Summer Camp FAQs
SUMMER CAMPS 2023
WHEN DOES SUMMER CAMP REGISTRATION OPEN?
- Member registration for camps begins at 8am on Wednesday, March 15.
- General registration begins on Wednesday, March 22.
HOW DO I GET ON A WAITING LIST?
If a camp is sold out and you would like to be added to a waiting list, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide your name, email address, phone number, child’s name, grade your child was in last year and the camp session you are interested in.
DO YOU OFFER SCHOLARSHIPS?
- Yes, though our scholarship application is now closed for 2023.
- Scholarship criteria — Pierce County residents who are enrolled in one of the following programs (EBT/Washington Quest, P-EBT (Pandemic EBT), WIC nutrition program, foster parenting & kinship care) are eligible to receive a 100% scholarship for Zoo Camp fees.
- At this time, we cannot provide scholarships to families that live outside Pierce County.
CAN YOU ACCOMMODATE A CHILD WITH SPECIAL NEEDS?
Yes! Please fill out this form and send it to email@example.com at least 10 days in advance of your scheduled camp date.
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. We want to be able offer open spots to those on the waiting list.
- Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-404-3800 (M-F 8am – 4:30pm) to request cancellation or change.
- No Refunds for cancellations made less than 14 days prior to the program start date.
- For cancellations requested more than 14 days prior to the program start date an 80% refund will be given.
- Requests to have your child moved to a different date or camp (if available) will be charged a 20% rescheduling fee.
WHERE DO I DROP OFF AND PICK UP MY CAMPER?
- When you arrive at the Zoo, follow the signs for ZOO CAMP CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT. This is not at the front gate entrance to the Zoo.
- Check-In/Check-Out for Junior Explorers – Budding Biologist will be at Check-In/Check-Out B. Please follow signs for Check-In/Check-Out B or ask a staff member for help when you arrive.
- Check-In/Check-Out for Tiny Explorers, Little Explorers, Junior Explorers – Happenin’ Habitats, Wild Explorers, Science Explorers, and Eco Explorers will be at Check-In/Check-Out A. Please follow signs for Check-In/Check-Out A or ask a staff member for help when you arrive.
IS THE ZOO ACCESIBLE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION?
Yes! To get to the Zoo on PierceTransit:
- Take Route 10 PT DEFIANCE via PEARL ST.
- Get off at Pearl St & Park Wy Stop ID: 2151.
- Use caution – walking route from this stop to ZOO CAMP CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT area travels along trafficked route without sidewalks.
- From the bus stop, walk towards the traffic circle and turn left.
- Follow the road uphill past Northwest Native Garden (on the left), then turn right to follow signs to ZOO CAMP CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT.
WHEN DO I DROP OFF AND PICK UP MY CAMPER?
- See the table below for you camp’s Check-In/Check-Out window.
- Please avoid dropping off campers early/late or picking them up early/late.
- If you are running late for your Check-In/Check-Out window, please call or text 253-888-2746 and let camp staff know when we can expect you.
|Tiny Explorers||4 & 5 year-olds||9:15 – 9:25am||3:00 – 3:10pm||Thurs – Fri|
|Little Explorers||Kindergarten Graduates||9:15 – 9:25am||3:00 – 3:10pm||Mon – Wed|
|Junior Explorers||1st– 2nd Grade Graduates||8:55 – 9:05am||3:15 – 3:25pm||Mon – Fri|
|Wild Explorers||3rd– 4th Grade Graduates||8:40 – 8:50am||3:30 – 3:40pm||Mon – Fri|
|Science Explorers||5th-7th Grade Graduates||8:25 – 8:35am||3:45 – 3:55pm||Tues – Fri|
|Eco Explorers||8th-11th Grade Graduates||8:25 – 8:35am||3:45 – 3:55pm||Tues – Fri|
WHAT IF I AM BRINGING MORE THAN ONE OF MY CHILDREN TO CAMP?
- We require a separate Participant Form and signed Waiver for each individual child attending camp. Please do not put more than one child’s information on one Participant Form.
