Camp at the Zoo: Milwaukee offers unique camping adventures for children

Milwaukee Zoo Camps

Grab your sleeping bag and prepare to slumber among bears, tigers and other exotic animals this summer! Trek beyond the Fox Valley with a short drive to Southern Wisconsin, where, thanks to the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, campers can experience a variety of educational adventures. Kids not only get to enjoy activities and learn about animals, but they also get to feast on gooey s’mores around the campfire and tour the zoo. Collaborative day camps are also available for campers of all ages.

Serving more than 12,000 campers per year, the society facilitates one of the largest zoo summer camp programs in the country. Katie Krecklow, the Communications Coordinator for the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, says their camp offerings are interactive, educational and hands on. “Our camps are not only fun, they are educational and help teach kids about empathy for living things” said Krecklow. 

The society, a non-profit organization, is on a mission to conserve, educate and support the Milwaukee County Zoo through their classes and camps. “Each camp is centered around either an animal or something well-known inside the zoo,” explains Krecklow. “Children learn about the animals, their behaviors, their natural environment and how they are cared for at the zoo.” 

Children of all ages can enjoy these camps, as the society offers programs for infants up to age 14. Their camp offerings begin with their unique Stroller Safari program, which is designed for children up to two years of age. “Each camp is unique in its own way,” says Krecklow. “Depending on the age group, the camps feature a craft and costumes, which help learn details about the animals and their adaptations.” 

The Hip Hippo Hurray camp for 3-year-olds offers a creative, artsy approach to learning, perfect for little minds. It incorporates the use of cardboard cutouts and paint to show how hippos make their own sunscreen and why they roll in mud to stay cool. “Kids get to demonstrate this by using brown-colored shaving cream to put on the hippo” says Krecklow. Following other hippo-inspired activities, attendees venture into the zoo. There, they are introduced to Happy and Patti, two curious hippos that live at the Milwaukee zoo. 

There are also day camps geared toward older children, specifically those interested in becoming a veterinarian or zookeeper. Vet Camp, offered for kids aged 10-11, introduce simulated animal medical care techniques. “With the use of red juice, kids “draw” blood from a toy tiger” says Krecklow. They additionally learn how to care for the animal’s diverse health needs by examining irregularities in their droppings. For the experiment, coffee grounds and other materials are used by the educator to demonstrate this topic. The Senior Zookeeper class, however, features the opportunity to empty an animal enclose to learn how the animals are fed and cared for. The camp then concludes with a personalized, behind-the-scenes tour of the Zoo’s Animal Health Center. 

Beyond action-packed day camps, however, is one of the most sought-after programs offered by the Zoological Sociey of Milwaukee – it’s Snooze At The Zoo event. Featuring extended fun and learning, campers cozy up under the stars and enjoy a movie, activities, a buffet dinner and of course, s’mores! Who can pass those up? Yum! 

Held once a year, the Snooze At The Zoo program boasts a unique and safe camping experience for families. Following a night at camp, attendees are greeted in the morning by a delicious breakfast and later get to spend the day exploring the zoo. Not only is this event a favorite of the public, it is also a beneficial fundraising opportunity for the zoo. Last year, the event raised more than $61,000 for the Zoological Society and its’ support for the Milwaukee County Zoo. 

All the programs offered by the Zoological Society offer children a unique, inside peek into the amazing world of animals and highlight their importance in our ecosystem. Between snoozing at the zoo and attending one of the many day camps, the opportunities to learn are endless. Camps range in price from $29 to $60 for a single day, though, zoo pass members receive a per-camp discount. Still, the Zoological Society of Milwaukee wants everyone to feel welcome and afford be able to afford their programs. “We offer a certain number of scholarships to kids who cannot afford to attend camps” said Krecklow. “The society feels everyone in the community should have the opportunity for education.” 

With all the exciting offerings in the zoo’s event calendar, a campout at the zoo surely will make your summer bucket list! The opportunities for children to extend their learning over summer is not only wonderful, but the programs provide endless fun for them in a fascinating environment. “Get ready to learn and have fun doing it!” cheers Krecklow. 

For more information on the societies’ programs, to download the summer brochure or to register, visit www.zoosociety.org/education

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