Summer Outdoor Discovery Day Camps
Click on the links below to read more about our 2021 camp offerings!
Summer Camp Dates & Descriptions
Summer Camp registration will open on Monday, March 8, at 7:00 a.m.!
MNHC is proud to once again host full-day summer camps for kids ages 4 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 (age 4-kindergarten, grades 1-2, 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.
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: $295 MNHC members/$315 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, Rockin’ Rocks! I and Rockin’ 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.
2021 Summer Camp Dates and Descriptions
Nature Detectives (Session I: June 14-18, Session II: July 12-16)
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.
Outstanding Outdoor Skills (Session I: June 21-25, Session II: July 19-23)
If you’re looking for an action-packed week of learning outdoor skills, this camp is for you! Have a blast while also developing skills that might help you survive in the woods (or at least, have more fun outdoors!). We will explore natural areas around Missoula, learn camping, survival, and wayfinding skills, engage in field science, and make discoveries about the natural world!
Rockin’ Rocks (Session I: June 28-July 2, Session II: July 26-30)
Calling all rockhounds 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.
Amazing Anglers (Session I: July 5-9, Session II: August 2-6)
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!
Best of Camp (August 9-13)
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 19-23 and August 9-13
Grades 3-5: July 26-30 and August 16-20
**Please note: These four camps are not eligible for member discounts or scholarships.
Creative Creatures (Grades 1-2: July 19-23; Grades 3-5: July 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!
River Explorers (Grades 1-2: August 9-13; Grades 3-5: August 16-20)
Get ready to make a splash exploring rivers and the critters that call them home! We’ve partnered with the Missoula Butterfly House & Insectarium to bring you a wet and wild week where we’ll uncover what bugs and other wildlife live near and under the water. Along the way you’ll learn what makes a good habitat, use naturalist tools, and get up close and personal with Bug Ambassadors from around the world.
Summer Camp registration will open on Monday, March 8, at 7:00 a.m.!
Quick tips for an easier registration day:
Navigate to the “Summer Camp Dates & Descriptions” tab above to plan your camp schedule.
Use this link to set up your family account before camp registration opens on March 8th.
If you registered in 2019 or 2020, you already have an account. Be sure you have the password and try logging in before registration day!
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 2021 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 Monday morning. 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 7:00 a.m. Monday, March 8th.
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!
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 1-19. We strongly encourage those interested in a scholarship to apply before February 19.
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 2021, 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:
MNHC staff will conduct a symptom and risk check with the camper’s parent/guardian upon check-in each morning.
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 both in and out of doors (except when eating or drinking).
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 are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, do not bring your child to camp. Please notify Director of Education, Jennifer Robinson, by calling 530.329.6027 or emailing at jrobinson@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 cancelling or pausing camp, if necessary.