Summer Outdoor Discovery Day Camps
Camp registration is open! All registration must be completed online; Click here to visit our online camp registration system.
We still have openings in a number of camps! Check out our camp listings below, or visit our registration page, to see what is still available.
If you have problems accessing your account or other questions, you can also contact MNHC at 406-327-0405 or email Stephanie.
Join us for a summer of learning, exploration, and adventure! Featuring small student-to-instructor ratios, highly-trained and responsible staff, quality field trips, time to explore and play in nature, and hands-on science and natural history lessons, MNHC camps connect kids to nature in a real and meaningful way, and we have a great time doing it!
This year, we’re proud to respond to community demand by offering new options for younger and older campers–from new half-day programs at Fort Missoula to special in-depth experiences geared specifically for middle schoolers. We’ve also got something for the whole family, with new adult-child guided Naturalist Camp Days to help you and the kids in your life explore Montana’s nature together.
And, of course, we will still be offering our classic, popular Full-Day Camp program based out of our location at 120 Hickory Street every week for ages 4-10.
Keep reading below for more information on all the programs we offer, and feel free to be in touch with MNHC should you have any questions. Camp registration will open to the public on March 12th. Our scholarship application priority period is February 1-March 1.
2020 is going to be an amazing summer! We hope your family will join us for a week–or more–of summer fun and enrichment!
Click on the Links Below to Read More About our 2020 Camp Offerings!
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 I June 15-19; 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 I June 22-26; Session II July 27-31) Session 1 4-5 year old Session 2 6-7 year old camps are full; waitlist available. Space available in other ages and session!
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 I June 28-July 3; Session II July 13-17) Session 1 camp for 4-5 year olds is full; waitlist available. Space is still available in other ages and session!
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 I July 6- 10; Session II August 10-14) Session 1 6-7 year old camp and Session 2 8-10 year old camps are full; waitlists available. Space available in other ages and sessions!
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 Artists (August 3-7) All camps full; waitlist available.
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.
** 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
Cost: $150/$140 MNHC members
2020 Half Day Camp Dates and Descriptions
Forts and Fires (June 22-26) Camp full; waitlist available.
Join us at the Fort Missoula Native Plant Garden as for this fun, hands-on week! We’ll explore the forest and the native plant garden to learn about trees and all the amazing things they provide for us. We’ll roll up our sleeves and use found materials to build forts and other structures. And, we’ll learn about fire and fire ecology, and even have a chance to try our hand at building fires and roasting s’mores!
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
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.
Cost: $225/$200 MNHC members
Middle School Specialty Camp Dates and Descriptions
Naturalist Skills Specialty Camp (July 6-10)
If you’re looking for an action-packed week of trying out new outdoor skills, this camp is for you! Have a blast while also learning outdoors and naturalist skills that will help you learn more, stay safe, and have fun out in nature. Join MNHC naturalists for this special week—we’ll explore natural areas around Missoula, learn about fire safety, learn build shelters, discover helpful plants, get to know local wildlife, and more.
Nature Art Specialty Camp (June 15-19)
Spend a week looking at nature in new ways, and creating works of art alongside MNHC naturalists and artists. We’ll take field trips to local natural areas as well as art museums and other sources of inspiration, and use these experiences to fuel our creativity. We’ll learn new techniques and skills for making nature-based art, try out a variety of mediums and formats, and let our imaginations flow in a supportive and fun environment.
The Science of Flight Specialty Camp (June 29-July 3)
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s an MNHC summer camp! Join MNHC naturalists and scientists as we take off into a world of flight! We’ll learn about birds, bats, and other natural fliers, and we’ll also explore how flight works and how physics helps them (and us) stay airborne. We’ll take trips to local natural areas to discover natural fliers up close, meet with scientists to learn about how they study flight, and engage in hands-on engineering and science activities to help us learn more about the world above us.
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.
Adult-Child Naturalist Camp Days
**NEW FOR 2020!** This summer, parents, grandparents, and other caring adults can sign up for a special experience along with the kid in your life! You’ll join MNHC staff teaching naturalists for a day full of guided explorations and activities geared especially towards kids and their adults. Be prepared to explore, have fun, learn something new, and make memories together! We’ll meet at a local natural area for welcomes and an overview of the day, and explore from there. Each day’s activities will be different—join us for one Naturalist Camp Day, or for all four!
Adult-Child Naturalist Camp Days run from 10am-3pm. We will meet at the natural area. Cost: $85/$75 MNHC members per adult-child pair; up to one additional person (adult or child) for $15.
2020 Adult-Child Naturalist Camp Dates
Saturday, June 13- Rollicking Rivers
Saturday, July 11- Birding Bonanza
Thursday, July 23- Fun with Flora
Thursday, August 6- Hooray for Habitats!
How to Register for Camps
Camp registration will open to the public at 7:00am March 12, 2020.
TIPS FOR REGISTRATION DAY:
- If you are an MNHC member, there is an option you’ll choose to get a member discount. If you have any issues or questions about your member discount, or any problems during the registration process, just go ahead and register for camps– we will make any adjustments needed later.
- Be sure you have included your camper’s birth dates in their profiles. (If you don’t include an age/birthdate, the system might think they are too old to register for camps!)
- If you registered for camps in 2019, you should use the same account as last year. There is a password reset link if you’ve forgotten your log-in details from last year.
- To make our camps more accessible to everyone this summer, we are offering some of our most popular camp programs twice. Camps with the same name will be very similar. For example, Outdoor Olympics I and Outdoor Olympics II will include almost the same activities and field trips. Because experiences will be repeated, we do not recommend signing your camper up for both sessions of the same camp.
- We highly recommend adding yourself to the waitlist if the camp you want is full. Things change after opening registration day and 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!
If you have problems accessing your account or other questions, you can also contact MNHC at 406-327-0405 or email Stephanie.
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.
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.