Summer Nature Program for Kids

Summers @ Schiff - A healthy dose of fresh air, active fun, exploration in nature, and the integration of environmental education. (AGES 4-13)

Summer Nature Program at Schiff, Mendham NJ

What We Offer Each Week

  • Experienced professional educators as lead instructors
  • Morning and afternoon sessions available
  • A 1:12 teacher to child ratio
  • Lessons designed to softly educate, motivate, delight, and inspire young children
  • Nature games, trips to the stream, tie dye making, and shelter building
  • Recycled craft projects to promote environmental awareness and complement the daily nature lessons
  • Opportunities to explore the natural world and build strong friendships
  • Science, Sustainability, Environment, and Art integrated into our curriculum
  • Plenty of opportunity for exploration of Schiff's many splendors
    • Access to 768 acres of streams, forest and meadow
    • 15 miles of hiking trails to explore and discover

If a session has full enrollment, please email to be placed on our wait list.

"I wanted to reach out to tell you all of my boys had another fantastic year at Schiff. Thank you." - A. Alessi, Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"Q. from Mom: 'How was your day?' A. from kids: 'Awesome!'" - Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"My children enjoy all aspects of Schiff's Summer Nature Program" - Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"He loved it all!" - Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"The staff of SNP are AMAZING!!" - Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"'There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.' - Linda Hogan. I like to keep this quote in mind when planning our children's summer schedule. So many times we are too scheduled, too busy or too distracted... but this never happens at Schiff's Summer program. My children absolutely LOVE being part of this program and actually begged me for more weeks next year. We can't wait to come back! We have even been recreating the tie-die shirt ceremony here at home when we fold our laundry - ha! Great memories!!" - Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"My boys loved EVERYTHING about Schiff, but their top three was building forts, tie dying shirts and stream day." - Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"My children said this was the best camp and enjoyed it more than any other camp they attend in the summer. They both said the counselors were the nicest counselors they have ever had! My daughter specifically mentioned that she loves that the staff don't push her to do anything and let her get there on her own!" -Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

"My daughter as been coming here for years. It's the one camp she always wants to attend each summer." - Parent of 2019 Summer Nature Program

Jenny Chmura
Meet Jenny Chmura
Summer Nature Program Co-Director

Christi Lorenson
Meet Christi Lorenson
Summer Nature Program Co-Director
Check us out on Facebook & Instagram!
Schiff Summer Nature Program on Facebook  Schiff Summer Nature Program on Instagram


NOTE: Registration is not yet open

Schiff Fledglings (Age: 4 & 5) (entering Pre-K or Kindergarten) (Morning Only 9-11 AM) - Fee $170.00
Schiff Fledglings (Age: 4 & 5)
July 8 - July 12
July 15 - July 19
July 22 - July 26
July 29 - August 2

The Fledglings summer program includes many hands-on activities for our youngest stewards. Our littlest ones will use their five senses to explore the wonder of Schiff’s landscapes, plant, and wildlife through a variety of hands-on, engaging, and age appropriate activities including outdoor exploration, stories, nature-themed art projects, and interactive nature games all meant to inspire joy and wonder and increase independence.

Ages 6 - 13 (Morning 9-12:30 PM) (Afternoon 1:30-5 PM) - Fee $200.00
Session 1: Earth Rocks (Age: 6 - 13)
July 8 - July 12
July 8 - July 12

Discover why geology is so much more than just the study of rocks, and how it helps us understand the history of the world around us. Join us as we explore the layers of the earth, learn what minerals and fossils are, and take a geological scavenger hunt searching for evidence of erosion, glaciers, lava and so much more! We will have a rockin’ time learning to identify rocks of NJ while hiking to collect rock samples to make rock boxes of our very own!

Session 2: Happy Habitats (Age: 6 - 13)
July 15 - July 19
July 15 - July 19

Plants and animals all have different requirements necessary for survival, but what they do all have in common is the need for a habitat to live in where they have access to food, water, space and shelter. Come discover all the habitats found at Schiff as we search through forests, meadows, streams and more in order to determine who inhabits which habitat and why! Our week will be filled with hikes, playing games, building shelters, going on a stream search and making crafts!

