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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: Bears—POSTPONED

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.

Postponed

Summer Zoo Camp

for ages 3–4 (with an Adult) / K–8th Grade

Young adventure-seekers 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)

Wind and Sea

(Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Be a marine scientist with us and explore the animals that live along the beach and in the ocean.

Summer Safari

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

We’re going on safari! Come along as we explore animals of South America and Africa.

Entering Kindergarten

Creature Features

(Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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

KinderZoo

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Warm up for kindergarten this summer as we explore why bright colors, unique patterns and basic shapes are important to living things. Campers will love this giant game of “I Spy” as we search the Zoo, sing songs and read stories to find letters, numbers and more.

Entering 1st Grade

Wild Neighbors

(Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

It’s a jungle in your own backyard and at the Zoo! Meet some of South Carolina’s spectacular creatures as we compare them to the Zoo’s out of town residents. Campers will be awed by the Zoo’s wild neighbors including rabbits that live with our gorillas and black rat snakes that bask in the sun.

Fight or Flight

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9, 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.

Entering 2nd Grade

Nature’s Network

(Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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.

Life without Light

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Light is such a part of our everyday life, it’s hard to imagine animals that never see it. Come explore the ocean depths, underground cities and the dark of night as we meet animals with eyes that glow and plants that bloom without light.

Entering 3rd Grade

Science of Ewww…

(Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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.

Island Fever

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Get ready to take an excursion across the planet’s strangest yet most amazing islands as we visit the Galapagos, Madagascar and Australia. Beware! You just might catch the fever about these mysterious places.

Entering 4th Grade

Rainforest Adventures

(Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Rainforests are incredible places full of amazing things, from fish that sometimes swim in the trees to butterflies with glass-like wings. Come climb the layers with us as we take a tropical safari and meet several of the Zoo’s rainforest ambassadors along the way.

Nature’s Magic

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Join Riverbanks’ wizards as we uncover plants with magical powers in herbology, brew potions, see living things transfigure and get an up-close look at the fantastic creatures of the wizarding world. This camp is sure to be a magical experience!

Entering 5th & 6th Grade

Zoo Chef

(Weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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

Eco-extremes

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)

Surviving extreme temperatures and landscapes are what penguins, sand vipers and black-footed cats do best! Come chill with us as we explore living on the edge of glaciers, volcanoes, deep sea vents and mountain cliffs.

Entering 7th & 8th Grade

Zoo Planners

(Weeks: 2, 3, 7, 8)

Do you dream of designing your own zoo or exhibit? Take an in-depth look into the art of engineering design used by zoo professionals worldwide to create new, engaging and interactive wildlife habitats. Campers will consider husbandry, visitor and animal needs as they work in teams to build Riverbanks’ newest exhibits.

Camp Details

  • Time :

    AGES 3–4 (with an Adult) — Tuesday–Thursday @ 9:30–11:30am.

    FULL DAY CAMPS — Monday–Friday @ 9:00am–4:00pm.

  • Cost :

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

    FULL DAY CAMPS — $190 members / $240 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.

    A lunch & snack option may also be purchased for $40 per participant by the week and does not include a drink.

  • Drop Off :

    8:30–9:00am for 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.

    Download Camp Drop-off & Pick-up Map. (PDF)

    EARLY Extended Stay & Play :

    7:45–8:30am for FULL DAY campers. $25 per participant.

  • Pick Up :

    3:45–4:00pm for FULL DAY campers at the designated camp gate. Please follow Zoo Camp traffic signs after you cross the railroad tracks.

    Download Camp Drop-off & Pick-up Map. (PDF)

    LATE Extended Stay & Play :

    4:00–5:30pm for FULL DAY campers. $40 per participant. Note: Campers must be picked up by 5:30pm at Reception/Employee Entrance/Gate 3.

    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) for FULL DAY campers.

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 Camp Enrollment and Waiver (PDF) for each week of camp. Please be sure to “confirm or complete attendee details” when prompted. If you are having trouble with the online registration process, please follow our user tips.

Camper placement: All camps — except for Rising 1st Graders — has one single group of campers and will not be divided. If you are requesting the same week and group placement as other families with rising 1st Graders, please make a note on the Camp Enrollment and Waiver (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 Medication Administration Form (PDF) and bring it along with the medicine to the camp director.

Policies: Download Education Program Policies and Waiver. (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 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.

*A lunch & snack option may also be purchased for $40 per participant by the week and does not include a drink.

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?

Participants may not bring or self-administer medications, vitamins, or supplements during Program hours without parental/legal guardian (“Guardian”) consent and prior written communication with RBZG Program staff.

RBZG Program staff will store and administer all medication, vitamins, and supplements to Participants with a signed Medication Administration Form (PDF). All medicine should be given to the RBZG Program team at check-in clearly labeled with name, dosage, and time of administration in the original container. A medication administration form giving permission to administer medication must be filled out, signed, and dated. A new form must be completed for each educational program.

EpiPens and Inhalers will be kept in first aid bags with the RBZG Program staff at all times and can be administered to Participants in the event of emergency.

RBZG Program staff are not able to administer injections of any sort including blood sugar checks or insulin shots. Guardians should contact the RBZG Program staff to discuss alternative options.

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.

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 going into the same grade bracket and there is space. All camps — except for Rising 1st Graders — has one single group of campers and will not be divided. If you are requesting the same week and group placement as other families with rising 1st Graders, please email or call 803.602.0803 with both the camper’s name and the parent/guardian’s name of the camper you would like to be grouped with no later than a week before your start date of camp.

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 grade they will be entering school the coming Fall. Campers younger than 5 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 prior to accompanying a camper to zoocamp. Please email if you have any questions.

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 in rising Kindergarten to rising 8th grade will need to be signed in and signed out at the designated Zoocamp gate: Gate 6 (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 Zoocamp gate to Gorilla Base Camp (indoor viewing area) to drop off or pick up their camper.

Download Camp Drop-off & Pick-up Map. (PDF)

Where does Ages 3–4 (with an 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 attending full day camp that you need to drop off prior to attending camp with your younger camper, please drop him/her off at Gate 6 (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.