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  • Looking closely at iron pulled from the Humber River with a magnet

Jr. Naturalist Day Camp

Introduced in 2018, the  Jr. Naturalist program is based out of the Centre for Urban Ecology, but campers will spend most of their time outdoors where nature education staff will guide them through specialized activities in the forest, river, meadows, wetlands, gardens, and ponds of the Humber Arboretum. Active and engaging, this program is for curious youth ages 12-13 and focuses on developing skills while exploring the West Humber Valley’s flora and fauna in greater detail.

Coordinator's Message

Hi everyone!

Sticky here, the coordinator of the Humber Arboretum’s Jr. Naturalist Camp. As we move into our third summer with the Jr. Naturalists, we have some exciting updates and new opportunities to tell you about. While we will still be running six weeks of camp this summer, we're thrilled to announce that two of our themes will be two week sessions - Wildlife Wonders and Survival Skills will last for two weeks each! Throughout the summer, we will explore the plant and animal life of the Arboretum and delve deeply into the many ecosystems and habitats that exist here. There will be special guests and campers will encounter lots of surprises along the way. The biggest opportunity I see for our campers this summer is to develop their leadership skills by expanding their comfort zones in roles working with our younger campers.

We hope to see you this summer for EXPLORATION and DISCOVERY!

~ Sticky, December 2019

2020 Sessions and Themes

Jr. Naturalist Camp offers one-week and two-week sessions, each based around a theme. Planned and facilitated by the Humber Arboretum's Nature Interpreters, the camp will explore four different themes:

Wildlife Wonders (two weeks)

Monday July 13 - Friday July 17, 2020 


Monday July 20 - Friday July 24, 2020 

Who knew that there could be so much wildlife within the city?  This two week session will be all about discovering the wildlife that calls the Arboretum home.  The Jr. Naturalists will learn to follow an animal’s movement not only by their footprints, but also by the pattern of their gait and will get deep into bird identification (not just by sight, but by sound as well).  We will also have the opportunity to get to know our aquatic neighbours through pond and river studies. There is so much to discover that we had to expand to two weeks!

A camper wearing protective gloves crouches on the grass, cutting a stalk with pruning shears

Nature Stewards (one week)

Monday July 27 - Friday July 31, 2020

Stewardship can mean many different things, but here at the Arboretum the definition is quite simple—to take care of nature. With all of the magic that this place provides for its visitors, we want to make sure that we are also giving back. As the future leaders of this camp, the Jr. Naturalists will be helping with some big initiatives, like litter cleanups and invasive plant removals, while putting into practice their own leadership skills with the younger campers.

Campers work with their counsellor to erect a structure made of long sticks

Survival Skills (two weeks)

Monday August 10 - Friday August 14, 2020


Monday August 17 - Friday August 21, 2020

In this two-week session, Jr. Naturalists will get to dive deep into the world of wilderness survival. As much a mental challenge as it is physical, we will need to decide what is most important for us to survive: food, water, fire, or shelter? Just some of the skills that the Jr. Naturalists will learn and practice include knot-tying, creating natural shelters, building matchless/friction fires, foraging for food, and finding sources of safe drinking water. Are you ready for the challenge?

A child's hand holds a field guide open.

Plant Detectives (one week)

Monday August 24 - Friday August 28, 2020

At the Arboretum, we have a great appreciation for the plant life here, from the tiniest dandelion to the mightiest maple.  Not only will Jr. Naturalists learn different ways to identify some common trees and wildflowers using field guides, they will need to collect clues and use their wits throughout the week to solve a puzzling case of plant whodunit. We will also have the opportunity to explore the world of edible plants and make some delicious creations.

Cost & Policies

Jr. Naturalist Camp operates on a one- or two-week basis, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm (Drop off 8:30-8:45 am; pick-up 4:00-4:15 pm)

Before care (from 7:30 am) and aftercare (until 6:00 pm) is available for an additional fee; Jr. Naturalists will join Nature Campers (ages 4-12) for Before- and Aftercare, which will be run by Nature Camp Counsellors.

In 2020 the cost of camp is:

  • One-week session fee - $275
  • Two-week session fee - $550
  • One week of before care - $45
  • One week of aftercare - $50
  • Both before and aftercare - $80
  • Daily rate for before and aftercare also available

Registration Deadline

Please note that online registration for each week of camp closes at midnight on the Wednesday prior to the first day of camp, however there may still be spots available. If the cut-off for online registration has passed, you may email the Humber Arboretum's Operations Assistant Valerie Leaist on the Thursday or Friday to inquire:

Cancellation Policy

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.


Campers follow a leader down a trail

Questions & Answers

To facilitate the best experience, Jr. Naturalist Camp is limited to only 10 participants per week, so please book earlier to secure a spot.

Occasionally, the Jr. Naturalists may participate in a larger group activity with campers from the Humber Arboretum's Summer Nature Camp, including Friday afternoon swimming at the Humber indoor pool.

Twelve-year olds are able to register for either Summer Nature Camp or Jr. Naturalist Camp; the right choice for your twelve-year old will depend on their interests. The Humber Arboretum's long-standing Summer Nature Camp mixes fun outdoor exploration with traditional camp activities and games. Jr. Naturalist Camp offers a more in-depth investigation of the natural world for kids who are excited by the prospect of discovery, including hikes to explore further areas of the Arboretum.

Of course twelve-year olds are welcome to register for a different type of camp during different weeks of the summer, but please note they will not be able to switch camps mid-week if they change their minds!

Both Nature Camp and Jr. Naturalist Camp will be based out of the Centre for Urban Ecology. If you have children taking part in both camps, you will drop them off and pick them up together and they may cross paths throughout the day. However the Jr. Naturalists will be out "in the field" for longer times and farther from the Centre, which means snacks and lunch times may not match up every day - please pack their bags accordingly.

Our online registration system will not be able to apply our sibling discount automatically across different camps; if you register one child for Nature Camp and another for Jr. Naturalist Camp, please send an email to after registering with campers' names and week(s) attending. We will then apply the discount manually and you will recieve a refund for the difference, or a discount off future payments if you take advantage of the payment plan. 

Not at all! The Arboretum has all of the equipment Jr. Naturalists will need for their camp activities.

As with all Arboretum day campers, Jr. Naturalists will be responsible for arriving every day with appropriate clothing and footwear; weather-protection such as sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, and sunglasses; a lunch and snacks (which may be eaten in the field); a refillable water bottle; and a backpack which they are comfortable caring with them for the day. A full list of recommended items will be provided to registered camp families.

The primay leaders for Jr. Naturalist Camp are the Humber Arboretum's professional Nature Interpreters who work year-round providing educational programming to visiting school groups and the community. Individual activities may be led by other Arboretum staff or guests with specialized knowledge and skills. Nature Camp Counsellors, who are generally Humber College students or graduates of our Leaders-in-Training program, will assist with some activities and provide supervision during lunch and snack breaks at the Centre and during before- and after-care.

Ontario Camps Association Logo

Humber Arboretum day camps are accredited by the Ontario Camps Association.