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Summer Camps

Registration is open! Register here.

About

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.
  • Pro-rated refunds will be granted if we are notified at least three weeks in advance of the date your child is attending camp. Exceptions include family emergency or medical personnel recommend your child does not participate due to health reasons (a physician's note is required). Our online refund request form must be submitted for cancelations. Refunds will not be granted for no-shows. 
  • Need our Federal ID Number for childcare credit? Federal Identification Number: 42-6004813
  • There is a $75.00 non-refundable registration fee for each summer session per camper. Any cancellations made prior to attending camp will forfeit the non-refundable registration fee. Please notify Jeanette Luke at 319-335-9294 of the cancellation request.

Schedule

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 Recreational 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.

2017 Camps

Beak Brigade (Ages 4 & 5)

The 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) for songbirds, seeds, spiders and squirrels that live here in the summer. We will have an indoor space at the HTRC if we need to be inside. This camp meets from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. for two days.

 

Drop off and pick up for this camp is at the East Entrance of the HTRC.

  • July 3 & 5
  • July 6 & 7
  • August 7 & 8
  • August 9 & 10

Fee: $50

Coordinator: Meredith Caskey

Merlin Camp (completed Kindergarten) NEW!

The theme for Merlin Camp is “Miniature Worlds and the Tiny Animals that Inhabit Them”. This is the first time we will offer a separate 5-day program for our youngest full-day campers.

We have wetlands, woodlands and grasslands all around us at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area so we will explore them while focusing on the microhabitats within them. We will learn about the mighty little Merlin (a small falcon that nested in Iowa City last year – 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.

  • June 5-9
  • June 12-16
  • June 19-23
  • June 26-30
  • July 10-14
  • July 17-21
  • July 24-28
  • July 31-Aug 4

Fee: $200

Coordinator: Amanda Heath

Harrier Camp (completed  1st grade)

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). See the list of planned activities below for each session. 

 

Session 1: Northern Harriers, Invertebrates, Fishing
  • June 5-9
  • June 12-16
  • June 19-23
  • June 26-30

Activities:

  • 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 10-14
  • July 17-21
  • July 24-28
  • July 31-Aug 4

Activities:

  • 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

Fee: $200

Coordinator: Eryn Dillard

Kite Camp (completed K – 2nd grade)

 

The theme for Kite Camp is “Craft Work & Engineering Tied to Nature”. See the list of planned activities below for each session. 

 

Session 1 (July 3, 5-7): Mississippi Kites, Playing with the Wind in the Air
  • 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 (August 7-11) Mississippi Kites, Playing with the Wind in the Air and on Water
  • 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! 
  • Boats to Float: What goes in, must stay up...hopefully!
  • Ships to Sail: Harnessing the Wind
  • Water Play: Staying Cool in the Summer!

Fee: $150 (July) & $200 (August)

 

Coordinator: Meredith Caskey

 

Eagle Camp (completed 2nd – 5th grade)

 

The main themes for Eagle Camp are “Wonderful Water” (Session 1) and “Glorious Geology” (Session 2). Plan on being in and around the water all 5 days. See the list of planned activities below for each session.

Session 1: Bald Eagles, Wetlands, Stand-up Paddleboarding
  • June 5-9
  • June 12-16
  • June 19-23
  • June 26-30

Activities:

  • 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 Paddleboarding: Learning a New Way to Enjoy the Water
  • Herpetology: Frog (Amphibian) and Turtle (Reptile) Study
  • Canoeing on "Spider Pond”: Explore the “Web of Life” on the pond
  • Limnology: Studying Lake, Streams, and Wetlands
  • Turkey Creek Nature Preserve: Exploring a Local Stream
Session 2: Golden Eagles, Geology, Rock-Climbing
  • July 10-14
  • July 17-21
  • July 24-28
  • July 31-Aug 4

Activities:

  • 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
  • Palisades-Kepler State Park: Field Trip to the Scenic Park on the Cedar River
  • Lake Macbride Spillway: Investigation of Aquatic Life and Fossil Hunting
  • Terry Trueblood Recreation Area: Team Games and Geocaching
  • Yoga: Stretching and Strengthening our Minds and Bodies
  • Canoeing: Take a Glide on Lake Macbride!

