Young girls looking through binoculars

Exploration and discovery at the Arboretum

Since 1991, Earth Focus Day Camp has created outstanding summer nature programs for children ages 3–14. EFDC helps children develop an understanding of how ecosystems work, nurtures a sense of wonder for nature, and guides children as they explore the habitats, plants, and animals of the Arboretum. Children are empowered to be a positive influence on their world. Our naturalists are enthusiastic and experienced, but the real teacher is our most treasured resource: the land. Join us to learn, grow, and be a part of this special place.

The day camp consists of five programs: Learning Together, Young Explorers, Explorers, Eco-Trekkers, and Afternoon Adventures.

Camp activities include outdoor discovery hikes and observations, hands-on science exploration, and nature games and activities. Returning campers will find new and exciting experiences every year. Children are encouraged to ask questions, play, and share, create, discover, construct, and cooperate. Campers must come prepared to spend time outdoors, wearing long pants, socks, closed-toe shoes, a hat, and weather appropriate layers. A snack is provided in the morning and afternoon.

Lunch care will be available from 12 to 12:30 p.m. for Explorers, Eco-Trekkers, and Afternoon Adventures campers. Lunch care cost is per session (sessions are either 3 or 5 days). Campers must bring their own lunch.

T-shirts are provided to all campers if registration is received before June 1. T-shirt availability for late registrants will depend on remaining sizes and quantities.

Scholarships are available through the Valerie Kerschensteiner Fund. For more information email us or call (608) 265-5872.

2019 Summer Camp

2019 camps are detailed below. Confirmations will be emailed. If you would like to be added to the waitlist for a camp that is full, email

Read through camp descriptions below and note desired camps before proceeding to online form.

Learning Together

9:30–11:30 a.m. Ages 3 and 4, entering kindergarten, with an adult. $25, 1-day sessions. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Limit two age-appropriate children per adult. Only registered children may attend. Children and adults will explore nature topics through crafts, songs, stories, hikes, and games.

  • LT1: Tuesday, June 11. Animals Underground – FULL
  • LT2: Tuesday, June 18. How Does My Garden Grow? – FULL
  • LT3: Tuesday, July 2. Beautiful Butterflies – FULL
  • LT4: Tuesday, August 13. All about Owls – FULL

Young Explorers

9 a.m.–12 p.m. Entering kindergarten and grade 1. $110, 3-day sessions. Great for first-time campers.

  • YE1: Wednesday–Friday, June 19–21, FULL
    Critters in the Garden: Discover the animals living in Arboretum gardens. We’ll investigate who lives here and how they make their homes.


8:30 a.m.–12 p.m. Entering grades 1–5. $105, 3-day sessions; $175, 5-day sessions. Campers will be divided into groups according to age.

  • E1: Monday–Friday, June 24–28, $175
    Bird Camp: Look and listen for birds as we hike the trails. We’ll explore the prairies, forests, wetlands, and gardens, seeking out these creatures of the sky.
  • E2: Monday–Wednesday, July 22–24, FULL
    Insect Investigations: Discover and investigate the patterns and life cycles of insects as you explore their habitats.
  • E3: Monday–Friday, August 5–9, FULL
    The Science of a Magical World: Dragons, herbs, and stories come alive as we delve into the science behind the magical plants and animals of the Harry Potter world.


Entering grades 6–8. 8:30 a.m.–12 p.m. $175, 5-day sessions. Campers will delve deeper into topics and participate in citizen science and service learning projects.

  • ET1: Monday–Friday, July 29–August 2, $175
    Science Outdoors: Explore Arboretum habitats to learn about plant and animal diversity. We will also bike around Lake Wingra to investigate additional sites. Bring your bike, or we will provide one. More information provided after registration.


12–12:30 p.m. Open to Explorers and Afternoon Adventure campers. $15, 3-day sessions; $25, 5-day sessions. Campers must bring their own lunches.

  • L1: M–F June 24–28, FULL
  • L2: M–W July 22–24, FULL
  • L3: M–F August 5–9, FULL

Afternoon Adventures

Entering grade 1–5. 12:30–4 p.m. $105, 3-day sessions; $175, 5-day sessions. Campers will be grouped according to age.

  • AA1: Monday–Friday, June 24–28, FULL
    Animal Architects: Investigate how animals create amazing structures in nature and change the land around them in order to survive.
  • AA2: Monday–Wednesday, July 22–24, FULL
    Crazy about Spiders (or Not!): Whether you’re fascinated or frightened by them, spiders appear in a vast web of myths and stories. Learn about the intricate lives of these important widespread predators.
  • AA3: Monday–Friday, August 5–9, FULL
    All the World’s a Stage: Science and nature are full of stories. Join us to hear, create, and share stories about your wanderings and investigations at the Arboretum.