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Where the Wild Things Have Always Been

Seeding the Future

Summer Camp at the Garden

Located in Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s 78 acres offer many opportunities to explore, discover, and play. With more than five miles of walking trails including a children’s garden, an herbarium, seed bank, research labs, library, and a public plant nursery on-site, the Garden provides a perfect backdrop for a fun Santa Barbara summer camp experience.

Campers experience the wonders found within California’s habitats while learning what makes our home so unique and worthy of protection. Ages five to 10 can choose from a variety of programs providing a safe and enriching environment to explore native plant habitats. With themes centered on nature connection, native plant conservation, or outdoor discovery, campers are welcome to stick with one theme or mix things up from week to week. For more information on specific camp programs, please see below.  

Registration opens for Garden members on March 5 and general public March 19. Space is limited, so mark your calendars!

Contact
Summer camp team

(805) 682-4726 x 161

Inspire the Future

Become a Counselor in Training

Looking to earn high school community service hours? Our counselors-in-training (CIT) build skills working with children while discovering how California’s native plants support healthy ecosystems.

To qualify, you must be between 14 and 17 years old, available June 8 and 9 for training, and commit to volunteer for at least three weeks of camp.

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Summer Camps for Ages 5 and 6 Years Old

You’re never too young to fall in love with nature.

From daily crafts to plenty of time to play, our programs are the perfect introduction to a lifetime appreciation for the outdoors. 

Camps run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an extended day option from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $325 and $100 per week for extended care

Acorn Adventurers

June 24, July 15, July 29, August 12 

Calling all adventurers! Are you ready to discover the wonders found in our native oak woodlands and creekside habitats? We’ll play, create, imagine, and explore as we investigate the amazing things we discover when we adventure outside.  

This program is perfect for campers with a strong sense of adventure who like to explore, engage their senses, create nature-based crafts, and observe closely. 

Nature Superheros

June 17, July 8, August 12 

From changing colors and mega-memories to shapeshifting and night vision, nature is full of supernatural abilities. Explore nature’s superpowers through crafts, games, and investigations to discover how remarkable even the tiniest creatures can be. 

This program is great for those who love learning about nature (especially animals), and enjoy engaging in activities that highlight their unique abilities. 

Blooming Buddies

June 24, July 22, August 5 

As we play and explore in nature, we create the perfect recipe to grow. Using the backdrop of our native plant garden, activities not only inspire a love for the outdoors but promote core child development skills. We’ll bloom together as we play cooperative games, participate in mindfulness and gratitude practices, and make hands-on crafts.

This program is ideal for kids who enjoy or could benefit from activities focused on teamwork, mindfulness in nature, and daily free play.

Summer Camps for Ages 6 to 8 Years Old

In nature, there is always something new to uncover. For older campers looking for more challenges, we’ll dive deeper into how we can expand our ability to explore, discover, and play outside. 

Camps run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an extended day option from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $325 and $100 per week for extended care

Sense of Nature

June 24, July 22, August 5

Embark on a hands-on adventure as nature comes alive through our senses. We’ll tune into the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of the world as we explore, make crafts, and play games that activate our senses. Discover how our senses can be a powerful tool to explore and understand the world around us. 

This camp is perfect for sensory-driven children who like to explore and are curious about nature. 

California Tough

July 15, August 12

Are you as tough as a California plant? From spiky armor to growing into the tallest organism in the world, it takes special skills to survive wild California. Through observations, challenges, and creativity, we’ll explore these amazing abilities and see how we can use these tricks in our own lives. 

This program is ideal for campers who enjoy hands-on activities, making predictions based on observations and learning about plant adaptations. 

Forest Fitness

June 17, July 8, July 29

Join us for a wild workout like no other as we utilize nature as the ultimate playground!

Boost your coordination and fitness while making new friends as we engage our bodies through active games, physical challenges, and team activities. Get ready to play and unleash your wild side. 

This program is great for energetic kids who are team-oriented and like to be active and play outside. 

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Summer Camps for Ages 8 to 10 Years Old

Nature offers us many ways to connect – with it and one another. As your child’s interests expand, the Garden has programs designed to engage various types of nature lovers. 

Camps run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with an extended day option from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $325 and $100 per week for extended care

Backcountry Pathfinder

June 17, July 22

Backcountry Pathfinders are explorers who value nature and inspire others through example and leadership. Campers unlock skills to connect people to our planet through art, plant and animal investigations, and exploration practices like journaling. As Pathfinders dive into the natural world, they’ll discover how they have the power to care for it and influence others to do the same. 

After summer, campers can continue the Garden’s Pathfinder program and qualify to attend special events and check out investigation equipment during future Garden visits. 

This camp is perfect for kids who want to deepen their connection with nature and empower others to do the same. 

EcoExplorers

July 8 and July 29

Ignite your inner adventurer as we dive into the connection between scientists and explorers. From mountains to canyons and islands to deserts, scientists are some of the most avid explorers, adventurers, and discoverers. We’ll embrace the wonders of nature as we uncover the vital skills needed for any scientific expedition. 

