Zoo Crew is a two-week summer experience for campers entering sixth through eighth grades in the fall. Through team-building and immersive learning, campers will explore the relationships between animals, humans, and ecosystems. They will meet zoo scientists and zookeepers, go on field trips, sleep over at the zoo, and ultimately develop a project to raise awareness about a conservation issue that is important to them. Families are invited to join campers on the final morning of the session for a Conservation Expo where campers share their activities and communicate the science and skills they’ve gained as part of the Zoo Crew. Please note, Zoo Crew ends after the Conservation Expo at 9:15 a.m. on the final day of each session.
Campers may register for up to two different-themed sessions of Zoo Crew. All campers must be registered by their legal guardian. 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 to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before attending camp.
Registration Opening Dates:
Member pre-sale spaces for Zoo Crew are extremely limited. Additional spaces will be released and waitlists will be activated when general registration opens on March 2 at 10 a.m.
Household Members, Individual Members and general public registration opens Thursday, March 2 at 10 a.m. via the Zoo Camps web page.
Safari-level members and above receive the opportunity to participate in presale registration for camp. To join the zoo as a Safari-level member, visit lpzoo.org/membership or call 312-742-2321.
Camp will not take place the week of July 3-7.
Practice for the Chicago Air and Water Show is expected to take place near the zoo from August 16–18. If your camper is sensitive to loud noises, please consider signing up for a different session of camp or providing them with noise-reducing headphones.
Lincoln Park Zoo strives to provide a camp experience that supports the whole child. We offer a safe and engaging environment that challenges and supports each camper as they try new things, make new friends, and navigate new situations.
We encourage campers to build resilience and practice their problem-solving skills. We support them in finding their own solutions to obstacles they face.
We provide opportunities for campers to practice leadership skills and develop empathy for people, animals, and the natural world.
Respect is the cornerstone of camp at Lincoln Park Zoo. Throughout each camp session, staff members emphasize showing respect for property, others, nature, and yourself, and guide campers to demonstrate that respect. We seek to be a place where all campers feel welcomed and included.
What are the procedures for check-in and checkout?
Check-in will take place each morning from 8:45–9:15 a.m. Checkout will take place from 3:00–3:15p.m., unless the camper is registered for After Care or it is the night of the Zoo Crew sleepover. Caregivers will drop off and pick up their camper in the designated area outside the Judy Keller Education Center on Cannon Drive. Caregivers authorized to pick up campers must show a photo ID every day at checkout. Checkout on the last day of the session takes place at 9:15 a.m.
My camper can’t attend both weeks of the Zoo Crew session. Can they still come?
Campers must be available for both weeks of the session. Zoo Crew is designed to be a two-week experience; each day builds on the previous one, with campers working together as a team. Please only register if your camper can participate fully.
What if I need to arrange a late drop-off or early pickup?
Please avoid late drop-offs and early departures as much as possible. These disrupt the flow of the camp day, cause staff to be pulled away from programming and other essential duties, and result in missed activities for your camper. If they cannot be avoided, please plan to drop off/pick up your camper between 11:45 a.m.–12:30 p.m. if possible. All late arrivals or early departures should be arranged in advance by contacting the camp staff at email@example.com.
What gear does my camper need for camp?
- Each camper will receive two Zoo Crew T-shirts and a backpack with their registration. Campers should wear their T-shirt and bring their backpack every day they attend camp.
- Caregivers will have the option to purchase additional shirts during registration or on the first day of the camp session.
- All campers should dress to be outdoors and bring their own refillable water bottle, sunscreen, and face covering. Campers should wear closed-toe shoes with a back. No sandals please! Families will provide their own gear (e.g., sleeping bag and pillow) for sleepovers.
- An open house and gear pick-up event will take place shortly before the start of camp by RSVP. Details will be on your registration receipt and 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 for the animals in our care. Therefore, all eligible campers 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss ways your camper can safely participate in camp. You will be required to show documentation of your camper’s medical exemption signed by a medical doctor or nurse practitioner, as well as a negative COVID-19 test at the start of each week in which your camper participates.
- Lincoln Park Zoo staff members are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
- At times, Lincoln Park Zoo may require additional health and safety measures beyond what is required by public health officials. Campers may be required to wear a face covering regardless of vaccination status in some situations.
- Camp staff members are all CPR- and first aid-certified and an EMT is onsite 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 up to three times per week.
- Outside time, as much as weather permits.
- Activities that help campers build knowledge, empathy, and curiosity about animals and conservation.
- Visits to many of the zoo’s animal residents; however, animal care is left to our professional zookeepers.
- Field trips on Thursdays.
- One sleepover each Zoo Crew session.
- 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 see or learn anything today that surprised them?
- Have they learned anything new from one of their peers?
- What did they do to be helpful today?
- What conservation issue are they exploring for their end-of-session project?
Will my camper get to touch or feed animals?
Your camper will see many of the animals at the zoo 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.
Can my camper be in the same group as a friend?
There is only one Zoo Crew group per session. If your camper is registered for the same session as their friend, they will be in the same group by default.
What if my camper needs accommodations?
- Lincoln Park Zoo is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. If you child needs accommodations or has specific needs, please contact our camp team at email@example.com 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 from August 16–18. 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.
Refunds may be issued on cancellations if requested in writing by Monday, May 22, 2023, minus a 15 percent processing fee. Please send cancellation requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After May 22, 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.
After Care is available from 3–5 p.m. each day. Caregivers may add After Care to their registration for a flat rate of $125 per week. Space for After Care is limited.
A limited number of scholarships are available for Zoo Crew. They will be awarded on a rolling basis starting January 16, 2023, until all scholarship spaces are filled.
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), Zoo Investigations (preK–5), and Zoo Explorers (preK–8).
Add-on lunches may be purchased with registration. All lunches are nut-free and made fresh daily. Vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free meals 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 lunches and snacks. Lunches cost $55 per camper per week. Lunch is not available for purchase for individual days.
Monday: Cheese pizza
Tuesday: Hamburger (Vegetarian option: Veggie burger)
Wednesday: Grilled cheese
Thursday: 6-piece chicken nuggets (Vegetarian option: Cheese quesadilla)
Friday: Mac and cheese
All meals will come with a fruit or vegetable, animal crackers, a Jell-O cup, and fruit juice.
Menu items are subject to change based on availability.
Theme A: Session 1 (July 10–21) and Session 3 (August 7–18)
Adventures in Zoo Problem-Solving
Campers will practice their problem-solving skills as they work to find solutions to authentic animal care and environmental challenges. They will investigate how to provide an ideal diet for animals at the zoo and discover ways to improve habitats and protect local waterways. During this session, campers will meet experts working on the cutting edge of animal care and environmental sustainability.
Theme B: Session 2 (July 24–August 4)
Sometimes nature is just gross. In this session, campers will explore the awesome and disgusting ways animals’ bodies work, learn what those bodily functions can tell people who are studying and caring for animals, and meet the researchers whose work depends on blood draws and poop samples.