Programs and Registration

Programs and Registration

Fall 2021 Update: Taproot ASP is Open for Registration! Register Here

About Our Programs

Taproot offers school year and summer programs for children ages 3 to 17. Age guidelines for each camp are flexible; we would be happy to discuss your child’s individual needs and abilities to find the right program for them. Contact us at info@taprootnatureexperience.org or call 319.325.0695.

Activities in all of the programs vary from day to day and are highly dependent on the season, weather, group size, and children’s interests, but have included: hiking, sledding, shelter building, atl-atl throwing, yoga and mindfulness practice, bow making, fishing, found nature object art, creek wading, fire making, gold panning, mushroom hunting, cloud watching and quiet observation, vegetable and tree planting, creek exploration, fairy house building, pond canoeing and swimming with life-vests, owl pellet dissection, animal tracking, sand engineering, treasure hunting, native species identification, maple tapping, snow shoeing, campfire cooking, outdoor games and much more. Read more about our educational philosophy here.

We go outside in all but the harshest weather, as an important goal of the program is to help kids learn how to feel comfortable and safe in nature. We encourage parents to send their children with appropriate clothing, and help kids choose (or remember) to wear it.

If inclement weather prevents us from spending the day outdoors, we may go to the Natural History Museum, the Johnson County Historical Society Museum, the Office of the State Archaeologist, or the Water Treatment Facility, among other indoor locations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are avoiding indoor locations as much as possible by canceling on days when inclement weather is strongly predicted.

Learn about financial aid and donations here.

Notice: the School Year Sprouts, Homeschoolers, and After School programs are all on hold in the interest of health and safety. We anticipate opening these programs again in Fall 2021, pending COVID-19 conditions at that time. We will make an announcement about this decision on our website and in our newsletter later in the summer, when information is clearer about COVID-19 conditions for the coming school year.

School Year Programs

Sprouts: Ages 3–5

Sprouts is temporarily dormant because of COVID. We look forward to starting Sprouts again when the pandemic is over!

When: 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on weekdays during the school year
Drop-off and Pick-Up Location: Happy Hollow Park
Tuition: $50 per day per child
Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures | Financial Assistance

Sprouts is designed to give young children quality time outdoors in natural settings, with adult supervision and gentle, knowledgeable guidance. At the beginning of each day, we gather the kids for Circle Time, where the group will say hello, introduce the day’s activity to the kids, and invite them to share what’s on their minds. We often incorporate an active game, yoga, dancing, songs, poems, or stories to this time. After Circle Time, we’ll leave Happy Hollow Park in the Taproot Van and travel to our nature destination of the day.

We look forward to re-starting Sprouts when it feels sensibly safe again. Hopefully not too long!

Homeschool Program: Ages 5–12

The Homeschool Program is temporarily dormant because of COVID. We expect to re-open in Spring 2022.

When: 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on weekdays during the school year
Drop-off and Pick-Up Location: Varies; will be communicated with parents after registration
Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures | Financial Assistance

The Taproot Homeschool Program offers a greater number of structured learning opportunities, such as tours of municipal facilities, volunteer work efforts, and visits with local scientists and visionaries. True to the Taproot Philosophy, kids in the Homeschool program will still have ample time for self-guided play, exploration, and quiet observation in natural settings.

Taproot Homeschool Kids will have exposure to language, math, social studies, science, and other school subjects in spontaneous, real-world contexts; however, this is not an “academic” program. The Taproot Homeschool program is intended to support the academic learning endeavors provided by each homeschooling family’s own educational program.

Registration for the Homeschool Program is expected to re-open in late summer 2021, pending COVID-19 conditions.

After-School Program: Ages 5–12

Temporary Pandemic-Style ASP

Parents bring kids to Upper City Park after school and pick them up at 6 p.m. We’re going later in the evening just to get a little more time. It’ll be dark by the end, and that’ll be a fun twist.

Basic details:

  • Sign up and pay on-line for each individual day–Be sure to confirm the day and time! They vary!
  • Drop-off is between 3 and 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 2-2:30 p.m. on Thursdays
  • Pick-up is at 6 p.m. each day
  • Kids bring weather-appropriate clothing, a water bottle, and a snack
  • We will ride in the Beluga Bus to various locations, depending on weather and other factors
  • We’ll follow COVID safety practices–masks, hand sanitizer, social distancing

Destinations and activities for each day will vary depending on the weather and who’s participating, among other factors. We’ll be totally outdoors, so in the event of super-unpleasant weather, we may need to cancel and I’ll issue refunds for that day.

Regular, Non-Pandemic ASP Plan

For when this dang pandemic is “over,” or whatever we’ll decide to call it

When: School dismissal–5:30 p.m. on weekdays during the school year

Pick-up Locations: Children are picked up by Taproot staff directly from school; parents pick up children at Happy Hollow Park, unless otherwise instructed.

