Zoo's spring break camp helps kids connect with nature

February 15, 2013 - 2:31pm

Nothing says spring break like meeting a flock of flamingos and digging for bugs

Northwest campers this spring are advised to be on the lookout for bears. And elephants. And flamingos. Well, if you're an Oregon Zoo Nature Ranger, that is. The zoo's popular Nature Rangers spring break camps return March 25-29, with programs for children in kindergarten through fourth grade.

"Nature Rangers camp is a great way for kids to stay active, continue learning over spring break, and make a strong connection with nature," said Jennifer Whitener, program supervisor.

Camp activities include crafts, songs, stories, snacks, animal visitors and in-depth tours of the zoo. Camp activities, specifically planned for the interests of each age group, will be focused on making connections between animals native to the Northwest and animals that live on the other side of the world.

"Our campers go on hikes, dig for bugs, observe birds and other wildlife in Washington Park, and they'll meet some very interesting animals here at the zoo," Whitener said. "They'll also learn how to look for signs of animals in nature and how to create backyard habitats for wildlife."

Camp programs are available for children in kindergarten through fourth grade, and hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children may attend one day, a few days or all five. Each day is $38 per person for zoo members and $40 per person for non-members. Lunches are available at an added charge. For more information and to register for camp, call 503-220-2781 or visit www.oregonzoo.org/daycamps.

The zoo's professional camp staff has been helping children explore the wonders of wildlife through fun, hands-on learning since 1983. Staff members are selected for excellence in programming for children and typically have also worked for public schools, OMSI, Outdoor School or Audubon. Most are college graduates or are working on a degree, and many return year after year. Limited group size allows staffers to give zoo campers personal attention with staff-to-student ratios of 1:8 for kindergarten through first grade, and 1:10 for second- through fourth-grade camps.