Discovery Day Camps
Discovery Camps are about fun, education and respect set in one of the most biologically diverse natural areas in Canada.
We strive to provide hands-on, environmental-based programs that suit the ages, needs and interests of our participants. These award-winning programs feature hikes, games, activities and daily explorations of ecologically significant nature sanctuaries covering over 1000 hectares of wetlands, fields and forests. Our goal is to introduce your child to a lifetime of respect and appreciation for the natural world that sustains us all.
CAMP MISSION AND VALUES: Royal Botanical Gardens’ Discovery Camps strive to promote healthy environmental attitudes and lifestyles through safe, respectful, fun and diverse outdoor learning experiences.
Week-Long Onsite Camps July and August
Day camps for children age 6 to 13
Spend your summer outside! This summer, our camps maximize time outdoors, allowing your child to connect with nature in the heart of the GTHA. Come explore our fields and forests, play games, and enjoy all that camp has to offer from July 5 to September 3.
Please note: onsite camp’s operation is subject to organization, municipal, and provincial health guidelines in place this summer. RBG will be in touch with camp families with the most up-to-date information regarding health guidelines and our programs.
One-day camps during the winter break
What happens to nature in the winter? Register for outdoor and environmental education day camps for children aged 4 to 13 years old. Come for a day or for the whole week!
Check back for registration in late fall.
March Break Camps
Virtual camps during March Break
Spend your March Break with us! RBG offers live virtual camp experiences for a variety of age groups. From exploring our trails and forests, to following animal tracks and see where they go. Come for the day or the week – we have adventures that work for you!
Check back for registration in early winter.
FAQ — Camp Guide for Parents
How Do I Register?
Programs are developed to meet the age and stage appropriateness of campers within the listed age range. Please register your child in the appropriate camp for their age.
Online Registration: Advanced registration is required. The best way to register is to do so online. When available, registration links will be posted here at rbg.ca/camps. You can find the links above, underneath the specific camp you are interested in (March Break, Summer, etc.)
Reminders Before Registering:
- The fastest and easiest way to register is to do so online at www.rbg.ca/camps
- Full payment MUST accompany registration
- Incomplete registration forms ARE NOT PROCESSED – please ensure all fields are filled out accurately
What is the Policy for Cancellation and Refunds?
Royal Botanical Gardens reserves the right to cancel any camp program if the minimum number of participants is not reached. If RBG cancels a camp, registrants are fully refunded. Refunds are not issued for inclement weather. The Friday prior to the registered camp week is the cut-off date for camp refund requests by purchasers.
Summer camp registration change or modification requests must be submitted in writing via email at rbg.ca/contact-camps and will be put in sequence to be processed beginning April 12, 2021. You will receive notification from RBG upon completion of your request.
All changes to camp registration are subject to a non-refundable $25 administration fee.
More than 10 business days before the start of the registered camp week: Full refund less $25
Within 10 business days before the start of the registered camp week: Refund subject to a service fee (full-day camp: $100)
Changes to camp preference or date can be made prior to the start of the registered camp week, and are subject to availability.
What does a day of camp look like?
Introductions, expectations, and icebreakers. Camp leaders will give your camper’s group some expectations for the week and let them know what they can look forward to during their week at camp. Campers will play games and participate in activities that will give them a chance to know each other and their camp leaders!
Discovery. At RBG, the foundation of our programs is inquiry-based and experiential learning. We want campers to ask questions and follow their curiosity. This part of your camper’s day inspires curiosity, discovery, and connection in a natural setting.
Games. Whether active or cool-downs, reflective or silly, the aim of our camp games is to have fun together. Campers will be able to engage in activities and games that foster a sense of community within their group and connection to the natural world.
Snack and lunch breaks. Whenever possible, our campers will have snack and lunch outside. Campers will practice proper handwashing before and after meal breaks and will practice physical distancing while eating.
Hike and nature exploration. Campers will spend time exploring RBG’s trails and gardens, learn about the animals and plants that make their homes here, and take advantage of all that nature has to offer.
Creative adventures and/or skills sharing. We take time each day to foster your camper’s creativity. Whether it’s learning a skill or diving into their artistic side, your camper will come home from their week of camp having learned something new.
