Chattanooga, Tenn. – With winter doldrums in full effect and spring still creeping toward the horizon, it might seem premature to plan how to occupy your kids during the summer months. But parents can’t afford to wait for the mercury to climb before signing up for one of the Aquarium’s popular camps.
This year’s weekly programs, sponsored by Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, are available for ages 5-14 and will run June 13 through July 29. General registration for non-members opened today, Tuesday, March 15.
Participants experience all the usual bonding, games and group activities normally associated with summer camps, but with a focus on interactions with animals and the natural world. This distinct take on summertime fun has made these programs a tradition for generations of campers since the first one was hosted in 1993, the year after Aquarium’s grand opening.
“Our camps have just an amazing track record,” says Manager of Learning and Engagement Jen Collier. “They’re great experiences that allow kids to learn what the world has to offer right in their own backyards in a safe way.”
“Being at the Aquarium and having all of the experts who can introduce you to the world around you in a safe and tangible way is a great experience for kids that gives them better awareness of where they live.”
A typical day for Aquarium campers revolves around themes, such as how nature inspires us or weird or “icky” adaptations. Campers’ schedules are packed with special behind-the-scenes tours, guided explorations of galleries, hands-on art or science projects and close encounter with animal ambassadors.
“Whenever you’re working with kids and animals, you never truly know what to expect in a day,” Collier says. “I think it’ll be great for kids to get a more in-depth look and more time spent at the Aquarium so they can really focus on what we’re about.”
General camps are targeted to campers within an age range, but speciality camps for 10-12 participants are available that home in on specific interests such as:
This year’s crop of speciality camps also includes River Guardians. This all-new program offers budding environmental scientists the opportunity to learn from and venture into the field with biologists and researchers from the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute.
“They’ll spend time learning to do things like maybe pulling a seine net, looking for amphibians or catching and identifying fish,” Collier says. “That’s going to be really, really cool to be able to spend a week pretty much working alongside our conservation biologists.”
Camps take place 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and run Monday to Friday. Daily pick up and drop off is outside the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D Theater on Chestnut Street. Aftercare — with mandatory pre-registration — is available until 5:30 p.m. at a cost of $10 per day.
General camp registration is $250 for Aquarium members and $280 for non-members. Specialty camp registration is $325 for Aquarium members and $375 for non-members.
Additional info, including detailed camp descriptions and dates, is available at tnaqua.org/educate/summer-camp/.