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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, patient teens who like to be in nature and have experience with (or simply enjoy) children are encouraged to apply to be a volunteer Jr Naturalist for the summer! Jr Naturalists volunteer with either the Nature Day Camp program (must be 13-17 yrs) or the Rockin Robins Preschool Camp (preferably 15-17 yrs or have prior experience with young children). All teens who apply must possess enthusiasm about nature, patience with children, and the openness to learn new skills. Teens will be trained in child development, communication skills, role-modeling, and instruction techniques. Jr Naturalists work directly with the children - supervised by paid staff - and are given opportunities to develop teaching, leadership, and group facilitation skills. 

Applying is easy - simply fill out the application and get it back to us before June 1, 2018 - but 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!) 

Click here for the Jr Naturalist application! 

Teens accepted into the program must volunteer for at least two (but not more than four) weeks. Cost is $25/week for Portland residents.The $25/week fee helps cover the cost of the training days and weekly supervision. 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. 

If you have questions, or IF your child has been approved as a volunteer and need to return our call, please call the EE Office at 503-823-3601. 

Jr Naturalist Weeks Available 
Dates Volunteering
Location Camp Nature Theme Ages Resident
 1085836 July 2-6
(No camp on July 4)
8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Mt. Tabor Park Rock and Roll Lifestyle 13-17 yrs $25
1085850  July 9-13 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Hoyt Arboretum Habitats Are Hip!  13-17 yrs $25
1085854 July 9-13 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Whitaker Ponds
Nature Park
Habitats Are Hip! 13-17 yrs $25
1085846  July 16-20 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Mt. Tabor Park Let's Wing It! 13-17 yrs $25
1085847  July 23-27 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Mt. Tabor Park Buzz and Flutter 13-17 yrs $25
1085851  July 30-Aug 3 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Hoyt Arboretum Branching Out! 13-17 yrs $25
1085856  July 30-Aug 3 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Sellwood Park/
Oaks Bottom
Branching Out! 13-17 yrs $25
1085848  Aug 6-10 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Mt. Tabor Park Marvelous Mammals 13-17 yrs $25
1085853  Aug 13-17 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Hoyt Arboretum Let's Wing It! 13-17 yrs $25
1085855  Aug 13-17 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Whitaker Ponds
Nature Park
Let's Wing It! 13-17 yrs $25
1085849  Aug 20-24 8:45am-3:45pm (Nature Day Camp)
8:45am-1:45pm (Rockin Robins)
Mt. Tabor Park Havin' a Blast
with Chloroplasts!
13-17 yrs $25

Hours of Commitment
Each week, Jr Naturalists must commit to being at Nature Day Camp Monday-Friday, 8:45am-3:45pm or at Rockin Robins Nature Camp from 8:45am-1:45pm. Campers are on-site from 9:00am-3:30pm (Rockin Robins from 9:00am-1:30pm). Jr Naturalists will help us organize children during drop-off and pick up, and will help lead games, crafts, songs, stories each morning and afternoon. In the middle of the day, each Jr Naturalist is assigned to travel with a small group of children as they hike and explore and play. Throughout the week, our paid Naturalists, Site Coordinators, and Mentoring Coaches will guide the and check in to make sure the week is going smoothly. 

Required Training Days
Jr Naturalists must be able to attend one of the following two-day trainings (even if you've volunteered before!). Trainings take 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: 11am-2pm, Tuesday, June 26 AND Thursday, June 28 
Option 2: 11am-2pm, Wednesday, June 27 AND Friday, June 29 (Please note that gates are closed to vehicles on Wednesdays. Enter the park through SE 69th and Yamhill, park along the road, and walk to the shelter!)

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

Curious what the goals of camp are? Great question! The goal of Summer Nature Day Camp is to provide opportunities for children ages 3½ - 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.