Summer Camps | Recreational Services
 

Registration is open online.

The University of Iowa Wildlife Camps began in the summer of 1991 with a mission to awaken an awareness and appreciation of the natural world in our campers, as well as to inspire campers to action through developing a sound “land ethic” (in the words of Aldo Leopold, a native Iowan).  We carry out this mission through hands– on activities, because each of the staff realizes that it was through first–hand experiences that our excitement and care for wildlife and natural ecosystems was kindled. We take our mission seriously, and have a lot of fun doing it!

Registration information

  • If you are familiar with our online registration process, head right to our online portal to sign in and register.
  • Registration is online only. You must have an online account with Recreational Services prior to registering for camp. You can sign up for an account at any time. We highly suggest doing this prior to camp registration opening. Parents must sign up their kids as dependents when setting up an online account. Learn how to set up an account and how to register here.
  • Camp fees must be paid in full at time of registration. 
  • The forms of payment accepted are credit and debit cards.
  • When there are two sessions to choose from, campers may sign up for both sessions.
  • Need our Federal ID Number for childcare credit? Federal Identification Number: 42-6004813

Refund Policy

If you need to cancel, please call Jeanette Luke at 319-335-9294 and complete the online refund request form. Refunds will not be issued for no-shows.

  • Between March 1 – 23, 2018: Families receive a full refund minus the non-refundable registration fee per camp session cancelled for each participant.
  • Between March 24 – April 13, 2018: Families receive 50% refund minus the non-refundable registration fee per camp session cancelled for each participant.
  • Between April 14 – May 4, 2018: Families receive 25% refund minus the non-refundable registration fee per camp session cancelled for each participant.
  • After May 4, 2018: No refunds.

Medical reason for cancellation

We understand that medical issues may arise just as your child is set to attend camp. If medical personnel recommend your child does not participate due to health reasons, please call us as soon as possible to inform us of your need to cancel.  We will ask that you submit a written excuse from your child's physician. You will receive a refund minus the non-refundable registration fee ($75.00) per camp session for each participant. If your child is sick and there is time and room, we will work with you to switch your camper to a different session.

Unplanned emergencies

In the event of an unplanned emergency that conflicts with child’s attendance at camp, you may be eligible for a refund by providing official documentation/paperwork as proof of your inability to attend. Proof is required within 7 days of requesting a refund, and will not be accepted once the camp has begun. You will receive a 50% refund minus the non-refundable registration fee ($75.00) per camp session cancelled for each participant.

Drop off and Pick up

Unless otherwise noted, drop off is between 7:45-8:20am at the Hawkeye Recreation Fields. The buses leave promptly at 8:30am. Pick up is between 4:00-4:15pm at the same location. There is an option to drop off and pick up at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area if that is more convenient for you. Drop off is between 8:15-8:50am and pick up is between 3:30-4:15pm at the Archery Pavillion (second left after you enter the Macbride Nature Recreation Area).

Late Stay Program

We offer a Late Stay Program for campers from 4:15-5:15pm at the Hawkeye Recreation Fields for an additional fee. This is not applicable to Beak Brigade or Peregrenatio Per Iowam. 

  • Five day - $25
  • Four day - $20

Location

The majority of time will be spent at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area. Some field trips may be taken to other local natural areas in our 2nd-9th grade camps. We reserve the right to relocate camps as needed.

Scholarships

We're excited that there are two scholarship opportunities available through E.B. Green and United Way. Thank you to these organizations for providing support to children to attend camp! If your child receives a scholarship, please register by calling Jeanette Luke at 319-335-9294.

2018 Camps 

These are subject to change due to many factors that help form the full and varied world of outdoor education & recreation.

Beak Brigade

For ages 4 & 5. Preschool years are a wonderful time to be outside as much as possible and learn how things grow, move, and thrive. We will use smiles, songs, books and positive energy to learn as much as we can each day we are together. We will explore the green space around the Hawkeye Tennis and Recreation Center (HTRC) and look for songbirds, seeds, spiders and squirrels that live in Iowa in the summer.  We will have an indoor space at the HTRC if we need to be inside. Drop off and pick up for this camp is at the East Entrance of the HTRC. This camp meets from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. for two days.

