Skip Navigation

Day Camps

Riverbanks’ Spring Break Zoo Camp (ages 5–9) and Winter Zoo Camp (ages 5–10) pack hands-on activities, animal encounters, behind-the-scenes tours, games, and arts and crafts into two to three fun-filled days. The Summer Zoo Camp serves 3–13 year olds. Try our Single-Day Zoo Camp (ages 5–9) — all the fun packed into one day!

Important Registration Information

To register online: Online camp registration is highly recommended, as it immediately confirms your space in one of our camp programs. The online process collects and stores individual camper information, so parents/guardians will not need to complete a separate Medical Release and Consent Form (PDF) for each week of camp. Please be sure to “confirm or complete attendee details” when prompted. If you are interested in registering for both the discounted holiday week (Week 4: July 2–6) and another week of summer camp, two separate online registrations will need to be made. If you are having trouble with the online registration process, please follow our user tips.

To register by mail: Please print out and complete the Summer 2018 Enrollment Form (PDF). Mail the completed enrollment form together with full payment and completed Medical Release and Consent Form (PDF) to Riverbanks Education Department, ATTN: Summer Camp, 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia SC 29210–8014. You will receive an email confirmation once your mailed-in registration has been received and processed.

Camper placement: If you are requesting the same week and group placement as other families, please make a note on the Medical Release and Consent Form (PDF) when registering by mail OR email no later than a week before your start date of camp.

Medication needs: If your child is bringing medicine to be administered during camp, including epipens, you will need to complete a Medicine Administration Release and Directions Form (PDF) and bring it along with the medicine to the camp director.

Policies: Download Policies for Zoo Camp: Illness, Behavior, and Safe Hiring Practices. (PDF)

Questions? Please call 803.602.0803 or email education@riverbanks.org.

for Ages 5–10

Scheduled Camps

Creative Creatures

  • Session 1: Friday, December 21 / Session 2: Wednesday, January 2–Thursday, January 3
  • 9:00am–4:00pm

Did you know that the greatest artists are not people? Get creative with us as we discover how creatures around the world create beautiful pieces of art every day! Campers will learn about the extraordinary artists of the animal world, animal enrichment, and get a chance to mimic these incredible animals with their own unique creations. Zoo campers will also enjoy learning through storytelling, games, zoo walks, animal encounters and a behind-the-scenes tour. Sign up for one or both sessions!

Camp Details

  • Cost :

    Session 1: $45 Riverbanks members / $60 general public.

    Session 2: $80 Riverbanks members / $110 general public.

    Each child will receive one complimentary T-shirt the first day of camp; if you register for both sessions of winter camp you will still only receive one T-shirt. We ask that campers wear their T-shirts each day of camp. Additional shirts can be purchased online for $15.

  • Drop Off :

    8:45–9:00am (Ndoki Entrance Gate #6). Note: There is no early drop-off option. Location is subject to change. Registered participants will be notified by email prior to the start of camp should a change be necessary.

  • Pick Up :

    4:00–4:15pm (Ndoki Entrance Gate #6). Note: Location is subject to change. Registered participants will be notified by email prior to the start of camp should a change be necessary.

    LATE Extended Stay & Play :

    4:00–5:00pm. $10 (Session 1), $14 (Session 2) per participant. Note: Children must be picked up by 5:15pm.

    Late Pick Up Fee :

    There will be a late pick up charge of $10 for every five minutes you are late picking up your child after 4:15pm (or 5:15pm for those registered for extended stay and play).

  • Cancellation Policy :

    Cancellations must be submitted in writing no later than Monday, December 10 to receive a refund minus a $30 processing fee. No refunds will be made for cancellations after December 10, 2018.

  • Pack List :

    Lunch, snack, and filled water bottle. Note: Lunches must be non-microwavable and non-refrigerated.

Single-Day Zoo Camp

for Ages 5–9

Scheduled Camps

Sensational Sea Lions & Seals

  • Monday, January 21
  • 9:00am–4:00pm

Join us for a splashing good time as we learn about one of the Zoo’s most popular exhibits and the animals that call it home.

