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Zoo Camp

Zoo Camp offers unique and engaging experiences to connect kids with wildlife. Campers explore little-known areas of Riverbanks, meet animals face to face, and leave inspired to care for the natural world. Each camp includes hands-on activities and experiences connected to the day or weeks theme.

ZooLife: Single Day Camps

for K–4th Grade

Explore the wonders of zoo life in our new single day camps! Each day, campers will learn about species while exploring a different aspect of work at Riverbanks including exhibit design, animal health, animal enrichment, or species conservation. Campers will enjoy hands-on activities, behind-the-scenes tours, zoo walks, meeting animal ambassadors, and more.

Each single day camp date will provide a unique experience, so campers can sign up for several days or just one. Opportunities are designed for youth in Kindergarten to Fourth Grade.

Scheduled Camps

ZooLife: Penguins

Dive into fun while learning what it takes to care for these birds that fly through water.

December 30: Health

December 31: Exhibit Design

January 2: Enrichment

January 3: Conservation

ZooLife: Sharks

Peek under the ocean and behind the scenes to explore the life of an aquarist caring for sharks.

January 20: Exhibit Design

February 17: Health

ZooLife: Bears

If you can bear-ly contain your excitement for grizzlies come discover how Riverbanks cares for these charismatic bears.

April 7: Health

April 8: Exhibit Design

April 9: Enrichment

April 10: Conservation

April 14: Health

April 15: Exhibit Design

April 16: Enrichment

April 17: Conservation

Camp Details

  • Time :

    9:00am–4:00pm

  • 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 :

    4:15–5:30pm. $10 per participant. Note: Children must be picked up by 5:30pm.

    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 5:30pm for those registered for extended stay and play).

  • Pack List :

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

for Ages 3–13

Currently Closed

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.

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)

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation or date change requests must be received in writing at education@riverbanks.org 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.

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.

Refunds will not be provided for individuals who do not show up for the event.

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!

Download What to Bring Every Day to Camp & Field Trips. (PDF)

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.

Download What to Bring Every Day to Camp & Field Trips. (PDF)

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

Questions about Zoo Camp?

Please call 803.602.0803 or email us.