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bird watching

Education Programs: Summer Camps

What is Wetlands & Woodlands Camp?

  • A fun, hands-on learning adventure for children ages 4 to 13.
  • A program that encourages campers to develop a greater understanding, appreciation of, and respect for God’s amazing creation.
  • A comfortable and safe learning environment where campers become immersed in the outdoors

Camps themes and dates are are usually announced in January with registration opening on March 1st. All registration is completed online. If you would like to join our e-mail list to receive a registration reminder, contact Julie Wilbourn.

For 4, 5 & 6 Year Olds (Pre-K & K)

Developed for shorter attention spans, our camps will keep the busiest of 4, 5 & 6 year olds engaged. Campers will explore the theme of the week through outdoor exploration, puppet shows, storybooks, music and movement activities, critter devotions, helping hands service learning activities and nature art projects specifically designed for this age group. Children must be 4 years old by the start of camp, ready to attend independently, and must be toilet trained.  The session fee covers healthy snacks, nature art project materials, lots of individual attention, discovery take home sheets, family night activities, and loads of fun.  Camps run Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 12 pm, with Family Night on Thursday evening. Adult/student ratio is 1:5 (limit 15-25 participants per session).

For 6, 7 & 8 year olds (1st, 2nd, & 3rd Graders)

This camp is designed to introduce very young scientists to Michigan’s flora and fauna using science inquiry methods. Using our theme of the week, campers will learn about the animals and plants that live in our forests, meadows, and wetlands in a hands-on, feet-in way! With activities appropriate for this curious and excitable age, campers will discover more about their world and their Creator as they spend time exploring the Ecosystem Preserve.  Nature art projects, short experiments, critter devotions, helping hands service learning projects and other activities balance outdoor exploration and games. The session fee covers healthy snacks, nature art project materials, lots of individual attention, take home discovery sheets, family night activities, and loads of fun. Camps run Monday to Friday from 9 am to 12 pm, with Family Night on Thursday evening. Adult/student ratio is 1:8 (limit 24 participants per session).

Past Camp Themes for 4 to 8 Year Olds

Aquatic Adventures: Dive into Michigan's Wetlands. Explore the lives of aquatic animals and learn more about how to help these amazing creatures.

Blooms and Bugs: Sunflowers, Bees, & Honey. Discover Michigan's summer flowers, their pollinators, and products that both plants and their pollinators provide us with.

Creepy Crawlies: Salamanders, Spiders, Slugs & More. Learn more about Michigan animals that creep, slither, and wiggle in a safe and fun way.

Enchanted Forest: Explore Michigan's Beech Maple Forest. From the forest floor to the canopy, learn more about the plants and animals that make their homes in our forests.

The Giving Tree: Explore a Tree and the Animals that Call it Home. Trees provide us with oxygen, shelter, food and a multitude of other products and services.  Campers will learn more about these “giving trees” and discover some of the animals that call them home. 

Web of Life: Explore a Food Chain. Discover that everything in life is connected as we see how energy flows through a food chain. From grass to the top predator, God provides all of Creation with their basic needs.  

Winged Wonders: Michigan's Butterflies, Birds, Bees, Bats and More. Find out if Flying Squirrels really fly and learn more about our winged creatures that live here in West Michigan.

Wildlife Detectives. Use your detective skills as we search for and identify "clues" that animals leave behind.

Jr. Naturalist Club

For 9, 10, & 11 Year Olds (4th, 5th & 6th Graders)

This camp is designed to engage campers with a strong interest in learning more about a variety of different science fields such as entomology (insects), botany (plants), mammalogy (mammals), ornithology (birds), limnology (ponds and lakes), and herpetology (reptiles and amphibians). Campers will spend time doing various activities related to each field of science, including: explore the preserve, conduct small experiments, journal and sketch, participate in preserve research and service learning activities, create nature art projects, and meet scientists and conservation professionals who work in the different fields (when applicable). Different fields of study are offered on a three year rotation, so returning campers will find the curriculum engaging. One day during camp, campers will take an off-site field trip to explore either Flat Iron Lake Preserve or one of our beautiful state parks. On Friday, campers have the opportunity to hike through the wildlife refuge of the preserve and play capture the flag, or participate in our team building orienteering course. The session fee covers materials for activities and experiments, healthy snacks, nature art project materials, transportation cost for field trips, lots of individual attention, and loads of fun. Campers are responsible for bringing their own sack lunches. Camp runs Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm, with a special family presentation on Friday afternoon. Adult/student ratio is 1:8 (limit 18-24 participants).

Picturing Place (Not offered every year)

For 11, 12, & 13 Year Olds (6th, 7th & 8th Graders)

Middle school students are invited to view the world through the lens of science and art in this unique camp. Scientists and naturalists have used a variety of visual works such as sketching, herbarium sheets, and photograms in their field studies to record, preserve, and document species and information.  Using the BIC native flower gardens as our laboratory, campers will explore these techniques in combination with learning the fundamentals of digital photography. Campers will also learn to work in groups through a variety of team building exercises and photography projects.  Our desire is that the students will learn to see God's Creation with intelligence and that at the end of the week they will have a greater sense of the place they live in and call home. The week will culminate in a collective group art show.  A note to parents and campers: this is not just a photography camp. Photography classes will take place in the morning and in the afternoon campers will spend time learning and practicing many skills important to field scientists such a nature journaling, sketching, using field guides for identification, and pressing plants. This is a unique experience to work with both a photography professor and a naturalist with a background in field science. Campers need to be willing and mature enough to participate in all parts of the camp including team building activities. If you have questions please contact Jeanette Henderson.

The session fee covers instruction, group use of a professional grade DSRL camera, a natural journal, art materials, prints of favorite photos, cd of collection of photos taken, healthy snacks, lots of individual attention, and loads of fun. Campers are responsible for bringing their own sack lunches. Camp runs from 9 am to 3 pm, Monday to Friday. On Friday afternoon, families are invited to a collective group art show from 2:30-3 pm. Adult/student ratio is 1:9 (limit 18 participants).

Other Summer Camps at Calvin College

Various departments at Calvin offer a variety of other summer camps for students ages 4 to18 years old. Visit Camps at Calvin to find out more.

collecting seeds

dressing like a bee

looking at duck

frog art

looking at bee collection


dissecting flower

looking at aquatic finds

looking at egg

story time

looking at captured bug


To see more of Wetlands & Woodlands, you'll find our summer camp albums on Facebook.