Groovy Gorillas

  • Monday, February 18
  • 9:00am–4:00pm

Our family of gorillas has recently expanded by two! Enjoy a day full of fun and adventure as we explore Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s troop life.

Camp Details

  • Cost :

    $45 Riverbanks members / $60 general public. Each child will receive one complimentary T-shirt the morning of camp. T-shirts MUST be worn every day of camp. Additional shirts can be ordered for $15 each by cash or check from the Camp Coordinator.

  • Drop Off :

    8:45–9:00am. Note: There is no early drop-off option. Location is subject to change. Registered participants will be notified by email prior to the start of camp should a change be necessary.

  • Pick Up :

    4:00–4:15pm. Note: Location is subject to change. Registered participants will be notified by email prior to the start of camp should a change be necessary.

    LATE Extended Stay & Play :

    4:00–5:00pm. $10 per participant. Note: Children must be picked up by 5:15pm.

    Late Pick Up Fee :

    There will be a late pick up charge of $10 for every five minutes you are late picking up your child after 4:15pm (or 5:15pm for those registered for extended stay and play).

  • Cancellation Policy :

    Cancellation or date change requests must be received three weeks in advance of the event to receive a refund of your registration. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will retain a $25 processing fee for cancellations and charge a $25 processing fee for date changes. Registrations are non-refundable and non-transferable should the cancellation or need to change a date occur within three weeks of the scheduled program. Refunds will not be provided for individuals who do not show up for the event.

    In the rare event that Riverbanks Zoo and Garden must cancel the scheduled event, all deposits or money received will be reimbursed or an option to reschedule will be provided. Notification of cancellation will be provided at least ten days prior to the scheduled event (unless weather-related). Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is not liable for any other expenses that the guest may have incurred in the preparation and execution of the event.

  • Pack List :

    Lunch, snack, and filled water bottle. Note: Lunches must be non-microwavable and non-refrigerated.

for Ages 5–9

Scheduled Camps

Rainforest Adventures

  • Monday, April 15–Friday, April 19
  • 9:00am–5:00pm *Extended Camp Time*

Rainforest are magical places full of amazing things, from fish that sometimes swim in the trees to butterflies with glass-like wings. Don’t miss out on the adventure as we take a tropical safari and meet several of the Zoo’s rainforest ambassadors along the way. Climb the layers of the rainforest with us through storytelling, zoo walks, behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, games and more.

Camp Details

  • Cost :

    $195 Riverbanks members / $245 general public. Each child will receive one complimentary T-shirt the first day of camp. We ask that campers wear their T-shirts each day of camp. Additional T-shirts may be purchased online for $15.

  • Drop Off :

    8:45–9:00am (Ndoki Entrance Gate #6). Note: There is no early drop-off option. Location is subject to change. Registered participants will be notified by email prior to the start of camp should a change be necessary.

  • Pick Up :

    4:45–5:00pm (Ndoki Entrance Gate #6). Note: There is no extended stay and play option. Location is subject to change. Registered participants will be notified by email prior to the start of camp should a change be necessary.

    Late Pick Up Fee :

    There will be a late pick up charge of $10 for every five minutes you are late picking up your child after 5:15pm.

  • Cancellation Policy :

    Cancellation or date change requests must be received three weeks in advance of the event to receive a refund of your registration. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will retain a $25 processing fee for cancellations and charge a $25 processing fee for date changes. Registrations are non-refundable and non-transferable should the cancellation or need to change a date occur within three weeks of the scheduled program. Refunds will not be provided for individuals who do not show up for the event.

    In the rare event that Riverbanks Zoo and Garden must cancel the scheduled event, all deposits or money received will be reimbursed or an option to reschedule will be provided. Notification of cancellation will be provided at least ten days prior to the scheduled event (unless weather-related). Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is not liable for any other expenses that the guest may have incurred in the preparation and execution of the event.

