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AEGIS Summer Camp:

Water & Wilderness--

Plugged into Nature



July 15 - 28, 2024

This camp is made possible by: Academic

Enrichment for Gifted/Talented in Summer

grant from Arkansas Department of

Education, Division of Elementary and

Secondary Education

Note: This camp is for students in Arkansas only

Water & Wilderness: Plugged into Nature will be held at Ozark Natural Science Center (ONSC), an outdoor science education facility located deep in the Ozark Plateau region. Students at Water & Wilderness camp will be able to unplug from electronic distractions and plug into the ever-changing and exciting world of field biology where evolving technology and field science merge.


This incredible opportunity offers students the chance to assist field scientists as they gather data and explore a variety of habitats in the Ozark Natural Division, including beautiful oak-hickory forests, glades, and the amazing free-flowing Kings River. The students will conduct hands-on field research in Bear Hollow Natural Area, owned and managed by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, and in the surrounding 14,000-acre McIlroy-Madison County Wildlife Management Area, owned and managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in the heart of the Ozarks.

Students will track reptiles using radio-telemetry, learn from ornithologists about how they catch and band birds, monitor bats acoustically, search for fish and other aquatic life in the pools and riffles of the Kings River, examine the night sky, and more as they spend beautiful summer days and star-filled nights among the forest and river life.


Field studies will be complemented by an exposure to conservation literature, participation in Socratic Circle discussions of the writings of naturalists, and reflective journaling. Evening reflections on the ONSC deck will allow students to share their thoughts and experiences with their peers. A capstone glade field study, canoe trip, and an overnight camping experience on the Kings River will be the highlights of this two week-long experience. 


  • Students must be from Arkansas

  • Students entering 10th & 11th grade during the upcoming academic year (2024-25) are eligible for application and selection.

  • Students who plan to graduate from high school before attending Water & Wilderness camp are not eligible to apply.

  • Students who have been accepted to AGS and plan to attend are not eligible to apply, as rules prohibit students from participating in more than one state-funded summer program each year.

    • ​Applicants must demonstrate:

      • Creativity and critical thinking in the field of science

      • Above average ability in the field of science

      • A high degree of self-motivation, to satisfy the program’s demanding requirements

      • The intellectual, social, and emotional maturity required to thrive in an environment that emphasizes theoretical and process-related learning

  • Nominees must be willing to commit to the entire program

  • All qualified students will be considered for selection regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, cultural, or language differences.  

Application Process (Applications open from March 15-May15)

The following forms and documents must be submitted by May 15th for the student to be considered by our Selection Committee:

  1. Student Application to be completed and submitted online by the student. 

  2. Teacher/Community Member Recommendation to be completed and submitted by a teacher or community member (not a parent or guardian) who has experience in a working or learning environment with the student. Students will submit the Recommendation as a PDF document by uploading it within the Student Application.

Important Dates to Remember

Mar 15 - Online Application Process Opens

May 15 - Application Form and Materials Due

June 1 - Selection Results Emailed to Students and  Schools

June 15 - Accepted Students Registration Materials Due (Parent-Student Assurances Form and Medical Insurance Card)


For more details or information: contact 

Liz Hill, ONSC Program Manager

Camp Schedule


Every day will include time for recreation, readings, journaling, and Socratic circle discussions, and optional early morning bird hikes will be offered on select days.



  • Orientation for Parents and Students

  • Get Acquainted (with Each Other, ONSC, & Ecoregions of AR)

  • Wishing Rock Overlook Hike


  • Entomology

  • Ornithology Introduction 

  • Twilight Entomology


DAY 3   ​

  • Radio Telemetry & Turtle Tracking

  • Herpetology & Rattlesnake Research

  • Owl Research

  • Night Hike


Day 4

  • Day Float Trip

  • Benthic Macroinvertebrates & Water Quality

  • Safety Lesson at Riverside 

  • Paddling Lessons & Floating 

  • Riverside Journaling 

  • Campfire



  • ONSC Glade Exploration Hike & Study

  • Withrow Springs State Park & War Eagle Creek 

  • Astronomy


DAY 6 

  • Laundry at Local Laundromat
  • Local Field Trip (TBD)
  • Alumni Mingle & Dinner w/current campers

  • Campfire Stories of AEGIS W'n'W past


DAY 7 

  • Geology Presentation & Hike

  • Conservation Community Service Project at ONSC

  • Wilderness Skills Class/Activities

  • Parent Presentation Planning



  • Kings River Campout!

  • Set up Camp

  • Aquatic Biology (BMIs, Snorkeling & Seining)

  • Swimming & Relaxing

  • Campfire, Storytelling, Games &/or Astronomy



  • Early Morning Sit Spot/Birding by River

  • Breakdown camp

  • Hike to Kings River Overlook &/or Eagle's Nest Falls

  • Float &/or River Rec

  • Board Games Night


DAY 10

  • Climate Change Presentation & Solutions Game

  • Black Bear Research 

  • Parent Presentation Prep

  • Extended Night Hike

DAY 11

  • Lost Valley Hike
  • Buffalo River Ecology & Water Quality

  • Parent Presentation Prep


DAY 12

  • Off-site Sandstone Glade Exploration & Study

  • Compiling and Analyzing Camp Data

  • Project & Parent Presentation Prep

  • Arkansas Bats Presentation & Monitoring

DAY 13

  • Archaeology presentation & Hike 

  • Parent Presentation Prep & Practice

  • Campfire w/ S’mores and Music


DAY 14

  • Pack up & Clean up

  • Parents arrive

  • Presentations

  • Departure


Note: Activities are subject to change due to weather, water levels, and guest speaker availability

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