Summer Nature Program for Kids

18TH YEAR OF SNP - 2021
Summers @ Schiff
A healthy dose of fresh air, active fun, exploration, and creative play while immersed in nature with an overarching integration of environmental education.
(AGES 6-13)

Make sure to initiate or renew your Schiff (Family) membership by Monday, 3/8/2021 to be eligible for Early Registration on Monday, 3/22/2021.

Current Schiff members enjoy a member's benefit of Early Registration on Monday, 3/22/2021.

Open Registration for all others is Monday, 3/29/2021.

Summer Nature Program at Schiff, Mendham NJ

Dear Schiff Summer Nature Program families- We sincerely hope you and your loved ones are having an excellent start to 2021, enjoying all the beauty winter brings! The past year has certainly had its fair share of bumps in the road for all of us. We have remained hopeful, kept our problem solving and creative juices flowing, and as a result we are very excited to announce Schiff's Summer Nature Program (SNP) will be returning this summer!

Following CDC guidelines, we have developed new safety protocols in order to continue to offer your children the same welcoming, fun-loving feel it has always had! Our dedicated staff will be working diligently to ensure that our SNP children and their families feel safe and secure while attending Schiff's Summer Nature Program this year.

HEALTH & SAFETY

Summer Nature Program at Schiff
  • Daily temperature checks for staff and children
  • Masks will be required to be worn at all times (except during snack time)
  • Social distancing whenever it is feasible
  • Reduced sharing of equipment, craft supplies, and game materials
  • Frequent hand washing and sanitizing
  • Disinfecting of frequently used items and surfaces

In addition to the above changes to our health and safety guidelines, we will be operating SNP with reduced capacities in our facilities as provided to us from the local fire chief.

  • SNP 2021 will have space available for 2 groups of 10 children in our "regular AM Session"; therefore, SNP 2021 will NOT offer a third "regular AM Session" group or "Fledglings".
  • SNP 2021 will have space for 1 group of 12 children in the afternoon for a "Special Elective" program; however, SNP 2021 will NOT be offering a "regular PM Session" this year.
  • SNP 2021 will NOT be offering our CIT Program this year. Each group will be led by 1 Instructor, accompanied by 1 Counselor.

This announcement may come as wonderful news to many of you and disappointing news for others, but please know that multiple considerations were taken into account, the first and foremost being Schiff Natural Lands Trust commitment to operating a safe quality program. Covid-19 has forced us to think about a multitude of concerns, but also remain flexible as the situation with Covid-19 guidelines may change again. We will do our very best to keep our Summer Nature Program families informed as to any further changes that might come our way as July 2021 approaches!

Yours in service,
Christi and Jenny, Co-Directors of the Schiff Summer Nature Program for Kids

TOPICS FOR 2021

Ages 6 - 13 (Morning Only 9-12:30 PM) - Session 1 Fee - $175.00, Other Sessions - Fee $220.00
Session 1: Who Goes There? (Age: 6 - 13)
July 6 - July 9 - Morning Session CLOSED

Join us as we investigate how nature avoids “rush hour” through a little traffic control of its own… Who is active during the day? At night? At dawn and dusk? Join us as we hike in search of signs of life, play “Bear-Fish-Mosquito”, create a “Sound Map”, build a “shelter” and so much more! Children will explore relationships existing between living and nonliving things, discover how animals communicate, and understand how all parts of nature work together to benefit one another!

Session 2: Defenders & Guardians of the Great Outdoors (Age: 6 - 13)
July 12 - July 16 - Morning Session CLOSED

Explore just how heroic and powerful nature and all its inhabitants can be as we hike to all the different habitats found at Schiff. Join us on a wildlife adventurer as we search through forests, streams, meadows, and the sky determining who is a nocturnal hero of the night, controller of weather, keeper of the streams and engineers of the forest! We will make masks using natural materials and play games and conduct activities requiring us to use our 5 senses… We may even discover that we have a 6th sense...a supernatural power of our own!

