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Field Station: Dinosaurs is what I envision a paleontology camp for kids to be like. It’s been around since 2012 but it recently reopened in a new location in Overpeck County Park in Leonia, NJ. It will be at this spot all summer until moving to a larger area of the same park in 2017.
The main attractions are 30+ full-size animatronic dinosaurs, but Field Station: Dinosaurs also has archeological dig sites, research tents, and several interactive exhibits and live shows.
Field Station: Dinosaurs covers a ton of information, all in a fun way. Everything is designed to entertain while also educating children about history, ecology, and of course, dinosaurs. I brought my 4-year-old daughter and her 5-year-old buddy, and they both loved every minute of it--except when my daughter volunteered to let a puppet dinosaur eat her arm during the show Feeding Frenzy. It was hysterically funny to the rest of us, though, and now she knows the difference between carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.
As you enter the park you are greeted by a field guide who introduces you to the camp, tells you what to expect, and then passes out Field Station: Dinosaurs credentials. This is a little passport book in which kids can place stamps that they collect throughout the exhibits, ultimately becoming a “Super Paleontologist.” We learned all about raptors, attended a show, worked in an art tent with resident paleo-Picasso, and wandered the grounds studying the impressive moving dinosaurs. I was very surprised at the intensity with which the kids focused on collecting their stamps.
After identifying fossils with a map, “feeding” a baby dinosaur in the nursery, and excavating bones in the dig site, we cooled off under the picnic area tents with ice cream. There are a number of shows and workshops you can participate in, so be sure to read the pamphlet they give you upon entry so you don't miss anything you know you want to see.
Field Station: Dinosaurs is just minutes from New York City. The dinosaurs are very lifelike--their heads move and they make sounds--and there are so many learning activities for kids that it makes the day a win for both parents and the little ones. The space is relatively small, so it's easy to do it all and not miss anything. I recommend trying to see this “limited location” version of the attraction this summer because their new space in 2017 will offer a whole new experience.
RELATED: Discover the best area day trips for families.
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Estée Pouleris is the creator behind blog familyroadtraveled.com. She lives in NYC with her boyfriend and their daughter. See More.
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