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

for Ages 3–13

June 11 – August 17 (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
Garden Friends

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

Spend three days discovering what it means to be a vegetable farmer and that humans are not the only creatures farming their food! Get ready to roll up your sleeves, put on your gloves and work with vegetable and fruit plants in this hands-on camp. Campers may even get a chance to taste their hard work.

Shapes of Nature

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

Heart leaves to triangle butterfly wings are just a few of the amazing shapes we can find outside our door. Come explore with us why bright colors, unique patterns and basic shapes are important to living things. Our littlest campers will love this giant game of “I Spy” in nature.

Register for Camp

Ages 4–5

  • Monday–Friday
  • HALF Day (9:00am–12:00pm) / FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Fur, Feather, Shells, and Scales

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

Sometimes what’s on the outside is truly what matters most. Penguins don’t need shells to survive, and turtles would look strange with feathers. Preschoolers will discover the wonder and importance of different animal coverings.


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

Are you crazy about dinosaurs? Step back in time with us as we dig up the answers to what these gigantic lizards ate, where they lived and get a chance to meet their modern-day relatives.

Register for Camp

Ages 6–7

  • Monday–Friday
  • FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Web of Life

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

Why do all living things need food? What is a food chain? Which animals are predators or prey, herbivores or carnivores, scavengers or decomposers? Join the quest to uncover how all living things connect in the great web of life.

Fight or Flight

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

Secret weapons or great escapes are what it takes to survive where the wild things are. Don’t miss out on discovering the art of animal armor and defenses.

Register for Camp

Ages 8–10

  • Monday–Friday
  • FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Beastly Bling

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

They may not wear jewelry, the most expensive brand of clothing or be into the latest fad, but animals are never “out of style” in the wild. Campers will enjoy the show as they learn how big hair, long nails, bright colors and other accessories keep animals in fashion and alive!


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

Animals do some weird, creepy and completely yucky stuff. Owls regurgitate their food, vampire bats drink blood and koala mom’s feed their joeys poop! Spend the week with us investigating how being gross can be good for survival.

Register for Camp

Ages 11–13

  • Monday–Friday
  • FULL Day (9:00am–4:00pm)
Nature’s Apprentice

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

We use technology every day inspired by animals. Trains, velcro, glue, swimsuits, cars, even water purifiers have all been copied from Mother Nature. Join us as we uncover how machines are used daily at the Zoo, but also in the wild. You may even be inspired to create your own bio-design and become nature’s apprentice.

Zoo Top Chef

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

Do you like watching Chopped, Kid’s Baking Championship, Iron Chef, Master Chef or Cupcake Wars? Come try your hand at creating some delicious experiments in this appetizing new camp. Campers will explore how food is a key ingredient in caring for the Zoo’s collection of picky eaters.

Register for Camp

Camp Details

  • Cost :

    Ages 3–4 (with an adult) — $65 members / $85 general public.

    HALF Day Ages 4–5 — $125 members / $195 general public.

    *For discount holiday week (July 2–6): $100 members / $156 general public.*

    FULL Day Ages 4–13 — $190 members / $260 general public.

    *For discount holiday week (July 2–6): $152 members / $208 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 Coordinator.

  • 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 :

    7:45–8:30am for HALF and FULL day campers. $25 per participant.

    *$20 per participant for discount holiday week July 2–6.*

  • 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 :

    4:00–5:00pm for FULL day campers. $35 per participant. Note: Campers must be picked up by 5:15pm at Reception/Employee Entrance/Gate 3. This option is not available for HALF day campers.

    *$28 per participant for discount holiday week July 2–6.*

    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 5:15pm for those registered for extended stay and play) for FULL day campers.

  • Cancellation Policy :

    All cancelations must be submitted in writing no later than two weeks prior to the first day of camp to receive a full refund (minus a $30 processing fee). Rescheduling is subject to availability and a $30 processing fee will be charged each time a reservation is rescheduled. No refunds are given for any cancellations made within 2 weeks of the scheduled camp date.

for Ages 5–10

Currently Closed

Single-Day Zoo Camp

for Ages 5–9

Currently Closed

for Ages 5–9

Currently Closed

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 must be received at least two weeks before the scheduled program date in order to receive a refund minus a $30 processing fee.
  • Rescheduling is subject to space availability and a $30 processing fee will be charged each time a reservation is rescheduled.
  • No refunds will be issued for cancellations made less than two weeks before the program date.
  • Riverbanks Zoo and Garden reserves the right to cancel or reschedule any activity. A full refund will be issued or reservations will be rescheduled if Riverbanks cancels any activity.

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?