Summer Camp 2018

Monday, June 18 2018 thru Monday, August 13 2018

The Botanical Garden offers a series of day camps designed for children ages six to 10 to explore the natural world through the lens of their favorite activities. Using the gardens as unique classrooms, children are inspired to create and discover through hands-on activities, while also learning from expert guest speakers.

All camps run Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

 Dates and Themes:

June 18-22: Outdoor Explorers 

The camp for the curious nature lover, Outdoor Explorers offers up-close-and-personal experiences with plants and animals alike. Hosted at the Brenton Arboretum, campers will explore 143 acres of prairies, streams and ponds while they learn more about and enjoy the great outdoors. (Note: The Brenton Arboretum is located approximately 25 minutes from Des Moines in Dallas Center.)


June 25-29: Theater Sprouts

NEW! Using the gardens as inspiration, children attending this camp will rehearse throughout the week and present a one-of-a-kind production at the conclusion of camp. Creative writing, poeTREE slams, puppetry, song, dance, set decorations and costume design will all be part of this weeklong exploration in performance.


July 9-13: Junior Botanists

Science takes a step outside during this week of camp, where children will be able to take a closer look at what makes them so unique, including performing a seed dissection. From planting to science experiments to exploring ecosystems, this week will open up a whole new side of the garden.


July 16-20: Budding Chefs -- FULL

What better way to appreciate the bounty of a garden than by cooking with fresh produce? Children will not only have the chance to taste dishes they prepare, but also learn how correctly measure ingredients and follow a recipe. Little chefs will learn to connect the ingredients they use to where they come from during this exciting week of camp that celebrates the tastier side of plants!


July 23-27: Garden Artists

The Botanical Garden’s plant collection and unique garden spaces serve as the perfect inspiration for young artists! Children will learn many fun ways to make art from nature including sun prints, painting, sculpture and flower arranging.


July 30-Aug. 3: Green Thumbs

From seed to sprout to sapling children will learn to start, grow and care for plants properly. Children will dig, plant, water, and weed in the garden while exploring the wide world of plants.


Aug. 6-10: Magic in the Garden -- FULL

NEW! Children will explore the magic of the garden using basic chemistry skills. Experiments with solids, liquids and gases to create potions and elixirs will make them feel like a real wizard. If you forget your magic wand, don’t worry…we will make one during this exciting new camp.


Aug. 13-17: Young Naturalists

Aspiring naturalists will learn more about the diverse ecosystems and biomes that cover the globe. Children will be inspired to investigate, create and experiment when exploring native plants and animals of different biomes. The desert and tropical rainforest biomes located in our conservatory will spur creativity from food web crafts to habitat games.



Price (per child, per week): Members $210, Nonmembers $250

Price includes a camp T-shirt, daily snack, supplies for all activities and multiple projects to take home and enjoy. 


Online registration for all camps opens December 15, 2017.

Registration for all camps closes 10 days prior to the start date.

Camper Information form

Summer Camp Policies


Testimonials: As a parent, what did you like best about the program?

"I loved how excited my son was about everything he was doing. I think it was a really special week for him. From my perspective the hours were really nice because we live in West Des Moines, so getting him down there took a little time. When I came for drop-off and pick-up I thought the environment seemed really positive and supportive. The staff always seemed excited and pleasant, so I felt good leaving him there."

"We felt like the kids actually learned something valuable; mixing it up with the plant information, arts and crafts as well as outdoor fun. From what we saw come home and from what the kids told us each day it couldn't have been more positive."

"I like that they were busy all day...[my daughter] was proud of what she did create an environment where the child is empowered to make things at home and that's awesome."

"My experience of some camps at other institutions is chaotic, exhausting for the campers. Every time I encountered the campers and staff the environment was calm."

"That my kids loved it! They were excited to go each day, which means a lot!"

"The staff seemed knowledgeable and the size of the camp/counselor ratio was comforting."

"I liked that the enrollment was small and there weren't lots of kids in other camps simultaneously. He's done a couple of other camps...and sometimes there are just too many kids there for us." 

Event Category: Youth & Families

Event Schedule

  • June 18, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM
  • June 25, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM
  • July 9, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM
  • July 16, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM
  • July 23, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM
  • July 30, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM
  • August 6, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM
  • August 13, 2018 09:00 AM–03:00 PM