School’s Out! Camps 2018

We had an absolute blast during both of our School’s Out! camps this year, despite some wacky weather getting in our way.

For our February break, we took advantage of the warm weather early in the week to learn about some of our Animal Ambassadors outdoors, with help from fellow staffer Savannah Wilson, assisted by youth volunteer caretaker and porcupine expert, Alex Allmon.

We also learned about the process of maple sugaring for maple syrup production from another staff member, Matt Sacco, and we even tried our hand at tapping a few of the maple trees within our sugarbush.


A change in the weather brought us a winter wonderland by the end of the week, so the only thing to do was to build a snow fort!

For our March break, the (slightly) warmer weather allowed us to begin our search for spring life! When not working on our forest fortress, we took time to turn over the rotting logs around us to observe the diversity of life living beneath.

We found red backed salamanders, brown centipedes, a hibernating bald-faced hornet queen, red centipedes, and ground beetle larva!

We also kept our eyes peeled for scat and tracks from our resident wildlife (and found plenty of raccoon scat!) and we were happy to end our week on a high note by getting to observe a flight demonstration from Savannah and Ace, our Red-tailed hawk!


Our brief adventures outdoors has given us a taste of the summer to come and we very much look forward to the impending discoveries our vital landscape has to offer. We hope to see you all again in a few short months!



Registration for summer 2018 – opening soon!

Is the bitter cold bringing you down? Shake off your arctic funk by turning your attention to the sunny summer ahead!

We are excited to announce that registration for our next summer camp season will be opening this Friday, 1/5/18!

The online registration for our upcoming School’s Out! camps will remain open and options for the summer day camp 2018 will be added on Friday. This years program descriptions, as well as our Explorer camp themes, are available under the “About Our Camp” section and our full camp brochure, (digital and print versions) will be made available this March. In the meantime, please feel free to call our camp office at the number listed below with any questions you may have about our programs.

In addition, you can pay us a visit at the Center during our winter visitor hours, (Monday – Sunday from 10am-4pm) or, better yet, catch us at our annual Maple Festival on March 17th.

We hope to see you and your camper sometime soon!


Cayuga Nature Center Staff

Winter Camp Photo Gallery

Despite the unusually warm weather, we had a blast at our winter camp this year. We made giant shelters, stretched our legs with some hiking, and tapped our maple trees to collect sap for syrup!

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Enrollment for our Spring Camp (April 17th – 21st) is still open. Learn more and register at our website.


A Look Back at 2016, and our 2017 Winter Camps!

Now that winter has settled in, we would like to take a moment to remember just how much fun we had in the warm summer sun! Check out our 2016 photo gallery of some of our favorite moments and memories from this past season.

Looking to carry over some of that camp magic into the new year? Our 2017 winter camps will keep your camper active in the outdoors while learning new naturalist skills for the snowy season.

Find out more information, or register online, at our website.


Week Eight! (8/15 – 8/19)

We had a great week in Explorer Camp learning all about Survival Skills to help us gain confidence and preparedness for outings in the woods! Our campers showed off their engineering skills building some impressive survival shelters complete with weather-proof thatching! We also learned useful knots, and crafted real cordage from cattail!

And, of course, enjoyed plenty of camouflage games in the woods while some yummy treats simmered over the fire.


Our Director of Programs, Matt Sacco, even demonstrated for our campers how – to prepare a fish caught from our Waterfront.

Meanwhile, our Animal Campers caught the Pokemon bug, using animals within our Animal Collection to create their very own one – of – a – kind Pokemon!

We think their creativity was pretty stellar! They also studied the evolution of feathers and learned all about the techniques and consideration in animal enclosure design.

Our Art Campers focused their creative skills on printing with leaves, harnessed solar power to create sun prints, and honed their sketching skills with chalk pastels.

Week nine features:

Explorer Camp: A Farewell to Summer

Preschool Naturalist Camp

Critter Camp

Archery Camp


Reminder: Bus Service Ending Today

Attention all camp parents, this is a reminder that the bus service from Boynton Middle School to camp will be ending this Friday, (today).  This service is provided through the TCAT public bus system, and the route to the Cayuga Nature Center (Route 22) is seasonal only and not available during weekdays after August 18th.

Please make arrangements for pick – up and drop – off of your camper at the Cayuga Nature Center Lodge, (1420 Taughannock Blvd., Ithaca NY 14850). Our drop – off is from 8am – 9am and our pick – up is between 4pm – 5:30pm.


Cayuga Nature Center Staff

Week 7! (August 8 – 12)

We experienced some serious high temperatures this week, but luckily we were able to stay cool during our “World of Water” week.