Session 3: Then and Now (Age: 6 - 13)
July 19 - July 23 - Morning Session CLOSED

Come explore the natural history of Schiff and New Jersey’s open spaces as we spend our time learning about invasive species, endangered species, top predators, conservation and sustainability. Picking wineberries, playing “Food Chain” tag, removing “invasive species” and making “Rock Leaf Prints” are just several of the fun filled activities we will engage in as we discover who used to live here, who lives here now, and why!

Session 4: Cycles that Make the World Go Round (Age: 6 - 13)
July 26 - July 30 - Morning Session CLOSED

Join us as we discover how it is possible for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly, why only some animals lay eggs, how plants are able to make their own food, and even why it rains! Explore Schiff high and low to learn more about the life cycles that make up the circle of life and realize how everything is connected. Prepare to be amazed as we head out on the trails to learn more about nature’s wonders by participating in a “life cycle” challenge, going on a “Hike for Change” scavenger hunt, making “Seed Bombs” and so much more!

Special Electives (Afternoon Only 1:30-5 PM) - July 6-9 Session Fee - $175.00, Other Sessions - Fee $220.00
Special Conservation Species (Age: 8-13)
July 6 - July 9 - Afternoon Session CLOSED
July 26 - July 30 - Afternoon Session CLOSED

This elective combines nature exploration with the exploration of “threatened” species. From turtles to insects, and birds to plants, join us as we explore the habitats of specific threatened species found right here at Schiff! Our hikes will lead us on an adventure to learn all about the biology and behavior of these special animal and plant species. We will let their stories inspire us to learn more about how to protect them and all other species.

Schiff Survival Explorers (Age: 12-16)
July 12 - July 16 - Afternoon Session CLOSED
July 19 - July 23 - Afternoon Session CLOSED

Test your skills in navigating through wilderness areas, finding food and water (and making it safe to consume), constructing shelters, creating tools from scratch, telling time, techniques for building fires and more! Let nature become your teacher in this special elective as we explore ways to safely survive in the wilderness… This “wild” adventure awaits you!

Register Now

What We Offer Each Week

Summer Nature Progrqam at Schiff
  • A 1:10 staff to child ratio
  • Morning and afternoon sessions available
  • Lead instructors are experienced professional educators
  • Lessons designed to educate, motivate, delight, and inspire children
  • Science, Sustainability, Environment, and Art integrated into all our curriculum
  • Weekly activities include nature inspired games, trips to the stream, tie dye making and scavenger hunts
  • Recycled craft projects to promote environmental awareness complementing daily lessons
  • Opportunities to explore Schiff's many splendors while building confidence and strong friendships
    • Access to 500+ acres of streams, forest, and meadow
    • 12 miles of hiking trails to explore and discover

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

Important Notices

Summer Nature Program for Kids
  • Family Membership must be initiated or renewed by Monday, 3/8/2021 to register prior to 3/29/2021. Contact if you are unsure about your membership status.
  • Registration is accepted online with payment via PayPal. Payments must be received prior to the start date of summer nature program. If you wish to pay by check or cash, contact .
  • Health Forms are required for each child and must be emailed or received by Monday, 6/1/2021. If you register post 6/1/2021, please submit to 48 hours prior to the first day of attendance. Click here for form.
  • Cancellations received by email or phone within 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 your child's selected session.
  • Waitlist is available. Please email to be placed on our wait list.
  • Caregiver must be on the premises with your child between 12:30 and 1:30pm, if you choose to register your child for an AM session and PM elective in the same week.
  • Groups are divided by grades. If you would like your child placed with a sibling or friend in the approximate same grade, please note this request in the "comments section".
  • Please email with any questions about registration.

    Our Directors:

    Jenny Chmura
    Meet Jenny Chmura
    Summer Nature Program Co-Director
    Christi Lorenson
    Meet Christi Lorenson
    Summer Nature Program Co-Director

    Words from Friends:

    Summer Nature Program Camp

    "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 2020 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

    "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."

    Check us out on Facebook & Instagram!
    Schiff Summer Nature Program on Facebook  Schiff Summer Nature Program on Instagram
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.