Goodbyes. The group will wrap up their day with their counsellor, reflecting on the fun experiences they’ve had that day and looking forward to the next!
What Should My Camper Bring to Camp?
Campers need the following items to be prepared for all activities:
- To ensure a healthier environment please pack a litterless, nut-free lunch and two snacks from home. Extra masks, drinks or water bottles are encouraged.
- The NIC is a nut-aware facility. Please ensure that lunches and snacks are free of nuts, nut products and traces of nuts. Snacks that “may contain traces of nuts or nut products” are not permitted. Food that does not comply with our policy will be replaced with a healthy alternative.
- We are outside in all sorts of weather— please send your child with weather-appropriate clothing including hats, sunscreen, and a refillable water bottle.
- Please pack a pair of indoor shoes, 2 extra masks, and an extra change of clothing.
- Camp is a time to make friends, learn, and explore all of the wonders of our natural world. To facilitate this, please make sure electronic toys, music devices, video games, trading cards and toys in general stay at home.
- Please ensure that everything brought to camp is labeled with your child’s name.
- RBG is not responsible for any items your child loses at camp. Please label all of your child’s belongings with their first and last name and leave all valuables at home. Campers are asked not to bring items of any significant value. RBG does not provide refunds for damaged or lost belongings. Please do not bring electronic devices to camp.
Are There any Restrictions / Guidelines for Food at Camp?
Every camper needs to bring a healthy and peanut / nut safe lunch and snack for morning and afternoon snack breaks, as well as a refillable water bottle to nourish them throughout the day. To help us model good environmental behaviour, please pack a litterless lunch.
Nut Safe Policy: To ensure the safety and enjoyment of all of our campers, please ensure that lunches and snacks are free of peanuts, nuts, nut products and traces of nuts. Food that does not comply with our policy will be kept in your camper’s lunch to enjoy at home.
Who Are RBG Camp Leaders?
Camps are led by mature, experienced and passionate leaders who have a personal interest in ensuring that your child’s experience is one that will be cherished and remembered for many years. Our leaders are enthusiastic, carefully screened high school, college and university students or graduates. Many leaders and support staff have been with us for several years. These individuals provide a safe and enjoyable environment in which your child can learn, play and have fun. Camp leaders are assisted by supervisors, support staff, and junior staff, resulting in an average leader to camper ratio of 1:8. All of our staff members undergo intensive training that focuses on safety, healthy child development, environmental appreciation/education and program management. All leaders are certified in First Aid and canoeing. All staff members over the age of 18 are screened using local police criminal record checks.
Do you know someone who would be interested in becoming a camp leader? Current opportunities are posted at rbg.ca/careers
What Time Is Camp Available?
All full-day camp programs run Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drop off begins at 8:30 a.m., pick up ends at 4:30 p.m. In an effort to maintain cohorts and minimize mixing of campers, we will not be offering extended care this summer.
Which Location is my Camper In?
Summer Camp programs are based at one of two locations:
Nature Interpretive Centre in the Arboretum, 16A Old Guelph Road, Dundas
RBG Centre, 680 Plains Road West, Burlington
FAQ — Safety and Wellness
Signing Campers In and Out
Camp programs are based at one of two locations. Please make sure you know at which location the camp you have registered for takes place.
Nature Interpretive Centre Camps are located in the Arboretum, 16A Old Guelph Road, Dundas.
RBG Centre Camps take place at RBG Centre, 680 Plains Road West, Burlington.
Camper pick up and drop off will be in the same location outdoors each day. Only individuals authorized for camper pick up will be able to take their camper home. We check ID to verify authorized individuals for pick up.
In order for anyone other than the person who dropped off and signed the camper into the program, to sign out and pick up a camper they must show photo identification and must be listed on the child’s registration as either:
- a) a primary caregiver;
- b) an individual authorized for pickup;
- c) an individual listed as an emergency contact.
The individual must be over the age of 18 years. Any changes to these names on your initial registration must be noted in writing by letter addressed to Liz Jankowski, Education Programs Officer, Camp and Youth Programs and be accompanied by a listed caregiver’s signature.
