Lake Merritt Boating Center

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Berkeley Day Camp ( has been our go-to summer camp for almost 10 years (this summer will probably be the first time my oldest, who will be 14, doesn't go) and both my kids love it.  You drop off at one of several locations around Berkeley and their school bus takes kids to either Tilden or the Berkeley Marina for a day of adventures - hikes, fishing, games, arts/crafts, cook-outs, etc.  I think the cost is around $200/week, hours are 9 am-3:30 pm and they do offer after-care till 6 pm. 

Another low-cost camp we love is sailing camp at the Lake Merritt Boating Center (  Also about $200/week and kids with no sailing experience can learn to sail, advancing each year till they are sailing at the Oakland Estuary.  Finally, for less "active" kids, Studio One in Oakland offers great art camp ( also around $200/week.  Hope this helps!  Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Boating Camp at Lake Merritt

March 2012

I am looking for any feedback about the boating camp at Lake Merritt. It is run through Oakland Park and Rec. My son is 7, so I am looking at ''Explorer Day Camp'' formerly ''Pirates/First Mates/Skippers.'' The price seems so much lower than other camps I have been looking at. Wondering what the catch is. Please let me know any thoughts on your child's experiences. Is it well organized? How does it compare with other camps you have experienced? Would you recommend it? rebecca

My son really liked boating camp. The camp staff were really nice and the activities were well supervised. I would highly reccomend the camp! It is a hidden gem and it is very affordable. A fan of boating camp

My daughter went to the camp once or twice and liked it. It's not expensive, and they take all kinds of boats out on Lake Merritt. If you do the after care, they can still ride on the boats. I remember picking her up one day and she was out on the water in a kayak. I think it's a good camp, and they have fun, but it's not the most awesome camp in the universe. It's just a little bit disorganized, and the counselors range from great to a little bit lazy, and I would have preferred to see all of them more actively engaged. One small thing to keep in mind is that on the morning of the first day, they bus the kids to the Temescal pool and do a swim test, which is potentially cold and uncomfortable (though my fussy kid didn't seem to mind too much). Worst part about that is the disorganization. You'd think you could just drop them off at Temescal and they could zip through the test and get back to the lake, but the way my daughter told it, it sounded like endless waiting and time wasting. But I should end by saying she did enjoy the camp. She enjoyed it better with a friend (which is probably true regardless).

Jan 2008

Re: Reasonable sailing class (or group) for adult
Lake Merritt Boating Center in Oakland (run by the City of Oakland Parks and Rec Dept) is a great place to learn to sail. They offer group or private lessons for extremely reasonable rates. Your friend could take BART to downtown Oakland (probably the 19th St. station is closest) and walk to the boathouse from there.

2004 - 2007 Advice

May 2004

Looking for a fun and healthy activity for your teen this summer? Check out Summer Youth Rowing at Lake Merritt, Oakland. Its not expensive and its a terrific experience for the kids. My son rowed with this program during the summer after his freshman year and was hooked! He then joined the fabulous Berkeley High crew program which became the focal point for his high school career. Check out more information at: Nancy

Even with advanced planning our 15 year olds will be rowing with ''Row Oakland 2004''out of the Old Lake Merritt Boathouse (They're already rowers and will be interning). Row Oakland offers 3 two-week programs (the first begins 6/21 and the last ends 7/30) and both morning or afternoon sessions. Its a great chance to get a workout and a tan, learn a new skill and meet other teens, close to home. The interns for this program tend to be kids your daughter's age from the Berkeley (boys and girls) Crew, and it is run by the BHS Crew Head Coach. Each 2 wk, 1/2 day session cost $90, with fee waivers available. Phone 510-273-9041 for more information. Heather

2003 & Earlier

Lake Merritt Boating Center


I've managed to live in the East Bay with 2 kids for 13 years without ever finding out about the cool stuff at the Lake Merritt Boating Center. A couple of weekends ago, I went there with 3 other grown-ups and five kids ages 7-13. We all had a great time and I highly recommend it as an easy activity on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I think kids older than 5 or so would really enjoy it.

Each of the kids rented a one-kid kayak ($8 hour) and the adults shared two canoes ($6 hour each). We all took off on our own, paddling around on the very placid Lake Merritt. The kayaks are highly colorful lightweight fiberglass and very easy to maneuver for a kid. The boat house attendant told me there is no minimum age, but it looked like a kid would need to be about bike-riding age to handle it. Lifevests are furnished, of course.

They also have rowboats, pedal boats, sailboats and catamarans for rent and they are open 7 days a week. Hours vary according to weather. They are located basically across the lake from Children's Fairyland; you turn in at the Fairyland parking area. And by the way if you haven't visited Fairyland it's a great place for little ones. Not to mention the bird sanctuary.

They also have sailing classes for children and adults, as well as week-long sailing and windsurfing camps in the summer, which I wish I had known about sooner! For more info, call them at 444-3807.