Skip to content

Summer Nature Camp 2018

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.

Children walk along a nature trail

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 ages 5 to 12*.

Weekly activities include:

  • Nature Walks 
  • Forest Exploration
  • Ecology Games
  • Wildlife Spotting
  • Pond Discovery
  • Natural Mindfulness and Yoga
  • Camp Songs and Games
  • Free-Swim Fridays (Supervised time in an indoor pool)

Every week is made unique with the addition of theme-specific activities. Scroll down for full information on weekly themes and activities for 2018.

*New this year: Some weeks, twelve-year olds now have the option to sign up for regular Nature Camp or for the new Jr. Naturalist Camp for 12- & 13-year olds, based on their interests. Visit the Jr. Naturalist Camp page for details. 

Cost & Policies

Early Bird Pricing - register by March 31st for 10% off the regular 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 2018 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

(Please note: We are closed for Canada Day on Monday July 2nd and the Civic Holiday on Monday August 6th and so the first and sixth weeks of camp are four days only. The price is adjusted as follows: $200 for camp, $36 for before care, $40 for aftercare, $64 for both before and aftercare)

New this year: In the registration system, 5-year olds will technically be registered in a separate "Beaver Camp." This is is only for us to manage staff to littlest-camper ratios; they will still take part in the same Nature Camp as all other ages. 

If you are registering multiple children, a sibling discount will be applied automatically in the system. Unfortunaetly the system will not be able to apply the discount automatically across different camps; if you are registering children in two or more of Beaver Camp (5 year olds), Nature Camp, or 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 receive a refund for the difference, or a discount off future payments if you take advantage of the payment plan. 

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.

What to Bring

  • Morning and afternoon snacks and drinks*
  • Lunch (except Friday, pizza day)*
  • Backpack or bag
  • Hat
  • Water Bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellant
  • Bathing Suit (every day)
  • Towel (every day)
  • Water Shoes/Sandals
  • Swim Goggles (Friday)
  • Rain Coat
  • Rubber Boots (for River Study day)
  • Extra Socks

*The Centre for Urban Ecology is a nut-aware 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

2018 Weekly Themes and Activities

Every week at Humber Arboretum Nature Camps will include nature walks, natural mindfulness/yoga, art & ecology, all-ages games, and swimming. Weekly themes inspire other activities (click on a photo to play videos from last summer):

Week One:

Arboretum Adventures

Tuesday* July 3 - Friday July 6, 2018

This week campers will explore the value of urban greenspaces! The Humber Arboretum has a great variety of ecosystems, each with its own distinct community of plants and animals. Travel to these fascinating habitats and try to catch a glimpse of some of our most interesting neighbours!

Special activities this week may include orienteering, geocaching, animal tracking, and animal photography.

(*This is a four-day camp as we are closed for the Monday of the Canada Day long weekend.)

Week Two:

Humber River Rally

Rubber booted feet in the river

Monday July 9 - Friday July 13, 2018

This week campers will explore what’s going on in the water! The Humber is the largest watershed in the Toronto region. With 755 species of plants, 42 species of fish, and over 185 animal species, the Humber watershed contains a huge amount of importance to the Toronto region’s biodiversity. Campers will explore the river and its surrounding area to learn more about the many creatures that make it their home. 

Special activities this week may include river netting, portaging, raft building, and river science for the senior campers. For the younger campers there may be toy duck races, raft races, and beaver dam building.

Week Three:

Dirty Science

Camper dig in a bucket of soil

Monday July 16 - Friday July 20, 2018

This week campers will explore the wilderness beneath our feet!  Soil and the forest floor are home to a mysterious community of organisms that are vital to the health of the forest.  By digging in the forest floor and searching under rocks and logs campers may get an opportunity to make friends with animals as cute as earthworms and millipedes or as charismatic as daddy-long-legs and potato bugs.

Special activities may include seed planting, a greenhouse visit, making natural paintbrushes and mud painting.

Week Four:

Wetland Wonders

Leopard frog photo taken by a camper

Monday July 23 - Friday July 27, 2018

This week campers will explore nature’s most precious and vulnerable ecosystems! Wetlands are important feeding and nesting grounds for many animals, they filter water on its way to the river and they slow down flooding. Between the ponds, marshes, and swamp, the Arboretum’s wetlands are sure to offer some wonder and adventure.

Special activities may include pond dipping, building mini wetlands, comparing water quality from the wetland and the river, and wildlife observation.

Week Five:

Wilderness Survival

A child holds up insect-eaten wood

Monday July 30 - Friday August 3, 2018

This week campers will explore the art of survival! Food, shelter, water, and way-finding – this week is all about the basics of wilderness survival. Campers will use 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.

Special activities may include shelter building, rope making, water purification, fire building (and safety!), orienteering and geocaching.


Week Six:

Powerful Pollinators

A bee approaches a flower

Tuesday* August 7 - Friday August 10, 2018

This week campers will explore the beautiful and mysterious process of pollination!  Pollinators such as butterflies and bees 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.

Special activities may include a visit from the Humber Arboretum’s beekeepers, a trip to the bee hives, butterfly netting in the meadow, an up-close investigation of flowers using microscope and hand lenses, a visit to the greenhouse to compare tropical plants with native species, and planting wildflowers to take home.

(*This is a four-day camp as we are closed on the Monday for the Civic Holiday.)

Week Seven:

Eco Olympics

Campers take part in the eco-olympic flag ceremony

Monday August 13 - Friday August 17, 2018 

This week campers will explore the Arboretum through play and competition!  This active week is full of fun games that build teamwork and various outdoor skills.  Campers divide into different Animal Countries so they can face off and cheer each other on. Join us this week and find out which Animal Country you’ll be playing for. Will it be Ant Arctica? Owlstralia? Or maybe Beavaria!

Special events may include duck races or raft races, scavenger hunts, a recycling relay, water bucket relays, and the Amazing Waste Race. Campers will 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!

Week Eight:

Time Travellers

Sticks form a structure

Monday August 20 - Friday August 24, 2018

This week campers will explore the natural and human history of the area surrounding the Humber River, one of only 38 waterways in the country designated as a Canadian Heritage River. Campers will connect to the land as they look to the past and learn how choices we make now can influence the future. 

Special activities may include shelter building, food harvesting, water collecting, rope making, and our unique fur trade game.

Week Nine:

Ecosystem Exploration

A camper takes a photo of a flower

Monday August 27 - Friday August 31, 2018

This week campers will 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 in a way that follows campers’ natural curiosity.

Special activities may include any of the most popular activities from the rest of camp, as this is a veritable highlight reel of the summer!

Ontario Camps Association Logo

Humber Arboretum Summer Nature Camp is accredited by the Ontario Camps Association.