Camper drop off and pick up will occur outside regardless of the weather. All individuals accompanying campers are asked to wear a 3 layer mask, as per local public health recommendations. Though camp families will be asked to conduct a COVID screening before coming onsite, we will have onsite options for COVID screening to ensure all families have conducted a screening before entering the camp space. After staff ensure a screening has been conducted, you will sign in with your camp group’s leader. They will then ensure you have all you need to be ready for your camp day.
Does my camper need to wear a face mask all day?
Following guidance from the Ontario Ministry of Health, we will require all campers and accompanying persons (including siblings, parents, staff, and administrators) to wear a 3-layer mask for the entirety of their time onsite, indoors or out, for the duration of the camp day (pick-up and drop-off included). Campers may remove masks to eat and drink when needed. Campers will be asked to bring extra masks to camp to change out when damp per local public health recommendations. If social distancing is possible, campers may be able to remove their masks for mask breaks outdoors.
Do I need to wear a mask when I drop off or pick up my camper?
Following guidance from the Ontario Ministry of Health, we will require all campers and accompanying persons (including siblings, parents, staff, and administrators) to wear a 3-layer mask for the entirety of their time onsite, indoors or out, for the duration of the camp day (pick-up and drop-off included).
What does physical distancing at camp look like?
We understand that in camp environment and when working with children, physical distancing can be challenging and may not be fully possible. While moments of close contact may be unavoidable between members of a cohort, physical distancing and general health and safety practices are strictly followed.
Health and Safety Protocols
COVID 19 Rights and Responsibilities
Royal Botanical Gardens understands and respects the rights of all staff, volunteers, and program participants to be protected from infectious diseases. Royal Botanical Gardens follows the public health and workplace safety measures and regulations as indicated by local public health units, local municipalities, and the Province of Ontario. As such, program participants (including accompanying individuals) are mandatorily required to adhere to the processes and policies that are put in place to mitigate effects of infectious diseases. Such processes and policies include, but are not limited to: face coverings, daily medical screening, and social distancing. Royal Botanical Gardens will make aware all program participants of required actions and measures in a reasonable amount of time before the start of a program and with a reasonable amount of time if and as regulations change within a program’s run time. It is the right of Royal Botanical Gardens to restrict the access to or remove from its programs and properties to any individual who does not adhere to such processes and policies.
We are vigilant in our concern for the health and safety of all participants. Children are required to wash their hands several times a day, especially before they eat. We do not allow children to share food, drink or utensils. If your child is not feeling well please keep them home. If a child arrives at camp with an obvious illness, their caregivers are immediately contacted and asked to take the child home.
COVID assessment form: We will be asking families to complete a self-assessment form prior to their first camp program. Participants are asked to conduct this screening the morning of each day of camp. If participants fail the screening for any reason, they are asked to stay home and notify RBG.
Daily medical screening: We will be asking families to complete a self-assessment form prior to their first camp program. Participants are asked to conduct this screening the morning of each day of camp. If participants fail the screening for any reason, they are asked to stay home and notify RBG.
Masks: We will require all campers and accompanying persons (including siblings, parents, staff, and administrators) to wear a 3-layer mask for the entirety of their time onsite, indoors or out, for the duration of the camp day (pick-up and drop-off included). Campers will be asked to bring extra masks to camp to change out when damp per local public health recommendations.
Maintaining camp cohorts: The camp day will not include extended care to minimize mixing of campers and maintain the integrity of camp cohorts.
Small group sizes: To keep our sessions small and comply with organization, municipal, and provincial health guidelines, we have made our camp groups small to balance keeping safe with the camp experience.
Up-to-date health and safety guidelines: Our camp staff will comply with all organization, municipal, and provincial health guidelines, and will update guidelines as needed. Royal Botanical Gardens will make aware all program participants of required actions and measures in a reasonable amount of time before the start of a program if and as regulations change within a program’s run time.
Maximizing outdoor time: Camp will take place entirely outdoors this summer, with indoor spaces reserved for washroom and/or heat breaks. Please note: in case of inclement weather, camp will be inside for the duration of the inclement weather period.