Session 3: Forestville (Age: 6 - 13)
July 22 - July 26
July 22 - July 26

The forest found at Schiff is home to many amazing plants and animals, all working together to benefit one another in a community of their very own. Join us to discover the different layers of the forest as we climb high and dig low, exploring exactly who and what lives where and why! Bark rubbings, wineberry picking, plot studies, leaf creature crafts, and food web games are just several of the fun filled activities that await!

Session 4: Woodland Workers (Age: 6 - 13)
July 29 - August 2
July 29 - August 2

Join us as we learn all about the relationships living and non-living things found in nature have with one another… Who are nature’s farmers, sanitation service, architects, engineers, and recyclers? Discover the importance of a balanced ecosystem as we search for decomposers and catch pollinators, construct homes and hideouts, go on an ecosystem scavenger hunt, and so much more!

Special Electives (Afternoon Only 1:30-5 PM) - Fee $200.00
Crafting with Nature (Age: 6 - 13)
July 8 - July 12

The definition of craft is, “to make something with your hands”, and that being said, both men and women have been crafting since the beginning of time. Come join us as we let Schiff Nature Preserve be the inspiration for our hands-on projects using materials and patterns found in nature.

Schiff Survival Explorers (Age: 12-16)
July 15 - July 19

Everyone loves a fun time in the great outdoors. Nature becomes our teacher in this special elective. Join us as we explore a variety of ways to safely survive in the wilderness. Test your skills in telling time and navigating through wilderness areas, constructing shelter, finding food and water (and making it safe to consume), fire making techniques, creating rope and other tools from scratch, and more! This awesome adventure awaits you!

Teen Week - Hike (Age: 13 - 18)
July 22 - July 26

Adventure, friendship, leadership and stewardship! If you like hiking and making a difference, this is for you! Come spend time connecting with the trails of Schiff Nature Preserve while gaining skills with hands-on experiences as we explore and hike with a purpose! Activities will include invasive species removal hikes, replace trail blazes, litter clean-up, and so much more!

Artists of the Forest (Age: 9 - 13)
July 29 - August 2

The natural world has been inspiring artistic expression for all of human existence. Come discover with us the art of nature, as this elective combines nature exploration with the exploration of different mediums used to create works of art. Some artwork will remain in the wild, and other pieces will be displayed in the Nature Center. Parents will have an exclusive tour of the show at the end of the week.

Counselors-in-Training (Entering grade 8 through grade 12) (Cost is per CIT, not per week) - Fee $100.00
The Counselors in Training provides older students with work experience and volunteer hours during Summer Nature Program. CIT's work closely with instructors and senior counselors taking on responsibilities that include assistance in setting up and implementing activities, crafts, games, maintenance of the Nature Center, and other duties that will provide exposure to all aspects of a workplace. Partaking in the Schiff CIT program does not guarantee future employment at Schiff as a counselor; however; through a combination of hands-on and guided learning experiences, CIT's will become better prepared for all future volunteer and employment opportunities they encounter. Fee includes training and supervision. Each session is limited to 8 CIT's.
Counselors in Training (Age: Entering grade 8-through grade 12)
July 15 - July 19
July 15 - July 19

Counselors in Training (Age: Entering grade 8-through grade 12)
July 22 - July 26
July 22 - July 26

Counselors in Training (Age: Entering grade 8-through grade 12)
July 29 - August 2
July 29 - August 2

Counselors in Training (Age: Entering grade 8-through grade 12)
July 8 - July 12
July 8 - July 12