Financial Assistance is available–Contact Zac for information

The Taproot After-School program is designed to give children time outside in natural settings around Iowa City. Each day’s adventures begin when the Taproot Leaders pick children up from school at dismissal time in one of the Taproot Vans and take them to parks, ponds, woodlands, prairies, and marshes in the Iowa City area. Parents can also choose to deliver their child to the Taproot destination of the day, if we cannot pick up from that particular school.

All-Day Program: Ages 5–12

When: 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on weekdays with no school during the school year
Drop-off and Pick-Up Location: Depends on the Day
Financial Assistance is Available–Contact Zac for information

On days when the Iowa City School District holds parent-teacher conferences, teacher in-service training, or other events that keep children out of school, Taproot offers All-Day Programs. Essentially a one-day camp, the All-Day programs provide childcare on no-school days when parents are at work, where kids can continue and extend their learning in a rich, healthy, fun environment.

Tuition for School Year Programs

All-Day Program–$85

ASP Tuesdays and Wednesdays–$40

ASP Thursdays–$50

The pricing is all wacky this year because of COVID. When we again offer regular Taproot programming, we’ll have to update the price, and we will keep you all informed of changes. Below is what things cost pre-pandemic. They’ll likely be in the same ballpark when we resume.

Fall

  • Mondays $520
  • Tuesdays $560
  • Wednesdays $600
  • Thursdays $675
  • Fridays $560

Spring

  • Mondays $600
  • Tuesdays $680
  • Wednesdays $680
  • Thursdays $765
  • Fridays $640

Week-Long Summer Programs

The Sprouts camp will not be offered in 2021 due to COVID-19 concerns. Parents may sign up their kids for any or all weeks of Taproot available.

Sprouts: Ages 3–5

When: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. [dates]
Drop-off and Pick-Up Location: Upper City Park unless otherwise arranged. Parents can install and remove their Sprout’s car seat each day or leave a seat in the van for the duration of the week.M
Group size: Eight children with two adult Taproot teachers
Tuition: $240/week per child, which includes a $100 reservation deposit at registration. This deposit is refundable until May 1; after that, it is only refundable in cases of illness, emergency or other circumstances outside your control.
Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures | Financial Assistance

Sprouts is designed to give young children quality time outdoors in natural settings, with adult supervision and gentle, knowledgeable guidance. At the beginning of each day, we gather the kids for Circle Time, where the group will say hello, introduce the day’s activity to the kids, and invite them to share what’s on their minds. We often incorporate an active game, yoga, dancing, songs, poems, or stories to this time. After Circle Time, we’ll leave Happy Hollow Park in the Taproot Van and travel to our nature destination of the day.

Seedlings: Half-Day Camp for Ages 5–8

When: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. from June 21, 2021 to August 20, 2021.
Drop-off and Pick-up Location: Upper City Park
Group size: Twelve children with two adult Taproot teachers and a teenage Junior Leader
Tuition: $240/week per child, which includes a $100 reservation deposit at registration. This deposit is refundable until May 1; after that, it is only refundable in cases of illness, emergency or other circumstances outside your control.
Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures | Financial Assistance

Seedlings Campers visit a variety of natural areas around Iowa City over the course of the camp week. Self-guided and loosely-structured play, as well as an atmosphere of Unconditional Positive Regard, form the foundation of the Seedling Camp experience. Gentle and experienced teachers provide safety supervision and are tuned in to the constant spontaneous lessons and learning opportunities that arise.

Cambium: All-Day Camp for Ages 5–8

When: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. from June 21, 2021 to August 2, 2021
Drop-off and Pick-Up Location: Happy Hollow Park unless otherwise arranged
Group size: Twelve children with two adult Taproot teachers and a teenage Junior Leader
Tuition: $395/week per child, which includes a $100 reservation deposit at registration. This deposit is refundable until May 1; after that, it is only refundable in cases of illness, emergency or other circumstances outside your control.
Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures | Financial Assistance

Cambium Campers visit a variety of natural areas around Iowa City over the course of the camp week. Self-guided and loosely-structured play, as well as an atmosphere of Unconditional Positive Regard, form the foundation of the Cambium Camp experience. Gentle and experienced teachers provide safety supervision and are tuned in to the constant spontaneous lessons and learning opportunities that arise. Rest and quiet times are built in each day.

