A river through Upham Woods with shores lined with pine trees and rock formations

Nature’s Navigators STEM Camp

Nature’s Navigators STEM Camp aims to broaden science opportunities for autistic youth by providing a summer camp that supports inquisitiveness in a non-threatening, nontraditional, and inclusive learning environment. We provide nature-based, hands-on learning opportunities and encourage pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees and careers.

Open to autistic youth entering grades 6–12 in the 2024-2025 school year, Nature’s Navigators embraces neurodivergence and the associated unique thinking and learning of autistic youth through flexible teaching strategies.

Attendees will participate in hands-on outdoor and indoor activities, such as learning to fly a drone, steering a remote-controlled TerraRover car, meeting live animals, collecting soil and water samples, and hiking through beautiful landscapes. The camp will be held at Upham Woods, along the famous Dells (Dalles) of the Wisconsin River, two miles northwest of Wisconsin Dells. Upham Woods consists of 320 acres of land on the banks of the Wisconsin River, including a 210-acre island called Blackhawk Island, which offers an excellent “river classroom” to study Wisconsin’s natural and cultural history.

Nature’s Navigators is funded in part by a Wisconsin Idea Collaboration Grant. We are committed to removing cost as a barrier for participating families. Scholarships to cover the cost of camp are available; please indicate your interest when completing registration.

August 21–25, 2024
Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center
N194 County Road N
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

View a recap of the 2023 camp

Courtesy of Extension NRI

Camp Details

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When is the camp?

Nature’s Navigators STEM camp will be happening Wednesday, August 21, to Sunday, August 25, 2024.

Day sessions:

  • Wednesday, August 21, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
    • Dropoff: 9:30–10 a.m.
    • Pickup: 3–3:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 22, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
    • Dropoff: 9:30–10 a.m.
    • Pickup: 3–3:30 p.m.
  • Friday, August 23, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
    • Dropoff: 9:30–10 a.m.
    • Pickup: 3–3:30 p.m.

Weekend session:

  • 10 a.m. Saturday, August 24, to 3 p.m. Sunday, August 25
    • A parent/guardian or caregiver is required for this weekend session, as campers will join us overnight. Additional family members are welcome to attend at no cost. Please include intended attendees in the registration form.

What support is available for my child during camp?

We want your child to find success at Nature’s Navigators this summer, so we offer multiple support levels at camp. Our staff is trained to work with campers who use assistive communication devices, how to de-escalate during moments of stress, and considerations around sensory needs. However, staff are not trained to be personal care assistants (PCAs). We are also not a certified respite service. As a result, we cannot provide one-on-one support to campers or assist with bathroom needs.

We value your insight as a parent or guardian and ask you to consider the needs of your camper. We are happy to accommodate access to a caregiver or PCA during the camp by having the caregiver/PCA attend for free.

  • If your camper would be most successful with 1 on 1 support throughout the camp, a caregiver or PCA will need to come with your camper to provide the necessary support.
  • If your child is generally successful in small groups of 4 campers, our staff are trained to provide the support they need. However, you can still bring a caregiver/PCA if you and the camper feel more comfortable with the level of support.

Will your child have a caregiver at camp? If so, please list their name and contact information when registering.

How much does the camp cost?

The total cost is $60 per youth participant.

Day sessions:  A caregiver can attend with each child for free throughout the camp.

Overnight session: A parent or guardian must accompany the camper. Additional family members are welcome to attend the overnight at no cost.

Scholarships: The registration form includes an opportunity to indicate interest in a scholarship. If you are awarded a scholarship, you will receive an email notification and will not be assessed the $60 registration fee.

When is the registration deadline?

The registration deadline is Friday, July 19. A waitlist alternative will be available on the registration form if all spots are taken.


For questions about registration, contact Molly Bodde, Upham Woods administrative assistant director, at molly.bodde@wisc.edu.


Molly Bodde
Administrative Assistant Director
Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center
University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of Extension
(608) 254-6461