John Ball Zoo: Classes and Camps 2017

Did you know your child can come face to face with exotic animals, go on amazing animal adventures, and learn how to care for wild creatures–right here in our own backyard at John Ball Zoo?

John Ball Zoo offers exciting camps and classes for kids of all ages, just in time for spring and summer breaks. Give your child something fun and unique to look forward to as they spend the day or week exploring the zoo in a whole new way!


Kids ages 3 years old – 9th grade can enjoy various camp and class offerings, which 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 the many wonderful camp and class opportunities offered this year.

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SEE ALSO: A Parent’s Guide to John Ball Zoo

Spring Break at the Zoo!

Your kids have been cooped up all winter, and spring break is finally almost here–how about going wild and spending it at the zoo?!

John Ball Zoo Camps are a totally unique, hands-on learning experience for animal-loving kids. Each 2-day camp (or overnight adventure!) is centered around a theme and brings the zoo to life in a way your kids have never seen it before.


  • Spring Break Day Camps 2017 9:00am-4:00pm – $100/member/2-day session, $105/non-member/2-day session. For students in Kindergarten through 5th grade.
    • Monday & Tuesday, April 3 & 4: Who’s at the Zoo? The Zoo is home to 1,600 animals, but how did they all get here? We’ll explore how far animals traveled to get to John Ball Zoo, investigate how keepers buckle in a tiger, and learn what a big job it is to get animals ready for a trip to the Zoo!
    • Wednesday & Thursday, April 5 & 6: 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 we’ll explore some of the Zoo’s wild park places!

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  • Spring Break Overnight 2017 5:30pm-9:30am – $50/member, $55/non-member. For students in 3rd through 5th grade.
    • Friday, April 7 – Saturday, April 8: Starlight Safari – Slumber near the chimpanzees on this great zoo adventure. Enjoy touring the zoo under the stars, getting up-close with animal encounters, eating breakfast while watching the animals, and delivering a special treat to some of the animals.

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

RELATED: Grand Rapids Spring Break Daily Activity Guide 2017

Summer Break Camps 2017: Registration Opening SOON!

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For over 25 years, West Michigan kids have made unforgettable memories at John Ball Zoo’s Summer Zoo Camp–and 2017 promises to be just as exciting as years past!

Kids ages 3 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-scene tours, keeper talks, hands-on animal demonstrations, songs, art projects and more! Click here for a complete schedule and list of class descriptions.


Early registration for John Ball Zoo members is March 20-28, and non-members can register beginning March 29. Pricing is as follows:

  • 4-Day (AM, PM) Camps – $75/Member/Class  $80/Non-Member/Class
  • 2-Day (Full Day – 9am-4pm) Camps – $100/Member/Class  $105/Non-Member/Class
  • Overnight Camps – $50/Member/Class  $55/Non-Member/Class

Still have questions about either the Spring or Summer Camps? Check out the zoo’s Camp FAQ page here!

SEE ALSO: 9 Reasons you Need a John Ball Zoo Membership

A Roarin’ Good Time: Zoo Classes & 1-Day Programs

John Ball Zoo also offers 1-day classes and programs throughout the year for kids of all ages. These themed classes and programs are fun, hands-on learning experiences that are sure to be a hit with your creature-loving kids!

  • Sprout Series (ages 3 & 4) $18/member/class, $20/non-member/class; Thursdays and Fridays, 9-11:30AM. A class especially for the youngest zoo enthusiasts! Your child will be in a small class (student to teacher ratio of 5:1), and will spend the morning singing songs and doing crafts, playing games, going on a special zoo tour, meeting animals up-close, and more! Note that all children must be potty-trained. Spring 2017 topics include: Sensory Exploration, Zoo 1, 2, 3’s, and Movement. Click here for a full description of all the classes.JohnBallZoo1


  • Kid’s Night Out (ages 4-12) $25/child, $20 for each additional child in same household. Held on Friday evenings from 5:30-9PM, parents can enjoy a kid-free evening while the kids enjoy a themed zoo adventure. Kids will experience a twilight tour of the zoo, a live animal encounter, crafts, stories, games and more. Pizza dinner is included. Learn more here!
  • Twilight Sensory Safari (ages 5 and older) $9/member, $10/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 are adapted to life in the dark. The program includes an animal encounter, hands-on activities for children ages 5 years and above, and a guided tour. Spring dates are in March and April from 7-9PM–click here to see a complete list.

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Don’t forget to check out the zoo’s other programs for kids, such as Behind the Scenes and Overnight Adventures. John Ball Zoo is also known to throw wild birthday parties!

Finally, here’s an insider tip from one of our moms: If your schedule is limited or if your child really wants to do a particular camp topic, then it pays to be a member and get the early registration times. Camps fill up REALLY fast! Membership starts at just $80/household and includes free admission to the zoo for the whole season, among other benefits! Click here to learn more about membership.

A lifelong love for animals starts through programs like the ones offered at John Ball Zoo. Let your child begin their adventure this spring or summer!

John Ball Zoo

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



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By | 2017-05-12T14:41:03+00:00 March 14th, 2017|Categories: SEASONAL, Spring, Summer, THINGS TO DO, West Michigan Camps|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sara White
Sara is a full-time mother of two and a part-time writer, bookworm, and tea junkie. She is originally from the east and west coasts, but enjoys calling the wonderful city of Grand Rapids home.

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