Hypothesis: If ingenuity is related to curiosity, then these camps must be out of this world.

The Science Camps



Length of Stay: Extended
Age Range of Campers: 8-18
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:5
Price (for specific length of stay mentioned): $555 for nonmembers

BLAST OFF TO OMSI’s Hancock Field Station for six days of space exploration at Astronomy Camp, but leave the space-suit behind: These astro-campers remain well grounded by participating in the Oregon Star Party at Indian Trail Spring. At base camp, they’ll learn why stars don’t really twinkle, navigate the sky from Orion to Ursa Major, travel to far-off galaxies in OMSI’s planetarium and study the sun while hiking through the Marslike high-desert terrain. At night, budding Neil Armstrongs and Sally Rides catch glimpses of quasars and meteors through high-powered telescopes before discussing the future of humans in space, the Big Bang Theory and other cosmic conundrums with staffers around the campfire. If your child is more of a Tesla or Curie, OMSI also offers camps in 15 other scientific fields.



Length of Stay: Extended
Age Range of Campers: 12-17
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:7
Price (for specific length of stay mentioned): $465-495

THE AUDUBON Society of Portland isn’t just for the birds. Thanks to three separate marine-biology-focused camping trips departing from the city this summer, teens can head for Washington’s San Juan Islands to gain a better understanding of our underwater world and its denizens. Spying on frolicking sea lions, observing orcas and tide-pooling amid crags allow campers to develop their inner Jacques Cousteaus, while beach camping makes the whole week a lesson in outdoor adventure. If, however, your child would rather stay on the dry side of sea level and prefers studying rodents to crustaceans, check out Audubon’s dozens of other programs, including one of the only herpatology camps in the United States and the popular wildlife veterinary camp.



Length of Stay: Day
Age Range of Campers: 9-13
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:12
Price (for specific length of stay mentioned): $230-260

PRIVATE EYES will have a hoot investigating a mock crime scene each week (such as the case of the elusive body) while honing their science skills along the way. In this offshoot of Mad Science Camp, counselors serve as double agents—they’re either science teachers or college science majors, as well as camp leaders—so your children will receive up-to-the-minute instruction as they unlock the secrets of everyday objects, from lemons to batteries (who knew a lemon could actually be a battery?). Other activities at the weeklong day or half-day camp include following the “_Organ_ Trail” through a model torso and throwing a “Cell-ebration of Science,” in which kids break out the petri dishes. Since Mad Science is offered at more than 14 area locations, you won’t have to sleuth for a camp nearby. Other programs include building rockets and engineering robots, so no matter what your little lab rats’ interests, Mad Science can entertain their inquisitive minds.



Length of Stay: Day
Age Range of Campers: 4-13
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:10
Price (for specific length of stay mentioned): $136-379 for nonmembers

IF YOUR CHILDREN aspire to be the next Crocodile Hunter or want to bring home every stray in the neighborhood, let them unleash their wild side at the Oregon Zoo. Some weeklong day campers trek through an Amazon rain forest and an African savannah while learning how to feed hungry lorikeets or handle pint-size pygmy goats—all under the watchful eye of trained zoo staffers, of course.



Length of Stay: Day
Age Range of Campers: 10-13
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:7
Price (for specific length of stay mentioned): $200-250 (for overnight)

DEVELOPED BY the Northwest Service Academy and run by AmeriCorps members, the PEEP’s summer day camps usher their charges around the city in pursuit of community service and environmentally friendly adventures. Touring sustainably built facilities, learning the art of reuse and even tracking animals all teach kids that being green can be a blast.



Length of Stay: Day
Age Range of Campers: 14-17
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:18
Price (for specific length of stay mentioned): $395

TEEN MEDICS REPORT to this Saturday Academy camp each day of the week, stethoscope in hand, to play pre-med at Oregon Health & Science University. Here, your Doogie Howser will learn how to read MRI and CAT scans, treat a mannequin’s lacerations and stabilize patients on stretchers under the guidance of doctors and health care professionals straight from the ER.



Length of Stay: Day
Age Range of Campers: 6-11
Staff-to-Camper Ratio: 1:8
Price (for specific length of stay mentioned): $210

CREATED BY THE National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation and offered in five area locations, this five-day camp teaches future innovators to take apart household items like an alarm clock and reassemble the pieces into creative innovations of their own—possibly a next-generation iPod. A lesson on patenting inventions is included, should your little genius create “the next big thing.”