We enjoyed learning about aquatic habitats from ponds to streams, met some awesome amphibians while we listened to some frog songs and enjoyed a slow motion video of our eastern toad Nugget enjoying a meal, (link to follow soon!).

Even the local Waterfowl and shore birds seemed to get into the theme, joining us as we went for a swim in the lake on Tuesday. Our vigilant gull friend, “Steven Seagull”, and the curious “Duck Norris”, both made guest appearances.



While respecting the resident wildlife, we certainly enjoyed our time in the lake splashing around, reading or playing a widely goofy version of “Ninja” in the shoreline.

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Our Archery campers did a wonderful job improving their form and overall accuracy practicing each day on our course. They also enjoyed a flint knapping workshop with our Director of Programs, Matt Sacco, eventually turning their stone points into homemade arrows.


Our Critter campers had lots of eggs-ellent adventures, getting to know our animal ambassadors, including our newly hatched dove, Potato! They learned all about reptile eggs by creating their own replicas using vinegar and chicken eggs, before candling some real snapping turtle eggs that were rescued from a mulch pile on our property! We can’t wait to see if they hatch!

We capped the week off with our annual tradition of a slip n’ slide! We saw some award – winning slides, and even our camp director, Dayna Jorgenson, made the yearly run, going for gold in longest slide.


Coming up next week:

Explorer Camp : Survival Skills

Animal Camp

Art Camp

and Preschool Naturalists

A Note from the CDC on Zika Virus

Courtesy of the Center for Disease Control, as well as the local Department of Health, we would like to share some information with our camp families regarding increasing concerns about the spread of the Zika virus, and how you can help protect your camper during their time outdoors at camp, as well as at home. Please review the information below.

For a current report of mosquito-bourne disease from the New York State Department of Health, click here : STATEWIDE MOSQUITO-BORNE DISEASE ACTIVITY REPORT – August 3, 2016

CDC - Protecting Children at CampCDC - Protecting Children at Camp 2

Download a PDF of the above here : Tactic 2 CDC – Protecting Children at Camp


Week 6! (August 1 – 5)

As our beautiful summer continues, we got Wild about Wildlife this week in our Explorer program. We tracked the trails of our deer through the forest, explored the puddles and rotting logs for hoppers and crawlers, and got a glimpse of the nocturnal explorations of our furred friends by setting out trail cameras around our property.

We also learned about the behaviorism behind bird song, and even practiced our own morning chorus using bird song mnemonics. Listen to a recording of our morning chorus here.

In addition, we constructed several insect – friendly hotels stuffed with natural materials for our beneficial bug friends and their larva to call home, and carefully placed them around our gardens.  Campers named their constructions “Beetops” (inspired by our six – story treehouse, “Treetops”) and the “Hug Botel”.

Quickly making his own home on a Milkweed plant in our Courtyard, we were happy to observe daily this little guy on his journey to become a Monarch butterfly.


Our Preschoolers had a blast learning about animal camouflage, playing animal ISpy, hunting for different colored “worms” in the field, and getting colorful with a corn – starch based body paint.

Our Art Camp experimented with a diverse array of medias through sketching, sculpting, tie – dye, and also made some solar – powered fabric prints using an acrylic paint and water mixture.


Our TEAM camp did an amazing job climbing and building team skills on our low and high ropes course, pushing themselves to conquer new heights!

Stay tuned to see what we discover this week through the amazing “World of Water”, along with the return of our Critter and Archery camp programs.

A Note About Current Drought Conditions

While the Cayuga Nature Center does not rely on municipal water supply, we are equally concerned about the current drought conditions affecting our area, and are adhering to the voluntary water restrictions set forth by the Department of Health last week.

In terms of how this affects our camp, we will be transporting lake water for all activities and irrigation needs that can make use of unfiltered water. Campers will still be provided filtered spring water for drinking, and encouraged to regularly wash hands before lunch and snack using the water from our well system.

As a parent, you can help us to reiterate the importance of water conservation during this critical time by explaining to your camper the current environmental conditions and their impacts, as well as the importance of respecting the water supply. Many common behaviors we are attempting to discourage in the camp setting include campers walking away from running faucets,  using bathroom sinks for splash play or intentionally flooding the sink, and frequent dumping of water bottles for refills because the camper believes the water is too warm or has “gone bad”.

By educating our campers on the reasoning behind these restrictions, we can encourage a more responsible attitude towards the conservation of this very important resource, and help protect our well water supply by cutting down on our consumption rate.

We thank you for your understanding and hope you help us in this initiative.