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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

More Contact Info

Volunteer Jr Naturalists (ages 13-17)

Canoeing at Whitaker Ponds
Apply to be a Volunteer Jr Naturalist with the Nature Day Camp program!

Responsible, energetic, and patient teens who enjoy nature and have experience working with children are encouraged to apply to be a volunteer Jr Naturalist with Nature Day Camp (ages 13-17). Jr Naturalists commit to one training day and then two weeks of volunteering. Jr Naturalists work directly with the children, supervised by paid staff, and are given opportunities to develop teaching, leadership, and group facilitation skills. All teens who apply should have an enthusiasm for nature, have patience with children, and be open to learning new skills.

Applying is easy - simply fill out the application and get it back to us between February 25 and May 31, 2019 - the earlier we receive it, the better! 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:
Jr Naturalist Application - PRINT AND FILL OUT BY HAND
Jr Naturalist Application - FILLABLE PDF (Save FIRST, then fill out & 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
1103988 July 1-3
(No camp on July 4 or 5)
8:30am-4:00pm Mt. Tabor Park Rock and Roll Lifestyle 13-17 yrs $30
1103989 July 8-12 8:30am-4:00pm Hoyt Arboretum Branching Out 13-17 yrs $30
1104037 July 15-19 8:30am-4:00pm Sellwood Park/ Oaks
Bottom Wildlife Refuge
Habitats Are Hip! 13-17 yrs $30
1104040 July 22-26 8:30am-4:00pm Mt. Tabor Park Buzz and Flutter 13-17 yrs $30
1104042 July 29-Aug 2 8:30am-4:00pm Hoyt Arboretum Marvelous Mammals 13-17 yrs $30
1104044 Aug 5-9 8:30am-4:00pm Sellwood Park/ Oaks
Bottom Wildlife Refuge
Wild Willamette Watersheds 13-17 yrs $30
1104046 Aug 12-16 8:30am-4:00pm Mt Tabor Park We Can Wing It! 13-17 yrs $30
1104047 Aug 19-23 8:30am-4:00pm Mt. Tabor Park Havin' a Blast
with Chloroplasts!
13-17 yrs $30

Hours of Commitment
Each week, Jr Naturalists must commit to being at Nature Day Camp Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:00pm. Campers are on-site from 9:00am-4:00pm (some arriving as early as 7:45am for before-care.) 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 gorup 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 (meeting in the covered picnic shelter, up the hill and to the right of SE 69th and Yamhill)

Option 1: Tuesday, June 25, 8:30am-4:00pm 
Option 2: Wednesday, June 26, 8:30am-4:00pm (Please note that gates are closed to vehicles every Wednesday. We suggest driving up the hill and to the right of SE 69th and Yamhill, parking along the west side of the road, and walking to the shelter!)
Option 3: Thursday, June 27, 8:30am-4:00pm

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.