Summer Camp at the Arboretum: Explorations in Nature and STEM

Do you want to get inside a bubble? Take a mission to Mars or travel “Back to the Future?” Fly a drone on a rescue mission, or explore nature while kayaking or hiking?

How about taking objects apart to see their inner workings and building your very own “franken-bot?”

These are but a sampling of summer camp activities offered at the Dallas Arboretum.

“While each camp has a different focus, they are all centered around nature, science, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics),” said Anne Luke, education and enrichment manager. “The camps contain hands-on investigations and explorations in nature, so children can make real-world connections while learning key concepts,” such as teamwork, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

“My favorite part of camp is the opportunity to share my love of nature with children.” -Anne Luke

From June through August, campers ages 4 through sixth grade can choose from a range of half-day and full-day camps lasting two to three days or up to a week. Visit

Some include trips to Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, Bonton Farms, and White Rock Lake.

Parents and children can also learn together in the Family Mini Camps — two-day camps that include cooking up “unique,” tasty treats, and designing an “Insect Hotel” to take home.

Cristina Sotillo-Babich chose the Dallas Arboretum because of the “enriching science integrated lessons.” Her son attended the Creature Feature camp and learned about animals and their habitats.

Sotillo-Babich said having both indoor and outdoor activities made camp even more enjoyable, and she plans for him to return this summer.

The camps also inspire environmental stewardship, Luke said. “As children experience the beauty and nature of the Arboretum, they will become aware that they are the future stewards of our world… protecting our water, air, soil, and living creatures.”

New camps slated for summer include Bubble-ology — the science behind bubbles, designing solutions and wands, even creating a bubble big enough to get inside. In the take apart camps — Inside Out, What’s Inside? and Dissecting Science — children get to see inside geodes, disassemble toys and electronics, and dissect once-living critters.

Adventure Camp and Adventure Camp Jr. — favorites among campers — returns with new environmental explorations: hands-on urban farming, engineering a fishing lure, using alternative energy sources, and upcycling everyday items. SciQuest and SciQuest Jr. go even deeper in STEM explorations: meeting science experts, 3D printing, coding robots, and producing a podcast.

Along with Luke, who has been with the Dallas Arboretum for 13 years, the staff includes educators who teach classes year-round in the arboretum garden and local schools and vetted volunteers and college students.

“My favorite part of camp is the opportunity to share my love of nature with children,” said Luke. “From exploring the life in the Arboretum ponds to kayaking at White Rock Lake and seeing egrets and herons fishing, each experience is a special and valuable experience for children and adults alike.”

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