Day Programs

Summer Day Programs 2019

Looking for single day programs to engage your kids in fun and educational ways? Whether it’s hiking, tromping in the river, or learning a specific outdoor skill, DNS day programs are a great way to get your kids out of the house and spending time outdoors. Each day program focuses on one theme.

New for 2019: we have extended the day programs to 4:00pm, with pickup at 4:30pm.

– All programs are from 8:30-4:30, and typically run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  Participants will meet at the Smiley Building at 8:30 and be picked up at the Smiley Building at 4:30.  We use our 13-passenger van to transport campers to and from the Nature Center.

We work diligently to provide a safe, fun and engaging experience for all campers.  All of our counselors are 18 and over and most of them have WFR or CPR certification.

AGE ELIGIBILITY: We can provisionally accept 6 year olds who have completed kindergarten. Their spot at camp is not guaranteed until we receive a waiver from the state. We need to apply for waivers as soon as possible. If you have a 6 year old who would like to attend a day camp, please call 970-769-1800 immediately so that we can start the process.

Check out the complete calendar of 2019 DNS summer camps. Day program dates and descriptions are below.

Early Bird Registration: Each day program is $50 for non-members and $40 for DNS members for each day (if you register 2 weeks before the day program).
– Registration fee: $55 for non-members and $45 for DNS members for each day (if you register within 2 weeks of your day program).

View Program Descriptions Below, then fill out registration form and submit payment online, or send a check to DNS, PO Box 3808, Durango, CO 81302.

Parent Handbook for Summer Day Programs

1) Permission to Administer Medication Form
2) Asthma Care Plan Form
3) Allergy & Anaphylaxis Care Plan form

To register for camp:
Step 1: PLEASE CHECK BELOW TO SEE IF THERE IS AVAILABILITY.  MOST AUGUST CAMPS ARE CURRENTLY FULL. If there is space, fill out the registration form (see “Registration Form” button)
Step 2: Submit payment online (see “Pay Now” button) or by mailing a check to DNS, PO Box 3808, Durango, CO 81302

Registration Form Pay Now

(capacity limited to 13 children for each day)

Tuesday, June 4: Music in Nature. Bird songs, insect calls, the background of wind and running water.  Join us for a day of connecting with nature through sound and music. We will use natural materials to create musical instruments, design mini symphonies inspired by the sounds at the Nature Center, and even use musical notation to discover the intricacies of bird song.  FULL.

Wednesday, June 5: Edible Geology. Did you know that the jelly sandwich is a perfect tool for exploring the many forces that have built, shaped, and molded the unique landscape of Southwest Colorado?  We will demystify plate tectonics and mountain building with household grocery items, then explore the nature center for examples of these processes in nature. Join us for this unique and tasty day of fun and learning! FULL.

Tuesday, July 2: Painting with Nature. Magenta berry juice, green chlorophyll, and flower petals full of vibrance.  Explore painting and designing with different colors of pigments we can find in nature.  Spend the morning looking for different natural materials we can use to create beautiful works of art in the afternoon! FULL. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, email

Wednesday, July 3: Sculpting with Nature. Like to work with your hands building, shaping, and creating?  Have you ever noticed how wonderful nature is at creating beautiful patterns, forms, and compositions that rival the most accomplished artist in history?  Join us for a day at the nature center sculpting works of art out of nature’s art supplies and letting your imagination run wild and free! Closed.

Friday, July 5: Fort-tastic Fun. Lean-to’s, wiki-ups, debris huts and more.  Did you know that these are all ways to build a shelter out of materials that can be found in almost any natural setting?  Using time-tested methods of fort-building as inspiration, we will spend the day channeling our creativity and imagination toward building our own perfect hideouts amongst the Junipers and Cottonwoods at the Nature Center. Closed.

Tuesday, July 30: Fun with Maps. Are you curious about topography, orienteering, and cartography?  Ever wanted to learn how to better read a map to guide your way through the wilderness?  Join us for a fun filled day at nature center understanding, creating, and using maps to explore corners of the preserve you’ve never seen! Closed.

Wednesday, July 31: Yoga and Meditation in Nature. Where better than the Nature Center to spend a peaceful day of mindfulness and serenity? Join us for a day of our usual array of fun activities and exploration. Throughout the day, we will emphasize awareness to different senses, and include some stretching and movement with basic yoga.  Closed.

Thursday, August 1: Animal Homes. Treehouses, down-lined nests, burrows with openings facing east to the rising sun–all have provided inspiration to human homebuilders for thousands of years.  Join us for a scavenger hunt of animal homes at the Nature Center. Using these homes as inspiration, we will each choose a different local animal and get creative to build a home that satisfies all of its unique needs.  We will also engage in some citizen-science as we explore and document usage of the Nature Center’s bird boxes by our feathered neighbors. Closed.

Tuesday, August 6:  Wilderness Survival. Food, water, fire, shelter.  These are the critical basic needs for survival in the outdoors.  But in what order should they be prioritized? What are some methods for procuring these basic needs in the wild?  Join us for a day of fun and inspiration as we track animals, learn to build traps and shelters, and even devise ways of extracting water from the desert soil. FULL. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, email

Wednesday, August 7: River Exploration. Where better to cool off on a hot August day than the refreshing flow of the waters of the Florida River?  Spend a day exploring and discovering how the river flows, the animals it supports, and how we can enjoy and respect it as stewards! FULL. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, email

Thursday, August 8:  Raft Building. Ever dreamed of heading out on a raft made of logs and sticks to adventure your way down a river?  Take a page out of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn’s playbook and spend the day designing and building your own raft to float Florida! FULL. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, contact

Tuesday, August 13: Insect World. When we think of animals, we tend to think of those with fur, feathers, or scales.  But did you know that for every individual human on Earth, there are about 200 million insects?  Join us for a day exploring and celebrating the insects at the Nature Center. From harvester ants to tarantula hawks, and monarch butterflies to stonefly nymphs, we will use direct observation, books, games, and interactive activities to uncover the lives of the insects that call Southwest Colorado home. FULL. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, email

Wednesday, August 14: Eco Town. Come together with other campers to create a village of your own design!  Learn what it takes to build a town in the wilderness from scratch, with infrastructure, jobs and roles in the community, systems of trade, and guiding rules for the community. FULL. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, contact

Thursday, August 15: Mud Day. Bring your old clothes for a day of play and celebration as we connect to the Nature Center in the most basic way we know–by covering our bodies with mud and having fun!  We will learn about how mud can be used to create a near perfect camouflage pattern, then muddy ourselves up for a game of stealth capture-the-flag. We will also celebrate the Nature Center by splashing in the river and building our own mudslides. FULL. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, email

Limited scholarships are available for qualifying families.  To be considered, please fill out and submit the Camp Scholarship form.  We thank the following businesses for providing funding toward our scholarships for after-school and camp programs.

Is your business interested in helping send a child (or two) to camp? If so, check out our corporate sponsorship page.

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