Day Camps: Frequently asked questions

Day Camp kids

Why Arboretum camps

What makes Arboretum Camps unique?
Arboretum campers have the opportunity to explore the 1,200 acres of Arboretum gardens, forests and trails in nature-themed camps that inspire a love and appreciation for the natural world. Trained, experienced educators lead every program, while combining science and hands-on learning with fun themes, wow-worthy special guests, and exciting opportunities.

What is the camper to teacher ratio?
There are about 8 campers in each group with one teacher.


Camper comfort

Can you accommodate campers with special needs?
We welcome any child who can participate safely and successfully in our camp program. Over the years children of many different abilities have attended camp, and we encourage you to contact us so that we can determine whether our program can meet your child's needs. If you would like your child to attend with a 1:1 aide, please contact us to make arrangements at 612-301-1210.

Dietary Restrictions
You completed a form when you registered your child for camp that provided an opportunity to list any dietary restrictions or concerns. Malia, the Arboretum Day Camp Coordinator will send a helpful email the week prior to your child's camp. You are welcome to reply to that email with any special dietary requests or concerns you may have for your child.

What if my child won't know anyone at camp?
We think camp is perfect for meeting new people and making new friends! Your camper's group counselor will take time on the first few days to help everyone get to know each other. Small camp sizes and a teacher-to-camper ratio of 1:8 facilitate introductions and pay attention to each kid's unique needs and personality. By the end of their camp session with us, your child will have gained more confidence to meet new people in other parts of their lives.

What if my child doesn't want to do an activity?
Campers will remain with their groups at all times at all activity areas, but your camper will never be forced to participate in an activity that makes him/her uncomfortable. Of course, your child will be encouraged to try new things and face new challenges with the support of friends and a caring teacher.

May I visit my child at camp?
If this is your child's first year at camp, we understand that leaving them might be challenging. You are welcome to walk them to their camp on the first day and stay as long as needed in order for them (and you!) to feel comfortable.

Do you provide a snack?
While each camper is asked to bring their own snack to eat during camp each day, we may occasionally provide individually prepared or pre-packaged snacks as part of an activity. We will do our best to accommodate the dietary needs of all participants.  

What does my camper need to do to participate successfully in camp?
We strive to create an environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and inspires curiosity for all campers. For this reason, campers must be able to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. Campers must be able to:

  • Maintain appropriate language and actions
  • Hands to themselves
  • Respectful language to fellow campers and camp team
  • Staying with their group
  • Follow directions for their own and others' safety
  • Use respectful words to communicate their needs
  • If your camper is struggling we will have a quiet, friendly space that campers can take a break and calm down or recharge before returning to their group. We do reserve the right to remove any camper that repeatedly cannot meet these expectations.

Registration & Cancellation

Education program cancellation policy

Day Camps (excluding Friday Favorites)

Transfer to a different student
You may transfer your registration to an alternate person if you cannot attend. All transfers can be done by calling the Education Department at 612-301-1210 or email at [email protected] There is no fee to transfer the registration.

Exchanges to a different camp with minimum 30 days advance notice
Exchanges to a program of equal value are permitted 30 days or more before the start of camp. No refunds nor exchanges will be given to those who withdraw less than 30 days prior to start date.

No refunds with less than 30 days advance noticeNo refunds or exchanges will be given to those who withdraw less than 30 days prior to start date. Last-minute withdrawal from a program due to illness or injury will be handled on a case by case basis, contact the Education Office for options.

If the Arboretum cancels a program
In the event that the Arboretum must cancel a class, you will be notified by phone and/or email, and you will receive a full refund.

Friday Favorites Mini-Camps

Transfer to a different student
You may transfer your registration to an alternate person if you cannot attend. All transfers can be done by calling the Education Department at 612-301-1210 or email at [email protected] There is no fee to transfer the registration.

No refunds with less than 2 weeks advance notice 
No refunds nor exchanges will be given to those who withdraw less than 2 weeks prior to start date.

Exchanges with minimum 2 weeks advance notice
Exchanges are permitted 2 weeks or more before the start of the program with no penalty. No refunds or exchanges will be given to those who withdraw less than 2 weeks prior to start date. Last-minute withdrawal from a program due to illness or injury will be handled on a case by case basis, contact the Education Office for options.

If the Arboretum cancels a program
In the event that the Arboretum must cancel a class, you will be notified by phone and/or email, and you will receive a full refund.


Can I get my child on a waiting list if a program is full?

Yes, please place your child's name on the waitlist if you are interested in a session!

Camp waitlist

The best chance of being enrolled in a sold out camp is to add your name to the waitlist. Click the "waitlist" button or link next to the class and complete the form. If a spot opens, we will email those on the waitlist in the order they were waitlisted. In most cases, waitlist-to-register offers will be valid for 24 hours before moving on to the next person on the waitlist. There is no obligation to register if a spot opens. 


Safety - General

What do you do on very hot days?
Our staff will modify activities as needed, and all staff are trained in heat illness prevention and recognition. Hikes or activities in direct sun may be cancelled if the Camp Staff thinks it's necessary. All of our other outdoor activities take place in or near shaded areas, which helps when campers need to cool off. On exceptionally hot days, we may relax in one of the air-conditioned buildings or add water play to outdoor activities!

