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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

Hey everyone!

This is Tamarack, coordinator of the Humber Arboretum's new Jr. Naturalist Camp! During the pilot program last year we found that there was so much to do but so little time, so this year we have extended the program to 6 weeks and given each week a much more specific and unique theme. This will allow the campers to dive even deeper into their naturalist knowledge and really build on the skills for that specific week. Throughout the summer we will be exploring different parts of the Arboretum (some places that the rest of camp never goes!) and doing in-depth studies of the different habitats, ecosystems, and plant and animal life within them. We will be scientists, nature detectives, artists, and leaders. I’m so excited to be part of this opportunity to watch these incredible campers grow into the future leaders of this camp!

See you next summer!

~ Tamarack, January 2019

2019 Sessions and Themes

Jr. Naturalist Camp offers weekly sessions, each based around a theme. For 2019, the Jr. Naturalist Camp is expanding from four to six weeks out of the summer. Planned and facilitated by the Humber Arboretum's Nature Interpreters, the camps will explore six different themes:

Wildlife Wonders

 Campers look at a deer just off the trail

Monday July 8 - Friday July 12, 2019 

Who knew that there could be so much wildlife within the city?! This week is all about exploring the different habitats of the Arboretum and learning about the different creatures that call this place home. Campers will learn animal tracking and bird identification skills, and will be conducting studies within the river and ponds

Exploring Aquatics

A camper reaches out to touch a crayfish in a net

Monday July 15 - Friday July 19, 2019

The Humber River is an incredibly important river in this area—so important that we were named after it! In this week of camp, the Jr. Naturalists will be taking an in-depth look at the different components of Toronto’s largest watershed. With river, pond, and wetland areas right in our backyard to study and explore, campers will become more in touch with our aquatic friends.

Nature Stewards

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

Monday July 22 - Friday July 26, 2019

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.

Art All Around Us

Hands hold a basket woven out of dried plant stalks

Monday July 29 - Friday August 2, 2019

Nature has been a major source of inspiration for artists throughout history. From capturing a landscape in a painting or a photo, to hearing the melody in a bird’s song, art truly is all around us. During this week of camp the Jr. Naturalists will tune in to their inner artist, while also learning some practical bushcraft skills that utilize natural materials, such as carving, basket weaving, and coal burning.

Practical Plants

A child's hand holds a field guide open.

Monday August 12 - Friday August 16, 2019

At the Arboretum we have a great appreciation for the plant life here, from the tiniest dandelion to the mightiest oak. Not only will the Jr. Naturalists learn how to identify some common trees and wildflowers, but they will learn how to use them for food, medicine, and so much more! Campers will learn how to use a field guide and will collaborate to create one of their own.

Survival Skills

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

Monday August 19 - Friday August 23, 2019

Shelter, fire, water, food—these things are crucial to any survival situation. In this final week of camp, the Jr. Naturalists will learn about making natural shelters, tying tarps, fire safety, friction fire, and how to find sources of food and drinking water in nature. Are you ready for the challenge?

Cost & Policies

Early Bird Special: Register by March 31st and get 10% off of your camp fee!

Jr. Naturalist Camp operates on a one-week basis, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Before care (from 8:00 am) and aftercare (until 5:30 pm) is available for an additional fee; Jr. Naturalists will join Nature Campers (ages 5-12) for Before- and Aftercare, which will be run by Nature Camp Counsellors.

In 2019 the cost of camp is:

  • One week camp fee - $245
  • 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, 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.

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 including games and an afternoon of swimming. The new Jr. Naturalist Camp will offer a more in-depth investigation of the natural world for kids who are excited by the prospect of discovery, including hikes to explore further along the Humber River. Of course twelve-year olds are welcome to register for a different type of camp during different weeks of the summer (but 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 camps, 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, 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.