Public Info

Summer Camps & Family Fun Still Available at Trailside

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks and Recreation announces a new and exciting season of summer camps and family programs at Trailside Nature and Science Center.  

“Trailside summer programs offer the perfect opportunity for adults and children of all ages to explore the out-of-doors while learning all about nature,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. Space remains in camps for pre-first – 6th grade!  Register in person daily at Trailside from noon – 4:45 p.m. or online at and select the Online Registration tab.

“These camps offer interesting subject matter to both children and adults, which allows families to participate together in learning about the wonders of nature,” said Vice Chairman Sergio Granados.

Children ages four and five can enroll in the Living Lenape and Natural Beginnings camp sessions offered afternoons from 1:15-3:45 p.m. on July 5-8 or July 25-28.  Campers will learn all about the Lenape Native Americans; how they lived, games they played and tools they used.  Participants will have fun forming clay pots, making a necklace, practicing throwing corn darts, learning the fox walk and more.  Following a ½-hour break, children will participate in the Natural Beginnings program to learn about herbivores, carnivores, plants and bugs.  Through short hikes, games, crafts and stories children will discover how all living things are connected. 

Nature Discovery Club, Around the World, Arctic, Ocean & Desert and Tropical Treasures are among the camps still available for children entering the first and second grades.  Campers will learn the importance of insects and have fun using bug boxes, dip nets, sweep nets and strainers to catch, identify and release insects living in forests, meadows, streams and ponds in Nature Discovery Club.  “Travel” to different continents in Around the World to learn about polar bears, red panda, platypus and jaguars.  Wear sturdy walking shoes as we hike a different trail each day.  Focus on extreme habitats in Arctic, Ocean and Desert and investigate the special adaptations animals have to survive in these exciting wild places.  Learn the secrets of the world’s rainforests in Tropical Treasures.  Make a rain stick and “catch” poison dart frogs on an outdoor expedition. 

Wild and Rare, Junior Naturalists and Trailside Treks are some of the camps still available for children entering the third and fourth grade.  See a bald eagle and snowy owl up

close on a field trip to the Raptor Trust in Millington as part of the Wild and Rare camp.  Find out why some animals are becoming endangered and discover what you can do to help out.  Use special equipment to catch frogs, tadpoles, giant water bugs, water scorpions and more as you investigate the wetland habitats in the Junior Naturalist camp.  Learn how to use a map and compass to hike to some local points of interest in Trailside Treks.  Spend the week outside hiking to the Deserted Village, Watchung Stable, Lake Surprise and more.

Ocean Wonders explores the diversity of life found in the oceans for children entering the fifth and sixth grade.  Learn about the coral reefs, find out how the creatures of the deep use bioluminescence to survive and use a seine net to catch some ocean dwellers on a field trip to Sandy Hook.  All About Animals will take students on an in-depth look into the animal kingdom.  Meet live snakes and turtles, use binoculars to identify birds and find out how to track local mammals. 

Adults with children of all ages can take part in Friday Family programs.   Participants can make bubbles of all sizes in Bubblemania, beat the heat and catch salamanders in Stream Stroll, catch and release aquatic animals in Pond Search at Seeley’s Pond and take a hike in search of some signs and sounds of local Animal Neighbors.  Visit the Demonstration Garden with Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County in Garden Treasures and see their specialty gardens.

Evening explorations for families are also available during the summer months.  Participants invited to arrive in their pajamas to say good-night to Trailside’s animals and animal neighbors in When I’m Sleepy or dress to get wet and muddy for an Evening Pond Search at Seeley’s Pond.  Prepare to sing-a-long, perform funny skits and laugh out loud in the evening Family Campfires.  Adults with children six and older can sleep overnight and learn to build their own campfire in the Family Campout For Beginners.

For a detailed description of Trailside’s camps and family programs including dates, times and fees, call Trailside at 908-789-3670 or visit us at  Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside and is a service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.