James Kenney Park Afterschool & Summer Camp

Berkeley, CA

To see Department of Social Services records on this facility, click on its DSS Facility License # below.

Afterschool Care
DSS Facility License #: 
not required
City of Berkeley
(510) 981-6650
schu [at] cityofberkeley.info
1720 8th Street
Language(s) Spoken: 
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri
Additional Services & Features: 
Afternoon option
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Q&A

  • Hello,

    I am considering the James Kenney afterschool program for my daughter from this coming Fall. I would like some input on experience with caregivers/ staff, help from BUILD mentors, and what a typical week/afternoon might look like. Thank you!

    My kids were part of the James Kenney afterschool program for several years, up until this past year when they moved during renovations. I loved the program. The kids had some time to run around outside (or in the gym if the weather was bad), they had time to get homework done (so I didn't have to fight with them about it at home) and staff or tutors who could help them if needed, they had time to do some art, and they were given a healthy snack. The staff were always great and my kids formed good relationships with them over the years, which carried over to the summer camp program. Financially and in terms of flexibility, I think it's the best deal around. My kids could go for as many or as few days each week as I needed them to go and stay as long as I needed them to (although I usually picked them up between 4 & 4:30. And it meant that my kids mixed with kids from other schools that they would then see again on their soccer team or some other activity. All in all, I have been really happy with our experience there.

Parent Reviews

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My son loved Explorers Camp at James Kenney last summer, and he’ll be spending most of this summer there again. It’s a classic summer camp - lots of sports, running, playing, art, etc. It’s not very structured or rigid which was great for my kid who doesn’t mind a little chaos and prefers to choose his own activity vs being forced to do what the group is doing, but it is not as good for kids who need a lot of structure and organized activities. A couple of other perks are that the kids go swimming once a week, and it’s a site for the free summer lunch program, so food is provided all summer long. It’s also very affordable and as a result extremely diverse - it truly reflects the population of the city unlike other pricier camps that my son has attended. The down side of the camp is that it can be a little chaotic and there’s not a lot of hand-holding going on. For children who advocate for themselves, this works fine, but I can see where a quieter less assertive child could struggle. Kids who attend this camp tend to go all summer, so I think it’s socially easier to start the first week of the summer than to start mid summer when the friend groups have formed. The City of Berkeley camps usually don’t fill up, so you could try just a couple of weeks and move on to something else if it doesn’t work out. 

My family has used the James Kenney after-school program for several years now--I have a 6th grader who attended for a few years and my 3rd grader is still there. I think it's the best deal around! The staff are great, the director is great. It's nothing fancy but the bus takes my kid there after school, they have outside or gym playtime, arts & crafts, healthy snacks, homework time with tutors from Cal. The program is quite flexible. I pay one (very affordable) price for my kid to go full time or on whatever days we choose. You don't have to stick to a set schedule of days, which is very helpful for us. When my older kid was in 5th grade, there was an emphasis on leadership development where they would have the 5th graders plan the games for the younger kids one day per week. They have special programs around the holidays or for Black History month. All around, it's been a great experience for our family.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

James Kenney after-school for Oxford student?

August 2014

We were hoping to get into the Berkeley public after school program that's closest to our house but wound up #30 on the waiting list. We were able to get in to James Kenney which I don't know anything about and doesn't have busses to our school (Oxford). Do you have experience with the JK afterschool program? Any feedback would be helpful for us to decide whether it makes sense to hire someone to drive from school to JK. Thank you! BUSD Newb

Hi parent, My child attends this program and is happy there. Stephanie, the director, has been there for a year and turned this program around. She is always available to talk with parents or meet with them. Weekly emails tell you about what is planned for the upcoming week. Photos of the healthy snacks the kids make show the parents that they continue to learn and grow. Kenny has attentive staff and tutors, and work as a community to ensure that the kids are engaged and respectful. The February African American history program is attended by parents and the community and helps reinforce school lessons on the contributions of African Americans. (And if you aren't comfortable with you child participating in this event, this is ok.) I don't recall any kid not participating. Don't let the nominal cost have you think that it is a loose and unstructured program. In fact, there has been a wait list showing it's gain in popularity. The 5th graders meet weekly and plan an activity for all kids. This provides them with focus while they learn organization and leadership skills. No, you won't get Spanish lessons here, but you will have a racially and economically integrated program (unlike at some afterschool programs where only those with deep pockets can attend.) And meeting kids from other schools is cool. My kid will be in middle school in 2015 and I've heard that these program are wild and unstructured. I wish Kenny could add this age group. I already know that we will both miss this caring afterschool program. Happy James Kenny afterschool parent

My son went to the James Kenney afterschool program for two years (he was able to take the bus from his school). We were generally happy with the program. The staff was engaged and friendly. My son was able to complete most of his homework at JK so there were few homework battles at home. The art projects were pretty basic, but my son enjoyed them.

One minor problem is that there were a few days that were City holidays/mandatory days off, but BUSD was still in session on those days. I think they also close the last week of school. This was a bit challenging in that we had to find alternative care on those days. The program was so affordable, which was a bonus for me. Ultimately, my son missed hanging out with his buddies in the afterschool program at his school, so he stopped attending JK. Anon

Reviews of James Kenney after school

June 2011

Anyone send their kids to the James Kenney after school program in Berkeley? The archives are from several years ago. How do you like it? It's such a bargain compared to the after school program at my kids' elementary school and I'm tempted to save myself several hundred dollars a month... but only if it's a good, fun, safe program. Any comments would be appreciated! Berkeley parent

I send my son to the James Kenney after school program.He catches the school bus after school from Thousand Oaks. He loves it and I have been very pleased as well. They provide a variety of sports and arts activities for the kids along with an afternoon snack. The also have cal students come in twice a week for a reading program and I believe they also help with homework as well. I hope this helps. The after school director also over sees the summer program, so you could probably stop by and talk with her as well. Satisfied Parent

March 2003

Re: Jefferson After School Programs
We love the program at James Kenney Park. Everything there is pretty structured, with divided age groups, scheduled activities, etc. The director, Nick, is incredibly dedicated and very much on top of everthing that goes on there. When a problem arises -- and problems do arise there -- Nick deals with it proactively and positively. Every encounter I've had with any staff member has been positive. The facility is really nice and very well-maintained with the usual caveat that sometimes the bathrooms get gross, but that's always been addressed as soon as a staff person finds out about it. They have a fun and creative art program that includes clay-work and a kiln; there are organized sports activities, homework help by UC Berkeley students, walking trips to local playgrounds, yoga for kids, etc. The Kenney program is on the Jefferson after-school bus route, and is one of the first stops, so it's not a long bus-ride.

A downside to Kenney is that Berkeley city holidays are rather frequently different than the school holidays, so sometimes you'll find yourself scrambling for an alternative. That's one of the reasons we are signed up for both. The other reason is that Jefferson has other after-school programs in the form of actual classes that are offered by a variety of organizations or individuals (art, dance, chess, languages, etc). If your child is enrolled in a class, s/he may not be able to catch the bus to Kenney.

Our solution has been to enroll in Voyager on a 2-3 day/week basis, as well as Kenney full-time (a bargain at only $20/month for snack fee). This gives us the leeway we need to do a little of both.