Minimizing indoor time: Each camp group will have an assigned indoor space to go to should inclement weather threaten. Please note that in the event of inclement weather, all camp groups will be inside the Nature Interpretive Centre or RBG Centre for the entirety of the inclement weather period. All campers, staff, and volunteers will wear masks for the duration of the camp day, both inside and out.
Inclement Weather Policy
Although we are an outdoor based program and campers are expected to come to camp prepared for the weather of the day, there may be times when we will shelter from inclement and extreme weather. The camp group will retreat to an indoor space used exclusively for that camp cohort until the weather event passes. Each camper has their own individual “camp zone”, distanced from other campers’ zones. They will spend time in their zone engaging in fun activities until the weather has passed and campers may go outside once more.
Please note: should inclement weather last the full day, camp cohorts will be inside for the full day as well. Cohorts will stagger meal and snack breaks so that only one cohort is eating in the building at any one time. Camp leaders will maximize the time campers remain distanced and ensure camp spaces are as ventilated as possible for the duration of any camper indoor time.
Behaviour Management Procedures
Royal Botanical Gardens’ Discovery Day Camps strive to create a positive and safe community through safe, respectful, fun and diverse learning experiences. Communication and coaching are used to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience. Behaviour that is seen to go against a positive atmosphere and is seen as unacceptable behaviour is dealt with swiftly and according to RBG’s behaviour management procedures. Campers who, given guidance and opportunities to correct their behaviour, fail to comply with these guidelines, are subject to progressive discipline up to and including having their privilege to participate in camp revoked. Refunds are not given for any camper who is sent home or removed from program for disciplinary reasons.
FAQ — Rights and Responsibilities
- to be observant of signs of distress or suspected negative incidents at camp
- to report any suspected incidences of physical or emotional violence
- to enjoy the benefits of a safe and inclusive environment
- to be observant of signs of distress or suspected negative incidents at camp
- to respect camp expectations as well as the physical and emotional safety of others
- to report any acts of physical or emotional behaviour against themselves or another camper
of Leaders and Volunteers
- to be role models in words and actions
- to be observant of signs of distress or suspected negative incidents at camp
- to report and record all incidences of physical or emotional violence
- to handle all situations with compassion and objectivity
Help Send a Child to Camp
Please consider increasing your camp registration fee with a charitable gift to Green Angels. Your generous donation provides children and families in financial need the opportunity to explore, learn and let their imagination grow in a safe environment – the natural world of Royal Botanical Gardens. Following your online registration you are prompted to top-up your fee with a charitable gift. Please give generously and be a Green Angel to a child in need today.
Have the fun of camp but reap the benefits of being a leader! Volunteer with an enthusiastic staff team who share a common interest and learn more about the environment, camping and working with children. Junior leaders learn to care for children in an educational setting through training, job shadowing and supported leadership activities. Junior leaders have opportunities to lead games, create and brainstorm activities and facilitate camp programs all while gaining volunteer hours. Participants are required to make a minimum five-week commitment.
About RBG's Junior Leader Program
Acceptance into this program is based on leadership experience, teamwork and flexibility as well as a sense of initiative and a willingness to learn new skills.
Application Requirements for Junior Leaders
- 14 years of age or older
- Leadership experience (i.e. babysitting, Scout/Guide helper, sports captain, previous Royal Botanical Gardens leadership training)
- Teamwork skills and flexibility; self-initiative and willingness to learn
- Preference given to those who have outdoor experience, experience working with children in an organized environment, a demonstrated interest in outdoor education/environmental science, pure science or teaching or those who have participated in a previous leadership training at Royal Botanical Gardens.
All participants in our Summer Junior Leader program must participate in a weekend training session in June.
How to Apply
Winter and March Break Camps: express your interest at the “Contact Camps” form below.
Summer Camp: Fill out the Junior Leader Application found at the link below. Complete the application, attaching a résumé and a letter outlining your interest in the program by April 30, 2021. Interviews for qualified candidates begin in the spring and continue until positions have been filled. Apply here.
For more information, please contact email@example.com.
Contact the Education Team
Have a specific question not answered here? Send us a message using the form below! If you have a child in camp and are looking to contact the team at the Nature Interpretive Centre, give us a call at 905-527-1158 ext. 340. For questions about the camp registration process, call 905-527-1158 ext. 270.