Outdoor Education Programs

Y Camp’s Outdoor Education Programs are used to enrich the classroom curriculum as well as reinforce literacy, math, speech, music, art and physical education. The overnight program has the greatest impact on retention with students spending 2 days or more at camp. Teachers can look at the programs offered and choose classes that fit their curriculum.

Overnight Programs Day Programs Program At Your School Classes

Overnight Programs

The hallmark of our program offerings the overnight experience immerses students in nature and provides time for them to “declutter” their minds and take in the growth opportunities present at camp. Your day begins when the bus drives down the hill into eh beautiful Des Moines River Valley. Our trained staff will be waving you in as we meet for Arrival and Expectations at the Outdoor Stage. After a short meeting students and teachers move into the cabins. Our modern cabins feature heat and air conditioning with over half containing their own bathroom and shower facility. Our class periods are two hours long, giving students time to engage in an active learning environment under the guidance of the Naturalists. Meals are served in our dining hall where our fantastic team provides warm meals, big smiles, and live music. Truly unique to the overnight experience are our night programs. Night hikes are a popular choice. Students learn about nocturnal adaptations while Naturalists lead them through the woods calling for owls and listening for deer, all with no flashlights on! 

Day Programs

Designed to fit within the confines of the school day our Day Programs offer a chance for your students to get into nature and explore, while still making it back to school in time for the bus. Teachers pick from our variety of classes to customize the day for their students and curriculum. Schools can have lunch prepared for them at camp, or have the students bring their own sack lunches for a picnic. 

Programs at Your School

If your students can’t some to camp, we will bring camp to them. Y Camp offers year round mobile programming. Whether it’s setting up a tipi outside the school, or meeting a live owl in the classroom, our programs truly fit all schools, all budgets, and all students. 


Our classes are more than just an a la cart menu, they are the building blocks for your personalized experience here at Y Camp. 

Discovery Hike: Students awaken their curiosity and explore the natural world with their own hands. Key concepts discussed include adaptations, changes and relationships.

Birds: This class gives students the tools to continue learning about the outdoors. Books and binoculars help students see birds in their natural environment. A live, crippled red-tailed hawk is used to discuss ethics.

Stream Ecology: Students explore a stream with nets to discover the variety of insects that live there. Individual insects are studied to learn about diversity and water quality.

Habitats: What do all animals, including humans, need to survive? We will look at three distinct Iowa habitats and learn about the animals that do (and did) call this place home.

Science and History of the Tipi: Students set up a 14-foot Plains-style tipi from start to finish. We will discuss materials used in tipi construction, physics behind its structure and history of the people who used this dwelling.

Making Sense of Nature: This class challenges students' perceptions of the natural world by challenging the way they see, hear, feel, smell, and even taste a natural area. A blind walk and creative writing crystallize the experience into something tangible.

Survival: Winter Survival Techniques: Not only will students learn real survival techniques, such as building a debris hut, this class can be used to stimulate creative writing, practice cooperation and explore new roles.

Big Owls Hoot, Little Owls Toot: This entertaining and eye-opening program introduces students to the beautiful and mysterious birds that occupy the night sky. Students will have an opportunity to see live owls, learn their calls and study the conservation of these fantastic animals.

Night Hike: Skilled naturalists lead students through the darkness as they explore their senses, view the night sky and listen for nocturnal creatures. Your students' perception of the dark will never be the same. 

Soil: Exploring the pedosphere has never been so much fun.  Students will learn about soil horizons, infiltration, percolation, and much more as they discover the life beneath their feet.  Topics of discussion include the carbon and nitrogen cycles, soil compaction, and sustainable farming practices.

Active Astronomy: Using telescopes and spotting scopes students will explore the night sky.  In addition to learning about constellations found in the Northern Hemisphere students will be encouraged to make their own constellation and share it story as they actively participate in history as well as science of astronomy. 

Leadership and Teambuilding: In addition to our outdoor education curriculum we have a variety of classes the build leadership and teamwork skills.  Click here for a detailed description.