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Camping 101 at Riverbanks Zoo


Our Pack headed out to the Riverbanks zoo to try out the new "Camping 101" program. Unlike other zoo overnights, this one took place in the Botanical Gardens side of the zoo. Instead of being surrounded by animals and learning about them, we pitched our tents next to the water park in the middle of the gardens. And since all of our campouts this year had been canceled by Mother Nature, this was a nice opportunity for the Cubs to do some camping.

The scouts started the event with a private water park party. If you have never been to the Riverbanks water park, you need to try it out. The kids had about 45 minutes to play and splash in the fountains with no other park guests around. It was a highlight of this trip. They only stopped when it was time for pizza.

After that we started our camping lessons. We had wonderful instructors from the zoo. They had the scouts learn about planning your campout meals. They did a lesson on what to pack to "be prepared" on your outing. And the kids got to make their own trail mix snack to eat at the zoo the next day. We even made our own keepsake water bottles to keep hydrated in the heat.

When it got dark, of course we went outside to the campfire and had some s'mores before the lessons continued. Our instructors had set up a "bug light trap" to see what kind of nocturnal critter we would see. Then the kids went on a scavenger hunt to find hidden animals (all stuffed or rubber) around the gardens.

Everyone slept well in our tents. The zoo even provided sleeping mats for us. And in the morning we cleaned up, ate breakfast and headed out to spend the day at the zoo. I feel like this was one of the best zoo sleepovers I have ever done. And I loved sharing it with my son.


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