Humber Arboretum day camps are based out of the Centre for Urban Ecology, but campers will spend most of their time outdoors where they will make their own discoveries in the forest, river, meadows, wetlands, gardens, and ponds of the Humber Arboretum. Active and engaging, our nature camps are designed for ages 5-12 and take place within the northwest part of the City of Toronto.
Forest exploration, pond dipping, ecology games, swimming, natural mindfulness and so much more. Camp runs weekly through July and August.
This summer, give your child the opportunity to develop a lasting appreciation for the natural environment. The Humber Arboretum's summer nature camp is based out of the Centre for Urban Ecology, our environmentally-friendly building located on the Arboretum grounds.
Camp is an outdoors, hands-on experience geared to specific age groups ranging from 5 to 12 years old.
Weekly activities include:
Every week is made unique with the addition of theme-specific activities. Scroll down for full information on weekly themes and activities for 2017.
Cost & Policies
Early Bird Special
Register by March 31st and get 10% off of your camp fee!
Summer Nature Day Camps operate on a one-week basis, Monday to Friday from 9:00am until 4:00pm. Before care (from 8am) and aftercare (until 5:30pm) is available for an additional fee.
In 2017 the cost of camp is:
(Please note: We are closed for Canada Day on Monday July 3rd and the Civic Holiday on Monday August 7th and so the first and sixth weeks of camp are four days only. The price is adjusted as follows: $190 for camp, $32 for before care, $36 for aftercare, $60 for both before and aftercare)
If you are registering multiple children, a discount will be applied automatically in the system.
All withdrawals requested two weeks prior to the start of the camp week will be refunded the full camp fees, minus a $25 administration fee. Any withdrawals requested less than two weeks prior to the start of the camp week will be refunded 50% of all camp fees.
What to Bring
*The Centre for Urban Ecology is a nut-free facility. Please inform us of any food allergies and do not bring nut products of any kind to camp.
*We wish to reduce the amount of waste that is produced at the Centre an as part of this initiative we promote Litterless Lunches. Please bring only reusable or recyclable containers and utensils. We will ask campers to compost any food waste using our on-site compost bins and take their garbage and anything that can’t be recycled here back home. For tips, see WasteFreeLunches.org.
Weekly Themes and Activities
Every week at Humber Arboretum Nature Camps will include nature yoga, eco-games, and swimming. Campers will visit an organic veggie garden, help create a nature mural, make seed balls, construct a lean-to, and take part in many other hands-on activities and crafts.
Our weekly themes inspire other activities for the week (click on a week for details):
Why are greenspaces so important in the city? During Urban Greenspaces week, campers will explore the urban ecosystems of the Humber Arboretum as they learn about the importance of biodiversity, the problems caused by invasive species, and other challenges of urban ecology. Special activities will include bat box building for senior campers, plus tree and wildflower planting, exploring biodiversity through leaf sorting, and taking part in the amazing waste race.
(Please note, this is a four-day camp as we are closed on the Monday for the Canada Day long weekend.)
Did you know the Humber River is one of only 38 designated Canadian Heritage River Systems in the country? This week campers will explore the history, heritage, and life of this river, the West branch of which runs through the Humber Arboretum. Special activities this week will include river netting and planting willow stakes. Senior campers will portage, build rafts, and test water quality; younger campers will hold duck races, cheer on raft races, and make great use of the brand new miniature river channel that was built by our nature interpreters.
This week campers will explore the importance of soil and how it relates to plants and biodiversity. We’ll look at compaction, erosion, and sedimentation. Themed activities will include seed planting, a greenhouse visit, beaver dam building, and natural paint brushes and mud painting. Soil testing for senior campers and soil exploration for junior campers will have everyone investigating the mysteries beneath their feet.
Leopard frog photo taken by a camper.
Wetlands are a vital and vibrant part of Ontario’s ecosystem. This week campers will learn how wetlands work and why they are especially important for migrating birds. Themed activities will include exploring the Humber Arboretum’s new constructed wetlands, pond dipping, planting aquatic flowers to help restore a wetland, and learning how natural materials can remove sediment from the water with a wetland in a bottle. Senior students will also compare water quality tests from a wetland and the river.
Food, shelter, warmth, and way-finding – this week is all about the basics of wilderness survival. Campers will go orienteering, using clues in nature to help determine direction, and be introduced to basic edible and medicinal plants. We’ll look at the importance of water for survival and learn tips such as how to build a below-ground water capture still. Campers will also build natural shelters and learn fire building techniques, along with fire safety.
Wild bee photo taken by a camper.
Pollinators are key to our food supply, and affect our lives in many important ways. Campers will learn about different types of pollinators, their relationships with trees and plants, and why we need to protect native species of plants to help pollinators thrive. Activities will include a visit from the Humber Arboretum’s beekeepers, an up-close investigation of flowers using a viewing microscope, a visit to the greenhouse to compare tropical plants with native species, preparing a pollinator garden for fall plantings, planting a wildflower to take home, and building a solitary bee hotel.
(Please note, this is a four-day camp as we are closed on the Monday for the Civic Holiday.)
This week is full of active and educational nature games that encourage teamwork and fun competition. Campers will be divided into different Animal Countries so they can face off and cheer each other on in duck races or raft races, scavenger hunts, a recycling relay, water bucket relays, and the Amazing Waste Race. They’ll play leaf matching games, build a beaver dam and a wetland in a bottle, compete in a seed ball toss, try to construct a case that will allow their egg to survive the egg drop challenge, and much more. Join us this week and find out which Animal Country you’ll be playing for. Will it be Ant Arctica? Owlstralia? Or maybe Beavaria!
What was life like for early European settlers who came to Canada and lived alongside First Nations people? Campers will learn about the wilderness skills that were essential for surviving in the 1800’s, including fishing, hunting, farming, fence building, and bread making, and will play the same games settler children played to help them learn essential life skills. We’ll look at what kinds of plants the settlers brought with them and how they were used, and we’ll get hands-on experience with shelter building, water collecting, and making cordage (rope and string) out of natural materials.
Time to explore every ecosystem the Humber Arboretum has to offer! Wetlands, forests, meadows, shrub lands, ponds, and rivers are all home to many different types of plants and animals. Starting at the soil and working our way up, campers will explore the hidden and remote areas of the Arboretum to investigate flowers, seeds, cones, and insects, look for animal tracks and signs, and listen to and try to identify different bird calls. We’ll be engaging the senses, encouraging a sense of adventure, and exploring nature the way kids used to back when you didn’t go home until the streetlights turned on.