  • Pack List :

    Lunch, snack, and filled water bottle. Note: Lunches must be non-microwavable and non-refrigerated.

Opens January 7

for Ages 3–13

June 10 – August 16 (no Zoo Camp on July 4th)

Young adventure-seekers, ages 3 to 13, will explore wildlife and wild places when Summer Zoo Camp heats up at Riverbanks. Don’t miss the wildest camp in town.

Scheduled Camps

Ages 3–4 (with an adult)

  • Tuesday–Thursday
  • 9:30–11:30am
Around the Pond

(Weeks: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9)

From cattails and polliwogs to turtles and willow trees, there is an amazing world of life in and around the pond! Let’s explore the unique plants and animals that call the pond home.

City Critters

(Weeks: 2, 6, 8, and 10 — no camp July 4th week)

What animals are lurking in our city? Come discover the fascinating secret lives of the critters that live just outside our doors!

Ages 4–5

  • Monday–Friday
  • HALF Day (9:00am–12:00pm) / FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Wild Seasons

(Weeks: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9)

Do you like to visit the beach in the summer, anticipate snow in the winter, play in the leaves come fall and watch flowers bloom in the spring? Animals and plants change their activities, too! Join the fun as we discover the wonders of each season.

Sense-able Animals

(Weeks: 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10)

Ever wonder how animals see after dark, hear under the water and feel without fingers? In this “tasteful” camp we will see how humans and animals make “sense” of things as they explore their homes.

Ages 6–7

  • Monday–Friday
  • FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Watery World

(Weeks: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9)

Dive into the amazing world of water as we investigate the water cycle, its properties and animals that call it home. Campers will have a splashing good time learning about sharks, sea turtles, frogs—and lizards that can walk on water!

ZooBorns

(Weeks: 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10)

Everyone loves babies! Find out how zoo youngsters spend their first hours, days and years of life. Join the fun as we investigate the colorful world of eggs, wild parenting strategies, life cycles and much more!

Ages 8–10

  • Monday–Friday
  • FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Island Fever

(Weeks: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9)

Get ready to take an excursion across the planet’s strangest yet most amazing islands, as we visit the Galapagos, Madagascar and Australia. Campers will have opportunities to learn how islands are created as well as identify some of the unique creatures that inhabit them. Beware! You just might catch the fever about these mysterious places.

Animal Aviators

(Weeks: 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10)

Did you know that birds and bats are not the only frequent flyers in the animal kingdom? Come soar with us as we explore the wonders of ballooning, gliding, parachuting and flying. Discover how aerodynamics makes aviation possible for some very unlikely creatures.

Ages 11–13

  • Monday–Friday
  • FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Critter Twitter

(Weeks: 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9)

We can chat with anyone, anywhere, at any time using Facebook, email, cell phones, Instagram and Snapchat. Without these human tools, how do animals get the word out? Join the adventure as we explore the art of communication—animal style. Don’t miss the buzz about this exciting camp!

Dirty Jobs

(Weeks: 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10)

It’s a messy job but someone’s got to do it—and we’re not necessarily talking about shoveling poop! Whether farmers, butchers, builders, beauticians or interior decorators, animals are some of the hardest workers on the planet, and they don’t even get a vacation! Come job shadow ants, lions, cleaning wrasse and various Riverbanks employees this summer as we learn what it takes for these workaholics to succeed. You may even pick up a few job skills along the way!

Camp Details

  • Cost :

    Ages 3–4 (with an adult) — $65 members / $80 general public.

    HALF Day Ages 4–5 — $125 members / $155 general public.

    *For discount holiday week (July 1–5): $100 members / $124 general public.*

    FULL Day Ages 4–13 — $190 members / $240 general public.

    *For discount holiday week (July 1–5): $152 members / $192 general public.*

    Each child receives one complimentary T-shirt, handed out the first day of camp. T-shirts MUST be worn every day of camp. Additional shirts can be ordered for $15 each by cash or check from the Camp Coordinators.

