Summer Day Camps, 2024

Nature Explorers programming is held in the village of Benzonia, on ⅔ of an acre just off US 31. Participants spend time in the indoor and outdoor classroom spaces, vegetable garden, and wooded area. Nature walks, handling program animals, games, art, science, and experiential play are all part of each day. The below five camps will be held Monday through Thursday from 10am-4pm in Benzonia, Michigan.
To register, fill out this Google Form:
June 17-20: Sprout Scouts (Ages 5-9)
Cost: $220
Dig in the dirt to unravel the secret world of plants and seeds. Help to plant the Nature Explorers vegetable garden and start your own take-home seedlings. Dissect flowers and seeds to identify the parts of the plant and investigate worms while creating compost. Make grass heads and seed bombs, leaf and bark rubbings, and press flowers into handmade paper! Discover native wildflowers and trees on botany scavenger hunts and learn about wild edible plants, native backyard habitats, and forestry from visiting local experts. Through place-based experiences, science, art, and getting our hands dirty, this summer camp will make learning about plants fun!
Monday- Vegetable Gardening
Tuesday- Worm Wonders
Wednesday- Tree ID
Thursday- Flower Power
June 24-27: Scales & Slime (Ages 6-10)
Cost: $220
Discover the unique characteristics of the scaly and slimy creatures of the world through games, science experiments, art, and live animals. What do fish, reptiles, and amphibians have in common and how are they different? Handle program animals: Scaly the corn snake, Slimy the tiger salamander, Lizzie the leopard gecko, and Moose the tortoise. Listen to frog calls and investigate bones, snake sheds, and turtle shells with a focus on learning how to identify local species. Take home real shark tooth fossils, make snake skin crafts, magnet fishing poles, amphibian slime, and turtle shakers.
Monday- Turtle Tales
Tuesday- Snake Science
Wednesday- Amphibian Slime
Thursday- Fish and Shark
July 15-18: Geology Rocks (Ages 7-11)
Cost: $220
Through hands-on science experiments learn about the Earth’s processes that transform rocks over time, how fossils form, and the shapes of crystals. Gain an introduction to geology and the layers of the Earth while learning to identify specimens in the extensive NEI classroom collection of rocks, fossils, and crystals. Create a volcano science experiment, make clay fossils and agate necklaces, build a rock collection box, paint rocks, and test minerals. Dig for fossils, polish Petoskey stones, break open geodes, and find out the history of your birthstone. Games, scavenger hunts, live animals, art and science will all be integrated daily.
Monday- The Rock Cycle
Tuesday- Fun with Fossils
Wednesday- Crazy About Crystals
Thursday- Volcanology
FULL- July 22-25: Nature Around the World (Ages 5–9)
Cost: $220
This week of camp is full but you are welcome to join the waiting list, Let’s travel around the world together discovering some of Earth’s most interesting animals! Ms. Amalia will share stories and photos from her work with children and wildlife on nearly every continent. Games, crafts, songs, and scavenger hunts work together to promote a comprehensive world-view of geography. Creative curriculum guides students to explore the layers of the Amazon rainforest, safari with iconic African mammals, journey to Madagascar, Borneo and Australia and even dive into the oceans! Create a stronger international awareness while establishing a solid foundation of the local environment in this unique nature camp experience.
Monday- The Americas
Tuesday- Africa and Madagascar
Wednesday- Eurasia
Thursday- Australia and the Oceans
FULL- July 29-August 1: Nature Detectives (Ages 4-8)
Cost: $220
This week of camp is full but you are welcome to join the waiting list. Have fun with crafts, games, science, and nature walks while exploring the local environment! Through hands-on experiences and place-based activities, gain an introduction to both the living and nonliving things in nature. Collect rocks and fossils, dissect seeds and flowers, build clay mushroom sculptures, and harvest from the vegetable garden. Play experiential games such as pollination party and ant city, go on a bug scavenger hunt, handle reptiles and amphibians, practice birdwatching, and learn to identify the scat and tracks of local wildlife.
Monday- Rocks, Fossils, and Crystals
Tuesday- Plants and Mushrooms
Wednesday- Creepy Crawly Creatures
Thursday- Wild Animals
The week of August 5th will have a session for younger children in the morning and workshops for older kids in the afternoon.

August 5-8: Toddler Tracks (Ages 2-4)
Cost: $110
Gain an introduction to the Nature Explorers classroom space in a small group setting with activities that are designed for a young age. Learn through exploring in the woods, meeting live animals, learning songs, listening to stories, and making art! Harvest from the garden, feed the chickens, discover magnifying glasses and binoculars, go on nature walks and scavenger hunts, and interact with other young children through experiential play. Take home crafts, sensory experiences, and hands-on activities will help toddlers to learn about the classification of living things.
Monday: Insects and Spiders
Tuesday: Reptiles and Amphibians
Wednesday: Birds
Thursday: Mammals
August 5: Nature Journaling Workshop (Ages 8-13)
Cost: $30
Design and build your own nature journal while learning paper crafting and book binding skills. Practice animal observation techniques used by naturalists and wildlife biologists and start a species checklist and a sit-spot practice. Sketch live program animals, press flowers, make leaf and tree rubbings, draw animal tracks, or collect natural specimens.
August 6: Survival Skills Workshop (Ages 8-13)
Cost: $30
Practice shelter building, basic knot tying, and using a bow and arrow (foam tipped). Develop compass skills through playing orienteering games and study the fire triangle while working with a team to build a fire. Time with program animals, exploring the woods, and harvesting from the garden are always part of the fun!
August 7: Leather Crafting Workshop (Ages 8-13)
Cost: $30
Working with leather has been important to human-kind for thousands of years. Learn the skills you need for basic leathercraft such as tooling, punching, hand stitching, and riveting. Create bracelets, earrings, notebooks, small bags, or key chains out of repurposed leather scraps from Ms. Amalia’s father’s former handmade shoe business.


Please note:

~A 10% sibling discount is applied to each sibling when multiple siblings attend the same week of camp.

~ Scholarships are available through Benzie Cares for Kids.
~An outdoor classroom will be set up under a large tent in the lower parking lot.
~Registration opens February 1st. Space is limited.

If you can’t attend the whole week, day rates are available!

Day Rate: $60
Half Day: $30

Questions? EMAIL:

The Camp Director, Amalia Celeste Fernand, has a Master of Science in ecological leadership and education, and a background in environmental, experiential, and Montessori education. She has facilitated programming with children in countries around the world, and recently published her first book: “Michigan Wildlife, A Coloring Field Guide”. Amalia founded Nature Explorers International (NEI) with the mission to: inspire excitement and curiosity for the environment through art, science, and outdoor experiences. She now teaches live, online nature and Earth science classes on Outschool.

Nature Explorers Summer Day Camps are licensed through the State of Michigan.

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