Madison Adventure Day Camp

Building skills and confidence in outdoor adventure pursuits
in the best natural areas of southern Wisconsin.

Spend Summer Outside

Camp Snapshot

WHAT: 5-day adventure day camp, with overnight canoe camping Thursday/Friday.

WHO: Adventurous Madison-area students entering 4th thru 8th grade.

PRICE: $475/week. Includes transportation from downtown Madison and most adventure equipment.

MAX REGISTRATION: 12 students per session.

DROP-OFF/PICK-UP: B.B. Clarke Park | 8:30 - 9 AM | 4:30 - 5:00 PM


STUDENTS BRING: Lunch, snacks, rain shell and athletic clothing


Skill building adventures for 4th - 8th Graders interested in outdoor pursuits

Adventure Camp leaves screens and sidewalks behind to explore choice trails, creeks and cliffs in the greater Madison area. Campers will develop adventure sport skills along the way, but also skills like decision-making, navigation, judgment, risk management and teamwork.

Freedom & Responsibility

Adventure Camp is for mature students entering 4th - 8th grades ready to engage the responsibilities of self-care and teamwork essential to outdoor adventure. What exactly does that mean? Things like:

  • Arriving on time with what you need for the day

  • Maintaining a positive, can-do attitude

  • Engaging with adversity and exploring ways to push through

  • Being ready to fail in pursuit of learning

  • Helping your team when you can and asking for help when you need it


Adventure Day Camp costs more than other summer camp or daycare options, but we don't think you'll find a better value! Adventure sports involve expensive gear that must be in good repair. We provide all-inclusive transportation to far-away locations so you don't have to drive very far to help your kid reach awesome destinations. Last, our instructors are experienced educators who know how to teach technical skills AND facilitate conversations about decision-making, responsibility and risk-management.

The framework we help students build at camp extends well beyond our adventures, into students' lives at home and school. Our dream is for students to amaze their parents and siblings with their abilities and to become able leaders in family adventures.


“Adventure Camp was our daughter’s favorite week of summer. She can’t wait to return to Adventure Camp this year!”

Stand up paddleboard.jpg

The Where, When, Why & How

AGES: Students going into 4th thru 8th grades are welcome. We love the benefits a multi-age group brings; it makes us feel more like a family than a school classroom and helps the kids have more varied opportunities to give and receive help. Contact us if you'd like to discuss your kid’s age, maturity or other related concerns.

SCHEDULE: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Wednesday. Meet at B.B. Clarke Park in Madison. Drop off anytime after 8:30, but absolutely by 9:00 AM. Pick up anytime after 4:30 PM, but absolutely by 5:00 PM.

Thursdays we meet at 8:30 AM, camp overnight, and return back to B.B. Clarke by 4:30 PM on Friday.

PREREQUISITES: No previous experience necessary. However, we require students to be responsible for their needs, including transportation to camp, clothing and nutrition. We want students who take responsibility for themselves and own their actions.

BRING YOUR OWN: Food, beverages, athletic clothing and shoes appropriate for weather and scheduled activities, camera, sunscreen. Adventure gear like harnesses, dry bags, mountain bikes, etc. are provided. If your student wants to bring their own bike, harness, etc., in good condition, that usually works out. See the Adventure Camp Gear list for specifics. 


Our schedule is NOT predetermined. Each day, we meet at B.B. Clarke Park in central Madison and embark on an itinerary determined the previous evening based on the weather forecast and student interest. We expect students to arrive in advance of departure time, prepared for the day's activities with appropriate food, water and clothing.

EACH DAY, we will:

  • Drive 20 - 60 minutes each way to our adventure destination(s).

  • Explore beautiful parks or natural areas in the greater Madison area.

  • Ask students to practice and refine movement, judgment, and outdoor leadership skills.

  • Offer choices of activities and leadership roles.

EACH WEEK, we will engage in a variety of outdoor athletic pursuits. By way of example, we might:

  • Paddle SUPs down Badfish Creek, south of Madison.

  • Climb and rappel 80' cliffs at Devil's Lake State Park, outside Baraboo.

  • Explore the Ice Age Trail at Gibraltar Rock, north of Lodi, by foot.

  • Ride single-track mountain bike trails at CamRock County Park, in Cambridge.

  • Cook and camp overnight on a Wisconsin River sandbar (we camp overnight on Thursday evenings).


“Camp instructors strike a great balance between providing kids with necessary support and guidance, while also letting kids be self-directed and “learn by doing.”