Fee: $200

Coordinator: Chad Swope

Hawk Camp (completed 2nd – 5th grade)

The themes for Hawk Camp are “Survival in the Savanna” (Session 1) and “Woodland Wonders” (Session 2). See the list of planned activities below for each session.

 
Session 1: Red-tailed Hawks, Savannas, Survival Skills
  • June 5-9
  • June 12-16
  • June 19-23
  • June 26-30

Activities:

  • Red-tailed Hawks: The Hawkeye State’s Most Adaptive Hawk
  • Savannas: Uncovering what’s beneath the “Oak Barrens” Floor
  • Bird-Banding: Band and Release Woodland Birds at the Iowa Raptor Project
  • Woodland Ecology: Discovering Interconnections Among Animals & Trees 
  • Survival Skills: Learn Fire Construction and Safety Skills
  • Archery: Using your Hawk-eyes to Aim for the Bull’s Eye
  • Watching Wildlife: Animal Blind Construction
  • Canoeing “Upland Pond”: Discovering a Hidden Treasure in Upland Woods
  • Blending into the Land: Camouflage Play & Shelter Building
Session 2: Cooper’s Hawks, Woodlands, Orienteering
  • July 10-14
  • July 17-21
  • July 24-28
  • July 31-Aug 4

Activities:

  • Cooper’s Hawks: The Ghosts of Iowa’s Woodlands
  • Woodland Ecology: Connecting our Upland and Lowland Forests
  • Bird-Banding: Band and Release Woodland Birds at the Iowa Raptor Project 
  • Survival Skills: Using your Resources in Scenario Challenges
  • Exploring the “Back Fields”: Wildlife Investigations along the Bluebird Trails
  • Orienteering: Finding your Way with a Compass
  • Archery: Using your Hawk-eyes to Aim for the Bull’s Eye
  • Going on Safari: Exploring Swan Lake and the Hawkeye Wildlife Area
  • Canoeing “Upland Pond”: Discovering a Hidden Treasure in Upland Woods

Fee: $200

 

Coordinator: Jacob Lampe

Osprey Camp (completed 2nd – 5th grade)

The themes for Osprey Camp are Archaeology (Session 1) and Wildlife Conservation (Session 2). See the list of planned activities below for each session.

 

Session 1: Ospreys, Archaeology, Pontooning
  • June 5-9
  • June 12-16
  • June 19-23
  • June 26-30

Activities:

  • Ospreys: The Natural History of the “Fish Hawk”
  • Archaeology: Exploring Woodpecker Cave and Native Lore
  • Pontooning: Viewing Ospreys (and Wildlife) on Lake Macbride
  • Basic Skills: Rope and Clay-pot making
  • Archery: Using your Hawk-eyes to Aim for the Bull’s Eye
  • Discology: Disc Golf at Sugar Bottom Recreation Area
  • Mud Hikes & Otter Slides: Becoming One with the Land…or Mud!
  • Feed the Birds: Mixing & Sculpting Bird Playdough
  • Birding: Identifying Songbirds by Sight and Sound
  • Campfire Cooking & Nettle Soup Concocting: Yum! (Need we say more?!)
  • Ichthyology: Learning about Iowa Fish & Going Fishing
  • Nature Crafts: Getting Crafty with the Wild
Session 2: Ospreys, Wildlife Conservation, Pontooning
  • July 10-14
  • July 17-21
  • July 24-28
  • July 31-Aug 4

Activities:

  • Ospreys: Hike to the Osprey Tower, home of Osprey Introduction in Iowa
  • Pontooning: Viewing Ospreys (and wildlife) on Lake Macbride
  • Archery: Using your Hawk-eyes to Aim for the Bull’s eye
  • Mud Hikes & Otter Slides: Becoming One with the Land…or Mud!
  • Feed the Birds: Mixing & Sculpting Bird Playdough
  • Birding: Identifying Songbirds by Sight and Sound
  • Campfire Cooking & Nettle Soup Concocting: Yum! (Need we say more?!)
  • Ichthyology: Learning about Iowa Fish & Going Fishing
  • Mycology: Having Fun With Fungi
  • Beach Art: Doing Art on the Lakeshore
  • Wild Edibles: Finding and Picking Edible Berries
  • Scavenger Hunts: Finding Hidden Treasures

Fee: $200

Coordinator: Laura Semken

Falcon Camp (completed 2nd - 5th grade) 

The themes for Falcon Camp are Prairie Pollinators (Session 1) and Prairie Restoration (Session 2) and Cooperation and Teamwork. See the list of planned activities below for each session.

