March 13, 2018

Touch of Nature offering outdoor summer camp adventures for children

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Fun outdoor adventures are in store for children at Touch of Nature Environmental Center’s 2018 summer camps.

The Southern Illinois University Carbondale outdoor experiential learning facility is offering a series of camps for different age groups.

Four Eco Camps for ages 7-10 planned

The Eco Camps are especially for children ages 7-10. The cost of each camp session is $225. Details of the various camps, along with dates, are:

  • Survival 101 Day Camp – June 11-15, featuring hands-on programs with hiking, paddling, building shelters, collecting water, fire-making, map-reading and team-building exercises – all to enhance children’s nature knowledge and survival skills.
  • X-Treme Kids Day Camp – two separate sessions June 18-22 and July 16-20, providing days packed with action, including hiking, paddleboat rides, zip lining, rock climbing, nature art and wilderness exploration. Campers get a souvenir T-shirt as well.
  • Blue Planet Adventure Day Camp – June 25-29. Campers learn about protecting water, that most important natural resource, as they explore the Little Grassy Lake Watershed. They’ll paddle by kayak to Rocky Ledges, play water-based games, zip-line, ride on a pontoon boat, learn about aquatic animals and get a souvenir T-shirt.

Explorers Camps for ages 10-13

Three different camps, including some overnight options, are being offered for children ages 10-13 this summer. The camp descriptions and dates include:

  • Survival 102 Day Camp – June 18-22. Participants will explore parts of Touch of Nature’s 3,100 acres of wilderness, enjoying hiking, canoeing and other activities as they learn to navigate using a map and compass, build shelters and fires and be stewards of the environment. The cost is $275 but this camp also offers an overnight option on June 21 for an additional $25. Pricing covers gear, meals and supervision.
  • Adventures Underway Overnight Camp – June 25-29. This is an action-filled week with rock climbing, walking on tightropes, hiking, canoeing, learning survival skills, and even a visit to the scuba training center at Mermet Springs, along with camp traditions such as roasting marshmallows over the fire, $450.
  • Wild Outdoor Week (W.O.W.) Day Camp – July 9-13. Children will learn survival skills, swim, canoe, enjoy the high ropes course, zip line, go rock climbing, tie-dye a souvenir T-shirt to take home and more. $275.

Voyageur Camps for teens 13-15

Touch of Nature is offering three camps for those ages 13-15 and each camper will have the opportunity to assume a leadership role during various survival challenges, all while being mentored by the camp’s experienced camp. The summer schedule includes:

  • Leadership Survival Overnight Camp – June 11-15, giving teens the chance to hone their leadership skills through a week of simulated survival experiences as they zip line, build fires and shelters, canoe, hike, and participate in backcountry cooking and navigational activities. $450.
  • Southern Adventures Day Camp – July 9-13, exploring many of the region’s natural gems, including Jackson Falls, Bell Smith Springs, Mermet Springs and the Cache River. Participants will climb sandstone bluffs, explore swamps, snorkel at a local scuba training center and more. Registration is limited to 14 campers. $300.
  • River Runners Overnight Camp – July 16-20, it’s the chance to become an experienced paddler by navigating a canoe on Little Grassy Lake and Missouri’s Eleven Point River while camping along the riverbank, eating s’mores and observing the stars. The camp is limited to 12 participants. The $500 cost covers transportation, food, gear and lodging.

Register now - discounts are available

Registration is now underway for the camps. Additional information and online registration is offered. More details are also available by calling 618/453-1121 or emailing

As an early bird bonus, those who sign up for the Adventures Underway Overnight Camp, the River Runners Overnight Camp or the Leadership Survival Overnight Camp will save $50 if they register before March 30.

There are also multi-camp and multi-camper discounts offered. Any camper who signs up for three or more camps will receive a 10 percent discount for the third camp (or subsequent camps) that they register for. Meanwhile, any family registering two or more campers will receive a 10 percent discount for the second (or additional) child to register.

Girl Scout Camps coming to Touch of Nature

Touch of Nature is also partnering with the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois to provide several camp options for various age groups. The cost of each mini-session is $255 with a $50 deposit due at registration. Groups of girls registering together pay just $235 each.

Mini-camp experiences for various age groups are set for July 25-28. The schedule includes:

  • Brownies “Livin’ Like Bigfoot” camp – for grades 2-3, with participants enjoying swimming, exploring, cooking over the fire, “bigfoot” tracking and numerous other activities while trying to leave no trace.
  • Juniors “Super Hero Academy” camp – for grades 4-5, with the focus on an adventure of heroic proportions, designing logos, masks and more to create a secret identity then performing rock wall rescues and other feats.
  • Cadettes, seniors and ambassadors “I Hunger for Camp” camp – for grades 6-12, giving campers the chance to learn survival skills, first aid, fire building, bow and arrow shooting, camouflage techniques and much more.

Camp for the youngest scouts

Daisies Big Day at Camp, a one-day camp for grades K-1, is from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 1, giving younger scouts a chance to swim and explore some of the activities their older counterparts are enjoying this summer. The cost of this camp is $25.

Girl Scout Weeklong Camps

Several weeklong Girl Scout Camps are also scheduled July 29-Aug. 4. The cost is $380 with a $100 deposit due at registration. When groups register together, the cost is $345 each. The schedule includes:

  • Brownies “Teddy and Me” camp – bring along a favorite stuffed animal for a big adventure with time at the lake, music, nature exploration, picnics, crafts and other camp fun.
  • Juniors “Mermadia” camp – offering a chance to be a mermaid, making bubble wands, enjoying a scavenger hunt for sunken pirate treasure, shooting arrows, making sea treasure crafts and having water fun.
  • Cadettes, seniors, ambassadors “Girls vs. Wild” camp – featuring a crash course in camping and “leave no trace” skills practice, with rock climbing of natural sandstone bluffs, an overnight camping adventure in Giant City State Park, canoeing and other activities.
  • Seniors, ambassadors “CIT” camp – giving the older girls a true “counselor-in-training” experience as they work with staff members and administrators while leading activities for younger girls.

Register early for scout camps

The registration deadline for all Girl Scout camps is June 1. Register online or by calling 618/692-0692.