City of Oakland Touch the Earth Camp

Operated By: 
City of Oakland
Kinder, School-Aged

Parent Reviews

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My girls always liked Touch the Earth--in the Oakland hills. Outdoors, crafts, hikes...that was a long time ago.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Science Camps: Touch the Earth and Young Naturalist

April 2002

Greetings. Just wondering if anyone has had any direct experience with either Touch the Earth Camp or Young Naturalist Camp, both run by the City of Oakland. Interestingly, there is nothing on the archives or on Tom Lent's Day Camp Guide. Two particular questions: Is Touch the Earth camp appropriate for an older six-year-old boy, and what are the specific differences between the two camps, other than location? Thanks very much, Deborah

My 10 year old son went to both of these camps last summer and loved them. His friend went with him and loved touch the earth but did not like young naturalist camp. I called these camps Roll in the Dirt camp and Pigeon Catching Camp. Both camps seemed quite loosely run--my 10-year-old had no problems with this, but I think I would have worried about him when he was six at Touch the Earth camp, just because it is a less enclosed setting. (On the other hand, they did have a lot of teen-aged help, and I don't think they lost anyone!) The Young Naturalist camp had a more organized schedule, and I wouldn't worry about losing a six-year-old there, but I would think twice if my child needed very clear rules and structure to do well in a program. My son and his friends came back from Touch the Earth so covered with dirt that we needed towels to protect the seats of the car. He LOVED this, especially the after-care part of camp, when they spent their time in the woods building forts. The main part of camp had much more structured activities like arts and crafts, which at 10, my son could take or leave. He took the Birds segment of Young Naturalist, and the highlight of the day was when they got to feed the pigeons, and for some reason, I can't imagine why, were allowed to actually catch them. He and his friend gave all the pigeons names and reported home in the evening about whom they had caught. There were science activities as well, and they planted seeds, fished for shrimp in Lake Merritt. I worried about all the diseases he might catch from pigeons and the lake water, but he survived the week with his health intact. He also met a group of children very different from his normal crowd at his own small public school. This fall, the tension of an intense soccer play-off dropped off when he found himself facing a fellow pigeon-catcher on the other team. Cynthia