 

Fee: $55 

 

  • July 2 & 3
  • July 5 & 6
  • August 6 & 7
  • August 8 & 9

Merlin Camp

For students who completed Kindergarten Academic Year 2017-2018. The theme for Merlin Camp is “Miniature Worlds and the Tiny Animals that Inhabit Them”. We'll learn about microhabitats within the wetlands, woodlands and grasslands all around us at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area (MNRA). We will learn about the mighty little Merlin (a small falcon that nested in Iowa City two years ago – the first nest in the state of Iowa in over a century), make mini shelters, construct animal homes like “rabbitats”, create little water falls, and discover together how largely wonderful small things can be. The same curriculum will be used all eight weeks.

 

Fee: $210

 

  • June 4-8
  • June 11-15
  • June 18-22
  • June 25-29
  • July 09-13
  • July 16-20
  • July 23-27
  • July 30-Aug 3

Kite Camp

For students who completed K – 2nd grade Academic Year 2017-2018. The theme for Kite Camp is “Craft Work & Engineering Tied to Nature."

 

Fee: $210

 

Session 1: Mississippi Kites, Playing with the Wind in the Air

  • July 2-3, July 5-6

Activities and topics will include: 

  • Mississippi Kites: Iowa’s Only Nesting Kite Species!
  • Kite Making: Building your own Kite
  • Paper Airplanes: Becoming a little Aerospace Engineer!
  • Pinwheels: Capturing the Wind
  • Parachutes: What goes up, must come down…gently! 
  • Water Play: Staying Cool in the Summer!

 

Session 2: Mississippi Kites, Playing with the Wind on the Water

  • August 6-9

Activities and topics will include: 

  • Mississippi Kites: Iowa’s Only Nesting Kite Species!
  • Kite Making: Building your own Kite
  • Paper Airplanes: Becoming a little Aerospace Engineer!
  • Boats to Float: So Shape and Size Matter?
  • Ships to Sail: Harnessing the Wind
  • Water Play: Staying Cool in the Summer!

Harrier Camp

For students who completed 1st grade Academic Year 2017-2018. The theme for Harrier Camp is “Learning and Playing in the Outdoors” with a focus on Insects and other Invertebrates (Session 1) and Birds, Mammals and other Vertebrates (Session 2).

 

Fee: $210

 

Session 1: Northern Harriers, Invertebrates, Fishing

  • June 4-8
  • June 11-15
  • June 18-22
  • June 25-29

Activities and topics will include: 

  • Northern Harriers: The Acrobatic Hawk (their genus is Circus!)
  • Nature Games: Playing to Discover
  • Nature Tales: Story-telling in the Wild
  • Water Play: Staying Cool!
  • Entomology: Bug Catching
  • Nature Art: Making Art with Berries, Leaves, and Flowers
  • Bat Study: Discovering our Mosquito control Squad
  • Pop Can Fishing: Keeping it Simple!

Session 2: Northern Harriers, Vertebrates, Tracking

  • July 9-13
  • July 16-20
  • July 23-27
  • July 30-Aug 3

Activities and topics will include: 

  • Northern Harriers: The Acrobatic Hawk (their genus is Circus!)
  • Nature Games: Playing to Discover
  • Nature Tales: Story-telling in the Wild
  • Water Play: Staying Cool!
  • Birding: Discovering our Feathered Friends
  • Mammalogy: Discovering our Furry Friends
  • Tracking: “Capturing” Animal Tracks
  • Intro to Geology: Rock & Fossil Explorations

Eagle Camp

For students who completed 2nd-5th grades Academic Year 2017-2018. The main themes for Eagle Camp are Wonderful Wetlands (Session 1) and Grand Geology  (Session 2).

