Summer Camps for 6 & 8 YO without the filler

I know I'm way too early to really ask about summer camps for 2020 but we had a pretty uneven to poor experience this year so I thought I'd try to put some better thought into this. Based on the feedback I got from my two boys, ages 6 and 8, I think they really were turned off by the camps that had a lot of transition and waiting time. So for example, one camp I thought they would love, had lots of different sports to try, typically switching every 45 minutes or so. But they said that a large portion of the day was spent transitioning from activity to activity. Even worse was that many (all?) of the activities, the kids had to wait in line to actually do anything. I happened to see their basketball segment and it consisted of two lines of kids, waiting to take a free throw. Super lame. My guess is that they actually spent 10% of their time participating in the actual activity. But I do see the value of the camp because it runs all day and was pretty affordable, so it's like childcare with structured activities. But this is probably the opposite of what I'm looking for, except the affordable part. Now on the other hand, the camp they loved wasn't a camp at all. It was a carpentry class that was a couple of hours each day. Each kid got to work on their own project at their own pace the entire time. Almost zero wasted time. After a snack I'd take them to a park and they could play on their own. So I think I'm looking for:

- Not crazy expensive

- Staffed by a topic expert able to deal with kids

- One to two hours of high quality experience or instruction, no filler (don't need it to be childcare)

- Minimal transitions, minimal waiting

- Preference for sports and outdoors

- In or near Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda

Parent Replies

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Your boys might enjoy the Berkeley Marina camps. They vary from Marin biology to boating or kayaking. They are affordable and very well run. You need to monitor the city’s website under the Berkeley Marina tab to find out when the sign up is going to be. Usually the “sporty” camps fill the same day. When my kids were that age they also liked the UC village half day camps like LEGO building, chess or gymnastics. Good luck!

There are loads of "enrichment" summer camps, but if you want 'affordable,'  you're left with what a city's Parks & Recs can offer since tax-payers subsidize that. so check out what the various East Bay cities' offer via their Parks & Recs. 

We just signed our very sports-minded 10 year old on to this brand new camp in El Cerrito called Camp Olympia. It's a joy-based sports camp! We've meet up with the founder, Jason and he was great.  He used to be a school principal, and he seems very sincere and enthusiastic about making sure that every child has a great camp experience.  Here's the website:  I can PM you Jason's phone number if you would like.

I don't know what you consider affordable, but the Crucible offers half-day arts classes open to kids 8 and up. My daughter has done multiple week-long summer camps there, mostly leatherworking, and it seems to be in line with the way you describe the carpentry class.