Campers learn about species from around the world

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Oregon Zoo campers check out a snake X-ray during a tour of the zoo's veterinary medical center. Registration is open for the Oregon Zoo's popular Nature Rangers spring break camps March 24-28. This spring, Northwest campers should be prepared for encounters with bears, cougars and bobcats — not to mention giraffes, lions and flamingos. The Oregon Zoo’s popular Nature Rangers spring break camps return Monday through Friday, March 28.

“Zoo camps are a great way for kids to have active outside fun and connect with nature,” said Jennifer Whitener, program supervisor. “We’ll be hiking, observing native wildlife, learning about animals — every day is an adventure.”

Camp activities — specifically planned for the interests of each age group — include crafts, songs, stories, snacks, animal visitors and in-depth tours of the zoo.

“Camp can also be a great place to explore animal-related and wildlife careers,” Whitener said. 

The zoo’s professional camp staff has been helping children explore the wonders of wildlife through fun, hands-on learning since 1983. Staff members are selected for excellence in programming for children and typically have also worked for public schools, OMSI, Outdoor School or Audubon. Most are college graduates or are working on a degree, and many return year after year.

Limited group size allows staffers to give zoo campers personal attention with staff-to-student ratios of 1:6 for 4-year-olds and kindergartners, 1:8 for first- and second-graders, and 1:10 for third- through eighth-grade camps.

“Our counselors are very active in engaging the kids,” Whitener said. “They’re not just glorified babysitters.”

Spots are still available for most age groups, but Whitener said they tend to fill quickly. For more information and to register for camp, visit

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