John Ball Zoo Classes and Camps for 2019

Every year when we make our Spring and Summer Bucket Lists, my family always puts a visit to John Ball Zoo at the top. Even with my kids ages ranging from 6 to 12, the zoo has things that interest each of them.

And now that we are inching closer to Spring Break, we’re ready to plan some new adventures and I think extra zoo fun is just what we need!

With exciting camps and classes for my animal-loving kids, we are having a blast researching how we can take our John Ball Zoo experience to the next level. 

If your child also adores animals, can’t get enough of the zoo, or just loves to have fun, did you know they can come face to face with exotic animals, go on amazing animal adventures, and learn how to care for wild creatures at John Ball Zoo?

The zoo offers camps and classes just in time for spring and summer breaks, so give your kids something fun and unique to look forward to with a wild zoo adventure.

More Zoo Fun…
Behind the Scenes VIP Experience
20 Things to do at John Ball Zoo
Be a Zookeeper for a Day
Camps & Classes for Kids
Membership Perks

Animal Adventures Kids Will Return to Year after Year

Kids ages 3 years old through 9th grade can enjoy a variety of opportunities that range from two-hour classes to 4-day camps. There are even overnight adventures for older kids!

“We try to offer programs that fit a variety of ages,” says Rhiannon Mulligan, John Ball Zoo’s education program manager.

“Many kids have been coming back year after year for our camps and programs. Many of our repeat campers have made the transition from camp to becoming a teen volunteer and even paid staff.”

Thrill and nurture your little critter-lover by giving them exclusive and exciting access to the zoo, and see where they go from there! Read on to find out everything you need to know about what the zoo has to offer this year.

John Ball Zoo classes

Spring Break Registration is Open NOW!

Your kids have been cooped up all winter, and spring break is finally around the corner. What better way to release all that energy than surrounded by animals?

John Ball Zoo Camps are a totally unique, hands-on learning experience for animal-loving kids. Each camp is designed around a theme and brings the zoo to life in a way your kids have never seen before.

Kids will delight in interactive trips around the zoo, real animal encounters, games, and more.

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Spring Break Day Camps 2019

9:00am-4:00pm – $105/member/2-day session, $110/non-member/2-day session. For students in Kindergarten – 5th grade.

  • Monday & Tuesday, April 1 & 2: Zoocation – Join us for a zoocation around the world as we explore different habitats. We’ll learn who’s basking in the desert, hiding in the rainforest, or swimming through the kelp forest.
  • Wednesday & Thursday, April 3 & 4: Just Zoo It! – Explore some nooks and crannies of John Ball Zoo. We’ll see where the keepers make the food, where the animals sleep at night and some of the zoo’s wild park places!

Spring Break Overnight 2019

5:30pm-9:30am – $55/member, $60/non-member. For students in 3rd – 5th grade.

  • Friday, April 5: Starlight SafariSlumber near the chimpanzees on this great zoo adventure. Enjoy touring the zoo under the stars, animal encounters, breakfast while watching the animals, and even deliver a special treat to some of the animals!

Registration is currently open and filling up fast, so reserve your spot today.

Summer Break Camps 2019: Registration Opening SOON!

For over 25 years, West Michigan kids have made unforgettable memories at John Ball Zoo’s Summer Zoo Camp, and 2019 promises to be the best year yet!

Kids ages 3 years through 9th grade are placed in small classes by age and spend the summer exploring different animal themes through activities like games, zoo tours, park exploration, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, keeper talks, hands-on animal demonstrations, songs, stories, and art projects.

Classes range from Critter Tales for 3-year-olds to Extreme Animals for 3rd and 4th graders; from the Kindergartner’s Now You See Me, Now You Don’t to the middle schooler’s Junior Keeper classes. There is something for everyone!

Click here for a complete schedule and class descriptions.

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Early registration for summer camps is March 18-26 for zoo members, and registration opens for everyone else on March 27.

Cost information for summer camps:

  • 4-Day Camps (AM or PM) – $80/Member/Class, $85/Non-Member/Class
  • 2-Day Camps (Full Day 9am-4pm) – $105/Member/Class, $110/Non-Member/Class
  • Overnight Camps – $55/Member/Class, $60/Non-Member/Class

For full details on registration and camper information packets, visit the summer camp site, and get all your camp FAQs answered here.

Zoo Classes & One-Day Programs: A Roarin’ Good Time

John Ball Zoo also offers one-day classes and programs throughout the year for kids 3 and up. These themed classes and programs are hands-on learning fun that are sure to be a hit with any creature-loving kid!

  • Sprout Series (ages 3 & 4) $18/member/class, $20/non-member/class; Thursdays and Fridays, 9:00-11:30 am. A class especially for the youngest zoo enthusiasts! Your child will be in a small class (5:1 student-teacher ratio) and will spend the morning singing, crafting, playing, touring the zoo, and meeting animals. A light snack is provided. Spring 2019 includes topics like Animal ABC’s, Animal 123’s, Move with the Animals, and Animal Tales! Note that all children must be fully potty-trained.
  • Kid’s Night Out (ages 4-10) $25/child, $20 for each additional child in the same household. Friday evenings, 5:30-9:00 pm. kids will love this themed zoo adventure while parents enjoy a kid-free evening. While you have a night out, your kids will engage in a twilight tour of the zoo, a live animal encounter, crafts, stories, games, and a pizza dinner! Kid’s Night Out themes change each season, so check out what’s coming up.
  • Youth Overnights (3rd-8th grades) $55/Member, $60/Non-Member. Fridays 5:30pm-9:30am. Kids can spend the night with the zoo animals! Hear from zookeepers, take a night tour, and see live animal demonstrations. Evening snack and breakfast are included.
  • Twilight Tour (ages 5 and older) $10/member, $11/non-member, ages 17 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your family and a flashlight for an evening at the zoo! Learn how to use your senses at night and how animals have adapted to life in the dark. The program includes a guided tour, animal encounters, and hands-on activities.


The Fun Doesn’t End There: More Zoo Opportunities for Kids & Families

In addition to classes and camps, John Ball Zoo has many other great programs for the whole family.

If your child wants a sneak peek at how the zoo works, check out Behind the Scenes adventures like Keeper for a Half Day for ages 8 and up, Sneak a Peek group tours of the aquarium and African Savannah, and Close Encounters with animals from penguins to bears. The zoo is also known to throw wild birthday parties complete with treats and souvenirs!

Pro-tip: It pays to get a zoo membership! Camps and classes fill up fast, and members get early registration before everyone else. Plus, a membership gets you free admission the whole season, discounts at the gift shop and concessions, and discounts on all of the unique camps, classes, and special events!

A lifelong love and respect for animals starts with programs like those offered at John Ball Zoo, so explore the options with your child and let the adventure begin!

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John Ball Zoo

1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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