  • Drop Off :

    8:30–9:00am for HALF and FULL day campers at the designated camp gate. Please follow Zoo Camp traffic signs after you cross the railroad tracks. Ages 3–4 campers (with an adult) meet at the Waterfall Junction Learning Center by 9:30am.

    EARLY Extended Stay & Play :

    7:45am for HALF and FULL day campers. $25 per participant.

    *$20 per participant for discount holiday week July 1–5.*

  • Pick Up :

    12:00–12:15pm for HALF day and 4:00–4:15pm for FULL day at the designated camp gate. Please follow Zoo Camp traffic signs after you cross the railroad tracks.

    LATE Extended Stay & Play : *NEW Extended Time*

    5:30pm for FULL day campers. $45 per participant. Note: Campers must be picked up by 5:45pm at Reception/Employee Entrance/Gate 3. This option is not available for HALF day campers.

    *$36 per participant for discount holiday week July 1–5.*

    Late Pick Up Fee :

    There will be a late pick up charge of $10 for every five minutes you are late picking up your child after 12:15pm for HALF day campers and 4:15pm (or 5:45pm for those registered for extended stay and play) for FULL day campers.

  • Cancellation Policy :

    Cancellation or date change requests must be received three weeks in advance of the event to receive a refund of your registration. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will retain a $25 processing fee for cancellations and charge a $25 processing fee for date changes. Registrations are non-refundable and non-transferable should the cancellation or need to change a date occur within three weeks of the scheduled program. Refunds will not be provided for individuals who do not show up for the event.

    In the rare event that Riverbanks Zoo and Garden must cancel the scheduled event, all deposits or money received will be reimbursed or an option to reschedule will be provided. Notification of cancellation will be provided at least ten days prior to the scheduled event (unless weather-related). Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is not liable for any other expenses that the guest may have incurred in the preparation and execution of the event.

Opens January 29

Frequently Asked Questions

What should my camper bring to Zoo Camp each day?

  • Lunch — Non-refrigerated, non-microwavable. (Ages 4 to 5 Half Day Option and Ages 3 to 4 with an adult do not need to bring lunch.)
  • Two snacks — Non-refrigerated, non-microwavable.
  • Filled water bottle — We recommend sending two if possible, one frozen and one unfrozen.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray — Please apply before sign-in, counselors cannot apply.
  • Camp T-shirt and weather appropriate clothes — Including a rain jacket or poncho.
  • Appropriate foot-wear — Please no flip flops, open-toed shoes or sandals.

Please be sure to put your child’s name on all items they bring to camp!

What if I forget to send them a lunch, snack or water bottle one day?

You can bring the forgotten item(s) to the Reception window at Gate 3/Employee Entrance for drop off (right-hand side parking lot after you cross the railroad tracks into the Zoo), and an education staff member will be sure to get it to the appropriate place.

What should my camper NOT bring to Zoo Camp?

  • Car seats — The Zoo does not have space to store car seats during camp.
  • Any electronics — Including hand held video games, cell phones, iPods/MP3 players, CD players, etc.
  • Personal toys, stuffed animals or trading cards.

Can I bring cake or other food items for my child’s birthday to share with other children?

Some of our campers have special dietary needs and allergies; therefore we do not allow class treats at camp.

What if I want to purchase an additional Zoo Camp T-shirt during the week of camp?

Additional camp T-shirts can be purchased by cash or check from the Camp Coordinator during morning drop off. T-shirts are $15 each.

My child will need to take medication during the day, what do I do?

On the first day of camp, you will be asked to fill out a Medicine Administration Form. This form will provide staff with the necessary information for administering any medication. All medications should be given to the Camp Coordinator during morning drop off. The Camp Coordinator will be responsible for supervising and administering all medication for ALL campers. All allergy and breathing treatments will be carried with your child’s counselor in the counselor’s first aid supplies kit during the day. Medications will be sent home at the end of each day with campers, unless otherwise documented on the Medicine Administration Form.