This camp is ideal for children who like to explore and are interested in engaging in scientific practices and techniques related to natural science.

 

Outdoor Creations

July 15 and August 5

Unleash your creativity as you draw inspiration from our native plant landscapes. Let your creativity run wild as we explore multiple forms of artistic expression. We’ll create nature sculptures, make vibrant pastel pieces, engage in storytelling, and more. 

This camp is great for children who enjoy being creative through multiple forms and are interested in utilizing art to connect with nature. 

 

Summer Camp FAQ

What should my child bring to camp?

Please make sure your child comes to camp with the following materials. If you require assistance with any of these items, please let us know. 

  • Water bottle: 16 oz minimum, filled
  • Backpack   
  • Bagged lunch  
  • Two healthy snacks   
  • Spare clothes: one set for the week   
  • Closed-toed shoes   
  • Hat   
  • Sunblock  
  • Well-fitted face mask (optional) 

On the first day, you will be provided with two camp T-shirts. Please make sure your child wears their shirt daily. 

What is your cancellation policy?

Participants must cancel no later than 15 days prior to their camp’s start date to receive a refund, minus a 10% admin fee.   

To cancel or change your camp reservation, sign into your UltraCamp account, go to your reservation page and select the session you’d like to change.  From there, you can cancel or edit your session information. 

I didn’t get a spot. Do you have a waitlist?

Yes. If a camp is sold out, we encourage you to join our waitlist. When a spot opens, we will notify families directly. 

To join our waitlist, go through registration for the program you want. If it is unavailable, you’ll be automatically added to our list once you submit your interest. 

Is there a dress code at camp?

Each camper is provided with two camp T-shirts. We ask that campers wear these shirts during camp hours, daily.  

During camp, kids will be engaging in a variety of outdoor play activities and should wear appropriate clothing to suit those activities such as sturdy, closed-toed shoes, comfortable clothing for running and climbing, and a hat. 

What is the counselor-to-camper ratio?

The safety of our campers and staff is our top priority. Our counselor-to-camper ratio is 1:8 with two staff counselors working with no more than 16 participants per group.  Additional volunteers may also be present depending on the activity or age group.  

Do you have scholarships available?

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden partners with the Police Activities League Campership Alliance program to distribute and award camp scholarships. Please see their site for more information on obtaining a camp scholarship for Summer Camps at the Garden.   

How do I leave an emergency message concerning my child?

The best way to leave an emergency message is by contacting the youth and family program manager via email or phone (their contact information is provided in your orientation packet). If you cannot get a hold of them, contact our Front Kiosk at (805) 682-4726. 

In the event of a red flag warning, is there an alternative location we will meet?

Under the Garden’s county-issued conditional use permit, we must close the Garden in the event of a red flag warning. If the Garden must close due to a red flag, camp programming will be moved to an offsite location. These notices often come with 24 to 48 hours of lead time.

If, for whatever reason, camp programming cannot be moved offsite, participants will receive a full refund for the day. You will be notified by email as soon as possible if we are placed under a warning. 

What is the drop-off and pick-up location for camp?

Drop-off and pick-up are located at the Garden’s front entrance at 1212 Mission Canyon Road. 

When driving up Mission Canyon, the Garden parking lot entrance will be on your left (Note, you’ll pass the parking lot exit on your left first). Once you pull in, there will be designated parking spaces for your specific camp program. Please drive carefully as the parking lot will be busy during these times.   

Who can pick up my child from camp?

Only the parent, guardians, or individuals 18 or older who have been identified on the camper’s Pick-Up Authorization List in UltraCamp are allowed to pick up from camp.  Campers will not be released to anyone not on the authorization form so please make sure your form stays current. A valid photo ID must be presented at pick up daily.

Can I pick up my child early or drop them off late?

If you have to pick-up your child before 3 p.m., please communicate with a staff member at check-in. They will arrange for someone to bring your child to the entrance at the designated time to be signed out. Regular sign-out procedures still apply with early pick-up. 

 

If you need to drop your child off late, please inform a staff member at check-in on the day prior. We ask that you give us at least one day’s notice or contact the youth and family program manager for arrangements. 

What happens if I am late picking up my child?

If your child is not picked up by 3:30 p.m., they will be sent to our extended day program. Families who use our extended day program will be charged a $20 enrollment fee per day. 

Our extended day program ends promptly at 5 p.m. If your child is not picked up by 5:15 p.m., you will automatically incur a $30 fee plus an additional $15 for every 15 minutes of extra supervision. 

How does COVID-19 impact camp?

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s COVID-19 protocols align with Santa Barbara County Health officials and CDC guidelines. As part of our protocols, depending on the local COVID status, the Garden may implement additional procedures, for example, a daily health screening or indoor mask requirement. 

Do I receive a refund if my child is sick?

Prorated refunds for up to two full days of camp fees are available for campers who must stay home due to illness or COVID-19.