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Camp Essentials

Camper Information

Everything you need to know.

Coming to Zoo Camp? Here’s everything you need to know in one easy place.

What to bring

  • A completed Camp Participant Form and signed waiver (on the back of the form) must be provided for each camper on their first day of camp. Without these documents, we cannot admit a child to Zoo Camp.

A backpack with:

  • Lunch and at least 2 designated snack items. We encourage the use of reusable lunch bags and containers. We work hard to keep single-use plastic out of the Zoo. Camp participants will not have the opportunity to purchase food from the Plaza Café or any food carts at any time during summer camp programs.
  • A refillable water bottle. There are water bottle filling stations throughout the Zoo grounds.
  • Clothing appropriate for weather and outdoor activities. The majority of camp activities will take place outside, rain or shine.
  • Comfortable close-toed shoes are recommended for ALL camp activities. We will be doing a lot of walking!
  • Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, or other sun protection is recommended. Please label with your child’s name. Camp staff cannot apply sunscreen to campers, but they can remind and provide campers with the opportunity to apply sunscreen. Please apply sunscreen to your child or plan for your child to apply it themselves.
  • Cameras are welcome. Phones will be allowed for taking pictures and communication with family members/guardians only.
  • Prescription medication. If children require prescription drugs during camp hours, camp staff must have written instructions to provide this medication for the child. However, staff will not physically administer the medication; we will provide the opportunity for the child to take the medication.
  • Hand sanitizer. Instructors will keep on hand and there will be some in each learning space. However, campers are welcome to bring their own small supply.
  • Each child will have a cubby or tote to store their backpack and any other belongings. Smaller “string” back packs will be provided for campers to carry water bottles and other necessities when on outdoor adventures.

What NOT to bring

Please leave these at home.
  • Gum
  • Games or toys
  • Open-toed footwear

Check-in/ Check-out

When, where, who.
  • Follow signs to the check-in/check-out area.
  • Designated staff members will monitor all check-in/check-out procedures daily, including conducting camper symptoms surveys and checking temperatures.
  • Only authorized adults or teens listed on the participant form will be allowed to sign out a child, after providing photo identification. This is done for your child’s safety and is required every day of camp.
  • Campers 13 or older can sign themselves in and out if they bring a note signed by their parent/guardian granting permission.

Campers 13 or older with a photo ID may sign out other campers (such as younger siblings) if they are listed on the younger camper’s participant waiver and the younger camper’s parent/guardian has provided a signed note authorizing the teen to check-out/pick up the child.

CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT TIMES:

Tiny Explorers (4- & 5-year-olds)

Check-in – 9:15-9:25 am
Camp activities begin at 9:30 am
Check-out – 3:00 pm

Little Explorers (Kindergarten Graduates)

Check-in – 9:15-9:25 am
Camp activities begin at 9:30 am
Check-out – 3:00 pm

Jr. Explorers (1st/2nd Grade Graduates)

Happenin’ Habitats – Check-in A
Budding Biologists – Check-in B
Check-in – 9:00-9:10 am
Camp activities begin at 9:15
Check-out – 3:15 pm

Wild Explorers (3rd/4th Grade Graduates)

Excellent Ecosystems – Check-in A
Sensational Scientists – Check-in B
Check-in – 8:45-8:55 am
Camp activities begin at 9:00 am
Check-out – 3:30 pm

Wildlife Explorers (5th-7th Grade Graduates)

Check-in – 8:30-8:40 am
Camp activities begin at 8:45 am
Check-out – 3:45 pm

Eco Explorers (8th-11th Grade Graduates)

Check-in – 8:30-8:40 am
Camp activities begin at 8:45 am
Check-out – 3:45 pm

We must see a picture ID, EVERY DAY from the adult picking up a camper

If you know you are going to be late to Check-in please call 253-888-2746.

 If you arrive before your check-in or check-out window, please park and wait until your designated time.

Zoo Directions

How to get to the Zoo.

For the most straightforward way to reach the Camp Check-In area, we recommend one of the first two routes.

Mildred Street Entrance:

From I-5, take exit 132 to follow SR 16 West. Take the Pearl St/Ruston exit and go north on Pearl Street. Turn left on North 51st Street and drive to Mildred Street. Go around the curve, down and up the hill and turn right into the park. Make another right turn at the stop sign and follow signs to Camp Check-In. If you arrive before your check-in or check-out window, please park and wait until your designated time.

Waterfront Route to Mildred Street Entrance:

From I-5, take exit 133 for I-705 and follow signs to Schuster Parkway, then Ruston Way. Follow Ruston Way for 2.8 miles along the waterfront, and at the second traffic circle take the second exit onto North 51st Street. Continue to North Pearl Street, then continue straight ahead for the Mildred Street Entrance. Go around the curve, down and up the hill and turn right into the park. Make another right turn and follow signs to Camp Check-In. If you arrive before your check-in or check-out window, please park and wait until your designated time.

Pearl Street Entrance:
Not recommended for camp participants.

 

Covid-19 guidelines

Keeping everyone safe.

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS at CAMP

  • Zoo Camp participants will not be required to wear masks or show proof of vaccination this summer. However, our camp staff will support any child who chooses to wear a mask during their time at camp.
  • Camp staff and volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated, but not to wear masks.
  • We STRONGLY recommend that unvaccinated children wear masks when indoors.
  • Camp staff will ask about any symptoms or possible exposures when campers check-in each morning. They may also check camper temperatures.
  • Campers and staff will be assigned to a distinct group that will stay together throughout the entire day during their session.
  • Each camper will be provided with a box of their own set of supplies to use for the duration of camp. These boxes will be disinfected at the end of each day.
  • Handwashing stations will be used as often as possible. When not available, hand sanitizer will be supplied.
  • Zoo staff may adjust camp policies and procedures as new guidance becomes available.

In addition to visiting the animals in their zoo and aquarium habitats, campers will be spending more time engaging in activities in the forest and gardens within Point Defiance Park.

TO PROTECT EVERYONE’S SAFETY:

  • If anyone in your family feels ill or believes that they may have been exposed to someone with Covid-19, please keep your child(ren) at home.
  • If there is a possible exposure within a camp group, you will be contacted directly by the Metro Parks Tacoma COVID-19 Emergency and Safety Officer.

HOW WILL I BE CONTACTED IF SOMEONE IN MY CHILD’S CAMP HAS SYMPTOMS OR AN EXPOSURE OUTSIDE OF CAMP?

You will be contacted directly by the Metro Parks Tacoma COVID-19 Emergency and Safety Officer.

Changes and Cancellations

All you need to know.

WHAT IF I NEED TO CANCEL OR CHANGE MY CAMP REGISTRATION?

  • Please notify us immediately should you need to cancel or change your camp registration.
  • For cancellations requested more than 14 days prior to the program start date, an 80% refund will be given.
  • PDZA reserves the right to cancel any program. If we do, all program fees will be refunded.
  • Contact us at reserve@pdza.orgor 253-404-3800 to request a cancellation or change.

GENERAL INFORMATION:

For general camp questions, a late arrival/pick-up of a participant, or an emergency:

  • Email reserve@pdza.org. Allow 1 business day for a response.
  • Call the Zoo’s main line at 253-404-3800. Press 0 (zero) to bypass the menu or leave a message. Administrative office hours are 8am-4:30pm Mon–Fri.
  • If you can’t reach someone using the Zoo’s main line, please contact camp staff on their cellphone: 253-888-2746