The nature books come alive in these comprehensive 5-day summer day-camps for rising first through eighth graders. Camps take full advantage of the property’s spectacular location at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Campers have plenty of fun while learning about the diversity of plants and animals in the center’s woodlands, grasslands, freshwater streams, and beautiful stretch of the Big Otter River. Free play, supervised hikes and river splashing also help introduce campers to the wonders and beauty of nature in Virginia. And when shelter and shade are called for, the onsite education building and pavilion provide additional spaces for activities designed to entertain young minds. As one camper put it, this is an “awesome opportunity!”
We keep our camper to counselor ratio low so that your kids get more personalized attention and stay safe. That also means that some weeks fill quickly! Register early to ensure your spot and to get the early bird discount! We also offer some optional transportation from the University of Lynchburg main campus.
A day of nature camp begins with a sunscreening, bug-spraying, water bottle filling ritual. Then it’s off to a series of exploration sessions involving scientific and creative exploration of the “wild” world. Exploration sessions are interspersed with time for snacks, lunch, and free-time, so children get plenty of activity and plenty of time to rest and stay cool. Camp activities are led by professionals or college students with interests and backgrounds in environmental science, the arts, and K-12 education.
Traditional Nature Camps for 3 to 12 years old
We celebrate 2019 with new themes and a new half-day camp for littles! We divide our youngsters into peer groups to make their learning more fun. Choose your theme then find the week that theme runs for your group!
- Nymphs (ages 3-5)
- Sprouts (recommended ages 5-8)
- Cubs (recommended ages 8-12)
Themes for 2019
Insect Safari (half-day camp)
Come on a safari and explore bugs and insects that inhabit our river, woods, and meadows. Discover how to tell insects from other creepy crawly creatures and learn about their important jobs as pollinators and decomposers through projects and investigations. Each day will include nature walks, games, stories, and craftsabout insects.
- Nymphs: 7/15/19 – 7/19/19
Check the trees and check the ground,
check the air and all around.
They fly, they dig,
they’re small, they’re big.
Explore the lives of critters found!
Fascinated by little things with more legs than you have? This summer is your chance to find, catch, and get a good, close view of some of the creepy crawly critters sharing our rivers, woods, and meadows! Learn how to identify different types of critters, and discover the unique and often unnoticed roles they play in our lives. Each day includes nature hunts and games related to daily themes.
- Sprouts: 6/10/19 – 6/14/19
- Sprouts: 6/17/19 – 6/21/19
- Cubs: 6/24/19 – 6/28/19
Wonders of Water (full-day camp)
Let’s face it. Water is fascinating, even if we don’t know how to swim! Come prepared to get your hands and your feet wet as you explore some of the reasons this little molecule makes life on Earth possible. You’ll even conduct some of your own experiments to determine some of the ways water moves and interacts with other things around it.
- Cubs: 6/10/19 – 6/14/19
- Cubs: 6/17/19 – 6/21/19
- Sprouts: 6/24/19 – 6/28/19
- Sprouts: 7/8/19 – 7/12/19
- 9 a.m. drop off in Discovery Room of education building
- 12 p.m. pickup in Discovery Room
- 8:25 a.m. Shuttle riders* drop off at Hobbs Hall gravel lot at University of Lynchburg main campus
- 9 a.m. Drop off at picnic pavilion at Claytor Nature Center
- 3:30 p.m. Pickup at picnic pavilion
- 4:15 p.m. Shuttle riders* pick up at Hobbs Hall gravel lot
*Daily optional shuttles are available for an extra fee.
Half Day Nymphs: $125 per week; earlybird discount rate $115
Full-day Sprouts and Cubs: $235 per week; earlybird discount rate of $215
Shuttle: $25/week for June camps, $35/week for July camps
Only one discount per child’s registration is valid. Please apply only one coupon, or we may charge back-payment fees. Discounts are not available with early bird rates.
- Early bird rates until March 15
After early bird rate expires
- Multi-child (8%) discount if registering multiple children in a full-day camp: use coupon code MC8 at checkout
- Multi-week (8%) discount if registering for multiple weeks of a full-day camp: use coupon code MW8 at checkout
- Multi-child (5%) discount if registering multiple children in a half-day camp: use coupon code MC5 at checkout
Payment plans are available.
Summer STEAM Academy
Our Summer STEAM camps reinforce academic learning and build your child’s problem-solving and critical thinking skills through hands-on, inquiry-focused learning. STEAM camps are created and taught by professional educators working in their field of specialty.
Sample Like a Scientist for Rising 6th – 8th graders
July 8-12, July 15-19
When you go seeking answers to a question, you gather information – data! But did you know that how you collect your information determines whether or not you can answer your question? Come explore the grounds of the Claytor Nature Center by asking questions about the plants, animals, and habitats around us. We’ll collect data and try to figure out what it means – did we actually answer our question?
No prerequisites. This is a good preparatory camp for students who are interested in science, outdoor exploration, and/or who may be interested in Research Boot Camp when eligible.
Cost: $250 per week
Research Boot Camp for Rising 9th and 10th graders
Research Boot Camp, Cadets
June 3-7, June 10-14, June 17-21
What makes a good research question? How do you answer the question you asked? Understanding the difference between these two questions is critical to developing a compelling research project.
During this one week intensive research course, academically motivated rising 9th and 10th grade students develop testable questions and proper methods to address them. As a RBC Cadet you will engage in hands-on ecological research methods in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Big Otter River. Use a combination of laboratory and field techniques to explore ecological principles in terrestrial and aquatic landscapes. Walk away with a research portfolio, an instructor evaluation, and a plan to develop your own ecological research project as a Research Boot Camp Investigator (optional).
Application required. Mail-in or scanned applications are reviewed on a rolling basis Feb 25-May 3.
Cost: $375 per week
Research Boot Camp, Investigators
June 24-28, July 29-Aug2
Apply the skills you learned as a Research Cadet to develop your own ecological research project in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sharpen your research, analysis, and communication skills while focusing on answering your specific ecological question. (Research Boot Camp: Cadets is a prerequisite.)
Cost: $225 per week
Hiring for Summer Camps
Interested in employment, internship credits, or a new training experience? We are hiring lead camp counselors, counselors-in-training, and teachers for our summer camps. Contact Education Coordinator and Camp Director, Danielle Racke, at or at 540-587-4061.
Donate to Camps
Each year we are able to welcome financially needy children to our summer camps, thanks to generous donations from private individuals and local non-profits like the Bedford Outdoor Sportsman Association and Garden Thyme Club of Forest, VA. If you would like to donate scholarship money, please contact Education Coordinator and Camp Director, Danielle Racke, at or at 540-587-4061.