Staff Ratios and Experience
Our staff is screened for excellence in programming for children. Every staff member is required to have previous experience with children; many of our counselors return year after year. Typically, a staff member has worked for OMSI or Outdoor School. Most are college graduates, many with advanced degrees or curently working on a degree.
All staff working with children have successfully passed the Oregon Child Care Registry's criminal background check.
Counselor to student ratios are 1:6 for 4 years through kindergarten, 1:8 for 1st-2nd grade and 1:10 for 3rd-8th grade. We may have additional teen helpers in camp but we do not count the teens when calculating staff ratios. The same counselors work with the same kids each day.
Supervision and Safety
At no time is any child left unsupervised. The number of staff ensures thorough supervision and monitoring. In addition, the zoo's full time security staff responds immediately to any emergency sitution. The zoo grounds are completely fenced and all employees are aware of Zoo Camp.
All security staff members are first aid, CPR and automatic emergency defibrillator (AED) trained. In addition, all camp staff are trained to respond to emergency situations.
When registering, parents are asked to list the names of authorized transporters. Everyone picking up a child from camp will be required to present photo ID that matches a name on that list.
All camps include snacks. Snacks typically include fresh fruit and a carb -- usually pretzels, crackers or popcorn. Campers with food allergies are welcome to pack their own snacks.
Full day campers can either pack lunch or pre-purchase sack lunches through the zoo. Sack lunches are sold for the full week only. We do not offer lunch on a day to day basis. Sack lunches cost $25 per week for Lion through Cougar Camp (K-5th grade and $20 per week for Animal Investigators and Wild Design Camps (6-8th grade).
All meals come with a vegetarian option and choice of water, lemonade or juice. Sample entrees could include hot dogs, mac and cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets or a burrito. Lunch entrees will change from day to day. All meals will also include fruit, carrot sticks and animal crackers.
Dinner is included for the campers with extended evening programs (Cougar Camp) or overnights (Animal Investigators and Wild Design Camp). Dinner for Cougar Camp and Animal Investigators includes a choice of cheese, pepperoni, Hawaiian or veggie pizza plus fruit and a drink. Wild Design campers have a picnic dinner -- typically a choice of ham, turkey or cheese sandwich, carrot sticks, fruit and drink.
All menu items are subject to change without notice.
Kids Attending Together
Please check the website for real time availability of particular weeks and camps and register the kids for the same camp and week. If more than one room is listed make sure to register for the same room. Please note that not all camps have multiple rooms.
Small groups are assigned on the Monday of each camp week. Please let the counselors know at drop off which kids want to be together. We will do our best to make sure they are assigned to the same small group.
Camp does not change from week to week. We do not recommend multiple weeks of camp.
Thanks to the JFR Foundation and many individuals, the zoo offers some limited tuition assistance for attendance during August weeks of camp. To receive an application please call 503-220-2781 before registering and leave your address. Applications will be mailed to you. Online registration is not available for families seeking tuition assisance.
Where Is Camp?
All camps are held at the zoo using classrooms and all of the zoo exhibits. Animal Investigators takes an off grounds field trip to a Metro greenspace and Wild Design has an off grounds field trip to OMSI.
Behavior is managed to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for all. Children are expected to behave appropriately. In the event a child is disruptive, time-out may be used. If disruptive behavior continues, the parent will be called to help find a solution. If improvement is not realized, the child may be asked to not return to camp.
Behind the Scenes
Due to safety concerns and the availability of animal care staff we are not able to offer behind the scenes tours for most camps. (Animal Investigators and Wild Design camps include some limited behind the scenes experiences.
Animal contact experiences are provided for all camps.
Can Parents stay with Kids?
Our camp program is designed for children who are able to be successful in group oriented programs without parent involvment. We do offer short classes for kids ages 3-8 where parents are actually required to stay with kids.
Medication and Allergies
Medication cannot be administered or dispensed by zoo staff. Campers must be able to take their own medication. However, staff can carry medications and help children remember to take them. Lead camp staff and the zoo's full time security staff are first aid and EpiPen trained.
If your child is bringing an EpiPen or medication to camp you will be asked to complete additional paperwork regarding its authorized use.
If your child has any food specific allergies please pack your own snacks and lunches. Your child will be permited to eat their home packed snacks during snack time.
Special Needs Campers
Please detail any physical, academic or social special needs your child has that our staff should be made aware of. Special needs will be accomodated to the best of our ability provided we know in advance of your camp week. If your child is not self sufficient, you will be asked to provide a non-parent aide for the week of camp.
Zoo staff cannot apply sunscreen to campers. Please make sure your camper comes to camp already wearing adequate sunscreen protection. Staff can remind campers to reapply and assist them in measuring an appropriate amount but children should be able to apply their own sunscreen.
Lost and Found
Lost and found items are turned in to zoo security at the end of each camp week. To check on lost items after your child's camp week, call 503-226-1561 x 5300.
Refunds, minus a 10% administrative fee, will be made only if your cancellation is received before June 3, 2013. After June 3rd, 75% refunds will be given if cancellation is made at least five working days before the start of your camp week. No partial refunds are given for missed camp days. There is no fee to switch camps. To cancel or switch camps, please call 503-220-2781.