What is Discovery Day Camp?

Your camper will enjoy a week full of exploration; discovering birds, wildlife, insects, water features, and nature knowledge at The Nature Institute. We will explore the woods, prairies, and ponds at Olin Nature Preserve and will play in the streams and waterfalls at Mississippi Sanctuary.

Campers will have opportunities to gain STEM skills while playing on our natural playground which includes a Mud Kitchen, Fossil Dig, Art Center, Burrow, Eagle’s Nest, Climbing Wall and much more. Campers will learn through discovery and guided play and explore our natural resources. Expect to hear about the new adventures your camper experienced while outdoors.

Frequently Asked Questions

My child is going into 2nd grade. Do I sign them up for the K/1 group, or the 2/3 group?

Our age groups correspond with the grade that your child has just completed. Your child would sign up for the K/1 group since they just completed 1st grade. 

How many weeks of camp can I sign my child up for?

You can sign up for a maximum of 3 weeks of camp per child. 

Can I sign up my child for 2 weeks on the same topic?

We do not recommend signing up for the same topic for multiple weeks. Our camp lesson plans have specific activities that relate to the topic of the week, so they would be repeating many of the same activities. 

How large are the group sizes?

Group sizes depend on the age of the campers. We follow limitations set forth by the American Camp Association (ACA). 

Age Group Staff to Camper Ratio (ACA) TNI Max Group Size w/ 2 Staff Members
PreK 1:6 10 campers per group.
K/1 1:6 10 campers per group.
2/3 1:8 14 campers per group.
4/5 1:10 16 campers per group.
Middle School 1:10 16 campers per group.

Do you provide lunch?

No, we do not provide lunch. We do not have facilities on site or certification to prepare meals. Please send your child with a packed lunch that does not require heating. We store lunches in our refrigerators after arrival. 

I was not able to sign up for the week I wanted to register my child for. Are there any additional spots?

Our camp is very popular and spots fill up quickly! We do have waitlists for camp on the weeks that fill up. You can add them to the waitlist on CampBrain. If spots open up, you will receive a call inquiring if you’d like to register for the open spot. Spots are first come, first served. 

How many staff are there? What are their qualifications?

Camp is run by a Camp Director, Assistant Camp Director, and 14 summer camp staff. The Camp Director, Lauren Scull, runs our education programs year-round. Our Assistant Camp Director, Dave Schiber, is also a year round staff member. You can learn more about them on the Our Team page. Summer camp staff are typically high school or college students that have an interest in the outdoors or are currently attending school for biology or environmental topics. They complete a week long training prior to camp and all hold current certifications in First Aid and CPR. They are trained on curriculum, child development, and group management, as well as outdoor content. Each camp group has a minimum of 2 staff members with them. Groups may also have an additional counselor if extra support is needed, as well as some high school volunteers. All staff have background checks prior to the summer.

What is CampBrain and why am I receiving notifications from them?

All of our camp registration is run through CampBrain. This website allows you to register your child, create a health profile, add your child to waitlists, and fill out required forms for camp. 

Where is ‘homebase’ for each of the groups?

The youngest 4 groups have a section of the porch for them to store their belongings, eat lunch, do sitting activities, and hang as a group. The oldest 2 groups ‘graduate’ off of the porch and will be stationed at the Old Shed and the large tent, in order to give them more space and additional independence. All of the groups spend most of their day outside and away from their ‘homebase’ — we promote getting outside and spending time in nature!

What will my camper be doing all day?

The activities each day will be based on their theme, but they should plan to spend lots of time outside, complete age-appropriate activities, play games, and explore nature! Check out our Daily Schedule to learn more.

General Day at Adventurers Camp.docx

Are you able to provide specific accommodations for my camper?

Sometimes! We’re happy to work with any and all groups of people, but we are unable to accommodate wheelchairs or other mobility needs on site. We’re limited by the nature of the terrain! Please let us know prior to registration if your child needs any special accommodations and we’re happy to discuss what we’re able to provide to best assist you. Our goal is to keep all of our campers safe while on site.

Can I request that my child is in a group with a friend?

Yes, provided that the following conditions are met:

  • The other child must also request that your child is in their group.
  • Both children must be in the same age group.
  • Both children are registered for the same week.

Please note that while we attempt to accommodate as many buddy requests as possible, it is not guaranteed. We also recommend that siblings are in separate groups. Camp is a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends and try new things!

What are your COVID-19 policies?

As of January of 2022, we require masks while indoors and while on the porch. We also require temperature checks for all of our drop-off programs. As we approach the camp season, these policies may change. We will follow recommendations set forth by the Madison County Health Department. Policies will be clearly posted prior to your child’s week at camp. 

I have an additional question about refunds, billing, or waitlists. 

Please contact our office at (618) 466-9930 or info@thenatureinstitute.org.

I have an additional question about staff, camp policies, paperwork, curriculum, or other camper needs.

Please contact Lauren at lscull@thenatureinstitute.org