Camp Programs

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There’s no better place to discover the wonders of the outdoors! At Hitchcock camps, children enjoy, play and learn in the natural world. Each day is designed with outdoor adventures, along with cooperative games, art projects, singing, and science experiments.

Did you know that your EBT card can be used to access membership and programs at the Hitchcock Center? Learn more about the EBT Card to Culture Program.


Veteran’s Day at the Hitchcock Center

(No school for Amherst schools)
with Patrick O’Roark, Hitchcock educator
Friday, November 10, 8:30am-3:00pm
Ages 6-9, Grades 1-3
$60 members/$70 nonmembers
Registration required.

Come play outside on this no school day! We’ll play games, explore in the woods, and meet a live animal or two! Bring a snack, lunch, and water bottle and dress for the weather! 


Thank you for a fantastic Nature Summer Camp 2017! We look forward to seeing new and returning campers in 2018 – check back for dates coming soon! Check out our Nature Summer Camp Gallery 2017 for a glimpse into the fun and engaging world of our campers! If you have questions, please contact: Jeff Mazur, Camp Director via email or at 413-256-6006.

Frequently Asked Question About Nature Summer Camp


Nature Summer Camp 2017 postcards are mailed out to members of the Hitchcock Center in early January 2017. Not sure if you’re on our mailing list? To request a postcard, please call or email at (413) 256-6006 or

Registration begins online for members on Thursday, February 2, 2017. Registration for non-members begins Thursday, February 16. At that time, you’ll be able to access registration above.

Looking to register for camp, but you don’t have Internet access? No problem. Stop by or call our office during our open hours, Tuesday through Friday, 9:00am-4:00pm.

**Due to increasing demand for our camp, we ask that you limit to two sessions per child.**

Financial Aid

The Hitchcock Center is able to provide a limited amount of financial aid for families who need assistance with camp tuition. To apply for partial financial aid, please download our application. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until funds are gone, so please apply early.

Hitchcock also provides scholarships for children for whom camp isn’t possible due to severe financial hardship. Full scholarships are awarded based on nominations from teachers and guidance counselors at local schools. If you feel you’re eligible for a full scholarship, please contact the camp director. Please note: the deadline for receiving these nominations is February 7, 2017. We expect all funds to be awarded and gone in February 2017.

Program Policies

Cancellation Policy

  • If you cancel prior to 30 days before the first day of your session, you will receive a full refund minus $50 of your deposit per camper per session.
  • If you cancel 15-30 days before the first day of your session, you will receive a full refund minus the $150 deposit per camper per session.
  • If you cancel less than 14 days before the first day of your session, you will not receive a refund, unless the program is full and we are able to fill your spot, then you may receive a 50% refund.
  • Refunds will not be given for absent or sick days.
  • Exceptions granted only in the case of health emergency, evidenced by a written physician’s statement, restricting the child from attending camp for the entire session.

Medical Policy

  1. The Hitchcock Center will have the following information on site for all campers and staff: medical concerns, allergy information, current immunization record, emergency phone numbers, physician signature and/or parent signature pertaining to the camper’s ability to participate in camp. No camper will be admitted to camp without a completed health form, current physical and certicate of immunizations.
  2. All emergency phone numbers will be posted next to the phone of each camp. Those phone numbers include the number of the Camp Health Care Consultant, Police, Ambulance, Fire Department and MA Poison Information Center.
  3. All staff working with children are professionally trained and certified in Community CPR and Standard First Aid, or their equivalents.
  4. No camper may attend camp if they are sick. All communicable diseases must be reported to the Camp Director. All campers with fevers over 100°F and/or vomiting must leave the property as soon as possible and not return for 24 hours of being symptom free.
  5. No medication will be administered without written consent form from BOTH the parent/guardian AND the Camp Health Care Consultant. All prescription medication must be provided in the original prescription container with the pharmacy labels. For prescribed medicine, camp staff will not vary from the prescribed dose, appearing on the original label of the medication, without prior approval from the prescribing physician. All over the counter medications must be kept in the original containers, which shall include direction for use.All medication will be kept out of reach of the children in a locked cabinet. In the case of anaphylactic allergies, be sure that any necessary treatments are left at the Hitchcock Center and any EPI Pens are left with the Teacher Naturalists or Camp Director. Teacher Naturalists that have campers with anaphylactic allergic reactions will be trained in the administering of EPI Pens. All medications, with the exception of EPI Pens which are time critical, shall be administered by the health supervisor under the supervision of the health care consultant or a licensed health care professional. When no longer needed, medications shall be returned to a parent or guardian whenever possible. Outdated or unused medication will be properly disposed of.
  6. A Medical Log is kept for all medications given and disposed of and reported injuries.
  7. The camp office has a fully stocked First Aid kit on hand. In addition, the Teacher Naturalists will carry First Aid packs wherever they go.
  8. In the event of a major accident, injury or death during a Hitchcock program or trip, the following steps should be followed:
    1. Call 911 for medical/police assistance.The Amherst Fire Department Ambulance Service will dispatch an ambulance if needed.
    2. Attend to all serious/life threatening injuries immediately and administer First Aid/CPR as needed. Under no circumstances will the victim or other children be left unsupervised.
    3. When help arrives, call the Hitchcock Center for further assistance. Whether you reach a staff person or our voice mail system it is imperative that you leave a complete message with your name, the victim’s name and injury, your location, cell phone number, and the nature of the accident.
    4. The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.
    5. A Camper Injury Report Form will be completed by day’s end.In the event of a mild injury i.e. sprained ankle or wrist:
    6. The child will be given ice and a place to rest to keep the area elevated.
    7. If the child is unable to return to the camp activities the parent will be notified.
    8. The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.In the case of a mild sickness i.e. upset stomach:In the case of a mild sickness i.e. upset stomach:
    9. The child will be given a place to rest.
    10. The parent will be notified.
    11. The Camp Director will notify a parent/guardian or a parent alternate from the child’s form if unable to reach a parent.
    12. If the sickness warrants, the parents will be requested to pick up the child.
    13. When off site, at least one of the Teacher Naturalists will carry a cellular phone for emergency use only.
    14. Copies of the health forms for each camper are kept in the van for emergency uses.

