Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Nature Day Camp Employment (ages 16+)

May 20, 2020

Dear friends,

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) closed our community and art centers, and pools, and canceled all outdoor programming in March to protect public health and to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 in our community. PP&R was also forced to lay off or not hire hundreds of valuable seasonal team members due to COVID-19.  

Those closures and cancelations made it impossible for PP&R to earn revenue through swim lessons, exercise classes, and permitted events. PP&R's funding structure relies on earned revenue to deliver services to the community. 

Unable to earn revenue and lacking a critical seasonal workforce, the bureau is now unable to open community centers or pools or offer traditional summer programming in 2020.  This includes all summer camps, which are canceled.

We were already in the planning mode for the 2020 summer of Nature Day Camp, and we are saddened by the announcement that there would not be camp this summer. Campers were already registered, volunteers were already in process, and numerous people had applied to be on staff. We thank you so much for your interest in Nature Day Camp – no matter what your role would have been during the camp season. We hope that you will still find a way to connect to Portland’s natural areas on your own time this summer.

Everyone who registered for camp will receive a full refund, including the non-refundable $50 deposit. These will be processed as quickly as possible and will go back to the credit card used to pay for the camp in the first place. If there are any issues with expired cards, or if you paid by cash or check, we will work with your family individually to ensure you receive a full refund. To ensure that you DO receive the non-refundable $50 deposit, please be patient and let us process the refunds on our end. (If you try to withdraw online, you will lose the $50.) For more information on refunds related to COVID-19, please see

The impact of COVID-19 on PP&R's operations has grown the resolve to fulfill the late Commissioner Nick Fish's vision of a Sustainable Future for PP&R to ensure that we can serve all Portlanders.

What Portland Parks & Recreation will do to serve the community in summer 2020:

  • We will focus on providing critical community needs. Parks are more needed now than they ever have been. We have amazing people who are keeping neighborhood parks, trails and natural area safe and clean.
  • Free Lunch + Play – this program has a history of more than 100 years. More than half of Portland schoolchildren qualify for free and reduced lunch during the school year. And with five school districts and many other partners and supporters, we help distribute the lunches during the summer gap, adding arts and crafts, sports, games, and fun at parks citywide. We are expanding and enhancing Lunch + Play this year to serve our city. We expect more details in the coming weeks.
  • Park Greeters – at some of the busiest sites citywide, helping Portlanders use their parks and trails safely
  • Stay and Play – we are now offering online recreation programs with the new Stay and Play video series! Portland kids, families, adults, and seniors can stay healthy, learn new things, play, and stay connected with their friends at PP&R while in-person programs are on hold. Offerings include arts and crafts, physical fitness, bathtub floating skills, and more. If you have a chance, please check it out via links on our website.

We will continue to provide updates around how COVID-19 is affecting PP&R on our web page:

Thank you and have an outdoorsy summer,



Paid Positions Available - Nature Day Camp
Naturalist I, Naturalist II, and Coordinator
As the City works to address the impacts of COVID-19, we made the difficult decision to suspend the majority of external recruitments, effective March 17, 2020. (Critical need recruitments are exempt; Police Officer and Auditor’s office recruitments will continue.)

Please view the talent pool announcement for all upcoming Nature Day Camp positions, and join the pool if you are interested in applying:

Quick links

Spend your summer as a paid naturalist at PP&R's Nature Day Camps!

We are looking for summer staff who have these qualities:

  • Hardworking, responsible, confident
  • Curious about nature, ecology, and science
  • Silly, creative, patient
  • Genuinely enjoy being with children
  • Have an interest in teaching 
  • Want to make an impact in the lives of younger children and youth

Camp Details

  • Our summer camp staff is comprised of teens and young adults rich in culture, language, backgrounds, and skills.
  • Summer Camps run June 22 - August 21 (Children are on site Monday through Friday from 9:00am-3:30pm).
  • We are outside all summer, leading camps in a different park each week (we spend time at Mt. Tabor Park, Hoyt Arboretum, and Sellwood Park-Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge).
  • Campers are 4-12 years old and are divided into small traveling groups according to age.
  • Each day of camp starts and ends with large-group activities, and the middle of the day is spent in unstructured time in nature as a small group.
  • Our summer naturalists act as mentors to our Jr Naturalist volunteers (ages 13-17) and work closely with parents to make camp a safe, fun, educational, and silly place! 

