Youth Summer Camps 2023
Outdoor Discovery Day Camps: Join us for nature adventures in summer 2023. 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.
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
Dates and Themes
Nature Detectives (Session I: June 12-16, Session II: July 24-28)
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.
Water Wonders (Session I: June 19-23, Session II: July 31 – August 4)
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!
Rockin’ Rocks (Session I: June 26-30, Session II: August 7-11)
Calling all rock-hounds and fossil lovers: join us for a rockin’ good week of camp! Experience the rock cycle, investigate the different types of rocks and fossils, start a rock collection, create rock art, and explore the geography of local natural areas as we dig in and discover the geology of Montana.
Nature’s Architects (Session I: July 10-14, Session II: August 14-18)
Nature has many incredible builders. From beavers to bees to streams, all sorts of nature’s wonders can build and create. Join us this week to explore Nature’s Architects and engineer and build a few things along the way.
Citizen Scientists (Session I: July 17-21, Session II: August 21-25)
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.
Butterfly House & Insectarium Collaboration: We’re collaborating with the Missoula Butterfly House for two weeks of camp this year!
Grades 1-2: June 12-16
Grades 3-5: June 26-30
**Please note: These two camps are not eligible for member discounts or scholarships.
Creative Creatures (Grades 1-2: June 12-16; Grades 3-5: June 26-30)
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!
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.
This year, we have expanded our programming to include four weeks of camp!
- June 19-23: Sustainability
- July 10-14: Limnology
- July 24-28: Forestry
- August 7-11: Wildlife
Cost: $230 for members, $250 for non-members
Duration: 9:30 am – 3:30 pm*
*Some camp weeks may have an overnight element.
Please feel free to contact our Camps Coordinator, Alyssa Giffin, if you have any questions.
High School Girls Conservation Corps
MNHC is partnering with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation to host an overnight backpacking trip. For these few days, girls ages 16-17 will be hiking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness with guides and MNHC staff to learn about conservation, do some trail work, identify and pull invasive plant species, nature journal, and enjoy the fresh mountain air. Please reach out to our Camps Coordinator, Alyssa Giffin for more information: email@example.com
Dates: July 17 – 21
Click on the links below to read more about the 2023 summer camp season!
Apply for a Summer Camp Scholarship
The Montana Natural History Center is able to provide a limited number of need-based, partial scholarships for our summer camps. Please apply by February 20th.
Registration will open at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 5th, 2023
*Previously our website stated that camp registration would be opening on March 12th. However, we are so excited for camp season we decided to open registration early this year!
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 2023 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, February 5th, 2023.
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 2023, 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:
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 exhibits 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.