Overview

Founded on the concept that what we do has an impact and makes a difference, Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) Nature Camp reunites its residents with nature through exploration of the outdoors.

Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, FONZ Nature Camp strengthens the bond between youth and nature by providing students in grades 5-10 the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, while connecting them to conservation initiatives through exposure to cutting edge research at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia.

Through hands-on investigation of local ecology, campers enhance their understanding of their surroundings. They learn to identify local flora and fauna, monitor biodiversity, and observe ecological systems at work. Additionally, campers see conservation science in action through behind-the-scenes tours of SCBI’s animal facilities and meetings with Smithsonian scientists. The direct interaction with these world-renowned science leaders and encounters with endangered species offers unique insight into the importance of global ecology and sustainability.

Above all, our campers are filled with an appreciation and love for animals, nature, and our precious natural resources. They leave camp inspired to take action, awakened to future science-related career paths, and empowered to make a difference within their community and the world.

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