2021 John Ball Zoo Summer Camps and Classes Lineup + When Registration Opens

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John Ball Zoo Classes & Summer Camps are BACK

Last week I casually asked my kindergartener if he’d like to go to zoo camp this summer. He stopped what he was doing and gave me a big hug. “YES!!” he cried.

John Ball Zoo camp is every animal-loving kid’s dream, and after a crazy covid year and last year’s summer camps being anything but normal, kids are really looking forward to 2021 summer camps at JBZ.

There are fascinating animals galore, lots of hands-on adventures, and teachers who consistently bring the zoo to life with each class.

girl at John Ball Zoo camp
photo credit Joseph Mead

John Ball Zoo understands kids – and the staff intentionally crafts camps that inspire wonder and learning in kids.

And now that John Ball Zoo is open for the 2021 season (starting March 27, 2021) kids can get ready for a new year of exploration at their favorite zoo. 

John Ball Zoo Summer Camps and Classes are a Guaranteed Hit With Your Kid

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

My kids have attended many summer camps over the years, and John Ball Zoo is the camp they consistently ask to return to. There are so many options that allow kids to pick camps that focus on their interests. Kids can learn about jungle animals, the tropics, zoo photography or even become a junior zookeeper, and a lot more.

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

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John Ball Zoo’s Programs Have Even Helped Build Volunteers and Staff

Kids 3 years old – 9th grade can enjoy a variety of opportunities that range from half day to full day camps.

“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! 

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Spring Break 2021 Registration is Open NOW!

Your kids have been cooped up all winter (let’s face it – since last spring), and spring break is finally here. The plants are waking up, and so are the animals at JBZ. 

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 2021

Registration is full for 2021 Spring Break camps, but you can get on the waitlist to see if a spot opens up.

8:30 AM – 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM
$90 – Members  $95 – Non-Members
For students in Kindergarten – 5th grade

K-2nd Grade – Animals: Near and Far! From chipmunks to chimps, toads to tigers, the zoo is home to some incredible animals! Take a hike through John Ball’s nature trails to see what critters we can find in our own backyard. Then, head into the zoo to discover creatures from all over the world!

3rd-5th Grade – Animal Professionals Working with animals is wild! This week, step into the shoes of zoo keepers, wildlife researchers, and veterinarians. Do you have what it takes to be an animal professional?

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines: John Ball Zoo requires all program participants ages 5 and older to wear a mask at all times for the duration of the program. Parents/guardians are also required to wear masks while checking in their child(ren). All participants will also be asked to participate in a health screening and temperature check at the time of check-in. Please read all confirmation material carefully for further information regarding safety screening for participation in the class. 

John Ball Zoo Summer Camps 2021: Registration Opening SOON!

For over 25 years, West Michigan kids have made unforgettable memories at John Ball Zoo’s Summer Zoo Camp, and JBZ is excited for the 2021 season!

Early summer camp registration for members is March 31- April 11, 2021, and registration opens for everyone else on April 12.

Kids ages 4 years – 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 Fancy Feet for 4-year-olds to Tropical Treasures 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. 

Click here for a complete schedule and class descriptions. 

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All camps this year are 4 days (AM or PM), Monday – Thursday. Cost is $90/members/class or $95/non-members/class.

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

COVID-19 Safety Guidelines: John Ball Zoo requires all program participants age 5+* to wear a mask at all times for the duration of the program. Parents/guardians are also required to wear masks while checking in their child(ren). All participants will also be asked to participate in a health screening and temperature check at the time of check-in. Please read all confirmation material carefully for further information regarding safety screening for participation in the class.  

*MDHHS orders require 4 year olds to be masked only when in public indoor buildings. This would require masking in our aquarium, frogs, Natural Treasures, and indoor chimp viewing areas. 4 year olds are not required to be masked when outside or in their classroom. 

**Camp classes are currently limited to 10 participants/class. As guidelines change this may increase, at which time wait lists would be utilized to fill additional spots prior to opening registration on-line. 

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

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

Even though overnights at the zoo aren’t currently happening, there are plenty of other fun learning opportunities – including virtual safaris.

  • Animal Exploration (K – 2) Discover the amazing world of animals at John Ball Zoo! We’ll explore everything from senses to the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates as well as the different habitats our favorite critters find to hide and build their homes.
  • Zoo STEM (3rd – 5th) Learn how animals act as engineers and how we engineer environments and toys for the animals in our care!
  • Zoo Careers (6th – 8th) Learn about a variety of Zoo Careers by exploring and talking with the experts to learn about different animal-related careers in the Zoo field. Each class will highlight a different career.
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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! (Note: some of these opportunities are currently suspended due to COVID-19.)

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 logo
1300 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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(616) 336-4300

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