Summer Nature Program for Kids

Schiff's Summer Nature Program (SNP) offers a healthy dose of fresh air, active fun, exploration, and creative play while immersed in nature with an overarching integration of environmental education for children ages 6-16.
Summer Nature Program at Schiff, Mendham NJ

What We Offer Each Week

Summer Nature Program at Schiff
  • A 2:12 staff to child ratio (1 instructor & 1 counselor to 12 children)
  • Lead instructors are experienced professional educators
  • Lessons designed to educate, motivate, delight, and inspire children
  • Science, sustainability, nature, and art integrated into all our curriculum
  • Weekly lessons include nature inspired activities, games, hiking, stream exploration, crafts, and our signature tie-dye making session!!
  • Opportunities to explore Schiff's many splendors while building confidence and strong friendships
    • Access to 500+ acres of streams, forest, and meadow
    • 12 miles of hiking trails to explore and discover
    • Discover several spots of interest within the preserve; Wood Badge Lodge, The Amphitheatre, The Pine Grove etc...

SESSIONS run from 9:00-2:00 PM
COST: $385/week
NOTE: Snack and lunch is not included in our programming. Please provide your child with a daily labeled nut-free snack, nut-free lunch and reusable water bottle.
Session I- July 1-5 (no program on July 4)
Session II- July 8-12
Session III- July 15-19
Session IV- July 22-26

Sounds like Summer! (Ages: 6 - 12)
July 1 - July 5
Join us on an adventure to become more familiar with the outdoor world around us, using our ears as a guide! Our hikes will lead us on a journey searching for the source of the sounds we hear. Playing games such as "Noisy Nature" and creating a "Sound Map" to bring home are just a few of the fun-filled activities we have in store!

From the Ground Up (Ages: 6 - 12)
July 8 - July 12
The forest at Schiff is home to many amazing plants and animals who are all living together under one big roof! Join us as we discover the different layers of the forest by climbing high and digging down low, exploring exactly who and what lives where and why! Plot studies, a scavenger hunt, and "leaf creature" crafts are just a few of the activities that await!

Who Turned the Lights Out? (Ages: 6 - 12)
July 15 - July 19
Do you even wonder why certain animals can see so well in the dark? Or why some animals are nocturnal while others are not? Discover the magic behind nocturnal animals, learning all about their fascinating animal adaptations! Playing the game "Feel Your Way Around" and creating a colorful "Leaf Mask" craft are just a few of the many activities we will engage in as we explore the amazing world of nocturnal animals!

Nature's Grocery Store (Ages: 6 - 12)
July 22- July 26
Herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, oh my! Join us on an exploration of what Nature's grocery store looks like, and who eats what and why! Playing games such as "Web of Life", conducting activities that teach us about predator-prey relationships and picking wine berries are just a few of the many plans we have in store as we hike the trails of Schiff!

CIT "Counselors-in-Training" PROGRAM
SESSIONS run from 9:00-2:00 pm

This program offers children 13-16 years of age an excellent opportunity to gain leadership skills while being role models for our younger program attendees. CIT's will be trained and coached by staff members in a manner that builds confidence and independence. By the week's end, CIT's will be able to use their newly acquired skills to assist in leading program activities alongside Counselors and Instructors.

There is a $235 fee for all CIT's to cover training expenses. Additional weeks cost $100. This fee is due upon acceptance into our program.

To Apply: Applicants should email the following to Jenny Chmura at :
- Letter of interest & resume
- Session(s) desired


  • Interact with program attendees in a fun, positive and responsible manner
  • Serve as a role model for program attendees
  • Assist Instructors and Counselors with supervision of the group
  • Help facilitate program activities (games, crafts, hikes, photography, etc.)
  • Assist with program preparation and clean-up


  • Must be 13-16 years old
  • Must be enthusiastic, enjoy working with children and the environment
  • Must be comfortable getting dirty and working in all summer weather conditions
  • Must commit to one full week (Monday-Friday) of our Summer Nature Program

Fledglings (Preschool) Summer Program

Summer Nature Program at Schiff

Looking for a Summer Program for your Preschool aged child? Check out our Fledglings Program. Children ages 3 to 5 years of age will have the opportunity to spend each morning of our week together exploring the forest, streams, and great meadow, developing their confidence, and laying the foundation for a lifelong appreciation of nature. Environmental Educators facilitate hands-on experiences through nature exploration with observation and reflection. Ample time for free play allows children to engage in meaningful experiences with their peers and the environment.