- Please plan to arrive during each child’s Check-In/Check-Out window.
WHAT IF I AM BRINGING MULTIPLE CAMPERS THAT HAVE DIFFERENT CHECK-IN/CHECK-OUT WINDOWS?
- Please arrive during your camp’s Check-In/Check-Out window.
- We do not offer Before or After Care options for any age group.
- Plan to find a spot to park and wait in your vehicle (if getting to the Zoo by car) between dropping off/picking up a camper with an earlier Check-In/Check-Out window and dropping off/picking up a camper with a later Check-In/Check-Out window.
- Due to limited staffing, we cannot provide care for your child outside the operating hours of their camp session. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
WHAT IF MY CHILD IS ATTENDING MULTIPLE WEEKS OF CAMP?
- A completed Participant Form and signed Waiver are only required to be turned in on the first day of the first week of camp your child is attending.
- Note, all camp activities are the same each week.
- Junior Explorers – Budding Biologists and Junior Explorers – Happenin’ Habitats will have different activities.
IS LUNCH/SNACK PROVIDED?
- Lunch and snack are NOT provided. 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 camp programs.
MY CHILD’S BIRTHDAY IS DURING CAMP – CAN I BRING TREATS FOR THEIR CAMP GROUP?
No. We are not authorized to offer outside food to other campers.
CAN MY CAMPER BRING A CAMERA OR CELL PHONE?
- Cameras are welcome.
- Phones will be allowed for taking pictures and communication with family members/guardians only.
DOES MY CHILD NEED TO BE POTTY TRAINED TO ATTEND CAMP?
Yes. Camp staff are not trained or authorized to change diapers or assist with toileting.
CAN A TEENAGER CHECK THEMSELVES IN AND OUT?
Yes. If you wish for your teenager (age 13+) to check themselves in/out, please complete this form and send it with your camper on their first day of camp. Please also ensure they have a completed Participant Form and signed waiver and indicate on their Participant Form that they will be checking themselves in/out.
WHERE WILL ZOO CAMP ACTIVITIES BE TAKING PLACE?
- Each group will have a designated indoor learning space in the Education Center or the Environmental Learning Center (SAMi High School) on Zoo grounds.
- Each camper will have their own cubby or designated bin for storing backpacks and other belongings.
- Camps will visit various indoor and outdoor areas of the Zoo including the Pacific Seas Aquarium galleries.
- Camps will also visit various outdoor areas outside of the Zoo including the forest in Point Defiance Park, the Northwest Native Plant Garden, and the Docks at Point Defiance Marina.
- During the Holiday Week Sessions (July 5-7) camps will visit the intertidal zone at Owen Beach.
- Not every camp group will get to visit every part of the Zoo or other outdoor areas.
HOW MANY CHILDREN ARE IN EACH CAMP?
- Tiny Explorers: 14
- Little Explorers: 14
- Junior Explorers: 14
- Wild Explorers: 16
- Science Explorers: 12
- Eco Explorers: 12
MY CAMPER’S INSTRUCTOR WAS AMAZING! CAN I TIP THEM/GIVE THEM A GIFT?
As government employees, our staff are not authorized to accept any form of tip or gift. However, if you would like to donate to the Zoo’s efforts, you can learn more about the Dr. Holly Reed Fund.
WILL THERE BE BEHIND THE SCENES ACTIVITIES?
To protect our animals and animal-care staff that are vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, there will be limited or no behind the scenes access for camp participants.
WILL I RECEIVE A CAMP REMINDER?
You will receive an email at least one week before your camp session with any updated information.
ARE THERE ANY FORMS TO COMPLETE?
A completed Camp Participant Form and signed Waiver for each camper must be handed to camp staff on the first day of camp. Do NOT email us your form in advance. Without the form and waiver, we cannot admit a child to Zoo Camp.
If you do not have access to a printer: we can provide a blank printed copy of the Camp Participant Form when you arrive at camp – please plan to spend a few extra minutes filling it out when you get here.