Established in 1996, Harbor Discoveries was the first camp program to make extensive use of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park as a living laboratory for aquatic science education and environmental stewardship. Beginning in 2019, the Advanced Aquarium Science Institute is an adaptation to our Advanced Camp programs and adheres to the same regulations governing safe operation of summer programming.

The combination of science, Aquarium and local habitat exploration, and traditional camp activities results in a truly unique experience. The program fosters appreciation of the importance of habitats for all life, and helps prepare campers to become stewards of our blue planet. Harbor Discoveries seeks to meet the need for out-of-school opportunities by providing meaningful summer programs that stimulate the mind while nurturing personal growth and development that leads to an empowered and capable citizen for ocean health.

As with all programs geared toward teens and youth at the Aquarium, it is our sincere goal that participation in programs such as Harbor Discoveries summer camps and the Advanced Aquarium Science Institute will contribute to the development of tangible skills that are useful to any individual. Career opportunity and skills learning, positive life skills development, and ocean science literacy are core to what we seek to develop in the many who participate in our various youth development programs.

We are proud of the accomplishments of our many inspired and empowered alumni who have affiliated with the program. Many of those involved with our camps have gone on to become accomplished and award-winning teachers in the community, a theatric performer in New York City, a visiting lecturer at a university in Singapore leading group trips around the region, and have earned Ph.D.s in marine science, conducting research in Antarctica, South Africa, and elsewhere. Whether or not our campers follow marine science or ocean stewardship as a career, they all grow an appreciation for our reliance on and responsibility to the world around us.

Harbor Discoveries camp complies with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and is licensed by the Board of Health.

What to Bring and What to Leave at Home

  1. What to Bring For Day Trips

    Please be sure to label your belongings.

    • Backpack or small duffel bag (with closures)
    • Swimsuit
    • Water shoes or old shoes that can get wet or muddy
    • Sunglasses
    • Plastic water bottle, filled with ice (On the first day of camp, campers are given a reusable water bottle to keep.)
  2. What to Bring for Overnights (Advanced Programs Only)

    Please pack lightly and label all belongings. Program participants carry their own belongings. In addition to key items from the day trip list, please bring:

    • Sleeping bag (pad and pillow optional) *Tip: A sweatshirt stuffed into a pillowcase makes for a great space-saving pillow.
    • Warm clothes (e.g. sweatshirt and sweatpants)
    • Flashlight
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Rain gear (raincoat and pants are best)
  3. Meals and Snacks

    Participants are provided snacks and lunch all week, including meals on the overnight. Bag lunches will include a sandwich, drink, and fresh fruit. 

    If your children have allergies or dietary restrictions, please note it/them on the paperwork you submit and inform the camp office at least a week before your child’s time at camp. You may need to send lunch and a snack with them to camp.

  4. Items Not Allowed at Camp

    There are certain items you should leave at home. Keep in mind that camp is an opportunity to make new friends, explore nature, and play in the world around us … electronics make such adventures less successful and fun. Instructors reserve the right to confiscate items deemed inappropriate for use during the program. These will be returned at the end of the last day of the program. Please be aware that lost and found items will not be mailed to participants if left at camp; all items must be picked up in the camp office.

    Items not allowed include:

    • Cell phones
    • Candy and gum
    • Trading/Magic cards
    • Smartphones, tablets, iPods® or personal stereos, and headphones
    • Jewelry such as necklaces, earrings, and watches (unless waterproof)
    • Money (no purchases of food or souvenirs will be allowed during programs)

Program Open House

This year’s Harbor Discoveries Camps Open House is scheduled for Saturday, June 27, 2020, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. This will be an informal opportunity for registered campers and their parents to meet the camp staff, learn about what to expect with the program, and ask questions. The Open House will be held in the Aquarium’s Ocean Center, in the Harborside Learning Lab. There is no set schedule—you may come and go at any point during the Open House.

Program Pricing and Payment Policies

Junior and senior camps are $675 for members and $725 for nonmembers. Advanced camps are $925 for members and $975 for nonmembers ($1,550 – $1,650 for special two-week session).  A $2 service fee will be added to each nonmember ticket booked by phone. Service fee is $1.50 for online registrations.

