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 NEW Single-Day Zoo Camp (ages 5–9) — all the fun packed into one day!

View Important Registration Information for more on policies, registration, medical release form, etc.

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 5: July 3–7) 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 2017 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

“Tree Huggers” (ages 5–10)

Monday, December 18 – Friday, December 22 @ 9:00am–4:00pm

Explore the world above through the eyes of the animals that get a roof top view in this NEW camp. Come climb with us as we discover how koalas, tree frogs, siamangs, owls and lemurs survive life in the trees. Zoo campers will share the excitement as they learn through storytelling, crafts, games, zoo walks, animal encounters and behind-the-scenes tours.

Camp Details

Cost: $190 Riverbanks members / $260 general public. Each child will receive one complimentary T-shirt to wear every day of camp. Additional T-shirts can be purchased online for $15.

Drop Off: 8:45–9:00am (Electric 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: 3:45–4:00pm (Electric Gate 6). Note: Children NOT registered for extended stay & play must be picked up by 4:15pm. Location is subject to change. Registered participants will be notified by email prior to the start of camp should a change be necessary.

Extended Stay & Play: 4:00–5:00pm, $35 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 & play).

Daily Pack List: Lunch, two snacks and a filled water bottle. Note: Lunches must be non-microwavable and non-refrigerated.

Sign In/Sign Out: Parents or guardians will have to sign in/out when students are dropped off and picked up (absolutely no exceptions). Students will NOT be released to anyone other than adults authorized to pick up on the consent form. Photo ID is required to pick-up.

Cancellations: Cancellations must be submitted in writing no later than Monday, December 4, 2017 to receive a refund minus a $30 processing fee. No refunds will be made for cancellations after December 4, 2017.

Camp currently closed. Check back next year.

Camp currently closed. Check back next year.

Single Day Camp currently closed. Check back soon.

View our Frequently Asked Camp Questions and Answers for more information including a daily pack list, cancellations, etc.

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 8/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. All birthday cakes, cupcakes or other food requests for camp must be submitted on the first day of camp (Monday), approved by the Camp Coordinator and written permission received from individual parents/guardians prior to bringing items in for the class.

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 or carries an EpiPen. 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 medicines except EpiPens should be given to the Camp Coordinator during morning drop off. EpiPens can be given to the camper’s counselor to carry with first aid supplies during the day. The Camp Coordinator will be responsible for supervising and administering all medication for ALL campers. 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 Pick Up fee will be charged for every 5 minutes you are late picking up your child, starting 15 minutes after the specified end times: Summer Camp Ages 4 to 5 (Half Day Option) — 12:00pm; Summer Camp Ages 4 to 13 (Full Day Option) — 4:00pm; Winter, Spring and Single-Day Camps — 4:00pm; and PM Extended Stay Option — 5:00pm.
  • 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 8/Employee Entrance to drop off your camper or pick them up.

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 21 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?

Zoo 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 9am and ride the tram to the garden to attend camp with your younger camper.

What is the Zoo’s tax ID number?