Nature Day Camps

Voted the #1 Day Camp in Charlottesville!

The Living Earth Explorers and Themed Day Camps are a one-of-a-kind nature camp experience. We have been voted a favorite summer day camp for over 10 years!! We will spend the week exploring the beautiful Virginia mountains, streams and other wild places. Campers work together in small groups learning about the natural world, plants, mammals, tracking, birds, wilderness survival, awareness and so much more. We do this with hands-on activities, games, adventures and fun challenges. Our instructors are “Nature Connection Mentors” and guide campers into experiences that nurture their connection to the earth and allow them to feel at home in the natural world.

At Living Earth Camps, we give each camper the attention they need to follow their passions, to connect with nature and each other. We have some of the best staff on the planet ~ really. The campers come first because they should. At camp, we try to keep life simple, natural, full of learning and laughter. Just good ol’ down to earth fun!

Camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 am – 4 pm.

Our Summer Day Camps:

daycamp_kids_swim_rockExplorers is our flagship day camp for all children aged 7-13. We will continue to have our general day camp for ages 7-13, called “Explorers Day Camp”, for new campers and returning, with all the classic favorites of Living Earth. It is our basic nature camp that focuses on nature connection and fun all day. If you are signing your child up for our day camps for the first time, please register for the Explorers Day Camp, held several weeks throughout the summer.

Themed Day Camps are available for campers ages 9-14 who have attended one previous Explorers Day Camp this summer or a previous summer! Themed Day Camps still keep the favorite core routines, but the daily focus centers around the particular theme of the week with some new challenges and activities. LES reserves the right to cancel a themed camp registration if the participant has not met the prerequisite requirement of attending at least one Explorers Day Camp session first.

2022 themes for campers 9-14:

Forest Ninjas:


Want to learn how to sneak around and become undetectable in the woods? To go with the flow of nature and move silently through the wilderness? We will get down and dirty with wild camouflage, scouting techniques, “jedi training course,” hiding and sneaking games, honing in with our intuition and fine-tuning our senses. Forest Ninjas, unite!

animal_bones_bookshomeschool_cooking_pancakes_coalsElements of Survival:
Fire, Water, Shelter, Food. Do you long to live off the land? Begin to learn the skills you need to live in the woods. Each skill will be tested with a fun, special challenge! Campers will use knives and learn knife safety in this camp.

Fort-topia:
A week of massive fort building awaits! Forts to camouflage, forts to keep you warm and dry, forts to make with your friends – we will do it all!

Fire Lovers:
Does even the thought of sitting around a campfire built by you or your friends sound exciting? Imagine a week full of fire making adventures. Learn the ins and out of fire safety skills as our basis, how to properly build a teepee fire, how to light a fire using flint and steel, bow drill or a handrill. Yes, you can really make a fire by rubbing sticks together! Once campers have a grasp of the basics, we will set off on all kinds of fire making challenges, cook wild teas and make some tasty campfire cooked meals. Campers will use knives and learn knife safety in this camp.

Animal Lovers:

This camp is all about animals and where to find them. Learn about your favorite animals, how to spot animal homes and habitats, hear stories of animals, go wildlife tracking/looking for specific animal sign, bird language, and animal forms. We will also learn how to use field guides, connect with the trees, bees, plants, birds and scat. We will create our own handmade nature journals to track our progress.

Fishing Skills:

Sitting by the stream watching fish swim by is a timeless tradition. For this week campers will make all of their own fishing gear from rods, to lines, and hooks from natural materials. Experienced fisherman Big Red will teach campers how to catch and release. They will learn how to use field guides and how to find good stream sit spots. Campers will use knives and learn knife safety in this camp.

Art in Nature:

Get ready to be CREATIVE all day! This camp is for those who love making things from natural materials and/or want some coaching in their drawing or painting skills, while still getting to play old favorite games, swimming, and wandering barefoot. We will work with 2-D and 3-D projects from learning how to draw feathers and making our own paint, to making baskets and picture frames. Our core routine of sit-spot will take on a special artistic twist each day, too!

Click here to See Day Camps for Teens

Please read our COVID-19 Protocols Document HERE before registering.

Is your favorite camp marked FULL? Register to be on our waiting list (no cost)!

2023 Day Camp Details

  • Explorers Camps are for Ages 7 – 13, Themed Camps are for Ages 9-14

    Registration closes 4 days before camp start date

    Check the location box on the registration page to view only camps at the site you wish to attend. There are multiple pages of camps.

  • Week 1: June 12- 16: Explorers (BVL or MRC)
  • Week 2: June 19 – 23: Explorers (BVL or MRC) -or- Fire Lovers (BVL or MRC) -or- Fort-Topia (MRC)
  • Week 3: June 26 – 30: Explorers (BVL or MRC) -or- Forest Ninjas (BVL or MRC) -or- Animal Lovers (MRC)
  • Week 4: July 10 – 14: Explorers (BVL or MRC) -or- Fort-Topia (BVL or MRC) -or- Elements of Survival (MRC)
  • Week 5: July 17 – 21: Explorers (BVL or MRC) -or- Fire Lovers (BVL or MRC) -or- Fishing Skills (MRC)
  • Week 6: July 24 – 28: Explorers (BVL or MRC) -or- Animal Lovers (BVL or MRC) -or- Elements of Survival (MRC) -or- Teen Bow-Making (MRC)
  • Week 7: July 31 – Aug 4: Explorers (BVL or MRC) -or- Elements of Survival (BVL or MRC) -or- Forest Ninjas (MRC)
  • Week 8: August 7 – 11: Explorers (BVL or MRC) -or- Forest Ninjas (BVL or MRC) -or- Art in Nature (MRC) -or- Teen Wood, Leather, Metal (MRC)
  • Camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 am – 4 pm.
  • 2 Locations: Check the box on the registration page for the site you wish to attend to shorten the list. There are multiple pages of camps.

    Free Union VA: Moormans River Camp (MRC) a beautiful expanse of woods and fields to explore along the gorgeous Moormans river in the White Hall/Free Union area only a 15 minute drive from Barracks Road shopping center in Charlottesville, VA. (All Teen Day Camps will be held here).

    Batesville VA: Batesville Camp (BVL) a fantastic landscape of forests and ponds to explore along the Mechums river in Batesville. Only 20 minutes from Charlottesville, VA. (Stepping Stones camp for ages 5-6 will only be held at this site).

  • Cost for each day camp is $395 (Teen Day Camps are $495)

    Financial Assistance: We do have a growing Scholarship Fund for campers this summer thanks to generous donors! Please fill out this APPLICATION FORM to be considered for financial assistance. Scholarships are decided on a first-come first-serve basis and applicants will hear back within 3 weeks. We recommend applying before Jan 16, 2023. The application period ends March 20th, 2023.

  • Prerequisite for all themed day camps: Camper must have attended at least one Living Earth Explorers Day Camp, and be age 9-14. LES reserves the right to cancel a themed camp registration if the participant has not met the prerequisite requirement.
  • Free T-shirt included