2018 OC summer camps providers in Orange County offer a number of outdoor camp themes for families looking to enroll their kids in options to keep them active and learning outdoors this summer. Most camps are for school-age children from ages 6 to 18. Please enjoy my list of summer nature camps for kids listed with themes like science, animals, the ocean, engineering, birding, and even water sports. Please go ahead and email me if you know of camps I might have missed.
OC Summer Camps with Outdoor Themes
#1 – Inside the Outdoors (featured sponsor), part of the Orange County Department of Education, offers programs with themes like: Globetrotters, Saved by the Spell, Halloween in July, Summer Campers Excellent Adventure, and Animal Olympics. Locations vary between Rancho Soñado in Silverado Canyon, Shipley Nature Center in Huntington Beach, and Irvine Regional Park.
#2 – Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach – Camps are split into different age groups. Little Naturalists Camp is for preschoolers ages 3-5. Summer Nature Camp is for grades K-3 and camp for grades 4-6 is called Science Explorers Camp. Order of the Raven is a camp leadership program only available for 7th and 8th graders through an application process. Summer Nature Camp themes: Incredible Insects, Nature Creativity, Amazing Animals, Oceans Around Us, Mad Science, Nature Engineering, We [heart] National Parks, and Planet Protects.
#3 – Environmental Nature Center Science Explorers Camp for 4th-6th graders at the Back Bay Science Center where “9-11 year old campers will be immersed in nature and science with activities such as canoeing, interacting with live marine and terrestrial animals, collecting field data, discovering the onsite shark tank, hiking, and experimenting in the science lab.”
#4 – Camp Pinniped at Pacific Marine Mammal Center is for 8 to 13 year olds. It’s held at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center on Laguna Canyon Road for M-Th and then Fridays are at the beach. “Campers learn how our animal care team rehabilitates our seal and sea lion patients through a series of mock activities including weighing fish, preparing fish smoothies, cleaning pens and learning the art of marine mammal rescue.”
#5 – Sea and Sage Audubon Summer Day Camps at San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary – Warning – these camps sell out quickly! These are very popular camps for the 7-8 year old Fledglings and 9-12 year old Marsh Bird Camp. Campers must complete beginner camps to advance to intermediate camps.
#6 – Starr Ranch Junior Biologists Summer Camp for kids ages 8 to 13 researching wild animals and their habitats.
#7 – O.A.K.S. Day Camp at Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim – “Each session will focus on a special nature topic and will include trail walks, art, nature, games, and Native American traditions.” Online registration is available if you login to the recreation catalog and filter for OAK Canyon Nature Center. Camps are listed as “O.A.K.S. Summer Day Camp” and “Zombie Survival Camp” for teens. Day camps have themes like: Diggin’ Up Dinosaurs, Fin-tastic Shark Week, Mad Science, Radical Reptiles, Harry Potter’s Wizarding Adventure, Best of O.A.K.S., Star Wars and Outer Space, The Experiment Lab, and Top Secret Spy.
#8 – Ocean Institute has incredible camps which include time on boats and lots of marine science and research. View the website for complete details.
#9 – Camp Discovery from Discovery Cube OC & Santa Ana Zoo who partner up for outdoors science summer camps at the Santa Ana Zoo. There’s Junior Wildlife Adventure for K-2nd grade and Zoomazement for 3rd-6th graders.
#10 – For sailing and watersports, we have OC summer camps in Dana Point Harbor and Newport Harbor. Try Westwind Sailing in Dana Point Harbor and Newport Sea Base or Orange Coast College’s School of Sailing and Seamanship in Newport Harbor.
- Take the Bus! OCTA Summer Youth Bus Pass (30 day passes valid consecutive days from June 1 to August 31 for kids 18 and under)
- Surf Camp
- Junior Lifeguards
Disclosure: I should disclose that I personally know many of the organizers of the other camps from my history of writing about outdoors in Orange County. Inside the Outdoors is a featured sponsor of my Nature Classes & Camps Directory, and in addition, I contract to do their social media for the 2017-18 school year. As always, my opinions are all my own and you shouldn’t take my word as an endorsement of any organization. I’m just providing info and you can make your own choices!
Originally posted in March 2012.