Session 1: Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Pollinators, Rock-Climbing
  • June 5-9
  • June 12-16
  • June 19-23
  • June 26-30

Activities:

  • Peregrine Falcons: Our Fastest Flying Friend
  • Rock Climbing: Getting on the 52’ Climbing Wall at the CRWC
  • Pollinators: What’s All the Buzz About? (Bees, Flies, Beetles & Moths)
  • Gardening: A Walk through the Past, Present and Future of Food Sources
  • Nature Architecture: Discovering Natural Structures
  • Team Building: Coming together at the UI Challenge Course
  • Symbiosis Scavenger Hunt: Discovering Interdependent Relationships
  • Tale-telling: Stories and Songs of the Wild
  • Botany on the Prairie: Prairie Plant Species Identification and Edibles
  • Fishing:  Prairie Restoration and Making Dogwood Fishing Poles (to keep!)
  • Canoeing: Take a Glide on Lake Macbride!
  • Nature Crafts: Getting Crafty with the Wild
Session 2: American Kestrels, Prairie Restoration, Stand-Up Paddleboarding
  • July 10-14
  • July 17-21
  • July 24-28
  • July 31-Aug 4

Activities:

  • American Kestrels: The Tiny, but Tough, Falcon of the Prairie
  • Water Testing: How the Quality of our Water Affects Living Species
  • Stand-up Paddleboarding: Learning a New Way to Enjoy the Water
  • Ornithology: Mist-netting and Tagging Songbirds of the Summer
  • Lepidopterology: Butterfly Garden Exploration at the Raptor Center
  • Nature Architecture: Discovering Natural Structures
  • Team Building: Working through Challenges Together
  • Symbiosis Scavenger Hunt: Discovering Interdependent Relationships
  • Tale-telling: Stories and Songs of the Wild
  • Botany on the Prairie: Prairie Plant Species Identification and Edibles
  • Prairie Restoration: Remove Dogwoods and Make Fishing Poles (to keep!)
  • Nature Crafts: Getting Crafty with the Wild

Fee: $200

 

Coordinator: Christine Soboncinski

Talon Troupe (completed 3rd – 5th grade) 

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 the last afternoon of each week.  Plenty o’ camp fun will occur during our (4 or 5) 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.

  • July 3, 5-7
  • August 7-11

Fee: $150 (July), $200 (August)

 

Coordinator: Meredith Caskey

 

Winged Warriors (completed 2nd-5th grades) NEW!

 

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 the animal activity we find. For example; creating maps or charts to document findings.

 

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.  The same curriculum will be offered in both sessions with extra activities in Session 2.

  • July 3, 5-7
  • Aug 7-11

Fee: $150 (July), $200 (August)

 

Coordinator: Meredith Caskey

Vulture Camp (completed 5th – 7th grade) 

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 with extra activities in Session 2.

  • July 3, 5-7
  • Aug 7-11

Fee: $150 (July), $200 (August)

 

Coordinator: Laura Semken

Owl Camp (completed 6th – 7th grade) 

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).

 

Session 1: Field Trip –Maquoketa Caves State Park (Maquoketa)
  • June 5-9
  • June 12-16
  • June 19-23
  • June 26-30
Session 2: Field Trip – Mines of Spain State Park (Dubuque)
  • July 10-14
  • July 17-21
  • July 24-28
  • July 31-Aug 4

Fee: $250

 

Coordinator: Chad Swope

Peregrinatio Per Iowam (completed 8th - 9th grade) 

Dates: July 3, 5-7

The theme for Peregrinatio Per Iowam is 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 the afternoon of the first day), followed by a three-day journey to the Upper Iowa River & Northeast Iowa.

 

Campers along with experienced 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 during the float down the Upper Iowa River. 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

 

Coordinator: Chad Swope

Kestrel Corps (completed 8th - 11th grade) 

June 2-3

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.

 

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. The first day 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. The second day will include adventures on our high ropes and low ropes challenge courses. If weather doesn’t permit us to be on the course we will use the climbing gym at the CRWC for our adventuring.

Fee: $100

Coordinator: Ellen Carman

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