camp Balcones

 Camp Fire's Summer Day Camp Has Gone Digital this Year. Please join us online from your own backyard, in a park, or on a trail

Summertime Adventures Await!


Explore, learn, and grow with  Camp Balcones - Camp Fire's Summer Camp is Austin’s premier urban nature and science day camp that sparks curiosity and inspires learning in kids ages 6 – 14 years old while preventing summer learning loss. Each week features a nature or science theme in addition to crafts, activities to complete at home, creative expression, and other fun-filled activities.


Camp Balcones has four unique weekly STEM-based themes which incorporate hands-on, project-based activities. Your child will explore nature, identify plants and animals, and have fun with unstructured play in a safe environment with new friends and camp instructors online.

Camp Balcones runs for 8 weeks during the summer, beginning on June 8th, 2020. Camp Balcones is available Monday through Friday from 10am to 3pm


Ages 6 - 14   

Cost: $150 per week


Please remember to choose and pay for your annual membership. It is paid just once per person for the year.  If you forget to add it during checkout and registration it will be added to your order. 

It is the first item in the list when you add weeks etc. The membership is 25.00 per year. 


A limited number of partial scholarships and sliding fee spaces are available.

Please call Camp Fire at 512-349-2111 or at 479-685-8730 to learn more

                                             Camp Fire Digital/Do-At-Home Summer Camp 


This year Camp Fire is doing Camp Balcones quite differently than in years past, and we hope you’ll join us for this interactive version of the summer-camp experience.  

We are keeping our weekly schedule the same, along with the same themes for each: Natural History, Outdoor Detectives, Camping 101, and Nature Hacks.


Theme descriptions can be found below  


We will modify the sample activities for each theme in order to make them fit into the new digital format. 

A week of camp can be thought of as a package that includes the following:

  1. Access to Zoom sessions that run on the hour, from 10 AM – 3 PM every day, Monday through Friday of each week. These sessions will be of alternating types: live, counselor-led activities such as art, science, and photography; presentations and discussions led by special guests; and group reflections, where kids and parents can share stories and updates. Each week’s schedule will be sent out prior to the week starting, and all sessions are optional, meaning one can tune in or out at any time.

    2.Here is a sample daily schedule from the Natural History week:

                              10 AM – Art: nature sculptures with different types of rocks 

                              11 AM – Science: investigating geodes

                              12 noon – Lunch (counselors will be on at this point to talk with the kids over lunch)

                                1 PM – Outdoor Skills: plant identification/foraging

                                2 PM – Reflection: chat with the counselors 



   3. A package sent home that contains an activity the kids can do during the week, e.g. scavenger hunt, photography challenge, or making natural dyes. The package will also contain some type of tool that the kids can use for outdoor investigations, such as a magnifying class or compass (depending on availability). A pre-recorded video on how to use each tool will be available through our website, email, and social media so that the kids have some instruction on how to get started. The package will also contain a camp shirt with the materials to tie dye it at home    NOTE (tie dye kit will tie dye about 10 items), water bottle, and stickers based on the weekly theme. 


          We know that kids are spending a lot more time in front of screens than they were already, and that “zoom fatigue” is real and legitimate. With that in mind, we aim to make our sessions as fun and interactive as possible, and to connect our content to follow-up activities whenever possible, so that the kids are not just passively sitting and taking in videos but rather getting ideas from the sessions and taking them further with their own investigations and discoveries.


          We also want to carve out a lot of time for reflection and group discussions, so that our kids and parents can have a venue for talking through emotions, sharing their learning, and generating new ideas for things to do during the week. 


"Camp Fire sparks an interest in kids in the world around them. When you see Camp Fire in action, the impact clicks. My girls have had a great time at the summer camp ‐ and they still talk about what they learned and did even months later."

Alicia, Camp Fire Parent

2020  Weekly Camp Themes

Natural History


We are going all the way back to learn how our Lone Star State came to be! This week we will dive into the natural history of Texas, learning how Native Americans lived and changed the land, how Texas is home to multiple and varying ecosystems, and how geology affects both human civilizations and other animal populations. How do resources affect migrations? What caused Texas’ gold rush? What is the Balcones Escarpment? Why do we find aquatic animal fossils hundreds of miles from the ocean? We’ll investigate these questions and many more as we travel through the geologic timeline.


Example Concepts:

  • Geology, rock layers, rock cycle, fossils

  • Native plant and animal species, wild edible plants, local wildlife

  • Migration

  • Natural resources, conservation

  • Climate, biomes

Camping 101

We’ll practice basic outdoor skills one would need to safely and confidently camp in a park or natural area, such as setting up tents, starting and managing campfires, hiking and navigating, tying useful knots, and more. We’ll also learn how to be good stewards of the environment by practicing Leave No Trace principles. By the end of the week, we won’t quite be ready to tackle the Appalachian Trail, but we will be able to safely enjoy any city, state, or national park!

Example concepts:

  • Camping, tents, knots, fire safety

  • Outdoor cooking

  • Leave No Trace, hiking, wilderness first aid

  • Hydration, water filtering

  • Emergency preparation

                                                                 Nature Hacks

There are lots of hints that nature will give you if you know how to look and listen. This week we’ll learn to read some of nature’s signs, as well as some tricks for being more prepared when hiking or camping. The key word will be resourcefulness: how to use what’s around us to improve our outdoor experience.

Example concepts:

  • Plant identification

  • Telling time w/ the sun

  • Orienteering

  • Duct tape crafts

  • What to pack for hiking and camping


                                                           Outdoor Detectives

Being a detective means looking, listening, and having awareness. We’ll concentrate on finding and reading clues, like animal tracks and scat, weather conditions, and logical deductions, as we search for knowledge about the world around us. We’ll learn how to use equipment like magnifying glasses, telescopes, and microscopes to aid in our searches.

Example concepts:

  • Identifying animal tracks and scat

  • Wildlife migration

  • Scavenger hunts

  • Logic puzzles

  • Observing/tracking local weather conditions



Camp Fire Central Texas, P.O.Box 303040 Austin, Texas 78705  (512) 349.2111

© 2017 Camp Fire Central Texas