City of El Cerrito Adventure Camp

We are considering signing up our 5 year old up for the City of El Cerrito's Adventure Camp. I have read the older reviews, and wonder if there is more recent experience with the camps - especially for the younger kids.

I have to admit that I was excited about it, but the release form they require you sign during registration was incredibly off-putting and concerning to me, as it releases the city from all responsibility for injury or death "including such liability which may arise out of negligence or carelessness..." This may be standard legalese, but it felt a bit extreme to us.

If you've sent your kids there over the last few years, what was your experience with the staff? I'd love to hear about the experience for your kids as well, but any insight into whether the staff seemed reliable and responsible would be greatly appreciated.

Parent Replies

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I don't have any direct experience with Adventure Camp but -- I, too, signed my daughter up for Adventure Camp as well as a slew of El Cerrito specialty camps. I've heard great things about the program in general and figured my daughter would spend the whole summer there. Then I put her in President's Week camp at Harding Elem and now have second thoughts. The kids were packed like sardines into a small space with one small outdoor play area. There were a few special guests during the week but otherwise I think it was pretty cramped and bare bones. At any given time during drop-off/pick-up I saw a few caregivers who were positively engaged with the kids and a few who were staring at their phones for extended periods or giving the appearance of being totally checked out/bored/annoyed. 

The camp is cheap (if you ignore the sky-high city taxes that fund it) and definitely convenient and has real family-friendly hours, but if President's Week camp is any indication of what Adventure Camp is like, I'm not enthused. We decided to keep some weeks and go elsewhere for others. That's to say nothing of your concerns about the waiver, which may be standard but which I will now re-read more carefully. 

We have had good luck with the El Cerrito camps with my girls who are now almost 7 and almost 11, in general they have liked the specialty camps more more than the traditional camps but I have found the staff to be warm and supportive and feel like my kids get a good summer experience with kids in our community.  

My daughter did several weeks of Discovery Camp one summer, which is the age group above the Adventure Camp, but the same "classic" camp offering from El Cerrito.  My daughter enjoyed the camp, but I think a whole summer of it might get boring.  In my opinion they are best mixed in with more expensive specialty camps or other non-city camps.  My daughter liked Discovery Camp the most when she had a friend there.  We didn't plan for her to go with anyone in particular, but most weeks she knew someone in her group from school or other community activities.  I think the release form is fairly standard, and I wouldn't worry about that.  The staff at these camps can be a bit hit or miss.  I think they are all friendly and well-meaning, and some are better than others.  One experience we had that I was not okay with is that they failed to check in with the kids sufficiently about sunscreen application, and my daughter got one or two fairly bad sunburns on the swim days when they spent the whole afternoon at the pool.  The counselors may do better with that for the younger kids, but I would definitely make a point of talking to the counselors about it and reminding them on pool/splash park days.