Summer Camp

Explorer Camp

Ages 5-8

Summer CampOur Explorer Camp program features a different theme each week to act as a lens through which we examine the environment and our place within it. Programs and activities are set in the “living classroom” of the outdoors, with emphasis on engaged learning through game play, hands-on activity, and nature study. Campers in this program are grouped by age, and are guided by a team of environmental educators as well as guest speakers from our community. While a wide range of activities is offered daily, individual group schedules are kept flexible to allow campers to contribute ideas and explore preferred topics. Campers also visit Taughannock Falls State Park twice a week to enjoy free play or swim time.

Note: 5-year-olds enrolled in this program must have previously participated in a full-day kindergarten or preschool program and are ready and able to tackle a full day of vigorous activity, including hikes. Our Preschool Naturalist offers a slower-paced program with half-day and full-day sessions (that include an optional rest period) if you think this may be a better fit for your camper.

Registration fees (per week): $250 members / $275 non-members




Summer CampHabitats are Home -- July 1 – July 5

Enjoy a guided immersion into a different habitat each day on our 100 acre property. The focus is on the communities of life within land and aquatic settings, with a discussion how each can provide for the needs of its inhabitants. By viewing the habitat as a home, campers learn that, despite the many differences in each, all exhibit fundamental characteristics necessary for the survival of the life they support.


Summer CampA Dino-mite Week -- July 8 – July 12

Enjoy a journey back in time and a focus on how researchers reconstruct this past with help from the clues hidden in rocks, ice, and soil. Unlock the prehistoric era by recreating fossils, exploring our gorge for signs of an ancient salty sea, and discovering what animals once walked in our backyards. Included is a field trip to the Museum of the Earth!


Summer CampThe Power of Plants -- July 15 – July 19

From the trees over our head to the weeds under our feet, this week we explore the massive kingdom of plants. The focus is on the life cycle of a plant, from seed propagation to the decomposition of a log, to cultivate a broader understanding of how energy moves through a forest. In addition, campers will meet and learn about some of our notable native trees and plants, and experiment with ways in which humans have harnessed the power of plants.


Wild About Wildlife -- July 22 – July 26

Explore the secretive lives of our local wildlife. Programs and activities will look at the biology and behavior of these animals, and how they interact within their environment. We will comb our woods and fields in a quest for animal signs for clues about diet and movement, and engage in games to explore the factors that control populations, and take a look at our skull collection to better understand the physical differences between predator and prey anatomy.


Summer CampFinger Lakes Footprints -- July 29 – August 2

This week takes a closer look at our area’s human history, with a focus on time periods in which the natural world was a central influence in daily life. Indulge in the rich folklore, games and crafts of local indigenous cultures, observe our modern forest for clues into its past, and practice the homesteading skills essential to early pioneers who carved out homes in the primitive wilderness.


Summer CampInsect Investigations -- August 5 – August 9

Discover the most diverse group of animals on the planet; insects! We will explore the varied and vital roles they play within our ecosystems—from pollinators to predators. Unlock the complexity of social insect life by taking a journey into a hive, catch-and-release insects in our fields for closer observations, and craft cozy shelters for our beneficial bugs.


Underwater Worlds -- August 12 – August 16

From the familiar shores of Cayuga Lake, to the deepest depths of the oceans, we’ll dive into one of the Earth’s most important elements this week; water. Campers will learn about the fantastic fish and aquatic life of our lake and its tributaries, join in on a guided wading walk to learn about the Nature Center’s own gorge and waterfall, and discover the native and introduced aquatic species of our area in our twin 650-gallon aquariums.


Summer CampSurvival Skills -- August 19 – August 23rd

No summer has been complete without this week for the past 30 years! Always a hit with campers, we work on building outdoor confidence and cultivating valuable woodcraft skills. Campers study age-appropriate and engaging skills including compass building, campfire tips and tricks, cordage crafting, and more, all while immersed in the great outdoors.


Summer’s Greatest Hits -- August 26 – August 30

This week features a selection of our most popular games, crafts, and activities of the season. All programs will be chosen based on camper feedback for an entertaining and engaging experience. An eclectic week of classic summer camp fun!


What Parents Say...

“[My camper] LOVES the Cayuga Nature Camp and talks about it all year. He can’t wait to go there when summer comes, and is sad when it’s over. He loves the counselors and themed activities and learns so much about the natural world, biology, natural history, geology and so much more while he’s there. He comes home at the end of the day covered in clay and so happy from all the fun and informative things he has done all day. I am so happy with this camp, we will come back every year.”

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