This year, summer camps are offering Tucson kids the opportunity to get outdoors and learn about archaeology, growing their own food, the desert wildlife or just have fun swimming and playing outside.

FYI: summer break is about five weeks away. 

Yep, that caught us by surprise too. But what is time anyway?

Typically a Tucson summer calls for lots of indoor time. But for kids who have spent the better part of the last year at home with lots of screentime, some extra time spent outdoors, in nature and soaking up some sun might be just what's in order this summer. 

So stock up on sunscreen and reusable water bottles and check out this list of nine outdoor camps where kids can learn about archaeology, growing their own food, the desert wildlife or just have fun swimming and playing outside. 

For more camp options check out the #ThisIsTucson 2021 Summer Camp Guide where you can search for dozens of camps by topic, age, cost and location including both virtual and in-person experiences. 

Tucson Village Farm First Farmers Camp

Kids will learn to plant, harvest and prepare food during the Tucson Village Farm's summer camps. 

Campers will have the ultimate farm-to-table experience by learning to plant and harvest, care for chickens and how to make simple meals with ingredients straight from the farm. 

Where: Angel Charity for Children Culinary Education Center, 2201 E. Roger Road

When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 1-4, June 7-11; June 21-25; July 12-16

Ages: 6-9

Cost: $250-$285

For more information visit the Tucson Village Farm website. The farm also offers the Sprouts Camp with similar activities for younger children ages 5-6. 


Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Explorers Camp

Campers will spend their days exploring different exhibits at the Desert Museum to learn about different animal habitats, animal adaptations and the relationships animals have with their environment. Kids will also meet live animals up close, make crafts and play in the Packrat Playhouse. 

Bonus: The museum is also offering the opportunity for parents to stay and work from the museum during camp hours to eliminate the need to drive back and forth each day. This add-on is $55 per session. 

Where: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road

When: Session 1 is June 1, 23, 25; Session 2 is June 28, 30 and July 2. Camps are from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Ages: For campers entering grades 1-5 in the fall

Cost: $265 for non-members; $245 for members

For more information visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Website


Desert Museum Mountain Explorers Camp

High schoolers get to work on their outdoor camping skills while spending a few days exploring Mount Lemmon alongside staff from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in this three-day camp. Campers will learn about the Sky Island's plants and wildlife, observe the stars and participate in guided activities. 

Where: Mount Lemmon

When: July 7-9

Ages: For campers entering grades 9-12 in the fall

Cost: $395 for non-members; $375 for members. Fee includes use of all equipment and food and beverages. 

For more information visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum website


Triangle Y Ranch Camp

Horseback riding is among many activities offered at Triangle Y Ranch Camp.

For more than 70 years, the YMCA's Triangle Y Ranch Camp has been offering kids the quintessential overnight outdoor camp experience. Each week has a different theme with corresponding activities, but classic camp activities like archery, swimming, sports, s'mores, ziplining and horseback riding are part of every session. 

Where: Triangle Y Ranch, 34434 S. Y Camp Road, Oracle, AZ

When: June 6-11; June 13-18; June 27-July 2; July 4-9; July 11-16; July 18-23; July 25-30; Aug. 1-6

Ages: 7-17

Cost: $600 per week, with discounts available. A YMCA of Southern Arizona membership is also required.

For more information visit the YMCA's Triangle Y Ranch Camp website


Girl Scouts Whispering Pines

Campers get to escape the heat for cooler weather and outdoor adventures on Mount Lemmon during a week-long stay at the 16-acre Camp Whispering Pines. Different themes are offered each week for different age groups with a variety of indoor activities and plenty of opportunities to spend time in nature while hiking, taking archery lessons, trying the ropes course and singing songs around the campfire. 

Where: Camp Whispering Pines, East Organization Ridge Road on Mount Lemmon

When: June 6-11; June 20-25; July 11-16

Ages: 9-17

Cost: $375 per session

For more information visit the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona website


Girl Scouts Day Camp at the Hacienda

For girls who appreciate the outdoors but want to stay closer to home, the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona also offers week-long day camps at its Hacienda Program Center near Sabino Canyon. Girls will participate in a mix of indoor and outdoor activities including swimming, walking along the nature trail or playing sand volleyball. 

Where: Girl Scouts Hacienda Program Center, 3101 N. Sabino Canyon Road

When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  June 7-11; June 14-18; June 21-25; June 28-July 2; July 12-16

Ages: 7-17

Cost: $265 per week

For more information visit the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona website


El Grupo Summer Bike Camp 

Campers get to spend the week learning the ins and outs of bike riding. The first two days of each session focuses on bike mechanics, bike safety, riding skills and nutrition. The last three days are full of bike rides to practice all they learned, bike art projects and learning about clean air. 

Where: El Grupo Clubhouse, 610 N. Ninth Ave. 

When: June 14-18; June 21-25, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

Ages: 7-13

Cost: $210 per session

For more information visit the El Grupo Cycling website


Camp Swim Play Fun

Indoor and outdoor activities are part of the summer fun at Oro Valley Parks and Recreation's Camp Swim Play Fun. 

Campers get to spend time in the sun swimming, playing golf, tennis and other outdoor games and cooling off indoors while making arts and crafts. 

Where: Oro Valley Community Center, 10555 N. La Cañada Drive 

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., extended care is available. June 1-4; June 7-11; June 15-18; June 21-25; June 28-July 2; July 5-9; July 12-16; July 19-23; July 26-30

Ages: 6-12

Cost: $150 per session

For more information visit the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation website.


Archaeology Summer Camp 

Kids curious about the past will get to go on an archaeological dig using prehistoric tools. Campers will excavate a simulated site, analyze all the artifacts they unearth and learn about what those items tell us about early cultures. 

Where: Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, 196 N. Court Ave. 

When: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., June 14-18

Ages: 10-14

Cost: $290 for non-members; $265 for members 

For more information visit the Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum website.  


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