New to Berkeley with a 6th grader

We are just moving to Berkeley and don't know yet which middle school my son will get assigned to. We hope it's King, in our zone. I would appreciate advice on few matters:

1. Camps for August: My 11 year old doesn't have any activities lined up for 3 weeks of August prior to when school starts. Anyone has advice on best camps or clubs to get him into so he starts getting to know Berkeley and kids of his age? He is into biking, skateboarding, pretty much anything outdoors, and computers. 

2. Any advice on school preps? We won't know till August 15th which school he got assigned to, which makes me a bit anxious. Any advice on getting to know community and having him start making connections with kids prior to school assignment? 

3. Sports, math, science, music for the school year: will appreciate advice on sports and other extra curricular activities for after school hours during school year. Math, computer, swimming, track, drums are all part of his interest. 

A bonus question: any advice for me as an incoming international feminist queer parent to Berkeley to get connected with likeminded community and parents :-) 

Thank you!

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Welcome! We moved to Berkeley two summers ago when my son was headed to 5th grade, so I understand how hard it can be.

1) For camp, you could try the Blue - Grizzlies camp run by UC Berkeley Rec. There's a discount if you sign up for a two-week session, and the staff is so big that it never fills up. My son did it the summer before he started school in Berkeley and it worked out for him -- he even met a few kids that were at his school. (We've continued doing it every summer.) It is heavy on sports but there are a number of other activities that he can choose form (you request the activities when you sign up), and there's also a skateboarding camp option, though I don't know anything about that. Anyway, my son is doing this camp for the next three weeks, so feel free to contact me if you'd like.

2) We found it challenging/impossible to meet families before school started. Because the middle schools are big (especially King), a lot of kids end up in classes where they don't know anyone, so he won't be alone in needing to make new friends. Also, I know several families who have been in Berkeley forever and are in the same boat as you because they missed the registration deadline. There is a welcome fair on August 23 (for King -- not sure the date for other schools), where you can get all of your questions answered (including about sports and music).

3) King and the other middle schools have an afterschool program that includes enrichment activities, and you don't need to sign up in advance. Music is before school, and anyone can join the band, orchestra, or chorus.

Welcome to Berkeley! 

Trackers has some wonderful outdoor camps and a wonderful, welcoming, kind of nerdy culture. Camp Galileo has fun computer-based camps (virtual reality and 3D printing) at the Jefferson school location. My kids (now going into 8th & 6th) both love these camps. City of Berkeley also has lots of great camps, I know they have a skateboarding camp and some computer ones. 

I think you'll find your people here, though I don't have any more specific advice that comes to mind (regarding your second question).

I was in your position last year and was placed in August into Longfellow. At this point it is likely you will get Longfellow because it doesn't usually fill up as quickly as Willard and King. Longfellow isn't zoned and so parents have to select it. Sadly, Longfellow has developed a less than perfect reputation. However, It has been such a blessing for our child. The community is warm and welcoming with committed teachers. I got involved in the PTA and have met so many amazing families from culturally and internationally diverse backgrounds. My daughter has a really nice group of friends who really care about each other and motivate each other to do well. Because it is so much smaller than the other schools, teachers really get to know the students and any problem I've had has been addressed immediately. I am really glad we landed in Longfellow. My child actually likes middle school, and in my experience, that is a rare thing. -Very happy Longfellow parent