Required Immunizations

Required Immunizations (430.155) For Campers and Staff under 18 Years Old:

  1. Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine: At least one dose of MMR vaccine(s) must be administered at/ or after 12 months of age or there must be proof of laboratory evidence on immunity. A second dose of live, measles containing vaccine is required for all campers and staff. Both doses of measles vaccine must be given at least one month apart, and be given at/or after 12 months of age, or laboratory evidence of immunity;
  2. Polio Vaccine: At least three doses of either trivalent oral polio vaccine (OPL) or enhanced potency inactivated polio vaccine (e-IPV) are required. If a mixed schedule of polio vaccine is given (IPV and OPV), a total of four doses is required;
  3. Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Pertussis Vaccine: At least four doses of DTaP/DTP/DT/Td are required. The Pertussis component is not given to anyone seven years of age or older. A booster dose of tetanus/diphtheria, adult type toxic (Td) is required if more than ten years have elapsed since the last dose.
  4. Hepatitis B: All children born on or after January 1, 1992, three doses of Hepatitis B vaccine are required.
Parental Responsibilities

A parent, guardian or designated representative for the child shall not send the child to the program if they are ill or have a temperature. All contagious illnesses must be reported to the Camp Director.

If it is determined during the day that the child is ill or has a temperature, the parent/guardian will be notified. It is their responsibility to have the child picked up from camp as soon as possible.

The parent or guardian shall notify the Camp Director if a child will be absent on a regularly enrolled day.

Parents or guardians shall notify the campers Teacher Naturalist or the Camp Director when someone other than those named on the child’s Emergency Information will be picking up the child.

The parent or guardian will assist the staff in handling any behavior problems or other concerns by being open to discussions and conferences in order to best service their child.

Parents and guardians can request copies of the our background check, health care and discipline policies by contacting the Camp Director.

Parents’ and guardians’ questions, suggestions, and concerns are important to the success of Hitchcock Centers Summer Nature Camp. If a staff member is not free to speak with you immediately, please leave your name and phone number, and someone will call you as soon as possible. You can also email the Camp Director. We encourage you to inform the staff if your child is having difficulty at camp. Let them know if changes are occurring at home that are affecting your child’s mood or behavior. Also, if your camper enjoyed a particular event or activity and you appreciate something special at Camp, please tell the staff.

Camper Requirements

Due to the outdoor and exploratory nature of our camp program, campers must be able to move about on uneven terrain. Campers are expected to meaningfully participate in age-appropriate activities, including nature study. If your camper has special conditions, needs, or limitations, you must speak with the Camp Director annually prior to registering to determine whether your camper can be accommodated at camp. Non-disclosure may result in dismissal without refund.