Whether you have years of experience as an environmental educator or simply love children and nature, we have a position tailored to you! 

Back to top

How to Apply

Before you apply, make sure to read about our program so you know what is expected of you during the summer.

  1. Click here to read general information about Nature Day Camp (It's the same stuff parents look at to learn about camp!)
  2. Click here to read the weekly schedule and daily rhythm of camp (If you worked at camp in the past, this will be NEW for you. Please read it carefully.)
  3. Click here to read this summer's nature themes (Each week has a unique nature theme and the structured activities are built using the objectives listed.)
  4. Read the job qualifications for the different positions and decide which is the best fit for you.
  5. Make sure you are available for all required training days. 
  6. Complete your application! (Links are below)
  7. Contact three people who would be good character or employment references for you.
  8. Complete all pages of the application (including your three references and answers to all supplemental questions).

Links to all 2020 Applications

If you are applying to be a Naturalist I, Naturalist II, or Nature Day Camp Coordinator, view and join the Talent Pool to get notification when positions have opened up:

NATURALIST I  --  Ages 16+, no experience necessary, but you SHOULD really like science, nature, children and be interested in teaching!
Ages 18+, experience leading and facilitating groups, and at least two summers experience as an educator at Nature Day Camp or a similar program (working 30+ hrs/wk) 
Application for Naturalist I and Naturalist II
PRINT and FILL OUT   |    FILLABLE PDF (Save as "YOUR NAME - NATURALIST APPLICATION" and then email to our office)

NATURE DAY CAMP COORDINATOR  --  Ages 21+, experience leading and facilitating groups, and at least three summers experience at Nature Day Camp (working 30+ hrs/wk) or equivalent hours in a similar program. Driver's license and good driving record preferred.

Online application with is Currently suspended - please check to join a talent pool, and you will be notified when recruitment resumes. 
PRINT and FILL OUT   |    FILLABLE PDF (Save as "YOUR NAME - COORDINATOR APPLICATION" and then email to our office)

RETURNING NATURALIST I and II  --  Ages 16+ and have been on staff before. If you were on staff at Nature Day Camp in 2018 or 2019 and are applying to be a Naturalist I or II for Summer 2020, fill out the Returning Naturalist Application. (If you are applying to be a Coordinator, you will need to fill out the Coordinator Application.) 
PRINT and FILL OUT   |    FILLABLE PDF (Save as "YOUR NAME - RETURNING NATURALIST APPLICATION" and then email to our office)

All summer camp employment applications must be filled out completely, including answers to all essay questions. 

Submit your application one of the following ways:

  • FAX your application to 503-865-3251. Please call or text 503-823-1149 to make sure we got it!
  • MAIL your application to Attention: EE Nature Day Camps, 2909 SW 2nd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97201
  • EMAIL your application to
  • SHARE as a Google Doc with  

Back to top

Required  2020 Training Days - Make sure you are available! 

Coordinators Only: Monday-Friday, June 8-12, (8:00am-4:00pm) - Planning Days 

Returning Staff Only:
Thursday, June 11, 8:30am-4:30pm - Sellwood Park (Anyone returning from Summer 2018 or 2019)

All Staff Trainings

  • Monday, June 15, 8:30am-4:30pm - Mt Tabor Park
  • Tuesday, June 16, 8:30am-4:30pm - Hoyt Arboretum (for people who do not need CPR)
  • Wednesday, June 17, 8:30am-4:30pm - Sellwood Park/Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
  • Thursday, June 18, 8:30am-4:30pm - Hoyt Arboretum
  • Friday, June 19 (8:30-4:30am) - Mt Tabor Park

CPR/First Aid - June 16 (staff who need CPR will take it on this date instead of attending staff training)

Severe Allergic Reactions and Medication Administration - All coordinators and Naturalist II positions are asked to attend three additional hours of training. Times and dates are TBD, but training takes place in early June. 

Back to top

Volunteer positions

Volunteer Jr Naturalist Program (Ages 13-17, no experience necessary but you should like science, nature, and children!).
See the Jr Naturalist page for all details!

Portland Parks & Recreation offers many other summer job opportunities, too! If you are looking for information about summer jobs with aquatics, community center camps, plus Adaptive & Inclusive recreation, find information about those jobs here!

A group of campers and staff hang out on the Willamette River!

Back to top