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Emerging Ecologists – CANCELLED FOR 2021, RETURNING IN 2022!


Emerging Ecologists is a science backpacking program designed for youth (ages 14-17) who are interested in environmental science and wilderness adventures. Campers start by spending two days at Nisqually Reach Nature Center doing hands-on marine science activities while preparing for a 4-day backpacking trip on the wild Olympic coastline. The 21 mile stretch of coastline we are backpacking is pure beauty: seastacks, tidepools, islands, sea lions, whales, crashing ocean waves, and so much more. However, experiencing this incredible place isn’t easy. Participants must be in good physical condition and willing to backpack 4-7 miles per day over slippery rocks and fallen trees. At some spots we adventure up steep muddy slopes and over headlands using ropes. It is truly the adventure of a lifetime with hands-on in-depth science exploration. Emerging Ecologists is designed for beginning backpackers so no experience is needed. However, participants MUST want to backpack (40-45 lb pack), enjoy the outdoors, and be interested in marine science for a successful experience. Only 9 students are enrolled for a rich and immersive experience. This program is part day-camp and part overnight-camp. Please see the schedule below for details.

2020 Emerging Ecologists SCHEDULE

Saturday, August 8th: 9 AM – 4 PM @ NRNC

Sunday, August 9th: 9 AM – 4 PM @ NRNC

Monday, August 10th: 7 AM @ NRNC – Drive to Rialto Beach to start backpacking

Tuesday, August 11th: Away Backpacking

Wednesday, August 12th: Away Backpacking

Thursday, August 13th: Return to NRNC @ 8 PM


During the backpacking trip the following are provided for campers: Tents, Sleeping bags, Sleeping pads, Backpacks, Water Purification, First Aid Supplies, Meals (menu provided beforehand) and Snacks.


Enrollment is first come, first served.

To apply, please fill out the online application using the link below (including scholarship/financial aid request form if applicable). If not paying in full at the time of application, a $450 non-refundable deposit is required.

We will notify each applicant regarding enrollment status as soon as possible, typically within three weeks of receiving your complete application. If you don’t hear from us within three weeks of submitting your application, it may be incomplete. Please contact us to find out what is missing!


Members – $750 (Must have household membership or above)

Non-Members – $800

The $450 non-refundable deposit due with your registration is part of your camper’s tuition. The remaining tuition is due by July 1, 2020.

Limited need based financial aid is available. We try very hard to make camp accessible to everyone. Please fill out the scholarship application form below to apply for funds. Financial Aid requests may take longer than three weeks to process.

We work all year long to keep our costs low, to offer more programming, and to provide financial aid through grants, fundraising, benefits, etc. As a nonprofit, any amount paid over the standard fees is considered a tax-deductible donation and is greatly appreciated. This includes donations to help sponsor another camper. Let us know if you need a tax receipt, and we will send you one. Thank you!

For Younger Students

The center also hosts a series of less extensive 3-day (non-overnight) camps for students aged 7-12. Click the link below to learn more.