2021 Summer Camps at North Branch Nature Center

Summer Camps at NBNC offer a safe place where children can interact directly with nature through observation, questioning, and hands-on exploration.  From flipping rocks along wooded streams to chasing butterflies through the fields, this is what a child’s summer should be.  Every day we create memorable experiences in the outdoors and send children home with a renewed excitement of the natural world.  Please review individual camp descriptions for more information. We offer camps for three age groups: ages 4-5 (entering preschool - Kindergarten); entering 1st - 3rd grade; and entering 4th - 8th grade.


As always, NBNC members receive a discount on summer camp registration. If you became a member or renewed your membership since October 2020, you will receive an email before registration opens with a promo code for 6% off camp fees. If you have not yet become a member or renewed your membership, please do so here! Your confirmation receipt will include the members discount code.

More About NBNC Summer Camps

Preschool/Kindergarten Camps

9 am – 2 pm

Becoming Animals
June 28 – July 2
Do you like pretending to fly like a bird or lumber around like a bear? How about chewing like a beaver or making nests like a bird? Every day this week we’ll become different animals and explore their worlds through imaginative play!

Winged Wonders
July 12 – 16
From birds to butterflies, moths to bats, if flying creatures are your thing, then this is the camp for you. Monarchs in the milkweed, warblers in the willows, dragonflies near the old dam — we’ll also sprout our own wings and take flight! 

Animal Superheroes 
July 26 – 30
Pow! Zow! Zap! Who wraps up their lunch in something five times stronger than steel? Who tells the temperature without a thermometer? Who flies 3,000 miles without GPS or a phone? Come investigate the superheroes of the animal kingdom.

 Smooth Slimy Slithery
August 9 – 13
What’s smooth, slimy, slithery, and lives at NBNC? All sorts of cool critters! Worms, snakes, frogs, slugs, ladybugs — we’ll look high and low as we go on nature safaris to investigate how adaptations help these animals thrive under the warm summer sun.

Camps for Kids Entering Grades 1 – 3

9 am – 3 pm

Mini Monsters
June 21 – 25
Ever wonder how a fly sees, how water boatmen float, or why worms wiggle? Learn the secrets of these and other mini monsters as we explore the meadows, woods, and waters of NBNC.

Animal Engineers
June 28 – July 2
From busy beavers damming rivers, to eagles building big aeries, to ants who farm their own food, animals are amazing engineers. We’ll explore how animals craft their environment and then work together as humans to tackle some fun animal engineering challenges. 

Quoits, Knucklebones, and Whirligigs
July 5 – 9
Find out the meaning of these mystery words as we travel back in time to the late 1800s! We’ll create a mini village and then “shrink” ourselves down and use our village to discover what life was like before electricity. Cooking, crafting, games!

Crypto Creatures
July 12 – 16
Join us as we search for signs of Bigfoot and Champ — and maybe even catch a fur-bearing trout — while exploring the various legends of mythic beasts that supposedly roam the fields, forests, and waters of our Green Mountain state.

What Floats Your Boat?
July 19 – 23
Cool off as we explore the North Branch River and some of its tributaries. How does this river shape the land around it? What creatures lurk beneath its surface? Can you make a boat that will float? 

On the Wing
July 26 - 30
From birds to bats to butterflies, we’ll learn how nature takes flight by looking at the winged wildlife of NBNC. We’ll catch, observe, and release these curious creatures and do experiments to explore how animals defy gravity.

Plant Party
August 2 – 6
Explore the amazing world of sun-catching superstars. We’ll make herbal first aid kits, dream pillows, and teas, and learn how to speak leaf language. Get the scoop on plants from pocket-sized to the behemoths of the dinosaur age, and celebrate our plant neighbors.

Sticks and Stones
August 9 – 13 
This week we’ll practice our outdoor living skills as we learn how to make use of nature’s many amazing materials. Build shelters with sticks found on the forest floor, learn how to prepare wild edibles, and more. What tools will nature provide?

Natural History Mystery
August 16 – 20
Follow clues from long ago as we unravel a mystery that will lead us through the sands of time. Forgotten farm fields, glacial lake bottoms, and abandoned logging roads are just a few things we’ll explore as we follow clues found in letters from the past and on the landscape!

Camps for Kids Entering Grades 4 – 8

Avian Wonders
June 21 – 25
Take a deep dive into bird identification, behavior, research, and conservation this week as we explore the varied habitats surrounding our Nature Center and its avian residents.  Get a behind-the-scenes tour of our bird banding station, take part in nest box monitoring, and put what you learn into practice by designing a bird conservation project.

River of Life
July 5 – 9
The North Branch River flows right through the middle of our capital city but how often have you explored its depths?  Walk a mile in its waters and explore the deep cultural and natural history flowing right past our back doors.  We’ll get our feet wet as we study the impacts we have on the life above and below the water’s surface.

Hillside History
July 19 – 23
Learn to see the forest for the trees as we jump down cellar holes, comb through abandoned homesteads, and walk old logging roads. This week we’ll untangle the intersecting lines between past and present.

