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Education Programs: Summer Camps

What is Wetlands & Woodlands Camp?

  • A fun, hands-on learning adventure for children ages 4 to 14.
  • 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.

Registration - All camp registrations must be completed online. Registration is on a first come, first serve basis. If you have questions about the registration system, please call (616) 526-7602. A note to parents/guardians: These camps are quite popular and our wait lists can be long; thus we ask you to think of other parents and campers when registering, and only register each of your children for one camp. Thanks in advance for helping us to serve as many children as we can. We can always put you on the wait lists for other camps.

Wait Lists - If the registration system indicates that a camp is full, we encourage you put your name on our wait list. Families' summer schedules change regularly; the resulting cancellations allow us to release additional registrations.

Financial Need & Scholarships - At this time, the CCEP does not offer any scholarships for our camps, nor do we offer discounts to children of Calvin staff or faculty. However, for those families that would like to send their children to camp but are experiencing financial hardships, you may pay the camp fee in installments via checks. Please mail a check for 1/2 of the registration fee, payable to Calvin College, within 7 days of registering to reserve your space. The rest of the fee is due by May 30, 2016.

Verification of Age and Ability - Campers must meet the age requirements, be able to attend camp independently, and participate in activities throughout the Ecosystem Preserve (rough narrow paths, wood chipped trails, muddy areas, grassy fields, etc.). Jr. Naturalist campers must also be able to ride in a large passenger van for extended periods of time, participate in various off-site field trips and servicing learning activities (hiking over sand dunes and through prairies, digging holes, walking on uneven paths, etc.), and tolerate a variety of weather conditions.

2016 Camp Themes for 4 to 8 Year Olds (Pre-K to 3rd Grade)

Creepy Crawlies: Slugs, Spiders, Sowbugs & More
Learn more about Michigan animals that creep, slither, and wiggle in a safe and fun way. Creepy crawlies we will study include millipedes, sowbugs, worms, ants, slugs and spiders. Activities to look forward to include searching for and observing the creepy crawlies up close, racing worms, becoming a part of an ant colony, and eating banana slugs.

Winged Wonders: Dragonflies, Bats, Birds & More
Learn more about the winged creatures that live here in West Michigan and their special adaptions that enable them to fly. Animals we will learn about include bats, birds, ladybugs, and dragonflies. Activities will include observing ladybugs and dragonflies up close in the native gardens, watching cool bat videos, creating your own flying creatures, eating like a bird, and much more!

For 4, 5 & 6 Year Olds (entering 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, with Family Night on Thursday evening, June 16 and July 14 respectively. Adult/student ratio is 1:6 (limit 24 participants).

Dates Times Themes Cost

Session 1:
June 13-16, 2016

9 am - 12 pm Creepy Crawlies - FULL $90
Session 4:
July 11-14, 2016
9 am - 12 pm Winged Wonders - FULL $90

For 6, 7 & 8 year olds (entering grades 1-3)

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, with Family Night on Thursday evening, June 23 and July 21 respectively. Adult/student ratio is 1:8 (limit 24 participants).

Dates Times Themes Cost
Session 2:
June 20-24, 2016
9 am - 12 pm Creepy Crawlies - FULL $100
Session 5A:
July 18-22, 2016
9 am - 12 pm Winged Wonders - FULL $100

Combined Ages: For 4 - 8 year olds (entering grades Pre-K to 3)

If you have children of various ages, and you want them to attend camp together, then these are the camps for you! (You may register one or more children for these camps.) These camps use the same curriculum and follow the same format listed above. Family Nights are on Thursday evening, June 30 and July 21 respectively. Adult/student ratio is 1:8 (limit 16 participants).

Dates Days Times Themes Cost
Session 3:
June 27-30, 2016
Mon-Thur 9 am - 12 pm Creepy Crawlies - FULL $90
Session 5B:
July 18-22, 2016
Mon-Fri 1:30 - 4:30 pm Winged Wonders - FULL $100


Jr. Naturalist Club

For 9-11 Year Olds (entering grades 4-6)

The topics we will study this summer are herpetology (study of amphibians and reptiles), invertebrate zoology (study of invertebrates), and geology (focus on rocks and minerals). In addition, campers will take an off-site field trip one day during camp to Hoffmaster State Park to study dune ecology.

This camp is designed to engage campers with a strong interest in learning more about a variety of different science fields. 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). 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, with a special family presentation on Friday afternoon from 2:30-3 pm. Adult/student ratio is 1:8 (limit 24 participants).

Dates Times Theme Cost

Session 6:
August 1-5, 2016

9 am - 3 pm Jr. Naturalist Club - FULL $175


Picturing Place

For 11-13 Year Olds (entering grades 6-8)

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. The primary instructors for this camp are Jennifer Hoag, Calvin Art Professor & photographer, and Jeanette Henderson, Program Manager at the Ecosystem Preserve.

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 as 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, art materials, prints of favorite photos, CD of photos taken, healthy snacks, lots of individual attention, and loads of fun. Campers are responsible for bringing their own sack lunches. Camp runs Monday to Friday, and families are invited to the art show on Friday afternoon from 2:30-3 pm. Adult/student ratio is 1:9 (limit 18 participants). Two Summer Camp Leaders will be assisting.

Dates Times Theme Cost
Session 7:
August 8-12, 2016
9 am - 3 pm Picturing Place $200


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.

Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience and Environmental Education Center, Blandford Nature Center, and Ada Township Parks offer a variety of summer nature camp programming as well.

To Register for a Camp:

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If a camp is full, place your name on a WAIT LIST

Welcome Letters for Registered Campers

Letters are e-mailed two weeks prior to camp starting. In case you misplaced the e-mail or it went to your junk mail, you can download one below. Please review the information, fill out the necessary forms, and return them to Jeanette Henderson. Signed paperwork must be in by (but preferably before) the first day of camp, or we will be unable to admit your child.

Camp Staff Bios

Welcome to Session 6: Jr. Naturalist (9-11 years)

holding slug

worm races

looking in net

looking under log

flying creature craft

look at bug in dish

girls looking at worms

looking under log

studying insects

looking at minerals

looking at snake

walking dunes

camera instruction

mounting plant

art show

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