Instead of spending the summer, or any home-from-school day, sitting in front of the TV, send your science-loving child on a dinosaur dig by signing her up for a paleontology-themed camp. Whether your little one goes to a science center, natural history museum, community center or other educational institution, paleontology camps can provide kids with the opportunity to learn about Jurassic giants.
Before choosing a paleontology camp for your child, consider the possibilities and your family's needs first. Dinosaur-themed camps run the gamut from easy introductions to dinosaurs to more involved programs that feature scientific observations and exploring real fossils. Additionally, many programs include half-day, full-day, overnight, summer or holiday camp options. Your local science center might offer a morning dinosaur camp for young children in preschool and under or a full-day experience for grade-schoolers and tweens. Another consideration to take into account is the camp leader. Ask the organization or institution who is teaching the class. A college student might make an excellent option for little learners, while your older child might need a more experienced educator such as a museum teacher or professor.
Science Centers and Museum Day Camps
If you feel that looking at, or interacting with, real fossils is key to your child's paleontology experience, check out a dinosaur-themed camp at your local science center or natural history museum. These camps often use the center's or museum's collection of fossils as a focal point for your child's educational experience. For example, the Akron Fossils and Science Center has weeklong summer Dinosaur Adventure Camps for kids ages 5 through 11 that feature themes such as Fossil Facts and Fiction. Likewise, the University of Kansas Natural History Museum offers a Dinosaur Detectives summer camp with a simulated dinosaur dig. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's summer program features paleontology-themed camps at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Instead of throwing your child into a multi-week camp session before she's ready, send her to a one-night weekend sleepover at a science center or museum. The Science Museum of Minnesota offers a Camp-In where your child can sleep next to towering dinosaurs and learn about the creatures from trained museum educators. Some organizations offer weeklong, or longer, summer camps that feature paleontology topics. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has overnight camps for families, and kids in second through 12th grades. These five-day camps include fossil hunting and polishing.
Although most dinosaur camps feature mock fossil digs and simulated paleontological activities for the younger set, teens can explore real-life dinosaur explorations in advanced programs. These are often held in conjunction with universities, museums or schools that have paleontology departments. The Dinosaur Paleontology Camp for High School Students at the CEU Prehistoric Museum features workshops taught at a real dinosaur quarry in Utah. The South Dakota Museum of Geology also offers a summer paleontology camp for more advanced learners. This five-day program features field work and lectures.