Safety and Behavior Policy

One of our primary goals at the Hitchcock Center is to provide a safe and positive environment for all of the children who participate in our programs, all of the time. At day camp, it is not possible for us to work one-on-one with children with behavioral difficulties. We have designed a general policy to be used with all camp children. There can be no exceptions to this policy. We will handle disruptive and aggressive behavior (hitting, bad language, disrespect to other children or to staff, bullying etc.) as follows:

  • If there is one incident, the parent will be informed.
  • If there are two incidents, we will have a parent, child, and camp director meeting.
  • If the behavior continues and cannot be controlled, the child will be disenrolled. The Executive Director, acting with the advice of the Camp Director or Counselor, will make this decision.

Parents should judge beforehand whether their child is capable of handling a camp setting, as the Hitchcock Center will not refund camp fees for these reasons. This policy represents our best effort to protect children with behavioral problems, their families, other children and our staff.

The Camp Director reserves the right to dismiss a camper when, in his/her judgment, the camper’s behavior interferes with the rights of others or the smooth functioning of the group or activity, or violates the camp’s behavior policy.  In such cases no refunds will be provided.

Safety and Behavior Agreements
  • We promote a culture of using our words to solve problems and to alert staff if a camper is hurt by another camper or otherwise needs help. Staff are trained to facilitate conflict resolution among campers.
  • We foster a culture of respect and care for ourselves, each other, Counselors, and the environment. When disrespect is shown, staff facilitate conflict resolution.
  • Children eat their own food brought from home or snacks given by Counselors only.
  • Children will never be left unsupervised or left alone with a volunteer Junior Counselor.
  • Shoes must be worn at all times while outside.
  • All children wash their hands before meals.
  • No child shall be denied food or shelter as a form of punishment; subjected to cruel or severe punishment, humiliation, verbal abuse, or corporal punishment, including spanking; or be punished for soiling, wetting or not using the toilet.
Staff Recruitment

The following is our standard procedure to ensure that our employees have a background free of conduct that has an adverse effect on his/ her ability to provide for the safety and well being of the campers. The following are minimum requirements for each new prospective employee who may have unsupervised contact with a camper:

  1. Prior Work History (address, phone number)
  2. Three positive reference checks from individuals not related to the staff person including, but not limited to previous employers or school administration.
  3. Inquiry by agency into the individual’s prior criminal history (CORI check and SORI). All staff who live outside of MA are to provide documentation from their local chief of police indicating their prior criminal history.
  4. Based on the required information we will then determine if the potential employees history should disqualify them from any type of contact or presence at the camp.
A Typical Camp Day

8:30 – Arrival, Mystery Corner, Outside Game

9:00 – Morning Circle: Name Games, Songs, Group Challenge, Theme of the Day

10:00 – Snack

10:15 – Outdoor Adventure or Field Trip

12:00 – Lunch

12:30 – Quiet Time

1:00 – Outside Play

1:30 – Craft/Science Time, Mill River Pool (Session 2/ages 9-11 only)

2:45 – Closing Circle

3:00 – Pick-Up Time

Each day consists of outdoor play, guided hikes and field investigations, songs, crafts and team building games. Campers spend each day doing activities related to the daily theme, such as Hunter/Hunted or The Nutrient Cycle. Snack time, lunch, quiet time, and unstructured play time are also parts of each day. The Eco-Investigators (ages 7-9) travel by van to field trip sites, such as local conservation areas and museums, once per week. The Nature Explorers (ages 9-11) travel by van to the field trip sites two times per week. On the last Friday of the two-week sessions, we hold Camp Share at 2:30. Campers gather to share presentations with each other about what they have learned at camp. Families are welcome to arrive at 2:30pm that day to attend this event.

What to Bring to Camp
  • Hearty snack and lunch that do not require heating or refrigeration
  • Proper footwear. We recommend bringing one pair that can get wet/muddy (ie: Keens or Crocs) and one sturdy closed-toe pair for hiking and running. No flip flops, please.
  • Change of clothes: shirt, bottoms, underwear and socks. This can stay in camper’s cubby throughout the session.
  • Rain gear
  • Water bottle (screw top or canteen style, no straws please)
  • Back pack that fits and is comfortable to wear
  • Hat with brim for sun protection
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent (please apply before camp each day)
  • Swim suit and towel for water games (and pool for Session 2 ages 9-11 only)
  • No toys or candy, please
Counselor in Training and Junior Counselor Programs

The Hitchcock Center Nature Summer Camp has new opportunities for youth in 2017! Our “Counselor-in-Training (CIT)” program, formerly known as the Junior Counselor program, is for 13-15 year olds who love nature and working with children. Our new “Junior Counselor (JC)” program for 16-18 year olds ready for more of a leadership role. Applicants for both programs should earnestly wish to build their leadership skills and contribute to a fun, safe camp environment by being mature and appropriate role models for the kids. Learn more…

