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Thank you for your interest in the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary’s Summer Camp Program! We are passionate about the conservation of native and exotic reptiles and are excited to share our animals, experience, and knowledge with your child. Please see the descriptions and FAQ below to decide the camp that is best for your child! Register today!
Camp is located near Scottsdale Rd and Dynamite in Scottsdale
Neonate(baby reptile!) is for 6 and 7 year olds
Junior is for 9-11 year olds
Advanced is for 12-14 year olds
Counselor in Training (CIT) 14+
"Reptile Encounters" Camp
including Neonate, 8 Year Old, Junior, & Advanced Camps, this is our introductory camp.
We recommend this for any child who has never attended our summer camps before.
Monday - Native Reptiles, Tuesday - Turtles/Tortoises, Wednesday- Lizards, Thursday - Snakes, Friday - Crocodilians
The best way to learn about the animals is from the animals themselves! Each day includes activities that are STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) oriented, but these academic components are hidden within animal interactions, activities, games, and helping care for the animals. Your child's safety is of the utmost importance to us, which is why we only handle proven education animals and our counselors have received advanced training on all of these animals. We utilize observations of animals that cannot be handled so that the learning can continue even if the touching cannot. All camps are designed to be age appropriate so the Advanced Campers would be learning much more in depth and complicated information about the animals than an 8 year old would. Our counselors, again, are trained to teach to various age ranges and excel at helping children learn in many ways.
Designed for campers with a strong interest in veterinary medicine, possibly focusing on reptiles.
Our vet camps are different though because we incorporate other rescues such as the AZ Humane Society and Liberty Wildlife, to teach about their shelter medicine for animals other than reptiles as well. We also have a vet tech come in as a special guest to teach and work with the campers one day and throughout the week, the campers learn about our medical and high needs animals and even get to help take care of them! Don't worry, they won't be doing surgery on any animals, but they could be giving it a special soak, assisting it shed, applying topical medicine, or assisting the counselor with the more challenging tasks. We also do a necropsy in the Advanced Vet Camp, where we first dissect a rodent to discuss mammal anatomy. Then we will perform a necropsy on an animal that passed away, such as a ball python, to explore the internal anatomy of a reptile and compare it to the mammal they previously dissected. The campers always wear protective gear and must follow PHS safety protocols, which are thoroughly explained prior to any dissection. If a camper is uncomfortable or does not want to participate in the necropsy or dissection, they do not have to; we have alternative activities they can participate in instead. By the end of vet camp, campers will have done case studies, examined live animals of all types, learned about wildlife and how we study populations of wild animals and health concerns they may have, and more. It is fun and interactive, and perfect for the child who "wants to be a vet when they grow up"! Junior campers do not do the actual dissections, but do complete a virtual dissection on the iPad so that they can still learn about the internal anatomy, but electronically instead of real life.
Specialized camps (Croc Camp, Lizard Camp, Turtle Camp, Snake Camp)
Designed for kids to get an extra taste at their favorite reptiles with even more information than before!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
Q: How do I register my child for camp?
A: Find the camp that will work best for the age/interest of your child and click the green REGISTER NOW! above.
Q: What is the discount for registering siblings?
A: The first sibling pays the full registration amount and then for any additional children you register, you will take $25 off of their registration fee (which varies among camps).
Q: Are there scholarships available?
A: There are partial and full scholarships available. Please email us.
Q: My child would like to be a camp helper. What does that entail and how do I sign them up?
A: Email Katelyn (Katelyn@phoenixherp.com)
Basic expectations for CIT's include helping watch campers for safety protocols, that they are following the rules, helping them with activities/games/experiments, passing out snacks, escorting campers to/from the bathroom, and generally assisting the counselor in any way possible. The more serious responsibilities are always left to the counselor, as they are trained for many more situations, with the animals, and discipline than the CIT's are.
Q: I see the first weeks of camp start on May 25th, which is Memorial Day. Will there be camp that day?
A: Yes, we will still have camp as normal. Please plan on coming to camp on the 25th if you sign your child up for that week of camp!
Q: What are the major cross streets of where the camp will be held so I can plan my commute?
A: Dynamite & Scottsdale Rd in north Scottsdale. You will see the physical address of the camp when you complete the registration packet. Since we are a functioning sanctuary where people surrender their animals, appointments are always required - even if you only wanted to drop off camp papers. With a small staff and many animals, we require appointments so that we can best accommodate all of our clients and guests. We appreciate your understanding with this. Please do not show up to the facility unannounced or without a confirmed appointment.
Q: My child is younger than the age range for the camp they really want to attend and I think they would be totally fine joining the older students. Can we do that?
A: We understand that many campers, especially those with a pre-existing love for reptiles may seem like a good fit for an older camp, but this is not always the case. We have designed the curricula for each camp to be age appropriate for the range of kids in that camp. For example, sometimes a parent will want their 8 year old to attend the Junior Reptile Encounters Camp (which is for campers ages 9 - 11). We want the 8 year old to have as awesome of an experience as the 9 or 10 or 11 year olds also enrolled in that camp, and when we start stretching the age range, we cannot stick to the planned activities because there is such a wider range of knowledge, experience, and maturity than we planned for. Primarily for this reason, we ask that you sign your child up for the week(s) that fit their age range. We very rarely make exceptions for this and it is usually for veteran campers that are familiar with PHS, the property & facility, the staff, the rules, and (to some degree) the animals and usually we require them to take a pre-test to make sure they are at an appropriate academic level to enjoy the camp they are trying to enroll in.
Q: Why are there so many personal/medical questions on the registration packet?
A: Again, this is for the ultimate safety (especially in the unlikely event of emergency) of your child. This information is considered private and confidential - only Katelyn Garcia (Camp Director), Olivia Bogues (PHS Conservation Educator), and the camp counselors will have access to this information. In addition for example, we train our counselors on what to do for allergies or for campers with multiple types of special needs (mental, behavioral, physical, etc.) and we need to have that information (if relevant) so that our counselors are prepared to give your child the best possible experience. In the past, we have not been informed that a child has been diagnosed as having Asperger's for example, and the counselor was not prepared to present the information or address potential discipline issues (and actually avoid them with our training) because they were unaware of the diagnosis. We do not ask these questions to invade privacy - it is for the overall safety and best experience for your child.
Q: Are there before and after care options? I work/have to drop off other kids/am in school/etc and cannot make the normal drop-off/pick-up times.
A: Yes. You can choose the before or after hour care options that you need. During before/after care, campers will help counselors put animals away, may play games (depending on how many children are in before or after care that day), may help prepare animal food, etc. We do not just plop them in front of a TV and let them watch a video. They remain engaged with the counselor the whole time until you arrive for check out.