Important Notices

Summer Nature Program for Kids
  • Family Membership is required for Registration. If you are not already a member, please click here. A $50 family yearly membership must be renewed by 2/4/2019 to allow you access to early registration. Please contact if you are unsure about your membership status.
  • Health Forms are required for each summer nature program child. Please download a health form here. Each child attending the Summer Nature Program MUST have a completed form on file by June 1, 2019. Forms may be mailed or emailed.
  • Registration is accepted online with payment via PayPal. Over the course of a year, Schiff incurs over $1,000 in Paypal fees for our customers to have the convenience of using Paypal to donate or register for programs. When you are sent to Paypal to pay for a transaction you'll be asked whether you'd like to add the additional amount of 2.2% and .30 to help us offset these costs. Thank you.
  • If you must pay by check or cash, contact
  • To choose a session, click on the link and follow the registration process. If you wish to register for multiple sessions, you need to click on each session link and follow the registration process again. You will be paying PayPal separately for each session.
  • Choose as many sessions as you like. Please note that morning and afternoon sessions are identical each day unless you sign up for an afternoon elective. However, if you choose to register your child for a morning AND afternoon session in the same week, a parent or caregiver must be on the premises with your child between 12:30 and 1:30pm.
  • For your planning purposes, our groups are divided by grades.  If you would like your child placed with a sibling or friend in the approximate same grade, please let us know in advance in the "comments section" as it is difficult to make changes once the program has begun. Thank you.
  • After you register, you will receive an acknowledgement email which is verified by PayPal, at which point your spot is guaranteed.
  • Waitlist is available, if a session has full enrollment. Please email to be placed on our wait list.
  • Cancellations received by email or phone with 14 days notice are eligible for a full tuition refund minus $40 administrative fee. No refunds will be given for cancellations less than 14 days prior to the start of child's summer nature program.

Please email with any questions about registration.

More Words from Friends:

Summer Nature Program Camp

"My son comes home everyday. He might be dirty. He might be wet, but he has had the time of his life." - M. Vankirk, Parent of Summer Nature Program

"Thank you! He loved it so much that we decided to let him have another week with you all at Schiff!" - T. Silverman, Parent of Summer Nature Program

"I like Schiff better than my house!" - child from 2018 summer program

"Our daughter said 'all of it' was her favorite." - parent of child of 2018 summer program

"Our family continues to enjoy our membership at Schiff Nature Preserve (now our third year) and we are excited for our youngest to join your Fledglings program this summer as a 4 year old!"- M. Clark, Parent of Summer Nature Program

"My kids had nothing bad to say about the program at all - it was their absolute favorite week at camp and can't wait to return."

"He loved every minute of it. He loves being outdoors and loved learning and going on hikes."

"She LOVED Artist's week, but also really enjoyed collecting wine berries, eating them, and making jam."

"He wished the week wouldn't end."

Jenny Chmura, Summer Nature Program Co-Director

Jenny has been part of the Schiff community since 2014 as an instructor with the Summer Nature Program and is excited to be part the magic of Schiff. She has worked as an eighth grade language arts teacher since 2001. Jenny earned BA in English from Montclair State University and also earned her Masters in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College. Jenny's passion is providing opportunities for children to learn about, appreciate, explore, and respect their natural environment. When she is not at Schiff she can usually be found hiking local trails with her dog and bird watching.

Christi Lorenson, Summer Nature Program Co-Director

Christi joined the Schiff family in the fall of 2017 as the co-Director for the Schiff Summer Nature Program. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation. Since then, she has worked for the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation as a Grants Manager, Woodlands Wildlife Refuge as a Development Assistant, and most recently spent the last 7 years working at Trailside Nature & Science Center as a Park Naturalist until she deciding to stop working full-time so she could be home with her children. Christi's strong respect for the environment and desire to preserve its natural habitats has encouraged her to dedicate her career to environmental education and outreach. Christi's love for the environment has also shaped the hobbies she has taken up which include volunteering with wildlife rehabilitation centers, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and throwing pottery; however, what she loves to do most is spend time with her family. She currently lives in Gladstone, NJ with her husband, 2 young daughters, and two Burmese Mountain dogs... And it's no secret that Christi's eldest dog, Kona, is her heart and soul.