Saplings: Ages 8–12

When: Monday–Friday 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. from June 21, 2021 to August 20, 2021
Drop-off and Pick-Up Location: Upper City Park
Group size: Eighteen children with two adult Taproot teachers and a teenage Junior Leader
Tuition: $395/week per child, which includes a $100 reservation deposit at registration. This deposit is refundable until May 1; after that, it is only refundable in cases of illness, emergency or other circumstances outside your control.
Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures | Financial Assistance

Sapling Camp is a rich, nature-filled experience for children, guided by excellent teachers and surrounded by friendly kids in an atmosphere of Unconditional Positive Regard. Saplings endeavor on a 5-day odyssey of nature, friendship, and adventure around Iowa City and further afield. Each day we visit one or two destinations—Turkey Creek, Harvest Preserve, Lon Drake’s Place, Kent Park, Scattergood Farm, and others—for fishing, swimming, archery, tree-climbing, running games, mindful observation, ephemeral art, forest yoga, and general nature love. (Sadly, our longer field trips to Maquoketa Caves and Wildcat Den are not happening this year due to COVID).

Taproot Leadership Camp: Ages 12–18

When: The evening of Friday, June 11–the morning of Saturday, June 19
Drop-off and Pick-Up Location:
Group size: Eighteen kids and two adult Taproot teachers
Tuition: $1250 per child, which includes a $250 deposit at registration to reserve your child’s spot. This deposit is refundable until May 1; after that, it is only refundable in cases of illness, emergency or other circumstances outside your control.
Drop-off and Pick-up Procedures | Financial Assistance

Note: Because of the pandemic, all of these plans are subject to change. We will keep participants updated, and in the event that we need to cancel all or parts of the camp, the cost will be adjusted accordingly. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility.

During TLC, campers:

  • Take a full-day 1st Aid/CPR course and Red Cross Heartsaver certification
  • Learn principles of Nonviolent Communication with an emphasis on working with younger children
  • Gain courage, teamwork, and problem-solving skills on the UI High Adventure Challenge Course
  • Take a day-long canoe/kayak trip on the Cedar River
  • Plan and prepare group meals and shop for food, being mindful of the impact of their spending choices
  • Begin each day with guided relaxation, yoga, trail running, or mindfulness sessions

Semi-structured campfire discussions will delve into topics such as what it means to be a leader and a friend, responding to peer pressure and bullying, making wise choices, and sustainability for teenagers. True to the Taproot philosophy, the camp will provide participants with time to relax and enjoy nature in structured and unstructured ways in between training sessions. We’ll camp each night at Harvest Preserve in Iowa City.

We anticipate that some Junior Leaders from past years will return, lending their experience and wisdom to new campers, as well as deepening their own learning.

Taproot Leadership Camp has consistently been a life-changing experience for the participants. TLC gives kids tools to stay confident and courageous in the face of the increasing challenges of life as they grow older. They further develop their principles, as well as get to know their authentic selves, and how to uphold high standards of integrity and commitment, leading to greater effectiveness, peace, and happiness in their own lives, as well as becoming excellent and trustworthy examples for their peers and young admirers.

Register for 2021 Fall ASP

Summer camp registration opens in early January.

School year programs are on hold for now; we anticipate re-opening these programs for registration in late summer for the Fall 2021 semester. We will make an announcement about this decision on our website and in our newsletter later in the summer, when information is clearer about COVID-19 conditions for the coming school year.

For summer camps, a $100 deposit is required to reserve your spot ($250 for Taproot Leadership Camp). Full payment is due at the start of your child’s camp week.

Refunds: Before May 1st, all deposit payments are refundable for any reason. After May 1st, payments beyond the deposit are refundable. Refunds on your deposit after May 1st are not available except in case of emergency.

Registration is currently open for the following camps:

  • Summer Seedling Camp
  • Summer Cambium Camp
  • Summer Sapling Camp
  • Taproot Leadership Camp
  • Spring Taproot Mornings (contact for info)
  • Spring Taproot Afternoons (contact for info)

Procedures and COVID-19 Safety

These measures are in place to reduce the likelihood that Taproot kids or teachers will become infected or transmit COVID-19 at Taproot or bring the virus into their households. They are not a guarantee. Our safety practices at Taproot are robust, but the level of risk depends on various factors, many of which are out of our control.

Each family will need to weigh the benefits of attending Taproot in the Spring and Summer 2021 sessions against the risks and make their own decision. If, at any point, you change your mind or feel uncomfortable or unsafe, we encourage you to speak up to a Taproot teacher. If a parent feels they need to withdraw their child from Taproot because of health or safety concerns, we completely respect and support that decision.

However, we have developed what we believe is a strong system for limiting interpersonal contact while still making sure that Taproot is a fun, enriching experience for each and every kid.

On days when the Iowa City School District holds parent-teacher conferences, teacher in-service training, or other events that keep children out of school, Taproot offers All-Day Programs. Essentially a one-day camp,the All-Day programs provide childcare on no-school days when parents are at work, where kids can continue and extend their learning in a rich, healthy, fun environment.

Financial Aid

We believe that every child deserves a chance to explore and learn from nature. If finances are a barrier for your child’s participation in Taproot, reach out to Zac to talk about financial assistance. We will work with you to come up with an affordable payment option.

