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.

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


A hearty Kids’ Farm harvest.

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. 

Are there animals?


Our resident reptile friend, Sid the Snake.

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 be doing at farm camp?


Carrots make for happy campers!

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 like other camps that rotate kids through a packed schedule of predetermined set of 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 leading 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, then 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…


Taste tests are encouraged.

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 will have blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and apples!

What should my child bring to farm camp?


Mud happens.

The biggest thing to remember is that our farm camps take place almost exclusively outdoors, unless the weather is dangerous (e.g., lightning). Kids should bring weather-appropriate clothing: raincoats and boots for rainy days; sunscreen and a hat for sunny days. We recommend sending a towel and a change of clothes that can stay at camp and be used in the event that it’s needed, whether we have been playing in mud or in the sprinkler. Please label all items with your child’s name.

Additionally, they should bring a morning snack, refillable water bottle, and a hearty lunch. Please keep in mind our low-waste initiative and use reusable containers when possible!

What bathroom facilities do you have for my child to use?


Into the woods for a nature hike.

Since we’re outside all day, camp groups use Honey Buckets which are maintained on a weekly basis and equipped with anti-bacterial hand gel. If your camper can’t reach the hand gel dispenser, our instructors will help them out! Campers also have permission to have “nature moments,” meaning they can (and are sometimes encouraged!) use the outdoors to pee. Our educators are trained in facilitating these nature moments, respecting safety and privacy of campers.

What is your cancellation policy?


If you cancel 15 or more days prior to the camp session starting date, Oxbow will retain $75 for administration and processing fees.

If you cancel 14 days or less prior to the camp session starting date and once the camp has begun, we are unable to offer any refunds or credits.

To cancel a camp session at any time, please email education@oxbow.org or call 425-788-1134 x 3. Thank you!

Where can I learn more?


Summer camp homepage: Your portal for all things summer camp

Ten reasons to send your kid to farm camp

Directions: Here are specific details for finding our WEST entrance from Highway 203.

Contact us: The farmers are available by phone (425-788-1134 x 3) and email (education@oxbow.org).