  1. When to Pay

    Registration online or by phone is available.

    • A $75 nonrefundable deposit is due at the time of registration.
    • 50 percent of the total camp cost is due no later than March 4, 2020. No purchase orders or billing are permitted. If registering after March 4, 2020, a 50 percent nonrefundable payment is required immediately.
    • The final, nonrefundable balance is due no later than May 22, 2020.
    • Any registrations accepted after May 22, 2020, will require immediate, nonrefundable full payment.
    • All payments are nonrefundable. Due to high demand for these programs, there will be no exceptions to this policy, even in cases of illness where participants are unable to attend. If a payment deadline is not met, we will attempt to contact you before we make your spot available to other registrants.
  2. How to Pay

    If you have a balance, make payments by one of the following methods:

    Credit Card

    • Online – Sign into your Parent Dashboard to make payment
    • By Phone – Call the Aquarium Reservations Department at 617-973-5206.

    Personal Check

    • Make payable to “New England Aquarium” and write the camper name(s) in the memo field of the check.
    • Mail to:

                 Camp Office
                 Education Department
                 New England Aquarium
                 Central Wharf
                 Boston, MA 02110

Camp Parking, Drop-Off, and Pickup

Once you have registered, you can find a temporary Parking Permit in the Forms section of your Parent Dashboard. This permit allows you to park temporarily in the plaza in front of the Aquarium to pick up or drop off your child. Please clearly display your temporary parking permit. Aquarium staff will direct vehicles to park in the semicircle in front of the Aquarium. Monday morning check-in is more time consuming than any other morning. When dropping off a child, you may only park temporarily. If you want to speak to instructors at length, please plan to park your car in the closest parking garage at your own expense. 

  1. Morning Drop-Off

    The program begins with drop-off between 8:45 and 9 a.m. If you arrive before 8:45 a.m., you and your child will need to wait near the Ocean Center entrance until the drop-off time period begins. All campers must be signed in to the program by an authorized adult unless guardians have elected in the Parent Dashboard to allow their child to check in to camp on their own. Per Board of Health regulations, this option is only available for campers 12 and older.

  2. Early Drop-Off

    To accommodate busy schedules, Harbor Discoveries offers an early drop-off option! For an additional charge of $20 a day (free for scholarship recipients), participants may be dropped off at camp as early as 8 a.m. They will be properly supervised and engaged with fun activities, but program curriculum will not be delivered during this time. Please visit your Parent Dashboard to enroll in this option. Refunds are not available if a camper does not arrive in time for the Early Drop-Off period.

  3. Afternoon Pickup

    Junior and Senior Programs: Pickup time is between 4:45 and 5 p.m. every day.

    Advanced Programs: Pickup time for Monday through Wednesday is between 4:45 and 5 p.m. On Friday, plan to arrive between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m. Campers may not leave until they have checked out with their instructor.

    Please notify the camp office ASAP if you will be late in picking up your child by calling 857-321-0069. If the camp office is not aware that you will be late, then any child who is not picked up by 5:15 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 2:45 p.m. on Friday may be taken to the Boston police station located near Government Center until a parent/guardian is able to retrieve the child. Your child will be without Aquarium staff supervision once under the supervision of the Boston Police Department. We will not take this step unless we are unable to reach an authorized adult for the camper.

    We will not release children to take public transportation or taxi cabs without prior documented consent from the parent/guardian.

  4. Early Pickups

    If you need to pick up your child early, please call 617-226-2425 at least 48 hours in advance. A staff person will call you back to make the necessary arrangements. While you may request an early release, it may not always be possible due to the many offsite activities planned. No refunds or price adjustments will be made for early pickups or for days missed.

  5. Carpooling

    If you will need to drive, we highly encourage carpooling! When completing your paperwork, there will be an option to opt in to a carpool list that we will share with all participants who opted in, so that you may find a family who lives nearby with whom you could carpool!