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Summer Camp Information For Parents

Below are the basic logistics for Smithsonian Summer Camp. If you have a specific question about camp, please call the Smithsonian Associates office at 202-633-3030 to be directed to camp staff September through June, or email During camp (June-August), please contact our summer camp hotline at 202-633-CAMP.

About Our Camps

2019 Camp Information Sessions

We will have a camp information session for parents of both new and returning campers on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 12 p.m. & 6 p.m.

Camp sessions are one or two weeks in duration and camp sessions are offered between June 17–August 16, 2019. On the week of July 4, camp will be held July 1-3.

Be prepared and plan which camps you want to purchase in advance by downloading the brocure. Have a second choice in mind when registering as camps can sell out quickly. You can use this handy organizer to help prepare for registration.


  • Camps cost $395 per session (up to $790 for two-week camps) for Smithsonian Associates members, $460 per session (up to $920 for two-week camps) for non-members.
  • Before-Camp costs $60 per camper per week. After-Camp costs $90 per camper per week.
  • Before-Camp and After-Camp combo price in the same week costs $130.
  • There is special pricing for the week of July 4.
  • To inquire about becoming a Smithsonian Associates member, please call registration at 202-633-3030.


  • Camps are available for children who will be entering Kindergarten through 9th grade in the upcoming fall.
  • Camps are not designed for children under the age of five.
  • High school students, ages 15 and above, may apply for a volunteer position as a Youth Teaching Assistant (YTA).

Special Accommodations

  • Smithsonian Summer Camp is committed to creating a meaningful and welcoming camp experience for all campers.
  • If your camper needs special accommodations, please list any pertinent information with your registration materials, or contact the Smithsonian Associates registration office at 202-633-3030 and ask to speak with the Program Manager.


  • Most of the Smithsonian Summer Camps are held in the S. Dillon Ripley Center at 1100 Jefferson Drive SW, Washington, DC 20560.
  • Many computer-based camps are held at the CIC-Computer Lab located in the National Museum of Natural History.
  • Pick-up and drop-off for all camps will occur outside of the S. Dillon Ripley Center.


Campers must have their own transportation to and from camp each day. Drop-off and pick-up is supervised by Camp Staff each day. On Mondays, camp drop off is from 9:00-10:00 a.m., and is located on the Ripley Center concourse on the 3rd sublevel of the building. Tuesday-Friday, drop-off is from 9:00-9:30 a.m. outside the Ripley Center.

  • Pick-up is at 4:30 p.m., and is located outside Ripley Center (unless inclement weather).
  • Drop-off/Pick-up Procedures - Explains how summer camp staff will facilitate the arrival and departure of campers each day. Please read carefully!
Self-Release Forms

Self-release forms are available upon request from Camp Staff. They require a parent signature and all parent contact information. Campers under the age of 13 are not permitted to have self-release forms, regardless of parent approval. The self-release form waives all responsibility and liability of the Smithsonian Institution and Summer Camp, and campers will be able to sign themselves in and out of camp each day.

Preparing for Camp

Campers should come to camp with the following:

  • Good shoes for walking (no flip-flops, please!)
  • Clothes appropriate for the weather, playing outside and doing crafts
  • Brown bag lunch, two additional snacks, and a drink
  • Water bottle

Please put a name on everything that comes to camp. Sometimes items get forgotten or lost and we want to make sure campers go home with everything they brought! Please check lost and found on Friday afternoons.

Smithsonian Summer Camp does not provide or apply sunscreen. Please put sunscreen on your child before dropping them off at camp. If they require additional applications, they must be able to apply it themselves.

Electronic devices are not allowed to be used in the classrooms, although they may be used during lunch and before- and after-camp with the permission of a YTA or staff.


Lunch takes place from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on the National Mall across from the Ripley Center. When camps take all day field trips, campers will eat at the location of their fieldtrip. In case of inclement weather, lunch will take place inside the Ripley Center.

Campers should bring their own brown bag lunch- we do not provide food for campers. Campers do not have access to vending machines, refrigerators, or microwaves, and campers are not permitted to purchase food from street vendors.


If your camper needs medication throughout the week, please give it to one of the Camp Staff at the check-in table on Monday morning. Camp Staff is not allowed to administer any medication; all medication must be self-administered (with the exception of epi-pens). Please make camp staff aware of any medical concerns you may have.

