Summer Conservation Camp

Calendar Icon June–August
Clock Icon 9 a.m.–3 p.m. each day
Clock Icon TBD
Age Icon Grades PreK–Grade 4 rising


Summer Conservation Camp 2022

During Conservation Camp, campers will adventure through the amazing world of animals. Each week campers will explore one of five themes designed to inspire a love of wildlife and curiosity about the natural world. Along the way, they will spend time with their peers, discover how to overcome challenges, and build empathy for the natural world and for one another.

Campers must be four years old on their first day of camp to attend. COVID-19 vaccination is required for all eligible campers.




Campers may register for up to five different themed weeks of Conservation Camp. All campers must be registered by their legal guardian and be at least 4 years old on their first day of camp. In order to provide a safe space not only for our staff and guests, but the animals in our care, Lincoln Park Zoo requires all eligible campers born before April 1, 2017 to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before attending

Camp will not take place on July 4, and camp fees will be prorated for that week. Practice for the Chicago Air and Water Show is expected to take place near the zoo between August 18–20. If your camper is sensitive to loud noises, please consider signing up for a different week of camp or providing them with noise-reducing headphones.



More Info


Aftercare is available from 3–5 p.m. each day. Caregivers may add Aftercare to their registration for a flat rate of $125 per week. Space for Aftercare is limited.


A limited number of scholarships are available for Conservation Camp.

Apply in English

Aplicar en Español

Gift Cards for Zoo Programs

Share the love of wildlife by purchasing a gift card for select Lincoln Park Zoo programs! Purchase one for your child’s class or the animal-lover in your life. Gift cards are valid for virtual and in-person camps (prek–8), Malott Family Penguin Encounters (ages 6 and older), Zoo Investigations (preK–5), and Zoo Explorers (preK–8).

Gift cards are available for $25, $50, $75, and $100.


Refunds may be issued on cancellations if requested in writing by Monday, May 23, 2022, minus a 12.5 percent processing fee. Please send cancellation requests to

After May 23, camp fees are non-refundable, except in the instance that Lincoln Park Zoo makes the decision to cancel camp.

Unfortunately, we cannot issue refunds for campers who are sick.


Add-on lunches are available for purchase with registration. All lunches are nut-free and made fresh daily. Vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free diets are available. A daily snack is included with the purchase of lunch. All those who do not purchase a lunch are responsible for providing their camper with nut-free, non-refrigerated lunches and snacks.

Fee: $50 per week

Sample menu

Monday: Turkey sandwich (Vegetarian option: Grilled cheese)
Tuesday: 6-piece chicken nuggets (Vegetarian/Gluten Free option: Cheese Pizza)
Wednesday: Cheeseburger (Vegetarian option: Veggie burger*)
Thursday: Grilled Cheese
Friday: Cheese Pizza

*Veggie burger contains gluten.

All meals will come with fruit, animal crackers, a Jell-O cup, and fruit juice.

Gluten-free bread is available and will be used on menu items when prearranged during registration. Menu items are subject to change based on availability.

Themes & Dates

Theme A: June 20–24, July 25–29

PreK-K: Critter Caretakers

Young animals need all kinds of care, from food and shelter to protection from predators and space to play. Campers will discover how animal families care for their young in the wild and will learn the ways Lincoln Park Zoo cares for the animals that are born here.

Grades 1-2: All About Zookeeping

Campers will learn what it means to be a zookeeper, including how to create the best diet for each animal, why animals need to engage in different activities each day, and how to help animals when they get sick. They’ll also watch an animal training session led by a real zookeeper. Please note, for safety reasons, campers will not have direct access to zoo animals or their habitats.

Grades 3-4: Running a Zoo 101

What does it take to run a zoo? Campers will spend the week investigating this question as they explore the zoo grounds. They’ll test their skills as a zookeeper, research animal behavior just like a zoo scientist, and meet staff involved in the zoo’s important conservation and education work. Please note, for safety reasons, campers will not have direct access to zoo animals or their habitats.

Theme B: June 27–July 1, August 1-5

PreK-K: Lifestyles of the Small & Charming

What makes a bird a bird? How is a seal different from a snake? Campers will discover the answers to these and many other questions as they learn what makes different types of animals unique. They will spend time exploring the zoo grounds and playing active games designed to help them compare their own bodies to the animals they see.

Grades 1-2: Animals Classified

Campers will channel their inner scientist as they explore the fascinating diversity of animal families. From schools of fish to flocks of birds and troops of gorillas, campers will get to know more about wildlife by investigating all of these remarkable animal relationships. They’ll also go on an expedition to the zoo’s Nature Boardwalk and discover some of the animals that call Chicago home.

Grades 3-4: Herbivores and Carnivores and Scavengers! Oh my!

You are what you eat, and this week campers will explore every level of nature’s food web. They’ll discover how all living things, from producers to scavengers, work together to keep an ecosystem healthy. Campers will learn about Lincoln Park Zoo’s scientific research in wildlife conservation and identify ways they can participate in this important effort.

Theme C: July 5–8, August 8–12

PreK-K: Secret Superheroes

Mysteries abound during this extraordinary week of camp. Campers will gather evidence to solve five different puzzles related to the zoo’s animals. Can they find the solution to the Fish Fiasco? Will they resolve the Bird Brain Teaser? Can they uncover the culprit in the Herp Whodunit? Only time will tell.

Grades 1-2: Curious Creature Mysteries

Campers will put their heads together to solve a new animal mystery each day. They’ll need to use their sleuthing skills to find clues and figure out the strange happenings taking place at the zoo. Each day will focus on a different type of animal, including birds, insects, and mammals.

Grades 3-4: Zoo Scene Investigation (ZSI)

Animal Investigators, unite! During this intriguing week, campers will use their powers of deductive reasoning and awesome observation skills to unearth some of nature’s mysteries. They’ll hunt for evidence across the zoo, practice their tracking skills, uncover the scoop on poop, and use real scientific data to solve a mystery.

Theme D: July 11–15, August 15–19

PreK–K: Roaming with the Wild Things

Campers will explore the powerful traits that help animals survive and thrive in a diverse array of habitats, from snowy tundras to dry deserts. Each day campers will discover different animals and their amazing adaptations. Through zoo exploration, imaginative play, and creative art projects, campers will learn how to roam with the wild things.

Grades 1–2: United States of Animals

Ever wonder what animals live right in your backyard? How about on the Atlantic coast or high in the Rocky Mountains? Take a trip across the country to discover the vast array of habitats and the animals who live right alongside us.

Grades 3–4: The Great Predator Safari

What does a lion have in common with a bald eagle? Does a polar bear share any traits with a crocodile? Campers will find out on a journey across continents as they uncover the fearsome features of predators.

Theme E: July 18–22, August 22–26

PreK-K: Animals on the Move

Throughout this exciting week, campers will visit different habitats and investigate how animals at the zoo move about. They will practice making observations and imagine what it would be like to slither like a snake, climb like a monkey, and run like a zebra!

Grades 1–2: Creature Features

What is a kangaroo’s tail used for? How does a poison dart frog get its poison? Campers will play games and make observations around the zoo to discover how these weird and wonderful adaptations help animals survive in the wild.

Grades 3–4: World Class Animals

We’re keeping it classy with a week’s worth of animal classification! Taxonomists group animals into classes like mammals, reptiles, and birds to help others study and care for them. Campers will explore how these animals live, ways in which they interact, and important efforts Lincoln Park Zoo is making to conserve them in the wild.


What are the procedures for check-in and check-out?

Check-in will take place each morning from 8:45–9 a.m. Check-out will take place for all age levels from 3–3:15 p.m., unless campers are registered for Aftercare. Caregivers will drop off and pick up campers in the designated area outside the Judy Keller Education Center on Cannon Drive.

What gear does my camper need for camp?

