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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-7529

1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

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Volunteer Jr Naturalists (ages 13-17)

Volunteer as a Jr Naturalist with the Nature Day Camp program!

Whether or not you have experience working with kids or in nature, you can grow your skills while volunteering as a Jr Naturalist at Nature Day Camp. If you are a responsible, energetic, and patient teen with an interest in nature, education, and child development, you’re encouraged to apply!

As a Jr Naturalist, you will:

  • Share your curiosity and enthusiasm for learning with the campers.
  • Gain experience helping campers with nature-focused games, crafts, and activities.
  • Practice developing supportive relationships with campers and other staff members.
  • Learn about our parks and the natural world!

Applying is easy - simply fill out the application and get it back to us by May 31, 2020 - the earlier we receive it, the better! Registration begins on February 24, 2020 and we offer spots on a first-come, first-served basis(Information on how to get your application to us is ON the application!) 

If you have questions, please email or by calling/texting 971-221-5971. 

To apply to be a Jr Naturalist, click an option below:

2020 Jr Naturalist Application - PRINT AND FILL OUT

2020 Jr Naturalist Application - FILLABLE PDF 
(Save the document to your computer first, then fill it out and re-save!)

Teens accepted into the program must volunteer for two weeks of camp (A third week is possible if space allows. Teens interested in a third week should note that on their application.) Cost is $30/week for Portland residents.The $30/week fee helps cover the cost of the training days. TEENS WILL NOT BE TURNED AWAY BECAUSE OF INABILITY TO PAY. If the fee is a barrier, please let us know, and it will be waived. 

Jr Naturalist Weeks Available 
Dates Volunteering
Location Camp Nature Theme Ages Resident
 1119706 June 29-July 2 8:15am-3:30pm Sellwood Park/ Oaks
Bottom Wildlife Refuge
 Habitats Are Hip 13-17 yrs $30
 1119857 July 6-10 8:15am-3:30pm Hoyt Arboretum  Buzz and Flutter 13-17 yrs $30
 1119852 July 13-17 8:15am-3:30pm Mt Tabor Park  Enchanted by Plants 13-17 yrs $30
 1119726 July 20-24 8:15am-3:30pm Sellwood Park/ Oaks
Bottom Wildlife Refuge
 Wonders of Water 13-17 yrs $30
 1119853 July 27-31 8:15am-3:30pm Mt Tabor Park  Rock and Roll Lifestyle 13-17 yrs $30
 1119858 Aug 3-7 8:15am-3:30pm Hoyt Arboretum  Branching Out 13-17 yrs $30
 1119854 Aug 10-14 8:15am-3:30pm Mt Tabor Park  We Can Wing It 13-17 yrs $30
 1119856 Aug 17-21 8:15am-3:30pm Mt. Tabor Park  Marvelous Mammals 13-17 yrs $30
*Jr Naturalists should report to camp at 8:00am on Mondays for a short meeting with the Jr Naturalist Coordinator before connecting with their group for the week. 


  • Must be between 13 and 17 years old by June 1, 2020.
  • No experience required, however, Jr Naturalists are required to attend one day of training.  (Available training dates: June 23, June 24, June 25, July 15, or July 22)
  • All teens who apply should have an interest in and enthusiasm for nature, have patience with children, and be open to learning new skills.

Specific Roles and Responsibilities

  • Play, explore, and be curious about nature with campers!
  • Help naturalists organize campers and keep them as safe as possible.
  • Help campers as needed during games, crafts, and activities.
  • Help campers stay focused and transition from activity to activity, and location to location.
  • Sign-in to camp on time each morning and sign-out each afternoon.
  • Pay attention to your own needs throughout the day and communicate them clearly to others. 
  • Listen to naturalists and lead staff and communicate with them kindly and respectfully.

Hours of Commitment
Each week, Jr Naturalists must commit to being at Nature Day Camp Monday-Friday, 8:15am-3:30pm (8:00 on Mondays). Campers are on-site from 9:00am-3:30pm. Jr Naturalists help organize and occupy children during drop-off and pick up, and help lead games, crafts, songs, stories each morning and afternoon with their assigned group. In the middle of the day, Jr Naturalists travel with their small group as they hike, explore and play. Throughout the week, our paid Naturalists and Jr Naturalist Coordinator guide the teens as needed and check in each day to make sure the week is going smoothly. 

Required Training Days
Jr Naturalists must be able to attend one FULL day of training (yes, even if you've volunteered before!). Training takes place at Mt Tabor Park and Sellwood Park (see dates below).

Jr Naturalist Training Day Options (14 spots available each day)

  • June 23 (Tu), 9:30am - 3:30pm, Mt. Tabor Park
  • June 24 (W), 9:30am - 3:30pm, Mt. Tabor Park
  • June 25 (Th), 9:30am - 3:30pm, Mt. Tabor Park
  • July 15 (W), 9:30am-3:30pm, Mt. Tabor Park (If volunteering between July 20 - Aug 21)
  • July 22 (W), 9:30am-3:30pm, Sellwood Park/Oaks Bottom (If volunteering between July 27 - Aug 21)

volunteers help with the day to day teaching
Jr Naturalists help us achieve the mission of Nature Day Camp!

What is the goal of Nature Day Camp? Great question! The goal of camp is to provide opportunities for children ages 4-12 to follow their innate curiosity with a goal of learning, exploration and discovery; to connect with their natural surroundings through experience & exposure to flora & fauna; and to create positive relationships with meaningful, highly trained naturalists. Through their interactions with nature, an experienced educator and other children, campers may be inspired to share their discoveries and become future stewards of nature, in Portland and beyond.

Our approach with children at Nature Day Camp

  • We give children the opportunity to spend time in nature with highly trained teachers, teen-aged assistants, and peers. Children experience a unique balance of hands-on exploration, child-directed learning, unstructured play, and structured activities. 
  • We introduce Leave No Trace principles and strive to encourage an overall appreciation of the park grounds, natural spaces and materials. We know that the appreciation of nature comes through a personal connection to the plants, animals and ecological concepts discovered in each park.
  • We find ways to say "yes" and redirect attention while creating a safe environment to explore.
  • We allow space and time for children to think, process, and ask questions.
  • As environmental educators, we are inspired by our own natural curiosity and honest wonderment of nature. We share, learn, and believe children have a lot to teach us.