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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.

Summer Zoo Camp

for ages 3–4 (with an Adult) / K–6th 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)

Garden Friends

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

Did you know there are many creatures who help plants grow? Join us as we search for some of them in the vegetable garden and learn how you can be a garden friend too.

Wild in the Woods

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9)

What wild beasts are lurking in the forest? Put your nature detective senses on and let’s explore the woods to find out!

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)

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 explore 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 local wildlife that calls Riverbanks home.

Fight or Flight

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9)

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? Join the quest to uncover how all living things connect in the great web of life.

Life without Light

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9)

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 tunnels, 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 moms feed their joeys poop! Spend the week with us investigating how being gross can be beneficial.

Island Fever

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8, 9)

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 for these mysterious places.

Entering 4th Grade

Rainforest Excursion

(Weeks: 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 of the rainforest 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)

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

Clued Into Conservation

(Weeks: 2, 3, 4, 5)

Are you a super sleuth? A future conservationist of the world? Then you won't want to miss out on solving some of the biggest mysteries at the Zoo! You might even learn how to save a species or two along the way.

Training and Treats

(Weeks: 6, 7, 8)

Have you ever wondered how zookeepers train animals or why they provide them with toy-like items? Come explore Riverbanks animals' many talents and skills as we observe, create, and engage them with enrichment items!

Camp Details

  • Dates and Times :

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

    FULL DAY CAMPS — Monday–Friday @ 8:45am–4:00pm.

    Camp Weeks —
    Week 1: June 14 – June 18, 2021
    Week 2: June 21 – June 25, 2021
    Week 3: June 28 – July 2, 2021
    Week 4: July 5 – 9, 2021
    Week 5: July 12 – 16, 2021
    Week 6: July 19 – 23, 2021
    Week 7: July 26 – 30, 2021
    Week 8: August 2 – 6, 2021
    Week 9: August 9 – 13, 2021
  • Cost :

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

    FULL DAY CAMPS — $195 members; $250 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 purchased in advance online or during the camp week by cash or check from Camp Coordinators for $15 each.

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

    Summer Lunch Menu

  • Drop Off :

    8:15–8:45am 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.

    Drop-off & Pick-up Map

    EARLY Extended Stay & Play :

    Early Extended Stay and Play is not available for summer 2021, we apologize for any inconvenience.

  • Pick Up :

    3:45–4:15pm for FULL DAY campers at the designated camp gate. Please follow Zoo Camp traffic signs after you cross the railroad tracks.

    Drop-off & Pick-up Map

    LATE Extended Stay & Play :

    4:00–5:30pm for FULL DAY campers. $50 per participant.

    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.

ZooLife: Winter Break Camp

for K–4th Grade

Explore the wonders of zoo life during school breaks! Opportunities are designed for youth in Kindergarten to Fourth Grade.

Scheduled Camps

ZooLife Giraffes

Spend four days with us exploring the ins and outs of caring for the tallest land animal on the planet! Each day, campers will learn about giraffes while exploring a different aspect of work at Riverbanks. Campers will enjoy hands-on activities, behind-the-scenes tours, zoo walks, meeting animal ambassadors, and more.

Camp Details

  • Dates and Times :

    December 20–23, 2021 @ 8:45am–4:00pm.

  • Cost :

    $150 Riverbanks members / $200 general public.

    This camp cannot be purchased by the day. Campers must register for all 4 days.

    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 purchased in advance online for $15 each.

    A lunch option may also be purchased for $32 per participant by the week and does not include a drink. All lunch orders must be submitted a week in advance of the start of camp.

  • Drop Off :

    8:15–8:45am at the designated camp gate. Please follow Zoo Camp traffic signs after you cross the railroad tracks.

  • Pick Up :

    3:45–4:15pm at the designated camp gate. Please follow Zoo Camp traffic signs after you cross the railroad tracks. Extended Stay and Play option is not available for this camp session.

    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.

Opens September 15

Important Registration Information

To register online: Riverbanks’ Summer Zoo Camp online registration has changed to allow us to better serve our participants and their families. First-time users will be prompted to create an account using an email address. The new online process collects and stores household and individual camper information that can be updated at any time by logging in using the email and password set up when creating an account. Reserving additional weeks of camp, changing camp dates, buying additional shirts or lunch add-on options can all be completed now online even after registration for camp has been completed. If you are having trouble with the online registration process, please contact email us for assistance.

Camper placement: All camps have one single group of campers for each rising grade and will not be divided.

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

Policies: Education Program Policies and Waiver

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.

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 will be different at Zoo Camp because of the Coronavirus?

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden has chosen to proceed with summer Zoo Camp as a resource to working parents seeking childcare. In light of the COVID-19 situation, Zoo Camp will operate with enhanced safety measures and operating procedures in place. It is important to understand that the COVID-19 emergency is a changing situation, and that as CDC and/or State of South Carolina guidance changes, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden will update our procedures.

Zoo Camp Coronavirus Procedures

Zoo Camp activities will also be different to mitigate risk to our campers, staff, visitors and animals. Most notably from previous years, we will:
Omit visiting Waterfall Junction including the splash pad.
Be restricted in our ability to provide Behind-the-Scenes experiences.
Be limited in our ability to visit attractions such as the rock wall, high ropes course, carousel, etc.

Our staff has been busy finding new and fun ways to engage our campers in instances we cannot provide these experiences.

What should my camper bring to Zoo Camp each day?

  • Lunch — May pre-order a Zoo lunch for the week at time of registration.
  • 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 — Each child receives one complimentary T-shirt, handed out the first day of camp.
  • Weather appropriate clothes — Including a rain jacket or poncho.
  • Appropriate foot-wear — Please no open-toed shoes or sandals.

Please put your camper’s first and last name on all personal belongings including outer clothing and lunch boxes.

Camps & Field Trips What to Bring Every Day

What if I forget to send them a lunch 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.

Camps & Field Trips What to Bring Every Day

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. 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. All camps have one single group of campers and will not be divided.

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 6th 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 may 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.

Drop-off & Pick-up Map

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 choose to drive around to the Garden entrance or enter the Zoo’s main entrance at 9:00am and walk 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.