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Camp Zoofari FAQs and Policies

Parent Information

Camp Communication is by Email. Check your email for a receipt! Please be sure you are receiving email from Camp Zoofari by checking your SPAM settings in your email. If registering for someone else, be sure to forward them all emails. Camp Zoofari communicates up to the start of camp via email. If you do not receive a receipt via email, please contact our office at education@houstonzoo.org to ensure you receive communications.

Cancellations
Due to the high demand for camp spaces, all sales are considered final. Patrons who provide a written notice of cancellation to education@houstonzoo.org on or before May 1 will receive a 50% refund of their camp registration fees. No refunds will be issued after this date, including participants who miss all or partial programs due to illness. Before camp fees and shirt purchases are not refundable.

The Houston Zoo reserves the right to cancel any program due to minimum enrollment, inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances, in which case a full refund will be issued. Cancellations are official upon receipt of confirmation from the Houston Zoo.

Camp Drop-Off/Pick-Up Hours

8:45AM – 9:15AM   Camp Check-In
3:45PM – 4:15PM    Camp Check-Out

Any camper remaining after camp pick-up has ended is subject to a late fee of $10 for the first 10 minutes and then $5/minute after that.

Emergency Contacts and Authorized Individuals
If you are the parent/guardian of the camper and plan to pick up your child every day, you will need to list your name in the emergency contact section when registering. If you are not picking up your child, add all those approved to pick up your child in the emergency contacts of your registration. Please provide the person’s full, legal name and not their nickname on their photo identification. The name on the roster must match the exact spelling and name photo ID. If you’re not sure who will be picking up your child daily, you will have the opportunity to include additional names on the pickup list when you drop off your camper each day. For the safety of your camper, this policy will be followed to ensure no unauthorized individuals try to remove your camper from Camp Zoofari.

No Cell Phone Policy at Camp Zoofari
Camp Zoofari is a high-energy experience filled with fun, interactive activities. We want your child to enjoy their experience connecting to nature and wildlife so we ask you to please refrain from sending your child to camp with a cell phone.

If you need to speak with your child during camp hours, please call our Education Office at 713-533-6739. We will be happy to have your child speak with you.

Should a situation arise at camp in which your child needs to speak with you or you need to be notified of a concern regarding your child such as an illness, we will contact you using the emergency contact information you provided. On Monday morning, please check your child’s roster to verify the emergency contact information provided during registration is correct. Please be sure to provide us with a phone number that will be answered during the camp day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the camp hours?

Gate 8 camp entrance opens and closes promptly at the hours below in order to begin the camp day. Our staff are not able to “hold the gate” for late arrivals.

Campers not picked up by 4:15 pm will be charged $10 for the first 10 minutes and $5 a minute after that.

Gate 8 Access Hours

  • 8:45 – 9:15 Camp Drop Off
  • 3:45 – 4:15 Camp Pick Up

Where do I go when I arrive?

Please bring campers to Gate 8, located down the sidewalk to the left as you face the main entrance. A map will be sent out in advance of your camper’s session showing how to utilize the camp drop-off lane. Guests are welcome to park and walk up to Gate 8 as well.

If I am arriving late? What if I need to leave early?

Gate 8 will only be open the hours above. If you are arriving to pick up or drop off your child outside of these times, please call our staff at 713-533-6739. All camper pick-up and drop-off will occur through Gate 8. If checking out early, please allow extra time to find parking and for your camper to return from Zoo grounds back to our building.

Where should I park?

Please visit the Parking and Directions page for up-to-date information on parking around the Zoo. Lots E, F, G, H and I are all open to the public to park.

The free parking lots around Houston Zoo are owned and managed by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and have no affiliation with Houston Zoo. They are intended for use of guests visiting Hermann Park, Miller Outdoor Theater, Centennial Gardens, Houston Zoo, and the other museums in the area.

We understand parking can be difficult, especially in the afternoon.  We are unable to offer a carpool lane as emergency vehicles must have access to the Zoo. We cannot block the road and driveway leading into the Zoo.  Because the lot is owned and managed by the City of Houston, we are unable to block or reserve any part of the parking lot for camp participants.

Please do not park in the handicapped spaces or loading zones along the curb outside Gate 8 (Red box below) unless you have a permit, as you may be ticketed or towed. Please do not park there, even if you see others parking in these zones.

City of Houston Parking Enforcement and Houston Police routinely patrol the area and write tickets to camp parents parking in these spaces when they begin blocking access to the street and driveway to emergency vehicles. Houston Zoo is not responsible for fines received.

I want my camper to be with friends. What should I do?

If campers have a friend request listed on their registration, we will do everything we can to pair those campers together. That said, camp is designed to foster new friendships and is an important part of early childhood development. There are no guarantees that we will be able to pair up campers as we assign them to their camp group by birth-date. We do this so that a camper on the youngest end of the age group is not placed with a camper in the oldest end of the age group or vice versa. (For example, a camper who just turned 7 is not placed in a camp group with a camper who is currently 9, but will be 10-years-old in a month).

Campers registered for the same topic and day will spend time together throughout the day, only breaking into smaller subgroups for individual Zoo tours.

What do I do if my child has allergies?

