What does an Overnight program include?
What program topics are available?
Wildlife in Winter (for grades 1–6)
Surviving winter is no easy task. Join us as we uncover winter adaptations that local wildlife use to overcoming the challenges of cold weather and little food. Participants will also take away some fun ideas on how to reuse household items and help animals in their own backyard.
Night Creatures (for grades 1–6)
Nocturnal animals are not creepy, just misunderstood creatures with incredible adaptations to help them survive after dark. Join the fun as we dispel some common myths about animals that prefer night to day!
Habitats around the World (for grades 2–4)
From tropical rainforests to the freezing arctic tundra, the earth is covered in different habitats! Come explore the characteristics that make each of these places unique and learn how organisms make these habitats their homes.
Amazing Adaptations (for grades 3–6)
The key to winning the game of survival is adaptations. Discover the variety of body structures and behaviors that animals use for defense, movement, growth and to obtain food.
Web of Life (for grades 3–6)
Life is an intricate web of eat or be eaten! Groups will build their own South Carolina ecosystem food web, explore organisms’ roles in nature and learn to identify animal roles in ecosystems by studying skulls.
Animals Have Class (for grades 4–6)
Clarifying classification: putting method to the madness of taxonomy! Students will discover how scientists group organisms, learn the characteristics of the 5 main vertebrate classes and use dichotomous keys to identify the Zoo’s education animals’ scientific and common names.
Conserving Wildlife (for grades 5–8)
Each one of us can be an animal champion! Students will become familiar with the acronym HIPPO to better understand how human activity affects wildlife as well as the Zoo’s role in conservation and how they can individually help conserve species.
Wild Careers (for grades 9–12)
Did you know Accountants, Teachers, Chefs, Event Coordinators, Horticulturists and Animal Keepers all work at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden? Discover how these careers are all important to the Zoo’s mission and what it takes to be a part of the Riverbanks team.
Zooversity and Genetics (for grades 7–12)
Variety is the spice of life and the key to conserving wildlife. Students will learn the value of genetic diversity, ways it can be lost in nature and explore the challenges zoos face with captive breeding programs. Groups will also participate in a simulated Species Survival Plan (SSP) meeting where they recommend next year’s breeding pairs for a zoo animal.
Do boys and girls sleep in separate areas?
Yes, we will accommodate any request for separate sleeping quarters.
Where do we sleep? Are showers available?
Participants sleep on the floor in our 3-D auditorium or education classrooms. Air mattresses are allowed and recommended for adults only due to space limitations. Sleeping mats are available for participants if desired. Bathrooms are located within the education complex; however, showers are NOT available.
What ages can attend Overnights and Night Howls?
All participants must be at least six years old. Younger siblings are not permitted.
Is dinner provided?
Overnights include a light snack in the evening and a continental breakfast with juice and coffee. Dinner is NOT included but can be added for an additional charge and the group must arrive by 6:15pm. Dinner will not be served to anyone arriving after 6:40pm. Food and drinks are not allowed in the Discovery Center theater or classrooms. Please do not bring additional food items unless someone in your group has special diet needs.
What would we need to bring with us to the program?
Please bring the following items:
- signed Consent Form for all participants (PDF)
- sleeping bag and pillow—Overnights only
- toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)—Overnights only
- sneakers or good walking shoes
- water bottle
- appropriate outer wear (i.e. rain coat, jacket, etc.)
- flashlights (adults only)
- cameras (please do NOT bring any other electronics)
Is there storage space for luggage/sleeping bags while the group visits the park following the overnight?
No; all groups will be escorted out of the Zoo at 8:45am to pack their vehicles/buses before being released into the park to enjoy their free day of admission. Please arrange for your transportation to meet you at Gate 8/Employee Entrance (right-hand parking lot after crossing the railroad tracks) at 8:45am promptly if they are not remaining at the Zoo overnight.
Can we buy souvenirs during the program?
While the gift shop will NOT be open during the program, we do have cool “I SURVIVED THE NIGHT AT RIVERBANKS ZOO” glow-in-the dark T-shirts for sale ($15 each). We also offer a specially designed Riverbanks logo patch for $4 each. You may purchase the shirts or the patches once you receive your confirmation packet.
How do we pay for the program?
- The cost per participant (adults included) is $50 for event nights, $45 for regular nights, $40 for discount nights, or $30 for Night Howls.
- Upon registering, each group will be charged a deposit fee ($150 for Overnights and $100 fee for Night Howls), which is due one month from the day that you schedule with us.
- Last minute reservations will have a deposit due at the time of registration or no later than 3 weeks prior to the scheduled date.
- All deposits are deducted from the final balance unless the group should cancel for any reason. Deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable should the group cancel or need to change a date within 3 weeks of the scheduled overnight.
- Full payment is due upon arrival for all groups. Groups can pay by check during the overnight OR call during normal business hours Monday–Friday, 8:30am to 4:00pm to pay with credit card prior to the scheduled date. Credit cards will not be accepted during the Overnights and Night Howls.
Do you offer any discounts for Overnight groups?
Yes, but for regular group overnights only. To receive a $5 discount per person:
- Register for a Sunday through Wednesday night (October – May) OR any day of the week (June – September).
- Group coordinators will receive free admission to their overnight! (Limited to 1 Free Adult per overnight date. Groups of 25 or less are not eligible as all groups must pay for a minimum of 25 participants.)
What is the minimum and maximum amount of participants for each overnight program?
**Night Howls vary see above. The group minimum is 25 and the maximum is 50 total participants (adults included). All groups are required to pay for at least 25 participants even if the group has less than 25. Groups of 25 or less will not receive one free admission. If you arrive with more than 50, your Overnight program will be cancelled on arrival and your deposit will not be returned.
What if I have more than 50 participants wanting to attend the overnight?
Any Overnight group of more than 50 participants is considered a double overnight.
- For Overnight groups desiring to bring over 50 participants, a $300 deposit will be charged. The additional deposit will be due a month from registering.
- Group leaders must receive prior approval from the Coordinator of Overnights at least three weeks before the scheduled overnight date to bring more than 50 participants.
- Should a double group bring less than 50 people without notifying the Coordinator of Overnights, in writing, three weeks in advance of the overnight, the full deposit of $300 will be lost and not deducted from the total balance.
- We are unable to accommodate groups over 50 for all Event Overnights and Night Howls.
How do we sign up for Overnights?
All Overnights and Night Howls must be scheduled at least three weeks in advance of a desired date. Dates fill up quickly so register today! To sign up, please fill out the Overnight Information Inquiry Form or contact Elisa Roberts.
The Zoo is a non-smoking facility. Overnight instructors must remain with the group at all times and are not able to escort individuals outside the Zoo for smoking breaks during the overnight. We apologize for the inconvenience.