Home » Learn » Youth & Family

Youth & Family

Whether it is a hike in the woods, a visit to the Discovery Center or singing and learning during Storybook Science, families are invited to discover all the beauty and wonders of nature.

Camp Dawes Week ILEARN

Camp Dawes

The Arboretum is a fantastic place to create a memorable summer experience.  Children ages 5 to 14 are invited to journey through a variety of ecosystems, observe nature, create outdoor-inspired crafts, and cultivate a sense of curiosity and adventure for the natural world while hiking or uncovering new and exciting plants and creatures. Camp activities are appropriate for ages 5 to 14.  All campers must bring a lunch and water bottle and have participated in some type of structured Pre-K or kindergarten program.

For day camp descriptions and to register click here.

Home School Investigations

Supplement your science curriculum by joining other home school students in hands-on science study. Home School Investigations introduce students to basic principles of ecology and biology while nurturing an appreciation for and understanding of the natural world.

Our education staff leads programs for elementary age students ( 6 – 10 years) on the second Tuesday of each month (September – April) at 10 am. Each program consists of a 90-minute session that includes background information and hands-on study of a topic, followed by field experience outdoors. For a full schedule of programs please download: Home School Investigations 2016 – 2017 (Elementary).

We also offer special home school programs for middle school age students ( 11 – 13 years) throughout the year. Students can practice thinking logically and critically, analyzing and interpreting data, using scientific tools and learning more about our natural world. For the full schedule of programs, please download: Home School Investigations 2016 – 2017 (Middle School)

Children should dress for the weather; boots, rain gear and hats are recommended. See our calendar here for registration. Admission is $4 per student for members and $6 per student for non-members.

Little Buckeye Imagination Sessions

Children ages 3 to 8 are invited to learn with a group as the creative educators at The Dawes Arboretum bring you closer to the wonders of the natural world. We will explore trees, flowers, weather and various creatures through songs, activities, games, crafts and real animal visitors. The fun begins in June and continues every Wednesday at 2pm through August. Meet at the Visitors Center deck. Free.

Storybook Science

Designed for children ages 3 to 5, story time at The Dawes Arboretum entertains your child with age-appropriate stories, crafts, songs, and indoor and outdoor exploration. Adults are invited to stay and participate in the program.

The 45-minute sessions are free and held the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month from September through May at 10 – 10:45am.  For the current programs descriptions, click here: Preschool Storybook Science 2016 – 2017.

The Fairchild Challenge for Educators

The Fairchild Challenge is a free, multidisciplinary and standard based, STEM focused environmental education outreach program. It is designed to give middle and high school students an opportunity to shine, and give teachers another tool to deliver their core curriculum.  By appealing to student’s innate sense of creativity and curiosity, the Challenge invites students to investigate environmental issues, to devise imaginative and effective responses to these issues and to take action to address them.

The Fairchild Challenge was designed and initiated by The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in South Florida.  Fairchild continues to support and train expansion sites for The Fairchild Challenge around the world.  The Dawes Arboretum is proud to be a satellite partner site for The Fairchild Challenge.

Please browse through the current year’s challenges at www.fairchildchallengeatthedawesarboretum.org.

Contact Nancy Gregory at nrgregory@dawesarb.org for general questions about The Fairchild Challenge and to learn how your school can participate.

These programs are just a selection of the opportunities open to youth and families. View our full calendar for upcoming activities and to register.


Discovery Center

Discovery CenterEnter a world of exploration and learning. Adults and children of all ages will enjoy the Discovery Center which is located in the lower level of the Visitors Center. Open seven days a week, the Discovery Center offers:

  • Beautiful bird watching garden
  • Children’s reading nook
  • Interactive displays
  • Live animals
  • Reference library
  • Working beehive


The trail is located near the Visitors Center and accessible during Arboretum hours June through October. This year’s StoryTrail™ features Bigger Now, written by our very own Interpretive Educator, Beth A. Spieles and illustrated by Debra Spieles.