In order to prevent sickness from spreading through camp, sick campers should stay home. This includes symptoms such as fever, throwing up, and lice. If your camper is having symptoms the night before, please keep them at home the next day.

Please note that Smithsonian Summer Camp is NOT a nut-free camp. Camp Staff does their best to accommodate allergies, but we do not restrict any foods from camp. Please be sure to list any allergies in your registration materials. Staff will make sure you camper’s instructor and YTAs are informed.

When do we call you?

There are times when it is necessary to call you or your alternate emergency contact. These include, but are not limited to:

  • When a camper is too ill to continue with the activities.
  • When a camper has lice.
  • When a camper is being overly disruptive to the camp and campers.
  • When a camper exhibits unsafe behaviors in the classroom or in the museums.
  • When a camper is physically or verbally hurtful to instructors, staff, or fellow campers.
  • When you are late picking up your camper from camp or from After-Camp activities.

Field Trips

Camps take field trips almost every day to visit various museums, historic sites, monuments, and the National Zoo. Campers will either walk, take a Smithsonian bus, or take the metro to these locations.

Trip costs are included in camp registration. Most field trips will be covered in the email letter from the instructor sent two weeks before the camp session begins.

If it gets too hot during the day (Code Orange/Red), campers stay inside for lunch and may not take the planned museum trips.

Camp Staff

Camp staff is located in the Ripley Center Associate’s office 3077. Staff is made up of full time Associates’ staff and interns who are here to ensure that campers have a safe, enjoyable and informative camp sessions. Staff is with campers throughout the day and oversee Before- and After-Camp as well as the lunch break. Our mission is to ensure a smooth operation and clear communication during camp. Please call us at 202-633-CAMP or email us with any questions or concerns.

Camp Instructors

Two experienced adult instructors lead each camp session, and are assisted by high school volunteers.

Camp Youth Teaching Assistants (YTA)

High School students 15+ years of age are welcome to apply to be a YTA for Summer Camp. There are at least 2 YTAs in every camp with campers 5th grade and younger. They are here to assist with camps needs, smooth execution, and safety of the campers.

High school students 14 years of age who wish to be YTAs in future summers are welcome to apply to the new YTA Boot Camp. This is a week-long intensive training program guided by Smithsonian instructors and the program manager to develop strong, experienced future classes of YTAs. Completion of the Boot Camp offers applicants a priority for YTA selection the following summer.

Parent Packs

Two weeks prior to your camp, a parent pack will be emailed to you at the email address provided at registration. This parent pack will include:

  • Camp culture guidelines
  • Letter from the camp instructors outlining the week
  • Pick-up card that is required for anyone who picks-up your camper
  • Loading/unloading parking pass for your car (not guaranteed to stop parking tickets)
  • Wacky Wednesday theme of the week

If you do not receive this pack two weeks before your camp, please call 202-633-2267, or email

Expectation of Campers

We expect all campers to demonstrate "museum manners" while at camp and visiting the Smithsonian's museums. Museum manners include acting with respect towards others, being careful of the exhibits, and following instructions from instructors and YTAs.

In your parent pack, you will receive a Camp Culture document. Please review this with your camper in the weeks leading up to their camp session. If you have any questions or need clarification about these guidelines, please email

Wacky Wednesdays

Every Wednesday, we have special lunchtime activities set up related to a different weekly theme. Campers, instructors, and staff are encouraged to dress up that day. This is not a mandatory activity, but fun for everyone.

Friday Show and Share

Families and friends are invited to attend the Open House Fridays to view your child's art work, projects, or performance. You will receive more details from your camp staff during the week of camp.

Dependent Care Tax Credit

Per IRS guidelines, the cost of a day of camp may count as an expense toward child and dependent care credit. For those who qualify, a receipt can be issued in the name of the person who paid for summer camp. For more information on the IRS rules, visit the IRS web site.

Cancellation Refund

A 75% refund will be issued if a request is received in writing (by email, fax, or U.S. Mail) at least four weeks before the start of the camp(s) for which you are registered. No refunds or changes will be made thereafter. Camps are nontransferable. No refunds by phone.

Forms & Documents

Your camper's Drop-off/Pick-up, Photo Release Information, Medical Release, and Medication Information is required during registration.

Please read the following for your information: