Live Oak Park
Also see: Tots Around Town (City of Berkeley Toddler program)
1301 Shattuck Avenue
Live Oak Park, the site of several community festivals, offers a range of recreational opportunities, with basketball and tennis courts, a recreation center, and tot and school-age play areas.
Check out Live Oak Park in north Berkeley. It’s small and has a few shaded picnic table areas that can be reserved for parties. There’s a small creek and bridges that run through it and have always felt pretty magical to me!
My kindergartener went to one of the city programs this year (Live Oak) and it was great. He rode the bus and he had plenty of support navigating that. I think the level of supervision is about the same as at LEARNS - they do adult-led activities like group games and some craft projects and also have lots of time to just run and play, but always pretty well supervised. The city programs are actually smaller than LEARNS so the kids could may even get more personal attention. The only thing I could think of as a potential concern would be if your kid has a tendency to run away because they are at public parks rather than a fenced-in school park. I haven't heard of this ever being a problem in our program though, they keep the kids pretty well engaged so I wouldn't worry about this unless your kid really has a history of being a runner. Last thing: don't underestimate the power of convenience! If you live near San Pablo Park and there's a bus there from Washington (there aren't buses from all schools to all locations, so you'll have to check), I would definitely recommend that. Live Oak was far for us so we are going to try to get a spot at San Pablo this year.
Totland in Berkeley is all fenced in and has a sandpit. We spent a lot of time there when the kids were younger.
Also, we used to live near San Pablo park and there is also a fenced-in area there. It is often empty in case you're worried about other children bowling over the young one.
Finally, live oak park has an even smaller fenced-in area. That's a good one too.
We are only two days in, but we also have experience with the summer playground program, and from what I can tell they are very similar. Our kindergartener is at Live Oak Park and did the playground program at Strawberry Creek over the summer and has had a good time at both. There's a lot of free play and some activities led by the counselors, and it seems like a good mix of active stuff and quieter activities. Here's the schedule for the aftercare:
2:00 arrival/free play
3:00 circle time
3:30 transition / snack
4:00 homework / story time (so far this is story time, but I guess for kids in older grades it's a chance to do their homework?)
4:30 group games / arts and crafts
5:00 free play
They seem well run and the staff are friendly. It's a lot of unstructured time with staff on hand as needed, so most of what I've seen is just the kids playing with each other on the playground or at the creek, which is exactly what I want for aftercare especially as my kid is transitioning to the structure of real school. Both days he's been there he wanted to stay longer and keep playing when I got there to pick him up, so that seems like a good sign.
My kindergartner goes to Live Oak Park. I think it says it's waiting list on the website, but there are a few spots. It's a city handled after school. They pick up from all the BUSD schools (I think). I know they do for Washington and Malcolm X. My son loves going there and they can use the fabulous park. Step by and ask for Daniel, the director. Good luck!
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Summer Day Camp at Live Oak park?
We're considering the cost & convenience of the summer day camp at Live Oak Park, but unfortunately there aren't many recent reviews. What do folks think of it? We're concerned our 6.5 yo son will be bored with the activities compared to Camp Galileo (last year at Cragmont). But we're hoping he also might meet kids from our neighborhood (while saving ~$1,000/mo on fees!) Camp curious
My kids went to this camp many years ago but I still remember it well. You know the saying '' you get what you pay for?'' Well it is totally accurate for this camp. Staff arrived late some days, seemed disinterested in the kids, and my daughter said she felt all they did was march from place to place all day! We tried the Cal sports camp later and the kids raved about it--even my non athletic kid. I hope things have improved at the City of Berkeley camp but if it is like it was when my kids went there, I would try to find another spot. anon
Techsplosion Lego Solar Engineering Camp at Live Oak
My daughter did this Green Machine Lego Solar Engineering Camp during the December school break at Berkeley's Live Oak Rec Center. I can't say enough good things about it and the instructor Shumit DasGupta. The projects were challenging and fun. My daughter was the youngest (age 6) and the only girl in a class of boys in the 9-10 year old range, but this wasn't a problem. The instructor did a great job of getting kids to work together and he provided each child with challenges appropriate to his/her own level. Some kids had a lot of engineering experience, others had none but they all seemed to learn and enjoy themselves. This camp will be given again during the week of Berkeley Schools' Spring Break. If you have a child with an interest in science or inventing, I highly recommend it. I understand Techsplosion also offers Robotics and Rocketry camps and after school programs for a slightly older age group, though I don't know when/where these will be offered next. I hope to get my daughter's school onboard for the after school programs. cheryl
Tilden Park camp vs Live Oak Park camp
I just realized that the city of Berkeley offers a day camp that goes to Tilden and the Marina and another camp at the Live Oak Community Center. Does anyone have experience with one or both of these camps? Would love to hear about your experience. Thanks. Cindy
My son (8 years old) went to Berkeley Day camp the last two summers, and to the Live Oak camp this past winter break for three days. The Live Oak camp included several disabled children and they had minimal activities. They were scheduled to do some outdoor activities, but it rained so they stayed in and watched movies all day. I wouldn't send my child back - it wasn't a good fit. Berkeley Day camp is great, lots of running around in the forest, good counselors, devoted staff. Whole different thing. anon
After-school program at Live Oak Park
I'm glad that at least one parent has had such a good experience with the City of Berkeley's afterschool program (at Willard), but here's another view... My experience with the program at Live Oak Park is that while this program is almost free, it may be one of those cases in which you get what you pay for. My kids, who are not exactly sheltered prudes, found it pretty rough -- many of the kids in the program appear to come from families where it is acceptable to use rude, insulting and/or vulgar language and to tease and sometimes threaten others, and that behavior is pretty much unchecked (unobserved?) by program staff. The staff-to-child ratio is not great, and they often resort to dumping the kids in front of a TV. On occasion they have botched even this, and shown something PG-13 by mistake. On most days there is a room (sometimes quiet, sometimes not) to do homework in, but there's little staff or peer support for kids who choose to use it, and very few kids do.
In terms of getting in, if you have an extraordinarily focussed or resilient kid: I showed up at 5:30AM on the designated day and was 10th or 15th in line; some parents *did* spend the night in the park to be first in line. The registration process is phenomenally slow, inefficient and frustrating, so no matter what time you come, it's going to take you 6 or so hours in line. Bring a *thick* book.
I just had to put my two cents in after reading about the Berkeley Park's after school programs.
I used to bring my little one to Live Oak Park to play in the tot lot there. I was astounded at the low quality of the after-school 'program' going on around me. Unsupervised children running everywhere, NO adult guidance once they were outside, just a whirlwind of chaos. Seriously, half of the children could walk off the park grounds and it would never be noticed until the end of the day. I only saw one adult even relating to the children and he was always yelling. He didn't speak - he yelled. Every sentence.
I always wanted to slip notes into the pockets of all the children telling their parents to get them out of that program. Marian