If your child has food allergies, please include this information when registering. We are not able to offer alternative snacks. You are welcome to provide a snack for your own child if allergies are a concern.

My child needs to take medication; how should I arrange for this?

The Houston Zoo does NOT administer medication to children, nor does it allow campers to self-medicate and does not permit medication (OTC or prescription) at camp with the exception of emergency medications (inhalers, epi-pens, etc.). Please consult a physician so medication can be administered outside of camp. To ensure a positive experience for all campers, it is IMPERATIVE that you notify us of any special needs or medical conditions your child may have. We will accommodate these needs to the best of our ability.

What should I pack for lunch?

Camp Zoofari is a “high energy” activity with several hours of walking around the Zoo, so campers should eat a hearty breakfast before arrival.  We provide bagged snacks (pretzels, cookies or crackers) in the morning and afternoon.  Water is also offered throughout the day at refillable water stations in the Zoo.  We recommend bringing a reusable water bottle to keep your camper hydrated.

All campers must bring a lunch daily. Due to safety concerns, glass containers are prohibited.  Juice boxes with straws are not allowed. There is not a microwave available for use.

Some items are not recommended. Please pack clear liquids or juices only for drinking.  Please see lunch recommendations below.

Recommended:

  • Sandwich or “Lunchable”
  • Whole fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Reusable containers
  • Water or Sport Drinks
  • Clear fruit juice
  • Cereal bars
  • String cheese

Not Recommended:

  • Yogurt and “Gogurt”
  • Milk
  • Difficult to open packages
  • Soda
  • Smoothies
  • Sushi
  • Mayonnaise-based salads
  • Thick fruit/vegetable juice

Not Allowed:

  • Glass containers
  • Food that requires heating or cooking
  • Food for other campers
  • Juice boxes with a plastic straw

Can I bring snacks for the group?

While you are welcome to pack snacks for own camper(s), due to dietary restrictions of participants, please do not bring snacks (such as cupcakes) for your child’s group. We are unable to allow these to be shared.

My camper is sensitive to transitions or elements like light, sound or smells. Is Camp Zoofari a good fit for my camper?

The answer really depends upon your camper. Camp Zoofari can be very overwhelming to some campers with these sensitivities, yet others do extremely well at camp.  You know your camper best and what he or she may be able to safely and comfortably experience.

Camp takes place outdoors, in the Houston Zoo, for 4.5 hours each day.  Camp groups do not have a dedicated classroom space.  The spaces you see at check-in and check-out are only used for that purpose.  There are indoor activities in a variety of buildings. The Zoo is a public space and can be crowded and/or loud. Additionally, our proximity to the Medical Center means sirens and helicopters can routinely be heard inside the Zoo.   Live animals and food vendors produce a variety of smells.  Campers must be able to use public restrooms, which have electric hand-driers, without assistance. Campers complete multiple transitions each day as they move between exhibits and buildings.  Each building may have different lighting based on the needs of the animals in those spaces.

We do our best to prepare all campers by sharing the plan for the day with them each morning and announcing transitions before they occur.

If you have a question or concern, please call our office at 713-533-6739 before registering.

What does my camper do all day?

Each day is filled with Zoo visits and activities related to your camper’s theme. Depending on the day, campers will visit different areas of the Zoo, meet Zoo staff and Zoo animals, and play a variety of theme-related games. For a glimpse of your camper’s day, please follow along with us on the Bloomz app.

How are campers supervised?

Our camp team is made up of current and former educators, students, and individuals with child-care backgrounds. All staff have undergone a thorough background check and screening, as well as full training with our Education Department. Camp Guide ratios are 1:8 for age groups 6-7 and 8-9, and 1:10 for age group 10-14.

What should I bring/pack?

You must bring the following:

  1. Camp shirt
  2. Close-toes shoes
  3. Reusable water bottle
  4. Lunch

You may want to also bring:

  • Weather-appropriate gear like hats, coats, rain coats, sunglasses, etc.
  • Sunscreen or bug spray. Please apply before dropping off your camper.  We are not able to apply.
  • Camera for older campers.

Can I bring a backpack?

Yes, though campers are only in the Education building for check-in and check-out. Camp takes place on Zoo Grounds and campers must be able to carry everything themselves. Cubbies are available for children to store items they don’t want to carry in the Zoo. Please do not bring any personal electronics, such as tablets or gaming systems as these items could be lost.  Houston Zoo is not responsible for any personal electronic devices brought.

Does my child need to wear their camp shirt every day?

Yes, a camp t-shirt must be worn each day of Camp Zoofari. One shirt is included in the registration fee.  You may purchase additional shirts at the time of registration for $20 apiece. Sizes are Youth XS (2-4), S (6-8), M (10-12), L (14-16), and Adult S, M, and L. If you are unsure of what size to order, please order a size larger to allow room for your camper to grow.

What do you do in the event of severe weather?

Camp Zoofari operates rain or shine. In the event of severe weather, camp activities shift indoors and campers can seek shelter at indoor exhibit spaces if previously out on grounds. In the event of a Zoo closure in advance of severe weather, all impacted camp families will be notified via email and through Bloomz.

Any further questions?

Contact Us:
education@houstonzoo.org
Education Number: 713-533-6739