Spring Fledglings is held entirely outdoors, with an indoor space available for extreme weather (lightning, high winds). Appropriate attire for comfort outdoors is expected. The opportunity to witness nature no matter the weather leads to a greater appreciation and respect for our environment. Children must be potty trained. Instructor: Child ratio 4:1. This is a drop off program so parents will be asked to provide emergency contact information. Advance registration and payment are required. Capacity limited to just 8 children. Member fee: $255. Non-member fee: $285.

June 17- June 21, 2024 (9 am- 12 pm)
Fledglings Session I: What a Wonderful World - REGISTER NOW

June 24 - June 28, 2024 (9 am- 12 pm)
Fledglings Session II: Super Heros of Nature - REGISTER NOW

Our Directors:

Jenny Chmura
Meet Jenny Chmura
Summer Nature Program Director
Christi Lorenson
Meet Christi Lorenson
Programs & Special Events Coordinator

Words from Friends:

Summer Nature Program Camp

"Our daughter absolutely LOVES her time at Schiff! She comes home energized and excited to talk about all of her adventures. Her favorites are tie die days, picking wineberries and, of course, the trip to the stream. The counselors are wonderful - our daughter talks about them year round and is always thrilled to see them the next time camp is in session! Thank you Schiff!" - C. Patullo, 2022 SNP Parent

"Every year our kids count down the days until the Schiff Summer Nature Program. It is their absolute favorite! They learn so much and have a blast every day. Thanks for the perfect summer memories!" - C. Mitchell, 2022 SNP Parent

"Our daughter looks forward to Schiff's Summer Nature Program every year, and is always so sad when it's over! She loves making her annual tie-dye t-shirt, building shelters in the pine grove, playing the game "Camouflage", painting at the stream, and making new friends. She always says how everyone at Schiff is just so nice and so much fun to be around!" - C. Lorenson, 2022 SNP Parent

"My boys loved EVERYTHING about Schiff, but their top three was building forts, tie dying shirts and stream day." - Parent of 2020 Summer Nature Program

Check us out on Facebook & Instagram!
Schiff Summer Nature Program on Facebook  Schiff Summer Nature Program on Instagram
Jenny Chmura, Summer Nature Program Director

Jenny has been part of the Schiff community since 2014 as an instructor with the Summer Nature Program and is excited to be part the magic of Schiff. She has worked as an eighth grade language arts teacher since 2001. Jenny earned BA in English from Montclair State University and also earned her Masters in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College. Jenny's passion is providing opportunities for children to learn about, appreciate, explore, and respect their natural environment. When she is not at Schiff she can usually be found hiking local trails with her dog and bird watching.

Christi Lorenson, Programs & Special Events Coordinator

Christi joined the Schiff family in the fall of 2017 as the co-Director for the Schiff Summer Nature Program. She graduated from the University of Delaware in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation. Since then, she has worked for the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation as a Grants Manager, Woodlands Wildlife Refuge as a Development Assistant, and most recently spent the last 7 years working at Trailside Nature & Science Center as a Park Naturalist until she deciding to stop working full-time so she could be home with her children. Christi's strong respect for the environment and desire to preserve its natural habitats has encouraged her to dedicate her career to environmental education and outreach. Christi's love for the environment has also shaped the hobbies she has taken up which include volunteering with wildlife rehabilitation centers, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, and throwing pottery; however, what she loves to do most is spend time with her family. She currently lives in Gladstone, NJ with her husband, 2 young daughters, and two Burmese Mountain dogs... And it's no secret that Christi's eldest dog, Kona, is her heart and soul.