Meet Our 2017 Summer Camp Directors and Staff

We are incredibly excited for our first Nature Summer Camp at the new Hitchcock Center. The counselors, Katie and I have been as busy as beavers around here getting ready for the first day of camp next week. We can’t wait to meet all the campers! I am super thrilled about our staff. We are lucky to have three returning counselors, four fabulous new ones, and two wonderful support staff! And now, let’s introduce them one by one… 

Summer Camp 2017

Young Naturalists: Ages 5-7, Entering grades 1-2
New! Eco-investigators: Ages 7-9, Entering grades 3-4
Nature Explorers: Ages 9-11, Entering grades 5-6
Leaders in Training: Ages 12-14, Entering grades 7-9

Session 1: Woodland Magic

July 3-7 (one week)
$275 members/$305 non-members
During this session we will experience nature’s magic. Building fairy villages, playing animal pretend games and making nature gnomes will be part of the fun for the younger children. Meanwhile, the older children will become nature wizards by performing science experiments and playing imaginary games on field trips. All campers will experience the whimsical side of the woods. If you love learning about nature and using your imagination at the same time, this is the camp for you!

Session 2: Wild About Water Session Full

July 10-21 (two weeks)
$495 members/$525 non-members
Get ready to make a splash! During this session campers will get to know the watershed we live in, the Connecticut River Valley, and appreciate the importance of clean water and its conservation. We’ll investigate the diversity of fresh water ecosystems that we have in our midst: ponds, lakes, rivers and wetlands and the creatures that depend on them. Through adventures, games and songs we’ll learn about the role of water in our lives, in the ecosystem around us, and in the natural history of our place.

Session 2: Leadership Training Camp – Session Full

July 10-21 (two weeks)
$595 members/$625 non-members
Leadership Training Camp is back once again in Summer 2017! We are thrilled to be continuing this two-week session which is jam-packed with outdoor adventures, group challenges, nature hikes and discussions on what makes a good leader. This camp has a lot to offer, whether you’re a first-time Leader in Training or returning to strengthen your skills and gain new ones. Leadership Training Camp is a combination of all the usual Hitchcock camp games and songs, along with new ones, and leadership skills that will apply to being a Counselor in Training, at school, and in life! We plan to incorporate some of our favorite activities from last year, such as rock climbing, the ropes course challenge and our camping overnight, along with new activities, challenges and field trips. We’ll take time to develop as a group, to work with the younger campers to put what we learn into practice, and to be campers ourselves: playing in the woods and learning about and exploring nature. This camp is designed for all campers ages 12 – 14 (entering 7th, 8th, and 9th grade) who are looking to learn what it takes to lead others in the outdoors, and have a lot of fun while doing it!

Session 3: Feathers to Flight

July 24-28 (one week)
$275 members/$305 non-members
Who are the only animals that have feathers? Birds, of course! This session we will take flight to learn about a bird’s life, from egg to adult. From hummingbird to ostrich, campers will discover how birds are adapted to the lives they lead. We’ll travel to meadow, forest, wetland and farm to explore the birds that call these places home. We’ll learn about what people can do to protect our feathered neighbors. Outdoor adventures, free play, songs and games are part of every day as we soar through the avian world!

Session 4: Animals That Build

July 31 – August 11 (two weeks)
$495 members/$525 non-members
They don’t use blueprints or fancy tools, but animals can be amazing builders by using natural materials like leaves, sticks and even spit! Whether it’s for nests, homes, camouflage or catching prey, animals have a lot of reasons for their architecture. At this camp session we will explore the construction skills of animals, and build creations of our own. While we are at it, we will learn about the features of Hitchcock Center’s own “Living Building” and the choices we made to make our building kind to the planet. Hikes, projects, songs and games are all part of the fun!

Session 5: Rube Goldberg Machines – Session full

August 14 – 18 (one week)
$275 members/$305 non-members
Do you love watching energy flow from one thing to another, like in marble runs, water walls and falling dominoes? Then you will love Rube Goldberg Machine week! We will spend this camp session collaborating and building Rube Goldberg machines – contraptions that perform a simple task in the most complicated way possible. In both individual and group settings, campers will get to experiment with everyday objects to create Rube Goldberg machines and complete challenges. While this session has a physical science focus, we will still hike outside and play active running games each day. (Please note: There will be no van trips for this session.)

Scholarships are available. Vouchers accepted. Nature Summer Camp must comply with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and be licensed by the local Board of Health.

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Hitchcock Center for the Environment