 

Fee: $210

 

Session 1: Bald Eagles, Creek Exploration, Stand-up Paddle Boarding

  • June 4-8
  • June 11-15
  • June 18-22
  • June 25-29

Activities and topics will include: 

  • Bald Eagles: Our Amazing National Bird and its Comeback in Iowa
  • The Aerie: Observing a Real Bald Eagle Nest and Building a Replica
  • Stand-up Paddle Boarding: Learning a New Way to Enjoy the Water
  • Explore the “Web of Life” on “Spider Pond”
  • Limnology: Studying Lakes, Creeks and Wetlands
  • Turkey Creek Nature Preserve: Exploring a Local Stream
  • Herpetology Highlights: Facts & Myths Uncovered through the Capture and Release of Amphibians and Reptiles
  • Canoeing: Lake Macbride and its Beautiful Shoreline

Session 2: Golden Eagles, Team Building, Rock Climbing

  • July 9-13
  • July 16-20
  • July 23-27
  • July 30-Aug 3

Activities and topics will include: 

  • Golden Eagles: The Mightiest North American Raptor
  • Geology: Discovering the Earth’s Ancient Past
  • Rock Climbing: Getting on the 52’ Climbing Wall at the CRWC
  • Slacklining: Building Balance and Strength
  • Explore the “Web of Life” on “Spider Pond”
  • Terry Trueblood Recreation Area: Exploration and Geocaching
  • Team Building: Walking Through Challenges Together
  • Canoeing: Lake Macbride and its Beautiful Shoreline

Falcon Camp 

For students who completed 2nd-5th grades Academic Year 2017-2018. The themes for Falcon Camp are Cooperation and Prairie Pollinators (Session 1) and Teamwork and Prairie Restoration (Session 2).

 

Fee: $210

 

Session 1: Peregrine Falcons, Tracking, Canoeing

  • June 4-8
  • June 11-15
  • June 18-22
  • June 25-29

Activities and topics will include:

  • Peregrine Falcons: Our Fastest Flying Friend
  • Canoeing: Take a Glide on Lake Macbride
  • Trials Under the Trees: Low Ropes Challenge Course at MNRA  (new activity!)
  • Pollinators: What’s All the Buzz About? (Safely) Up Close & Personal with Bees, Flies, Beetles & Moths
  • Gardening: A Walk through the Past, Present and Future of Food Sources
  • Nature Architecture: Discovering Natural Structures
  • Botany of the Prairie: Prairie Plant Species Identification and Edibles
  • Mammalogy: Back by Popular Demand........Casting Plaster Paris Tracks on the Shores of the Coralville Reservoir

Session 2: American Kestrels, Fishing, Stand-Up Paddle boarding

  • July 9-13
  • July 16-20
  • July 23-27
  • July 30-Aug 3

Activities and topics will include:

  • American Kestrels: The Tiny, but Tough, Falcon of the Prairie
  • Stand-up Paddle Boarding: Learning a New Way to Enjoy the Water
  • Ornithology: Mist-netting and Banding Songbirds of the Summer
  • Symbiosis Scavenger Hunt: Discovering Interdependent Relationships
  • Mapping Vole City: Getting on the Same Level as our “Meadow Mice”
  • Nature Crafts: Getting Crafty with the Wild
  • Trials Under the Trees: Low Ropes Challenge Course at MNRA (new activity!)
  • Fishing: Making Fishing Poles while Helping to Restore Healthy Prairie Habitats at the Same Time (new activity!)

Hawk Camp 

For students who completed 2nd-5th grades Academic Year 2017-2018. The themes for Hawk Camp are “Survival in the Savanna” (Session 1) and “Woodland Wonders” (Session 2).

