By Kristie Hammond, Education Associate

“I made a new friend.” –Incredible Edible Plants Camper

“I love Dawes and I’m excited to come back!”- Little Naturalist Camper

“I had lots of fun!” –Budding Artist Camper


These are just a few of the many reactions to camp Dawes this summer. Over seven weeks, The Dawes Arboretum held 15 day camp sessions and hosted a fun night of camp activities for the whole family. In all, we had 165 campers ages 5-14 on our grounds over the course of the summer.

This year we launched a camp expanding the age range for our campers. We offered a half-day experience over the course of three days for five and six-year-old campers as a way to reach out to those little ones who weren’t sure about the full, five-day experience. This was widely popular and was one of my favorite camp sessions. In addition, we offered a three-day experience for our oldest campers, ages 12 to 14. They opened their very own archaeological dig here on grounds and even found a piece of pottery!

All of this would not have been possible without our counselors. They were the ones with the campers rain or shine making memories to last a lifetime. This summer we welcomed returning counselors Mallory Rizor and Jessica Ward. We also welcomed two new members to our team Andy Flavin and Jessica Davis.

Some of their favorite memories centered on water activities such as creeking, fishing and canoeing. Opening the archaeological dig with the 12 to 14 year-olds was also a favorite activity. One of our counselors reflected, “Bird Banding was amazing! I loved it and the kids did, too.” Another shared, “It was fun working with such a diverse group of children.” All four of our counselors will be returning to college this fall to continue on their paths to become teachers. We wish them the best!

I also had the privilege of spending time with campers during some of their activities. There are very few camp activities that I don’t like, but I especially enjoyed spending time with the campers in the Artrageous and Incredible Edible Plants camps. While I am not much of an artist myself, I did attempt a few projects. I really enjoyed seeing how the campers interpreted a project and showcased their talent.

The Incredible Edible Plants camp was another of my other favorites because of the strong garden focus. Some of my fondest memories are from my time helping my grandmother at her greenhouse. I remember spending spring breaks potting 1,000 bareroot strawberries and learning how to count back change because Grandma wouldn’t program the cash register to tell us. With this camp, I hoped to inspire some of the passion I have for gardening and cooking in these campers. It was so rewarding to see these campers help prepare a simple garden recipe and then taste their creation often including ingredients they had never tried before.

As is typically the case in Ohio, the weather threw us our fair share of curveballs this summer. Despite the heat of summer, the rain and the storms that often follow, I am pleased to reflect on another successful summer of day camps.



Arboretum supporters made it possible for us to offer five camp scholarships this year.  The Arboretum thinks a camp experience should be offered to as many children as possible.  If registration fees are a barrier to your family participating in camp, please contact our education department next Spring to inquire about possible scholarship opportunities.