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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 Summer Day Camp Program

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 2018 day camp session 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 to 10 years) on the 2nd Tuesday (1:30 – 3pm)  and Friday (10 – 11:30am) of each month (September – April). 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 2018 – 2019 (Elementary).

We also offer special home school programs for middle school age students (11 to 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 2018 – 2019 (Middle School).

Children should dress for the weather; boots, rain gear and hats are recommended. See our calendar here for registration. Admission is $5 per student for member families (Hickory Level and above) and $7 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. For a complete list of this year’s programs, please download: Little Buckeyes Imagination Sessions 2018.  Meet at the Visitors Center deck. Free.

Preschool 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 from 10 – 10:45am.  For our full schedule of programs, please download: Preschool Storybook Science 2018-2019.


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
  • Working beehive


In 2009, The Dawes Arboretum introduced Licking County to the concept of a trail that encourages family fun, literacy and exercise.  It was enjoyed by visitors, both young and old, and a tradition was born.  This year’s book, Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek by Marianne Berkes will be featured along the lovely Woodland Trail all summer long.