Joppa Flats Summer Camp | Program Descriptions & Hours

Campers on beach with huge lobster

At Joppa Flats Summer Camp in Newburyport, campers ages 6 to 14 explore the outdoors, play games, do hands-on science activities, and go on multiple local field trips each week to amazing habitats.

Camp days are filled with insect catching, wildlife tracking, and experimenting with everything from flight and weather to metamorphosis and moon snail slime! Nature-based art projects, games, and cooperative challenges encourage campers’ imagination, self-expression, and connection to one another. Small group sizes ensure that campers are safe and engaged, and nurture friendships.

Camp Hours

  • Full Day: 8:30 am–3:00 pm
  • After Camp Option: 3:00–4:30 pm

Explorers & Trekkers | Nature Photographers | Extended Day Option

Explorers (ages 6–8) • Trekkers (ages 9–11)

Counselor-to-Camper Ratio: 1 to 6

Explorers and Trekkers have fun with nature inquiry, outdoor play, crafts, and science experiments. Both groups go on multiple local field trips each week, usually within a half-hour driving distance of Joppa Flats. For most science and field trip activities, Trekkers and Explorers engage in separate projects and adventures that are best suited to developmental stages. Our small group sizes ensure that each child is heard and attended to.

→ Field trips listed may change due to weather or other environmental conditions. 

Seashore Scientists
June 24–28 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
Explore the diverse and interconnected habitats of the seashore, from river to salt marsh to ocean! Discover creatures big and small that make their home in the marsh, and dig for tiny coffee bean snails and live clams. Uncover hidden hermit crabs in tide pools, and comb the beach wrack line for nature’s treasures. Learn how Joppa Flats staff care for the creatures in our tide pool touch tank, and help feed the animals. Round out the week’s adventures with a trip to Odiorne State Park’s huge tide pools and rambling trails! Trips and Highlights: Tide Pools, Salt Marsh, Odiorne State Park

Ocean Discovery (2-Day Mini Camp)
July 1–3 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
Get a taste of the sea with three fun-filled days of ocean exploration before the 4th of July! Meet sea stars, hermit crabs, and other ocean creatures in Joppa Flats’ intertidal touch tank; learn about marine mammals that frequent the North Shore; and study the fish in our salt marsh. On Wednesday, visit Odiorne Point State Park in New Hampshire to investigate tide pools, search for seabirds, and walk the trails. Trips and Highlights: Salt Marsh, Odiorne Point State Park

Farm, Forage, & Fish
July 8–12 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
Nature is all around us every day; from what’s on your plate to where you play. Go on forest walks, build wilderness shelters, and learn how to identify plants that you can eat and that have been traditionally used as medicine. Visit local, sustainable CSA farm and learn how farmers take care of the Earth while growing the food we eat. At the end of the week, hop aboard the sail vessel, Piscataqua, on the Piscataqua River to try a plankton tow and meet some the creatures that live in the estuary! Trips and Highlights: A local farm and forest; ecology sail aboard the Gundalow Company’s 'Piscataqua'

Forest Guardians
July 15–19 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
Uncover the wonder of forest wildlife, and learn how to be a forest caretaker. Who lives under the logs? What birds call through the woods? And how do trees grow? Go on a hike to gather wild edibles for a snack, learn how to build a shelter in the woods, and track down evidence of wildlife using binoculars, scopes, and compasses. Back at Joppa Flats, come together with fellow campers to plant a tree and enjoy a live wildlife visit from York Center for Wildlife! Trips and Highlights: local forests, visit to York Center for Wildlife, tree planting

July 22–26 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
What wiggly, feathery, furry, and scaly creatures live in vernal pools and ponds on the North Shore? How do how do we keep our ponds and rivers clean? Get your feet wet searching for salamanders and fairy shrimping a vernal pool, and dip-netting in a local pond. Learn from Mass Fish and Game Rangers how to fish safely and responsibly. Trekkers will go for a canoe paddle on the Ipswich River, and Explorers will track down wildlife of the Merrimack River aboard an exciting Yankee Clipper eco-cruise! Trips and Highlights: vernal pools, a pond, boat trips on the Ipswich and Merrimack Rivers

