minds to discover the wonders of hydrology – the study of water distribution, movement, and properties.

STEEM girls will embark on a journey of scientific discovery through interactive experiments, field trips to local bodies of water, and engaging workshops led by experienced hydrologists. From understanding the water cycle to exploring the impact of human activities on water resources, girls will gain valuable insights into the importance of water conservation and sustainable practices.

Our Hydrology STEEM Camp is not just about learning in the classroom; it’s about fostering curiosity and building skills through real-world applications. Participants will have the chance to collect water samples, analyze data, and speak with scientists in the field. Through teamwork and hands-on experiences, they will develop problem-solving skills and a deeper appreciation for the crucial role water plays in our environment.

MEET THE SEASONAL NATURALISTS

Elsah Bechtold

Elsah Bechtold

Seasonal Naturalist

Elsah is from Choteau, Montana, where her love for the outdoors began as she grew up along the wild and beautiful Rocky Mountain Front. She is currently a student at the University of Montana studying environmental science and sustainability. When she is not at school, Elsah enjoys skiing, biking, and reading, as well as many other outdoor activities. Her favorite thing to do is to explore the Bob Marshall Wilderness, as it is close to her home and heart. She is excited to start working with the Montana Natural History Center and spread the love for the outdoors!

Nora Christy

Nora Christy

Seasonal Naturalist

Nora grew up in central Ohio, attending and volunteering at STEAM day camps and programs, where she developed her love of sharing the natural world with others. She moved to Missoula in June 2020 to pursue a BS in Ecology and Organismal Biology at the University of Montana. While studying, she worked as a research assistant for several projects at the university. Most recently, she worked on a study of pine tree sapling survival and regeneration after wildfires in Gold Creek, Montana. In her free time, she likes to go hiking with her two dogs, attend concerts in town, and crochet.

Connor Dow

Connor Dow

Seasonal Naturalist

Connor grew up in Ashland, Oregon, along the crossroads of the Cascade and Siskiyou Mountains. Here, he discovered his love and curiosity for the outdoors. Connor is a soon-to-be graduate at the University of Montana studying geography and mountain studies. Connor enjoys hiking, skiing, gardening, rock climbing, and other typical Missoulian activities in his free time. Described to be a child-at-heart himself, Connor is very excited to join the Montana Natural History Center and share his love of the natural world with the campers!

Hope Ensminger

Hope Ensminger

Seasonal Naturalist

Hope grew up in a military family and has lived in many different regions of the country. This is how she developed and expanded her love for the outdoors. She’s particularly fond of camping and fishing! Hope is currently studying psychology and anthropology at the University of Montana.

Anna Kerins

Anna Kerins

Seasonal Naturalist

Anna grew up in Helena, MT. Ever since childhood, she has loved getting outdoors and exploring the natural world. She loves everything from kicking up macroinvertebrates to tracking elk and other animals. In her free time, you can find Anna looking for birds, mountain biking up Marshall Mountain, or taking a yoga class at the Hot House. She is currently a senior at the University of Montana studying wildlife biology. She is particularly interested in birds, so if you have any questions about birds or wanna chat about our feathered friends, please ask! Anna is excited to instill this love for the natural world into the next generation. She is so happy to join the MNHC seasonal naturalist team this summer!

Sarah Tarajos

Sarah Tarajos

Seasonal Naturalist

Sarah recently graduated from the College of Coastal Georgia with a degree in Environmental Science and a concentration in Geology. She grew up in northern California and is looking forward to making her way back west!

Ashley Wilson

Ashley Wilson

Seasonal Naturalist

Ashley is originally from a tiny little town nestled in the mountains of Northeastern Oregon called Lostine. She grew up in a primarily agricultural community, raising animals through 4-H and growing an annual vegetable garden with her family. Most of her childhood summers were spent hiking, swimming at the Wallowa River that runs behind their house, playing with her pets, and spending time with her family. Ashley decided to venture to Missoula, Montana, to study Art Education in 2019, and she graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree! She will attend graduate school here in Missoula this fall to pursue a Master’s in Elementary Education. In her free time, Ashley enjoys cooking and baking, going on mindful nature runs and walks, reading, journaling, crafting, and spending time with loved ones.

Click on the links below to read more about the 2024 summer camp season!

Apply for a 2024 Summer Camp Scholarship

The Montana Natural History Center’s scholarship application period has closed.

 

Scholarship Timeline

MNHC’s Updated Scholarship & Registration Timeline:

 

  • Jan. 5th: Scholarship beneficiaries will be informed of their scholarship, and the camp coordinator will reach out to register your camp for you.
  • Jan. 6th @ 9 AM: Summer camp registration opens for everyone. Scholarship families can still register, and each camp will reserve spaces for scholarship beneficiaries.
  • Feb. 18th: Scholarship beneficiaries can still register with camp coordinator, but scholarship spots will no longer be reserved, and there is a chance your preferred camp might be filled.

 

Registration Information

REGISTER FOR SUMMER CAMP HERE

Quick tips for an easier registration:

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.

Give us a call if you have any questions or need help setting up your account: 406.327.0405.

More details about 2024 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 on registration day. You may also want to set up your payment method to speed up the registration process. You will use the same link on our website to register for camps at 9:00 AM on January 6th.

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 that MNHC members save on each summer camp. Not a member? Click here to become a member today!

REGISTER FOR SUMMER CAMP HERE

Camp Notes

Parents are saying great things about MNHC summer camps!

She came home happy every single day and enjoyed being outside. She enjoyed learning about insects and their environments and got very excited about the “Save the bees” project.”

“[My child] had lots of information at the end of the day and was excited to tell me what she learned. She was also tired, so I know she was busy and engaged.”

“This is our first one but I’m going to try and book as many as I can for next summer- she had such an amazing time, and was itching to go to camp every day”

“He had such a good time, and we loved seeing and hearing about what he was up to. Definitely our favorite of the camps he’s done this summer.”

“Both kids had a wonderful time. The staff was friendly and kind, the flexibility with before and after care is so nice. Field trips are the best!”

“He always has fun adventuring and playing games and doing crafts. The staff is so terrific and engaging with the kids, and make him feel safe and comfortable.”

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.

COVID-19 Protocols

While we’re thrilled to hold our traditional summer camps again this year, we remain committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our campers and staff. As the COVID-19 pandemic situation continues to change in 2024, so may our protocols for safe camper experiences. As these change, we will notify 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:

  • 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 exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, do not bring your child to camp. Please notify the Museum Youth Programs Coordinator, Fern Bodnar, by calling 406.327.0405 or emailing fbodnar@montananaturalist.org

    • 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.