We are honored to receive regular donations that allow us to offer these scholarships. If you would like to make a donation to support Taproot’s mission, you can do so here. Donations are tax deductible. In addition, all proceeds from the sale of Taproot merchandise supports financial aid for Taproot kids.

Weather Cancellation Policy

The chances of COVID-19 transmission goes way up when you go indoors, so we are going to avoid any indoor time with the kids. The chances of COVID-19 transmission goes way up when you go indoors, so we are going to avoid any indoor time with the kids. This means that we will shorten the Taproot day or cancel altogether if harsh weather is predicted as likely.

By “harsh weather,” we don’t just mean rain; rain can be a lot of fun for the kids! But if a thunderstorm with lightning, high winds, or similar inclement weather is likely for the morning hours, we will cancel the morning period for that day. If a storm is predicted for the afternoon, we’ll cancel the afternoon. If storms are predicted for much of the day, Taproot will be cancelled altogether for the day. We never want to cancel Taproot, and we won’t take this decision lightly.

Of course, sometimes thunderstorms pop up unexpectedly, and at those times we do our best to make do. For light rain and short-lived, mild thunderstorms, we can go to a park shelter. We will have an outdoor rain shelter plan each day that rain is likely.

If the uncertainty of this policy is a deal-breaker for you, we understand and apologize for the inconvenience.

Communication of Weather Cancellation

  • Every evening, Sunday through Thursday, you will receive an email by 8:30 p.m. with the next day’s weather forecast and tentative plan. If thunderstorms are predicted, we’ll address the possibility that the camp schedule might be affected.
  • Every camp morning, Monday through Friday, you will receive an emailI by 6:30 a.m. confirming the weather report and plan. If anticipated weather conditions cause any changes to the day’s schedule, they will be detailed in this email.
  • If the weather is entirely calm and no storms are predicted, you may not receive any email at all.
  • Email Taproot with questions or feedback any time: info@taprootnatureexperience.org

Lunch and Snacks

Children will need to bring enough food with them to fuel them through the Taproot period, as we will not be providing food to the kids during Taproot in order to limit contact. We won’t have a specific snack or lunch time; kids will be invited to listen to their bodies and eat when they are hungry. Please send simple, healthy snacks in a compact container (like a lunch bag) and aim for whole foods as much as possible. Do not send soda pop, and please minimize candy. We practice a “pack-in, pack-out” policy, meaning that leftovers and trash from lunch go home with the child (except compostables that might go to the garden or the pigs).

Required Supplies

Each day, your Taproot Kid should bring these items to camp:

  • Face mask or neck gaiter/buff: We will be wearing masks at all times in the van. Kids will keep their mask with them at all times, except when swimming.
  • Towel: The towel will be used for drying off, of course, but will also be useful as your child’s resting spot and occasionally, their yoga mat.
  • Sun hat, lightweight long sleeve sun shirt, and sunscreen stick: The hat and shirt reduce the need for teachers to apply sunscreen to the kids, which reduces the possible spread of germs. They also protect from bugs and scratchy plants.
  • Swimsuit with swim shirt (when swimming weather arrives): Also to avoid having to apply sunscreen. The swim shirt does not have to be anything special; a regular long or short sleeve t-shirt is fine.
  • One change of clothing
  • Water bottle: Refills will only be done by a teacher with freshly-sanitized hands, from a dedicated refill jug that will be thoroughly cleaned and filled each day. If you wish, you can send multiple bottles of water with your camper to reduce the need for refills.
  • A healthy lunch
  • Necessary medications/EpiPens: Please only send medications they must have during their Taproot time period.

Payment and Refund Policies

Taproot requires a non-refundable deposit of $100 per morning or afternoon period to begin. This amounts to two weeks’ tuition. Full payment for the session is due on the first day of your child’s camp.

After that, any refunds will be very limited. There will be no refunds for weather cancellations or if families choose to miss a day or need to miss days because of illness. If the remainder of the session is cancelled because of COVID-19 or some other calamity, Zac will address refunds depending on the situation.

If you have extenuating circumstances that cause you to miss a camp, contact us at info@taprootnatureexperience.org or call 319.325.0695 to discuss your situation.

Transportation at Camp

To minimize the risk of virus transmission, transportation in the vans will follow these basic safety practices:

  • Teachers and children will use sanitizer immediately before and after riding in the vans.
  • Everyone will wear a mask at all times in the van.
  • We’ll keep windows and vents open to maximize ventilation.
  • There will be no eating or drinking in the van. Kids’ backpacks will stay closed, and kids won’t be able to access them in the van.

Most van rides will be less than 15 minutes, and no van rides will exceed 30 minutes.

Registration for the All-Day Program is expected to re-open in late summer 2021, pending COVID-19 conditions.