Winged Wonders
July 29–August 2 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
This week, be on the lookout for our feathered friends—the birds! Did you know that birds are living dinosaurs? Or that tiny hummingbirds migrate thousands of miles (how do they do it)? Or how to tell a chickadee from a nuthatch? Using binoculars, scout Parker River National Wildlife Refuge for all kinds of wading marsh birds and soaring birds of prey. In the forest at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, listen for songbirds on a forest hike, and climb the observation tower and Rockery Grotto. Back at Joppa Flats, get ready for a live wildlife visit from a local raptor rehabilitator, and dissect owl pellets! Trips and Highlights: Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, live bird of prey visit, Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Keepers of the Coast
August 5–9 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
Explore where land meets the sea, and learn how people can be keepers of the coast and its amazing creatures. Search for snails, scud, and mummichogs in our salt marsh, and help Joppa Flats staff feed our touch tank creatures. Trek to Plum Island to explore tide pools, hike the dune forests of Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, and search for whales and seals aboard a cruise with Newburyport Whale Watch! Trips and Highlights: salt marsh, tide pools, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport Whale Watch Cruise

Habitat Heroes
August 12–16 • Ages 6–8 & 9–11
Visit the many habitats our local wildlife call home, and meet the people who protect them! Explore life under pond lily pads and in trees at local forests. Visit a rocky, tide pool shore and meet the scientists who save stranded seals at Plum Island and Salisbury Beach. Then lend a hand for our own beach clean-up! Trekkers will end the week with a hike up Mount Agamenticus in Maine—a great beginner’s mountain—to discover alpine habitats, and Explorers will enjoy a live wildlife visit with York Center for Wildlife animal caretakers. Trips and Highlights: local forest and pond; tide pools; meet local marine scientists; Mt. Agamenticus (Trekkers); live wildlife visit (Explorers)

Nature Photographers • Ages 12–14 (New!)

Counselor-to-Camper Ratio: 1 to 3

Explore the natural world with your camera lens and create a portfolio of your own wildlife photography while having fun outdoors. With a special guest photographer, you’ll spend a bit of each day learning how digital cameras work and tricks of the trade before heading outdoors to practice your new skills. Each day investigate a different local habitat to capture different kinds of light, textures, and creatures.

Each day will combine science, art, technology, and good camp fun! By the end of the week, each camper will have a portfolio of nature photography to bring home.

Nature Photographers (Week 1)
July 15–19 • Ages 12–14
Trips and Highlights: Misery Island on Salem Sound and daily trips based on photographic conditions

Nature Photographers (Week 2)
July 29–August 2 • Ages 12–14
Trips and Highlights: Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, and daily trips based on photographic conditions

Extended Day Option

After Camp • Monday–Friday (3:00–4:30 pm)

Campers enrolled in our optional After Camp program enjoy art projects, nature inquiry, active games, and quiet reflection time guided by Joppa Flats staff.

Space is limited. Preregistration is required—enroll by May 5. Select desired dates for this optional program during checkout when enrolling online for full-week registrations. You can also register by phone (978-462-9998), by mail, or in person at the sanctuary.

To sign up for individual days of After Camp, please call.

Overnight Camp at Wildwood

Wildwood logo

Is your child ready to try an overnight camp experience? Check out Mass Audubon’s Wildwood Camp, located in Rindge, NH! With outdoor exploration programs for boys and girls ages 9–17, Wildwood is the perfect next step for your day camp-lover.

What Others Are Saying . . .

“My son was hooked and excited to go to camp every day. I’m glad he feels so connected and included. Thank you!”

“My son talked so much about what he did—we’ve done many camps and he never came home sharing so much as he did from this one!”

“Unbelievable camp—great experiences! I love what you do for the kids.”