What if I am running late to pick up my camper OR if I want to pick up my child early?

  • A $10 late fee will be charged for every 5 minutes you are late picking up your child starting 15 minutes after the specified end time.
  • If you anticipate that you will be late for morning drop-off or late for the afternoon pick-up, or if you need to pick up your child early for any reason, please let the Camp Coordinator know the day before, or if last minute please call the Education Department at 803.602.0803. Upon arriving at the Zoo, please come to the reception window at Gate 3/Employee Entrance to drop off your camper or pick them up.
  • Due to the nature of camp and our end of day activities, we cannot accommodate early pick-ups after 3:15pm.

Is early drop off or extended stay available for Ages 4 to 5 — Half Day Option?

Early drop off for Ages 4 to 5: Half Day Option is available for an additional $25 per camper. This allows you to drop off your child between 7:45–8:30am. Regular drop off is 8:30–9:00am. Early drop off can be purchased online or from the Camp Coordinator the first day of camp (space is limited; we recommend purchasing in advance).

There is NO afternoon EXTENDED STAY AND PLAY option for Ages 4 to 5 — Half Day Option. If you need extended care for your camper past 12:00pm, please register for our Full Day Session.

My child has a friend coming to Zoo Camp the same week. Can they be put in the same group?

Yes, as long as they are in the same age bracket and there is space. Please email or call 803.602.0803 a week in advance with both the camper’s name and the parent/guardian’s name of the camper with whom you would like to be grouped.

Can I put my child in another age group than their actual age?

Zoo Camp activities are designed for specific age groups and space is limited per age group. We do not allow children to be moved into another age bracket for any reason. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Campers should be registered for the age they actually will be the first day of the selected week of camp. Campers younger than 4 years of age by the start date of their week of camp should be registered to attend our 3 to 4 year old camp with an accompanying adult.

Can I accompany my child to camp one day during the week?

Safety is always our top priority at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Adults are not permitted to participate in Zoo Camp activities due to space limitations and safety policies. The only exception to this rule is our Adult attending with Child Camps for Ages 3 to 4 held at Waterfall Junction Learning Center or if your child has special needs and must be assisted by an adult to attend camp. All adults attending with a special needs camper must be over 18 years old, have received written permission two weeks prior from the Camp Coordinator and have submitted proof of a background check (at their own expense) prior to accompanying a camper.

What if my child is sick the week they are registered or if I need to reschedule my week of Zoo Camp?

  • Written cancellation or date change requests must be received three weeks in advance of the event to receive a refund of your registration.
  • Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will retain a $25 processing fee for cancellations and charge a $25 processing fee for date changes.
  • Registrations are non-refundable and non-transferable should the cancellation or need to change a date occur within three weeks of the scheduled program.
  • Refunds will not be provided for individuals who do not show up for the event.

Where do I drop off and pick up my camper each day of camp?

Campers ages 4 to 13 will need to be signed in and signed out at the designated camp gate: Ndoki Gateway (to the far left of the main Zoo entrance). Parents must walk up in the morning to drop off their campers. For afternoon pick up, parents are encouraged to use the car line and remain in their vehicles for counselors to check their IDs and have campers walked to them. In the event of rain or extreme heat, parents will be asked to walk in through the designated gate to Gorilla Base Camp (indoor viewing area) to drop off or pick up their camper.

Where does Ages 3 to 4 with Adult camp meet?

Our Adult with Child camp for ages 3 to 4 meets at the Waterfall Junction Learning Center. We recommend parking and entering on the Garden Side (1300 Botanical Pkwy, West Columbia, SC 29169) if at all possible.

If you have an older camper (Ages 4 to 13) that you need to drop off prior to attending camp with your younger camper, please drop him/her off at Ndoki Gateway (to the far left of the main zoo entrance) first. Then you may enter the Zoo’s main entrance at 9:00am and ride the tram to the garden to attend camp with your younger camper.

What is the Zoo’s tax ID number?

56-0946437