Wild River
August 2 – 6
Do you have what it takes to survive in the wild?  In this camp we’ll develop the ancient skills of fire-by-friction, tracking, tool making, mindfulness, caretaker philosophy, and much more.   We’ll put our skills to the test this week as we explore the wild within. For children entering grades 4-8 who identify as boys.

Way of the Willow
August 16 – 20
We’ll explore fire building and cooking, use natural tools for painting, weaving and basket-making, and seek out nature’s mysteries. Send down roots and let your branches reach the sky! For children entering grades 4-8 who identify as girls.

All of our time will be spent outdoors, only coming inside to access the bathroom or in the event of hazardous weather.  Masks and social distancing will be required according to Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Agency of Education guidelines. A health screening form will be required upon drop-off each day. Group size is limited to 10 participants.

COVID-19 Safety at North Branch Nature Center

(Revised March 24 2021)

At NBNC we believe that being outdoors in nature provides significant social, emotional, physical, and intellectual benefits for our children. Our educational programming practices a nature-based approach to learning that builds health, happiness, and resilience. During this pandemic, we provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can engage with their peers and the natural world. For more about our philosophy around nature-based teaching and learning during COVID times, please see our position statements:

Our protocols follow the most up-to-date guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and the Vermont Agency of Education, available here. This currently includes:

  • Performing daily health screenings at drop-off. 
  • Bathrooms and common indoor spaces are sanitized before the start of each program and at the end of each program. 
  • Staff and participants are wearing masks at all times whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Participants will be no less than 3 feet apart (pre-K - 6th grade) or 6 feet apart (7th - 12th grade) for sustained periods of time. Brief periods of closer contact may occur.
  • During snack/lunch or when a mask break is needed, all participants will be distanced, and staff will assist in establishing this distance.
  • Masks that are wet, frozen or unable to stay on a child’s face will be changed out for a new, clean mask (participants are required to have two extra clean masks).
  • Masks are always worn inside. If a program must come inside due to hazardous weather, and that period overlaps with lunch or snack time, masks may be removed for eating or drinking, provided that students are at least 3 feet (pre-K - 6th grade) or 6 feet (7th - 12th grade) apart. Masks will be worn during mealtimes when not actively eating or drinking.

 Our protocols are subject to change as Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Agency of Education guidelines evolve. For more information, please see the resource upon which we base our protocols:


All camps begin at 9 am. Please see age groups for pick-up times. Children may be dropped off after 8:45 am. Post-camp after-care is available until 3 pm for preschool camps and until 5 pm for all other camps for $10/day. After-care is an informal extension of camp activities with supervised free time for games, reading, art projects and more. Space is very limited, so register early.


Refunds are subject to a $20 non-refundable processing fee and will be given according to the following schedule:

  • If requested at least one month before the first day of your child's camp, you will receive a full refund (less the processing fee).
  • If requested between one month and two weeks before the first day of your child's camp, you will receive a 50% refund (less the processing fee).
  • If requested less than two weeks before the first day of your child's camp, we will be unable to issue a refund.

Every year, unfortunately, children are turned away from our camps due to lack of space. The more notice we have of cancellation, the better our ability to offer that space to another interested child.

If your child misses one or more days of camp, for any reason, we cannot provide partial refunds.

In the event that NBNC needs to cancel this camp as a result of COVID-19 concerns, a full refund will be issued

Camp is often the highlight of a child’s summer, an opportunity to learn and explore in an environment very different from school. Our Campership Fund provides a limited number of partial and full scholarships that typically provide a 50% discount off camp registration, though we occasionally accommodate greater scholarship requests on a case-by-case basis.

If you need financial support to send your child to camp, please email [email protected]org with the following information:
-Your name, address and phone number
-Camper's name and age
-Camp titles

This year we are additionally reserving space in every camp for families needing financial support. If your desired camp is full, please join the wait list and contact us to inquire about this space.


Get ready to have fun, because summer field staff include some of your kids’ favorite year-round NBNC staff including Ken Benton, Carrie Riker, Zac Cota, and Dave Muska. Each summer we also hire several fantastic additional staff: folks with backgrounds in teaching and experience in environmental science or outdoor education. Visit 'About Us' on our website for more information about our top-notch staff.

Register Below

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Preschool/Kindergarten Summer Camps

(for ages 4 - 5) 9 am - 2 pm
$250 (6% discount for NBNC members with promo code)

Summer Camps for Children Entering Grades 1 - 3

9 am - 3 pm
$280 (6% discount for NBNC members with promo code)

Summer Camps for Children Entering Grades 4 - 8

9 am - 4 pm
$330 (6% discount for NBNC members with promo code)

Aftercare Registration

Aftercare runs until 3 pm for preK - K camps and until 5 pm for 1st-8th grade camps ($10/day)

April Break Camps

April 19 - 21 2021
$70/day or $185 for all three days
Ages K-3rd Grade

Spring is a great time to explore the Nature Center. Children in grades K-3 join us for one, two or three days of spring nature adventures and activities. We will make art using natural materials, explore the fields and forest for signs of wildlife, try our hands at wild edible cooking and give back to the land in celebration of Earth Day.

NBNC Members: use the code April2021atNBNC to receive 5% off their order.

Connecting People with the Natural World

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7