Camp DoodlesCommunity Subscriber
Think. Make. Do ... Fun with a purpose.
Think of Doodle as an incubator for kids where they grow their creative intelligence (CIQ) through making - making real things that can empower both their minds and their self-esteem.
Activities include building, woodworking, 3D art, crafting, sports & games and more!
Spark Program (1st – 5th grade): Five different weekly themes designed to inspire your camper to think about how things work, and come up with their own ideas to build, using real tools and materials.
Primo Program (PreK – K; ages 3+): Inspired by the Reggio philosophy of Early Childhood Education, we let kids’ mind run free and discover who they are through experiential, “hands-on” learning.
We have a lot of experience with summer camps, and we love Camp Doodles. For what it's worth, my older child went to Sarah Science as a 4 year old (because there were so few options for 4), and then as a 5 year old did a combo of Camp Doodles, Avid for Adventure, Monkey Business and Head Royce. As a 3 year old she also did a couple weeks of Monkey Business in their "Papaya" preschool program. This year my son (at 4 years old) just started Doodles for 4 weeks. After this he'll do Habitot (since they now have an all-day program) and then Monkey (as a Papaya while big sis is a Strawberry).
For a very young child (3 or 4), Camp Doodles was FABULOUS. We felt that some of the things about it that might be a little off-putting for a parent were actually fantastic for a little kid. First of all, it's a fairly small camp, and they clearly hire experienced and excellent counselors. My son's head counselor taught preschool for years, and is currently a 4th grade teacher and she is obviously amazing with kids and very experienced. They also clearly train really well -- Doodles' staff was incredibly warm & welcoming both years (to my surprise, not every camp is!) which I think is so key.
Second, I love how the kids are in age-appropriate groups & mostly stay that way. Sarah Science, in contrast, is big and throws all the kids together. My view is that SS is probably a great camp for older kids (2nd grade up, I'd say), but for younger kids, it's really very easy to get lost. The counselors skewed younger, and did not have any special training or expertise for very little kids (who just need more social support, I think, in terms of separation and feeling comfortable).
Third, project-wise, at SS there is just way too much that is over a little kid's head or even skill set, and there was very little effort to make sure the littles were included. My daughter came home with cool projects, but it was 10000% clear she did not do them herself, bc it was way beyond her level. In contrast, Doodles Primo is designed for 3/4 year olds, both in terms of the projects & the way they keep the young ones in a small, intimate group. My kids also love the playground & fwiw I have felt they spent a LOT of time outside -- my daughter (6) spent all week building a crazy box fort in the play yard (which my son's group later played inside). I also really think Doodle takes "curriculum" seriously in the sense that they really think through the projects etc., and they also really hand the creating over to the kids. The stuff my kids made was super cool and fun, but it was also clear that THEY had made it -- and my 6 and 4 year old have each had age-appropriate though challenging tasks. For instance, this week my son first made a monster shape with string, then they drew it and colored it, then they made a transparency, and then HE actually sewed a little felt stuffie of the monster he designed. He obviously had help with some of the trickiest parts, but I could tell it was almost all him - even the sewing (my daughter also proudly told me that this year she gets to use the glue gun).
Minuses: I don't love their weird computerized check-in & wrist band system, but some people might prefer it for security; to me, the camp is so small it's weird to be that formal. Also, the location is more "urban" in that it's blacktops and portables, not the beautiful park like Sarah Science. But again, I think that can be good for a little kid. My son's room (which I saw -they were fine with me dropping off there) looks like a typical PK room toy-wise, and they eat lunch inside (while my daughter's group tends to eat outside). Anyhow, I think Doodles is great for the young ages especially!
We sent our daughter to Doodle last year. She seemed to enjoy it (she was 4 turning 5). But she didn't seem to be crazy excited by it. I never really saw the spaces the littler kids were in, since you drop off in the collective room and pick up (with aftercare) in the same space. She did some interesting art, though. I don't feel like she got enough physical activity, which I think at this age is in some ways more critical right now. The counselors were loving, though, and I felt like she was in a safe space and well-cared for. I'm not sure we'll send her back, though she has asked, but I think that's because she likes particular counselors, and I have no way of knowing if they'll be there.