Mountain biking.jpg
Managing Safety

Preventing accidents, minimizing consequences

Adventure Camp activities carry inherent, unavoidable physical and emotional risks; we manage these risks, but we cannot eliminate them. This is what we mean when we refer to "real" adventure. We believe engaging in activities with real consequences creates a potent learning environment. To mitigate the risks involved in our activities, we take the following steps:

FRANK TALK - We help students and parents understand the risks inherent to our adventures, and we don't hide possible consequences. If a large rock strikes your head, a submerged log catches your sandal, or a jump results in an unintended flip, you can be seriously injured or killed. We discuss risk so students can confront, consider and make more informed decisions.

ADVANCE INSTRUCTION - Learning the right skills in a low-risk atmosphere increases the likelihood of success in more adverse conditions. We conduct ground schools in all activities to help students understand the skills and communications they will need to successfully navigate the terrain of our adventures.

INSTRUCTOR JUDGMENT - Daily itinerary is subject to a variety of factors. Weather is an important factor in all outdoor sports; we make daily, in-the-moment decisions to adjust for weather. Individual and interpersonal abilities within each week's group also play a major role in activity and location decisions.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT - We follow industry standards and take a balanced approach to safety equipment. For example, all students must wear PFDs anytime we are paddling; we always wear helmets in a rock climbing area, or while on bikes. Instructors bring First Aid kits and cell phones. If you have any specific equipment questions, please ask us!

WILDERNESS MEDICAL TRAINING - All Adventure Camp Lead Instructors hold current Wilderness First Responder certification. This is training specific to managing injuries and illnesses in areas where definitive medical care is delayed two or more hours.

SAFETY PROTOCOLS - For every area we adventure in, we know where to find emergency medical help. In the case of traumatic accidents, we call 911 and manage injuries/illnesses until definitive care arrives. For non-emergency illnesses, we consult with parents when possible and act accordingly. 




Talus scrambling at Devil’s Lake State Park

Kids can belay (and most like to!).

Stopping for lunch on the river.


“The groups are small, and the guides are experienced and invested in the campers’ collective and individual experiences.”

Rock climbing.jpg

Adventure Camp staff meet high standards as educators, facilitators and outdoor sports enthusiasts. Please learn more below and let us know if you have question regarding our training, philosophy or backgrounds. We want parents and students to have a strong idea of who we are, why we do this work, and where our strengths lie.



All Lead Instructors are:


Small class sizes

We maintain a maximum 6:1 ratio of students to instructors because we know mentor-mentee relationships are the core value of our experience together. Small class sizes also create a safer adventure environment and help us manage risk.



We treat our youth clients the same respect, attention and enthusiasm with which we treat adult clients. We are not babysitting, but rather introducing young adventurers to new sports and helping them develop confidence and competency. We truly love what we do and can't wait to meet your students!

Camp Directors


Nick Wilkes has extensive experience working with youth and teaching in the outdoors. Nick has taught outdoor sports like sailing, paddling, canyoneering, rock climbing, mountain biking and teambuilding for over 20 years at places like UW HoofersTeton Science Schools and Zion Adventure Company. He holds an M.S. in Environmental Education from Antioch University and has over 1,500 days of field instruction under his belt.


Scott Wilton is an educator, a problem-solver and a logistics guru. He is a founder of Madison Unicyclists, a youth-focused community sports non-profit, where he continues as a coach, board member and youth mentor. Scott has been helping kids challenge themselves through outdoor activities since he was himself a teen. He is an experienced outdoor education instructor and a world-record holding unicyclist.


Dani Zepplin is an educator, coach, and outdoors woman. She taught K-8 Spanish and coached cross country at Anser Charter School before moving to Madison in 2018. Dani builds character and community with students, focusing on goal setting, inclusivity and respect. Counselor experiences at Wisconsin and New York YMCA camps encouraged her to continue sharing outdoor adventures with youth. She enjoys pushing her athletic limits and recently hiked Vermont’s Long Trail.

Ready For Greatness?

sign up for 2019 Dates >>>

Click the yellow button to reach our camp registration form. After sending us your registration information, we’ll send you an invoice for a 40% deposit for camp (about $200/student/session) to confirm enrollment. After you’ve paid the deposit, we will send additional information on camp logistics and request personal details regarding your camper(s). Your outstanding balance will be due June 1, 2019.


* Our beautiful Adventure Camp illustrations are the work of the talented Julia Kuo. We can't recommend her more highly!