Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Camp-In at The Franklin Institute

This past weekend we had the absolute privilege of being invited to one of The Franklin Institute's famous Camp-Ins.  They have been running this very successful program for a long time, and now that we have experienced it for ourselves, we understand why it is so popular.  The Franklin Institute has always prided itself on being one of the most visited places in Philadelphia and is constantly renovating, bringing in new special exhibits, and adding amazing events year round to live up to its reputation of an exciting, hands-on museum, sharing a love of the sciences with children, teens, and adults of all ages.  There's so much to see and do that even just thoroughly exploring the permanent exhibits can take many, many visits, so everyone should jump at the chance to spend an entire night when the exhibits are much MUCH less crowded and the shows and workshops can be much more interactive and personal.

Our night began easily finding our campsite to drop off our stuff and receiving all the information that we'd need for the entire visit at registration. We really appreciated how much information we were given.  A complete schedule of all the events, where they were, what time everything was, and where we were expected to be was included.  There was no confusion about showtimes, what was still open for us to check out, and when important details like Lights Out, Breakfast, and the program's Official End Time were.  The staff was very helpful and friendly, and we felt very comfortable about the safety of our belongings and could enjoy the museum in ease.

We absolutely loved having the museum all to ourselves and the other campers!  Exhibits we have experienced visit after visit could be appreciated more thoroughly without worrying about crowds or missing a showtime.  It was a lot of fun to wander the museum at leisure and spend a lot of time in the places that we enjoyed the most.  In addition to the permanent exhibits, we also got the chance to check out the interactive Lost Egypt special exhibit on display at The Franklin Institute until August 28th. And since we were at the museum at night, we were able to do some pretty incredible star gazing with the Observatory's giant telescope (it was very cool to see Jupiter and some of its moons, as well as the Orion Nebula).  A show in the Fels Planetarium was a great end-of-night transition into sleeping time (with the early start and extended visit time the next morning, we were glad that Lights Out came before midnight).

Campers are not just regular visitors during their overnight stay - they are also Camp-In Competitors! Everyone is split into two teams (the Rowdy Reds and the Bold Blues - go Blue!!) and carries their scorecard around with them all night. Points are earned by completing specific experiments within the museum.  The experiments are easy for any age camper (for example: Record How Many Goals You Scored at "Bend It Like Magnus" on the 1st Floor), and give the night extra excitement.  These teams work especially well on Camp-Ins with big groups from schools or scout troops (The Franklin has specific programs for scouts to earn achievements).

In the morning, a delicious continental breakfast is served, and campers are treated to a show in the breathtaking IMAX theater (we got a chance to see the brand new National Parks Adventure - wow!).  The Sci-Store opens for souvenir purchasing at 8:00, and the program official ends at 9:30am with enough time to move all your gear out of the museum before it is open to the public.  The day doesn't have to be over though!  Campers are invited to stay until noon to continue exploring the museum (there is a special Camp-In) flat fee of $10 to park in the museum's garage overnight until noon).  

And even when the whole amazing experience is over, it's still not actually over.  Every camper ages 13 and under receives a special Souvenir Patch, and it gives them FREE ADMISSION FOR A YEAR (make sure you hang onto it, because you'll need to bring it for every museum visit to redeem the free admission)!  We love this added bonus to the Camp-In, since you know that once a camper has spent the night at The Franklin Institute, they are going to want to come back to experience how fun science is over and over again.





  1. This looks like such a cool experience, I can't wait to do this when my son is older.

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