Family Nature Camp Activities

field trips, presentations, and more!

Family Nature Camp is designed to offer a balance of structured activities and ample free time. Each day, families will participate in guided activities including the following:

In addition, when you arrive at COA, you'll have the option of signing up for additional activities, all included in the cost of registration:

  • Sunset visit to the top of Cadillac Mountain
  • Early morning bird walk with a local ornithologist 
  • Assemble the bones of a real minke whale skeleton
  • "Catch and release" insect hunt

All of the field trips, presentations, and boat cruises listed above are included in the cost of your Family Nature Camp registration.  A more detailed description of each of these field trips and presentations can be found in the pdf file below.

Free time can be spent socializing with other families, visiting Bar Harbor or exploring other areas of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park.  You may use your own vehicle or the Island Explorer, a free, island-wide shuttle making daily stops at the College of the Atlantic campus approximately every 15 minutes.  If you and your family plan a day-long outing, the dining hall will make sure you have a delicious bag lunch to take with you. 

A la Carte: Additional Boat Trips
If you wish, you may compliment the scheduled field trips with up to two additional boat trips, offered to you at special discounted rates through Family Nature Camp. These include guided kayak tours, a schooner cruise on the Margaret Todd, a whale-watching or puffin expedition with the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company, and the Bass Harbor Nature Cruise or Frenchboro trips offered through Island Cruises.

For more information, click below to download the following:

A Typical Week at Family Nature Camp - PDF file

A Full Description of Field and Boat Trips - PDF file

Frequently Asked Questions - PDF file

2015 Returning Families Week 
(July 26 through August 1) 
Book early - spaces are limited!

This will be the fifth summer College of the Atlantic offers a family camp specifically designed with “returning families” in mind. Some participants have been to COA Family Nature Camp, two, three, four (as many as 19!) times.  As much as they love the camp, these families are always ready for new adventures - looking for new nooks and crannies to explore in and around Mount Desert Island.  Returning Family Week is half the size of the regular camp – no more than 25 people.  This means the entire group can experience every field trip together.   And not all adventures are planned!  Who would have imagined being marooned on Gott’s Island the second summer of Returning Familes Week. But those who were there will always remember the fun they had waiting to be “rescued”; the islanders who provided “treats”; and the breathtaking boat ride back into Bar Harbor on a gorgeous and warm moonlit night.   If you are a returning family and want to experience exciting new field and boat trips with old and new friends - this may be the week for you!  And if you have never attended Family Nature Camp and this is the only week available to you – all these adventures will be new to you as well.

A snapshot of what is being planned for 2015 Returning Families Week:
·     A trip to beautiful Great Cranberry Island for an entire day of hiking and exploring, learning the history of this remote island from life-long island residents , combing the rock and sand beaches, and visiting local artists and artisans.
·     A morning hike to the top of one of Acadia National Park's breathtaking summits, ending with a refreshing dip at a local beach.
·     A delightful and educational program with Tony “the Bugman” Sohns – Water Bug Safari includes stories of wetland survival, and learning to identify the scum suckers, vampires, hermaphrodites and other strange creatures that live in our ponds.
·     A late afternoon of outdoor games and a cookout at the Suminsby Park picnic area before embarking on a Sunset Cruise of Somes Sound on the Sea Princess.
·     A visit to the Acadia Wildlife Foundation’s Nature Center to learn about wildlife rehabilitation through hands-on displays and permanent animal residents, including: a River Otter, a bat colony, turtles, owls, a Hairy Woodpecker, a Double-crested Cormorant, Turkey Vultures, an albino Red-tailed Hawk, and one of Maine’s few captive Bald Eagles.
·     An afternoon traveling along the back roads of Mount Desert Island visiting the more remote villages of Town Hill, Pretty Marsh, West Tremont, Bass Harbor, Manset, Seal Harbor and more.  Stops along the way could include: the Nature Conservancy, Bass Harbor Light House, Seawall, Asticou Gardens, Jordan Pond House or Seal Harbor Beach where children can collect rocks, sand dollars and sea glass.

And don't forget when you register to select another boat trip that you can enjoy on your own or with other families who have selected the same excursion. You will have the option of either venturing out on Diver Ed’s Starfish Enterprise – a big hit with young and old alike; a kayak tour around Frenchman Bay with naturalist Rich MacDonald of the Natural History Center; an excursion through the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company; a schooner ride on the Margaret Todd; or a nature cruise or fishing trip with our neighbors, Acadian Nature Cruises

If you would like more information, please contact the Summer Programs Office at or call 1-800-597-9500. 

2015 Sessions & Rates


July 5–July 11, 2015 - ONE slot left

July 12–18, 2015

July 19–25, 2015 - FULL

July 26–August 1, 2015 - FULL

(Returning Family Week)


$935 per adult

$480 per child (15 and under)

Registration costs for all sessions include lodging, meals, and all scheduled field trips. There is an additional $50 per family application fee.

Secure Registration

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Payment may be made by check or credit card. A non-refundable deposit of $550 (including $50 application fee) is due with your initial registration.

What People are Saying...

"As a returning family, it's nice to have additional choices in the new activities offered after many years of coming to COA. We always find the program to be fresh and exciting. The staff is a big part of the success of the Family Camp weeks. Their love of the area and desire to share their experiences is truly felt and appreciated." –The Gumperts, Douglassville, PA

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Contact Information

Summer Programs

College of the Atlantic

105 Eden Street

Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Phone: 1-800-597-9500


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