 

Fee: $210

 

Session 1: Red-tailed Hawks, Survival Skills, Ultimate Frisbee

  • June 4-8
  • June 11-15
  • June 18-22
  • June 25-29

Activities and topics will include:

  • Red-tailed Hawks: The Hawkeye State’s Most Adaptive Hawk
  • Savannas: Uncovering What’s Beneath - the “Oak Barrens” Floor
  • Birding: Band and Release Woodland Birds at the Iowa Raptor Project’s Bird Blind
  • Survival Skills: Learning Fire Construction and Safety Skills
  • Archery: Using your Hawk-eyes to Aim for the Bull’s Eye
  • Watching Wildlife: Animal Blind Construction
  • Ultimate Frisbee (new activity!)
  • Blending into the Land: Camouflage Play & Shelter Building

Session 2: Cooper’s Hawks, Orienteering, Tree Climbing

  • July 9-13
  • July 16-20
  • July 23-27
  • July 30-Aug 3

Activities and topics will include:

  • Cooper’s Hawks: The Ghosts of Iowa’s Woodlands
  • Woodland Ecology: Connecting our Upland and Lowland Forest
  • Geocaching: Creating & Mapping Future Enjoyment for Others Outside
  • Exploring the “Back Fields” of MNRA: Wildlife Investigations along the Bluebird Trails (new activity!)
  • Orienteering: Finding your Way with a Compass
  • Archery: Using your Hawk-eyes to Aim for the Bull’s Eye
  • Gaining a Bird’s Eye View: Recreational Tree Climbing (new activity!)
  • Shelter Building: Creating “Hawk City”

Osprey Camp 

For students who completed 2nd-5th grades Academic Year 2017-2018. The themes for Osprey Camp are Archaeology (Session 1) and Wildlife Conservation (Session 2).

 

Fee: $210

 

Session 1: Ospreys, Disc Golf, Pontooning

  • June 4-8
  • June 11-15
  • June 18-22
  • June 25-29

Activities and topics will include:

  • Ospreys: The Natural History of the “Fish Hawk”
  • Pontooning: Cruising on the Water to Spot Osprey and other Avian Wonders in the Sky
  • Archaeology: Exploring Woodpecker Cave and Native Lore
  • Archery: Learning Safety Skills & Technique with a Bow & Arrow
  • Discology: Disc Golf at Sugar Bottom Recreation Area
  • Mud Hikes & Otter Slides: Becoming One with the Land…and Mud
  • Feed the Birds: Mixing & Sculpting Bird Playdough
  • Campfire Cooking & Nettle Soup Concocting: Yum!

Session 2: Ospreys, Mushrooms, Fishing

  • July 9-13
  • July 16-20
  • July 23-27
  • July 30-Aug 4

Activities and topics will include:

  • Ospreys: Hike to our Historic Osprey Tower, Home of Osprey Introduction in Iowa
  • Archery: Learning Safety Skills & Technique with a Bow & Arrow
  • Mud Hikes & Otter Slides: Becoming One with the Land…and Mud
  • Campfire Cooking & Nettle Soup Concocting: Yum!
  • Ichthyology: Learning about Iowa Fish & Going Fishing
  • Mycology: Having Fun With Fungi
  • Wild Edibles: Finding and Picking Edible Berries
  • Birding: Identifying Songbirds by Sight and Sound

Talon Troupe

For students who completed 2nd – 5th grades Academic Year 2017-2018).In the past we have enjoyed teaching about nature using the creative arts as our teaching tool, so now we have one whole camp devoted to creating an ecologically based production!  Campers will present to the other camps (and any family and friends that can also attend) on Thursday at 1pm.  Plenty o’ camp fun will occur during our 4 days that may involve some recreational favorites like canoeing, frisbee, archery and fishing.

The curriculum will be similar in both sessions, with unique final productions.

 

Fee: $210

 

  • July 2-3, 5-6
  • August 6-9

Winged Warriors

For students who completed 2nd-5th grades Academic Year 2017-2018. The theme for Winged Warriors is “Off the Beaten Path.”  Campers will join staff in discovering the wilds of MNRA off the main trails. We will follow deer paths and other animal movements through the park and along the periphery. We will use basic methods to record animal activity. Be prepared to hike A LOT in this camp. Lunch will be eaten at a different location each day and we will use various techniques to help us find our way from destination to destination. We will end the week swimming at the CRWC leisure pool. 

