Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center

Summer Camp FAQ

Want to know what Oxbow summer camps are really like before you register? Signed up for camp and don’t know what to expect? Here are the answers to the questions we hear most frequently.

Where is Oxbow?

Not that far away! Oxbow is at 10819 Carnation-Duvall Road (Highway 203) in Carnation. We are 10 minutes east of Redmond and less than 30 minutes from Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Bothell and Woodinville.

Summer campers should enter through our West Entrance on 268th Ave NE.

Directions to our West Entrance can be found here. Please don’t use Google Maps as it will bring you to our delivery entrance.

Is Oxbow a real farm? Is it a safe place for kids?

Yes AND yes! Oxbow produces thousands of pounds of vegetables every week for sale to our CSA customers, local restaurants, and wholesale. We started in 1999 as a real vegetable farm and continue, today, as a real vegetable farm and conservation center. We believe that the authenticity of our farm is a valuable asset in our mission to educate kids. Kids will see BIG farmers on BIG tractors in BIG fields doing real farm work. It is a great opportunity for them to start to understand where their food comes from.

That said, we have a separate 1-acre Kids’ Farm devoted exclusively to our education programming. This farm is FOR the kids and the produce there is educational. The Kids’ Farm is adjacent to our Children’s Garden and Living Playground, an enclosed area with an all-natural playground, a child-friendly tractor to climb on, raised garden beds, a picnicking area and a small, shaded amphitheater.

The staff involved in summer camp are trained educators hired for their experience working with kids. We take the physical AND emotional safety of our young visitors seriously. 

What’s your heath and safety policy?

Oxbow prioritizes the physical and emotional safety of our campers. All camp staff are CPR & First Aid certified and always carry a first aid kit, radio, and cell phone in case of emergency. Additionally, all summer camp staff receive training in early childhood development and emotional wellness to ensure that every camper receives the support they need.

Any injuries or behavioral incidents will be communicated to parents/guardians. A detailed response plan is in place for on-farm emergencies including weather or environmental threats, any accident requiring use of CPR or First Aid, and injuries requiring a visit to a hospital.

Please feel free to contact us about specific concerns – we will make every effort to accommodate your family’s needs.

Are there animals?

As for animals, here is the answer we give to the kids: We DO have animals, but only the wild kind. Our property is more than 200 acres, and the woods and fields are teeming with life! We frequently see rabbits, coyotes, foxes, beavers, moles, snakes (the safe kind), blue herons, eagles, hawks, ospreys, and owls. We have even spotted elusive bobcats and black bears! In their own ways, all of these animals play a part in the work we do here.

The textbook “farm animals”–cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, etc.–are not found at Oxbow. We respect the lure of domestic animals, but we think vegetables are actually more fun.

What will my kid ACTUALLY be doing at farm camp?

That’s a good question! There is so much for kids to do at Oxbow that there is no way to fit everything into one week of summer camp. We have hiking trails, a living playground and climbing tractor, dozens of acres of fields to explore, two wetland ecosystems, and countless other activities. We are not the kind of camp that rotates kids through a packed schedule of predetermined activities each day. Instead, days are guided by a theme and start with an opening circle and story. Each day has one or two pre-planned activities, sometimes including a special guest who leads a project or lesson. For the rest of the day, instructors leave space for child-led and play-based activities; they have plenty of tricks up their sleeves for engaging and fun games and activities. Instructors start the day with a plan in mind, but may revise the plan entirely based on campers’ engagement or curiosity.

For example, a high-energy group of five-year-olds may spend their day playing hide-and-seek in the rhubarb patch, race to collect raspberries to blend into popsicles on the bicycle blender, and search for insects to build a bug city. A boisterous group of nine- and ten-year-olds might work together to plant, water, weed, or harvest a row of cabbage if their instructor wants to challenge them to cooperate. A curious group of any age might take a silent walk through a field of cover crop, find a sit spot to observe nature and write in a journal, or make a craft with natural artifacts they find on their hike.

Above all, our summer camp curriculum is child-led and play-based. We believe that kids learn by exercising their natural curiosity. We try to create an environment where each child can learn and self-express in his or her own way.

But, my kid doesn’t like vegetables…

This may be the current state of affairs, but it is not a fundamental quality! We promise! Being on a farm is an experience that we find softens kids supposed hatred of vegetables. No store-bought bag of baby carrots can compare to a carrot picked from the ground, washed, and eaten within thirty seconds of harvest. You may be surprised at the difference it makes for kids to see firsthand where these grocery store oddities come from.

Campers sometimes even surprise themselves. As stated by a summer camp participant in 2016, “When the farmers aren’t looking, I eat kale.”

Aside from that, summer camp is high fruit season. Depending on what is in season we typically have blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and apples—sure to please any crowd.

What should my kid bring to farm camp?

The biggest thing to remember is that our farm camps take place almost exclusively outdoors, unless the weather is dangerous (e.g., lightning). Thus, kids should bring weather-appropriate clothing for whatever the forecast holds: raincoats and boots for rainy days; sunscreen and a hat for sunny days. You be the judge! Think of what you would want if you were going to spend the day outside.

We recommend sending a towel and a change of clothes (please place in a bag labeled with your child’s name) on the Monday kick-off for each session. The items can stay at camp for the session duration and be used in the event that it’s needed, whether we have been playing in mud or in the sprinkler.

We’ll have plenty of farm-fresh snacks to much on throughout the week, but be sure to pack some good, nutritious, high-protein fuel for the day. Campers should bring a morning snack, refillable water bottle, and a sizable lunch.  Please keep in mind our low-waste initiative and use reusable containers when possible!

Where can I learn more?

Summer camp homepage: Your portal for all things summer camp

Ten reasons to send your kid to farm camp

Summer camp video: A day in the life of an Oxbow summer camper

Directions: Again, Google Maps is a good resource for getting close to us but you need deviate from the directions to find our West entrance. Here are specific details for finding our WEST entrance from Highway 203.

Contact us: The farmers are available by phone (425-788-1134 x3) and email (education@oxbow.org).

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