Our History and Approach
Nature Camps is a summer camp for children and youth aged 4-16 located in Monkton, Maryland, on 230 acres of nature conservancy woodlands along the Gunpowder River. For 45 years, Nature Camps (and its predecessor, Don Webb's Nature Camp) has focused on taking children and young people into the woods, fields, streams, and trails in a real and personal way.
Nature Camps specializes in environmental education and adventure education, mixed-age learning, and offering children the delight of picking activities of their choice each day. All activities take place in the attentive and engaging care of counselors trained in Nature Camps’ values and approach to educating children and youth.
This unique approach allows our programs and activities to be built on the strengths and joys that children and youth bring and discover. The results are an unhurried, relaxing, and adventuresome summer camp where children find success and joy while cultivating an understanding of and an appreciation for the natural world, themselves, and others in a joyful and healthy camp community.
Our values and philosophies are rooted in diverse influences including Quakerism, environmentalism in the spirit of John Muir and Rachel Carson, and the writings of an extraordinary six-year old girl named Opal Whiteley whose turn-of-the-century diary is dear to the heart of Nature Camps.
Nature Camps envisions and offers another kind of peace. When we contemplate the beauty of Earth, we find reserves of strength and peace that will endure forever. The endless woods, the meandering streams—with all their interesting sounds, and delightful places to explore—offer an enchanted place for everyone. Outdoor under blue skies and billowing white cumulus clouds or singing in the rain, everyone soaks up the beauty of nature and of one another.
We wish for each person an enduring sense of wonder and a lifelong instinct for the beauty and magic that is all about us in the natural world—bringing forth refreshing peacefulness.
Why Choose Nature Camps?
There are many reasons to choose Nature Camps. Here are just a few:
We love what we do, and we’ve been doing it a long time
Nature Camps has been providing an enriching, vibrant summer camp experience for children, youth, and their families for 45 years.
We offer a unique approach to summer camp that children and parents love
Our values and philosophies guide all that we do at Nature Camps, from camp activities to operations. Campers build self-confidence, learn group problem solving, and discover a sense of wonder. Families are invited to participate in the Nature Camps experience, too—we love the impromptu times when parents join Big Circle at drop off or pick up time, and we celebrate the coming together of our full community at each session’s Family Overnight and Concert in the Woods. Having parents at camp benefits everyone—parents connect to what their children are learning and take in the peaceful setting, and children receive the gift of sharing camp with their parents and seeing their parents slow down and soak in the trees, trails, and fun while disconnecting from the world outside of camp.
Our staff team is our strength
Each year our staff team is made up of teachers, college students, parents, and professionals, many of whom return summer after summer. Nature Camps staff have extensive backgrounds in environmental education, adventure education, and natural crafts. Every staff member is dedicated to embodying and uplifting our values and philosophies and following our Operational Guidelines. Nature Camps counselors are an innovative, creative, competent staff, who enjoy providing excellent instruction, leadership, and guidance to children—placing value upon the inestimable worth of everyone. Our camper to counselor ratio is approximately 4:1.
All counselors are certified Lifeguards with CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Basic First Aid. They are also certified in Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or as Wilderness First Responders (WFR). Counselors receive additional training in Ropes Course Facilitation, Canoe Paddling and Rescue Techniques, Natural Crafts, and Outdoor Initiatives. All staff members have passed criminal background checks.
Nature Camps’ leadership team is the core of our administrative staff. They are responsible for planning, implementing, as well as teaching. Their commitment to Nature Camps’ values and philosophies, as well as to education and the environment, sets the standard for the entire Nature Camps community.
NC is close, yet feels like a world away
Our base camp on 230 acres of nature conservancy woodlands is located minutes off I-83 in the Hereford/Monkton area of Baltimore County, centrally located for easy access from the south, north, east, and west. We are only 30-35 minutes from the Baltimore area and 40 minutes from Bel Air and Westminster. Upon turning into our property, the Nature Camps signs welcome you to slow down to “Turtle Speed” and breathe in the fresh air and quiet setting in the woods alongside the Gunpowder River. We offer an Extended Day program and daily van service from two locations.
We are passionate experts and learners
Nature Camps is affiliated with and collaborates with leading organizations in the fields of environmental, experiential, outdoor, and adventure education:
Association of Experiential Education (AEE): Nature Camps is a member of the Association of Experiential Education (AEE) and follows AEE guidelines. The Association of Experiential Education (AEE) is a global community of experiential educators and practitioners with the shared goal of enriching lives through Experiential Education. Nature Camps founder and director Don Webb has served on the AEE Mid-Atlantic and AEE National Board of Directors, on the International Conference Host Committee, and has presented at international and regional AEE conferences.
Tribes of Outdoor Educators in Baltimore County: A group of local camps and outdoor education programs in the northern Baltimore County region that shares and supports each other’s environmental, adventure, and natural heritage educational programs. The members work together to bring greater awareness locally of the outdoor education offerings available to local children, families, and schools during the summer and year-round. Members include Camp Puh’tok and Genesee Valley Outdoor Learning Center.
Solo Schools: Solo has been the world leader in wilderness medicine education since 1976. For the past 25 years, Solo has provided Wilderness First Aid training for Nature Camps staff.