 

Fee: $210

 

  • July 2-3, 5-6
  • August  6-9

Vulture Camp

This is for students who completed 5th – 7th grades Academic Year 2017-2018. The theme of Vulture Camp is artwork derived from the natural world.  Activities planned include Turkey Vulture natural history & extended art projects.  Turkey Vultures are premier scavengers. Plan to become immersed in the art of scavenging.  We will be gleaning inspiration from nature in order to create linocut stamps that can be used to create your own book and t-shirt (printmaking). Activities planned include letterboxing, archery, wild edibles and cooking, boating, and a spillway hike.  The same curriculum will be offered in both sessions.

 

Fee: $210

 

  • July 2-3, 5-6
  • Aug 6-9

Owl Camp

For students who completed 6th – 7th grade Academic Year 2017-2018). The theme for Owl Camp is “Quests” - Asking Questions and Pursuing Adventures. Activities planned include: developing a research project (based on some of our major camp themes: Wetlands, Woodlands, Savannas, Prairies, Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Archaeology, and Survival), carrying out field research, organizing a presentation on research findings, presenting findings to younger campers, mini explorations to unique natural areas in Eastern Iowa, tent camping out at MNRA (Thursday night), and swimming at the UI CRWC Leisure Pool (Friday afternoon).

Fee: $265

 

  • June 4-8: Field Trip – Maquoketa Caves State Park (Maquoketa)
  • June 11-15: Field Trip – Mines of Spain State Park (Dubuque)
  • June 18-22: Field Trip – Walnut Woods (West Des Moines)
  • June 25-29: Field Trip – Lake Darling (Brighton)
  • July 9-13: Field Trip – Lake Darling (Brighton)
  • July 16-20: Field Trip - Maquoketa Caves State Park (Maquoketa)
  • July 30- August 3: Field Trip - Mines of Spain State Park (Dubuque)

Peregrinatio Per Iowam

For students who completed 8th - 9th grades Academic Year 2017-2018. The theme for Peregrinatio Per Iowam is the exploration of Iowa. (Peregrinatio per Iowam is Latin for “A journey through Iowa”). This is a four-day camp with two overnights. Activities include team-building games, trip preparation (including a family meeting from 4:00-4:30pm of the first day), followed by a three-day journey to the Upper Iowa River & Northeast Iowa (the “Driftless Area”). Campers along with senior staff will explore some of our state’s most treasured areas while at the same time rediscover the wonder of some of our local fauna. A visit to the famous “Decorah Eagle Cam” site will be included as well as the Decorah Fish Hatchery to learn about how the DNR raise fish to stock our wetlands. Water activities such as canoeing and swimming will be part of the journey. We may also have time to visit some active and/or historical Peregrine Falcon aeries (nest sites)!

 

Fee: $350

 

  • July 23-26, 2018

Kestrel Corps

For those who completed 8th - 11th grade Academic Year 2017-2018. Kestrel Corps is a service and leadership development program.  The Kestrel Corps will assist the Wildlife Camps staff with educational and recreational activities. This program will also give students the opportunity to grow as leaders, work as a team in a variety of contexts and participate in service projects. Training will focus on team building & developing leadership skills plus what Kestrel Corps members should expect from their participation and the expectations we will ask from them. New this year, Kestrels will receive First Aid training. The Kestrel Corps will be transported to MNRA on the busses or vans with the camp with which they will be volunteering. Driving separately will not be permitted. There is no fee for the week(s) the Kestrel Corps volunteers. Each participant may sign up for one to four weeks of volunteering.The prerequisite for being in the Kestrel Corps is to attend the Kestrel Corps training camp.

 

Fee: $100

 

Training Camp: June 1, 2018

 

Volunteer Weeks: (Sign up will be done during Orientation)

  • June 4-8
  • June 11-15
  • June 18-22
  • June 25-29
  • July 9-13
  • July 16-20
  • July 23-27
  • July 30-Aug 3