  • Each camper will receive a blue Conservation Camp T-shirt and backpack with registration. Campers should wear their blue camp T-shirt and bring their backpack every day they attend camp. Please do not wear different colored T-shirts from 2021.
  • Caregivers will have the option to purchase additional shirts during registration.
  • All campers should dress to be outdoors and bring their own refillable water bottle and sunscreen.
  • Gear pick-up events will take place shortly before the start of camp. Details will be announced via email to registered families. Gear that is not picked up at one of these events will be given to each camper on their first day of camp.

What are your policies regarding health and safety?

  • It is Lincoln Park Zoo’s responsibility to provide a safe space not only for our staff and guests, but the animals in our care. Therefore, all eligible campers born before April 1, 2017 must be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to participate in camp.
  • If your child is medically exempt from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, please contact us at to discuss ways your camper can safely participate. You will be required to show documentation of your camper’s medical exemption signed by a medical doctor, as well as a negative COVID-19 test at the start of each week in which your camper participates.
  • All campers and staff in groups with campers who are not vaccinated (due to age or medical exemption) will be required to wear face coverings except when they are eating or drinking.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo staff members are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Lincoln Park Zoo will follow city and state guidelines regarding face coverings and other health procedures. At times, campers may be required to wear a face covering regardless of vaccination status.
  • Camp staff are all CPR- and first aid-certified and an EMT is on-site during camp.
  • Caregivers are the zoo’s most important partners in keeping our camp community healthy and safe. If your camper feels unwell or shows any signs of infectious illness (sore throat, new cough, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, severe headache, or a fever at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), please do not send them to camp!

What happens if a camper gets sick at camp?

If a camper doesn’t feel well at camp, caregivers will be called to pick them up. Campers who have symptoms of infectious illness must be tested for COVID-19. They may return to camp after receiving a negative COVID-19 test if the camper has been fever-free for 24 hours and symptoms have improved.

What happens during the camp day?

  • No two camp days are exactly the same. Camp instructors do their best to follow camper interests while selecting each day’s activities from our camp curricula, so there is always variety. However, there are some things campers can count on:
    • Morning and afternoon free play.
    • Chats with zoo experts 1-2 times per week when campers can ask their most pressing animal care questions.
    • Outside time, as much as weather permits.
    • Activities that help campers build knowledge, empathy, and curiosity about animals. These might be movement-based, art-focused, or imaginative.
    • Visits to many of the zoo’s animal residents; however, animal care is left to our professional zookeepers.
    • Friday Specials: special themed activities that take place each week.
  • Consider asking your camper:
    • What made them smile today?
    • What did they choose to do during free play?
    • What animals did they see? What were the animals doing?
    • Did they play a game? What was the goal of the game?
    • What is their group’s animal name? Do they have a cheer or a song?
    • Did any of the other campers do something silly that made them laugh?
    • What did they do to be helpful today?

Will my camper get to touch or feed animals?

Your camper will see many of the zoo’s animal residents throughout their camp week. However, we leave care of the animals up to our professional zookeepers. Campers will not have the opportunity to touch or feed the animals.

Are you taking friend requests this year?

  • Legal guardian will have the option to select the specific group their camper will be in. If your camper wants to attend with a friend, please coordinate with the legal guardian of the friend to sign your campers up for the same group. Group names are listed below:
    • PreK-K
      • Group 1: Zebras
      • Group 2: Giraffes
    • Grades 1-2
      • Group 1: Polar Bears
      • Group 2: Snow Leopards
    • Grades 3-4
      • Group 1: Otters
    • Grades 5-6
      • Group 1: Snakes
    • Grades 7-8
      • Group 1: Lizards

What if my camper needs accommodations?

Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. If your child needs accommodations or has specific needs, please contact our camp team at or include this information when registering so that we may discuss how to make sure your camper has a great experience.

Please note: practice for the Chicago Air and Water Show is expected to take place near the zoo August 18–20. If your camper is sensitive to loud noises, please consider signing up for a different week of camp or providing them with noise-reducing headphones.