What happens in case of an emergency?
Camp staff are certified in Red Cross CPR and First Aid, and are trained to handle severe allergic reactions. Emergency plans are in place to handle severe weather, medical emergency, and public safety concerns.

What happens in case of severe weather?
Camp staff are trained in emergency procedures. If there is lightning or a tornado warning has been issued while the children are at camp, staff will bring them directly to a designated safe area.

Child pick up by another: How do I arrange for another person picking up my child?
Yes, we use a sign in and out process to maintain camper safety and ensure that they are picked up only by the adults that are designated to pick them up. Please come in to the sign-in/sign-out table each day to drop off or pick up your camper. The adult who will be picking up the child will be designated each morning on the sign-in sheet. Authorized individuals are responsible for signing your child in and/or out.


Prepare for camp!

What do I need to send to camp each day? What should campers wear to camp?

  • Clothing: Campers should wear clothes designed for active play. Campers should also wear clothes that they don't mind getting dirty! 
  • Other Helpful Tips: Each Arboretum camp is so unique! Some camps suggest costumes, others involve swimsuits...Malia, the Arboretum Day Camp Coordinator, will email each of you the week before camp begins with a helpful list of items you may want to bring.

Should my child wear sunscreen and/or bug spray?
We suggest that these are applied before your child's arrival at day camp. The Arboretum has child-friendly lotions and/or sprays for re-application if needed. If a special brand is required, please send it along with your child.

Is lunch included?
Lunch is not included in Arboretum Day Camps.

  • Half-Day Camps
    If your child would like lunch before or after a half-day camp, we suggest bringing a bag lunch so you can have a picnic at their favorite Arboretum spot, or stop with your child at the Arboretum Cafe for a treat!
  • Full-Day Camps
    Full Day Camps include a special time for lunch and fun bonus activities, however lunch is not included. Please pack a lunch for your child to bring to camp.

Logistics & details

Transportation
If your child is enrolled in a full-day bundle camp that takes place at two different locations within the Arboretum, transportation will be provided by licensed camp staff via an Arboretum van.

Do you offer early drop-off or late pick-up?
Yes, but only for campers age 5-11 who register for the full-day bundles which offer this added benefit:

  • Drop off from 8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m. 
  • Pick up between 4 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Extended drop-off times are not available at this time for other camps. 

Instructions for Arboretum Entry
As you enter the Arboretum, tell the gatehouse you are here to drop off your child for Day Camp and they will waive you through at no charge.

Directions to the Learning Center and/or Picnic Shelters (see map):

  1. After you pass through the gatehouse, take the first right.
  2. Drive past the main parking lots, you will loop behind them and come to a T intersection. You should see a hill directly in front of you.
  3. Turn right.
  4. Follow the curved road past the picnic shelters. 
  5. Enter the Learning Center Parking lot (see map), or parallel park in the spaces designated along the road

Directions to the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center
The Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center can be tricky to find.
Please read directions carefully!
DO NOT ENTER THE ARBORETUM MAIN ENTRANCE.

  1. From Highway 5/Arboretum Drive, where the Arboretum is located, turn South onto County Road 41. Drive 0.5 miles.
  2. (County Road 41 is located 0.6 miles East of the Arboretum main entrance.)
  3. At the first light, turn Right onto 82nd Street. Drive 0.3 miles.
  4. After a sharp left bend in the road, the gated entrance to the Center and Red Barn will be on your right. You will see a long silver fenced gate that will be closed.
  5. On the right of the fence is a silver call box with a keypad and a round "CALL" button. Push the CALL button for assistance, and the Bee Center attendant will automatically open the gate for you!
  6. Park in the Bee Center lot and enter the Bee Center! The classroom is inside the building on your right.
  7. You can also view the directions from your location with this interactive Google map.

Other/Miscellaneous

Do you have a program for high school students?
The Arboretum is pleased to offer a Counselor-in-Training program to kids age 12 to 15! The Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program is designed to provide opportunities for responsible, positive youth mentors to increase leadership skills by sharing passion, knowledge and enthusiasm for the natural world with younger campers and gardeners. CITs will assist Day Camp and Children's Garden program staff in providing a safe, supportive, and exciting experience for all participants, as well as assisting with other projects.

Do you offer scholarships?
We do not have any funding for scholarships at this time. If you know of an individual or organization who would be interested in becoming a sponsor for Day Camp Scholarships, please contact Jill Leenay, Education Business Manager, at 612-301-3484.

What if I don't want pictures taken of my camper?
During the registration process you will be asked to give consent for photo release of your camper. If you choose not to consent we will make sure that camp and publicity staff are aware that they cannot take any photos of your camper.

Equal Opportunity
The University of Minnesota and the Landscape Arboretum provide equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression

Who can I speak to if I have more questions or concerns?
We greatly appreciate any information, suggestions or tips you would like to share with us.
Filling out the registration form with as much detail as possible will give us the opportunity to prepare any special accommodations and give your camper the best experience possible. Camp leaders are not always available to speak to but you are welcome to email our Education Office staff at [email protected] or call 612-301-1210.