Summer Camp During Covid

Parent Q&A

Camp or structured activities for 13 year old unvaccinated boy? Jun 22, 2021 (3 responses below)
Do credit cards really protect you re. Summer camp bankruptcy? Feb 26, 2021 (4 responses below)
Sarah’s Science refunds? Jan 27, 2021 (2 responses below)
In-person summer camps Jun 3, 2020 (7 responses below)
Any suggestions for the summer? May 19, 2020 (6 responses below)
Online Camps for Teens this Summer May 18, 2020 (1 responses below)
Refund for Cancelled Summer Camp Apr 26, 2020 (5 responses below)
What are you doing about summer camp this summer? Apr 23, 2020 (1 responses below)
Online engaging summer school suggestions for 16yo boy Apr 21, 2020 (2 responses below)
  • Hi wise network. 

    The 13 year old son of a friend of ours from Mexico City is coming to stay with us for a few weeks in July. He was registered for two weeks of Cal camps, but we realized (belatedly -yes, huge oversight) that they require covid vaccination, which he unfortunately has not been able to get yet in Mexico. 

    My husband and I both work full time, so are scrambling to figure out what he can do during the week that would be fun for him, age appropriate, and of course safe for him and others. He will likely get a first dose of vaccine when he arrives, but won't be fully vaccinated until closer to the end of his stay with us. So. . . something outdoors would be ideal. 

    We are grateful for any creative ideas or suggestions. 

    Hi!  If he likes art, I highly recommend Camp Kala:

    A few other ideas:

    Good luck!

    You could check out the programs at UC Village. They have a variety of sports and activities and spots open in July.  I haven’t heard that they require COVID vaccination but my child is younger so I may have overlooked that.

    Why not just get him a J&J vaccine the day he lands? One and done and he can attend the camp you planned. I know of a family who flew in from Mexico to get it done here. Anyone can walk in and get a vaccine for free with any ID, though you may need a letter from his parents because he’s a minor (I’d check at Walgreens to see exactly what you’d need).

  • I saw on BPN that credit cards protect you/offer refunds on bankrupted businesses--thinking specifically of Sarah's Science. Has anyone had success getting money back via their credit card from Sarah's Science? Or Galileo? Thanks!

    I disputed the Galileo charge and my credit card company did not make me pay it. Not sure what others’ experience has been. 

    I was successfully refunded the money I paid last summer towards Galileo summer camp from my credit card (Chase Visa). I just filed a dispute and went through their process. 

    Yes, we filed a dispute with Capital One when Camp Galileo cancelled, and they refunded our money. Some credit cards companies are good about this, and others will make you go through hell to get your money.

  • Sarah’s Science refunds?

    (2 replies)

    I was so sorry to hear that Sarah’s Science camp has gone bankrupt. What a loss! I’m trying by to figure if I will be able to get my summer tuition refunded? Does anyone know how that works? Thanks!

    RE: Sarah’s Science refunds? ()

    I think you should have gotten a notice in the mail about the bankruptcy & I am assuming that more paperwork will be sent so that we can file a claim somehow?

    RE: Sarah’s Science refunds? ()

    How did you pay? If it was with a credit card just contact your cc co ask for a refund. If you paid check you will have to get on the creditors list with the court. Consider yourself lucky if you even get a dollar. 

  • In-person summer camps

    (7 replies)

    I'm wondering if parents are considering in-person camps this summer. I'm working remotely so I don't technically need to send my child to camp, but my only child is bored, lonely and just wants to watch tv all day. I'm busy working most of the day and I'm the only parent. She is not into virtual camps. I worry about her mental and physical health, but I also worry about the risks of infection. Part of me wonders if sending her to a camp that is using masks and enforcing social distancing (or trying) in late July is that much different than attending school in August (assuming that happens). How are others thinking about this?   

    RE: In-person summer camps ()

    As difficult as it is, our household is taking as zero risk as possible approach. 100% contactless delivery, masks on when taking a walk for both adults and kids. We think social distancing is not possible in Camp settings with little ones. We are beginning to think about the possibility of a social bubble including a friend or two so kids are not completely isolated. 

    We are seriously considering home schooling as well because we don’t have a lot of faith that public schools can pull off safe educational environment with all the budget cuts. 

    RE: In-person summer camps ()

    If you haven't already signed up for camp, I don't want to be a downer but it is unlikely you can secure an in-person spot... but to your question, we have decided to send our daughter to camp this summer and have secured her a spot for 9 weeks of camp. The camp sizes and length are mandated by the county (no groups larger than 12 and camp length is a minimum of 3 weeks). The way I approached this decision was around if hospitals are at capacity, the acceptable risk tolerance of our family, and the overall health of our family. I know hospital capacity can change quickly (especially if the infection rates were to exponentially increase) but data is not showing exponential increases in the Bay area. Additionally, my family is metabolically healthy (no pre-existing conditions, not overweight, etc.) research shows metabolic health is correlated with a decreased chance of severe infection requiring hospitalization. After reflecting on those two factors, I have decided the risk tolerance of our family to this is relatively high and thus, we felt the benefits of our daughter getting outside time, more stimulation than we can offer at home as 2 FTE, and peer interaction outweighed the potential negatives of exposure to the virus. 

    RE: In-person summer camps ()

    We live in CC county and have our 5-year-old daughter in a dance camp. There were extensive cleaning and safety protocols and the director was serious about social distancing. The first week there were 3 kids; this week there are 5 kids. Our daughter loves it!

    For us, the mental health risk outweighed virus risk. Our daughter has some adoption trauma triggered behaviors that were getting to be an every hour thing, instead of once a day or less. My husband’s office is closed and he is trying to work from home so when the camp opened, it was a no-brainer for us. We were all at the end of our rope. I’ve been trying to minimize risk in other ways—getting groceries picked up and not being in groups. We don’t have family in the area and everyone is healthy so it seemed like a worthwhile risk to take. 

  • Any suggestions for the summer?

    (6 replies)

    So far all of the summer camps that I signed up for my 4-year old and 5-year old got canceled, but to keep my job I will have to send them somewhere during the summer, preferably in a group setting where they can socialize with peers and learn something.  I wonder if any parent knows about a summer camp that will still open in June, July or August, or plans to organize one. Very much appreciated!   

    Moderator Note:   At least until May 31, in-person summer camps are only permitted for the children of essential workers. The State has a database to help essential workers find childcare, but it targets children under 5 only (see  There is very little information about summer camps, although guidelines for day camps have been issued (here is Alameda County's guide:

    So how do parents make plans for the summer? I did a quick look at the websites of some of the camps that post on BPN year after year. Some have canceled camp for 2020 (Monkey Business), some are offering online camps only (Camp Edmo, Aurora, Dancing Paintbrush), and many others have adopted a wait-and-see approach, asking parents to check back in June. (Sarah's Science, Oakland YMCA, Roughing ItCity of El CerritoAdventure Day Camp).

    On May 31, the current stay-at-home order will expire, and perhaps things will become more clear then. In the meantime, research camps, look at their websites for information about Covid19 plans, and be prepared to make a decision at the last minute. Here is BPN's list of traditional day camps: and you can look for specialty camps here:

    Bay Area Girls Rock Camp is doing summer online only. I love them and had my older 13 year old daughter there a couple of years in a row. Not sure how online will be. They offer scholarships, financial assistance. They use AORTA training guides for conflict resolution. 

    Fairyland is still planning to run camp, starting in late June and following the new County health guidelines for camps. You might reach out to them since I imagine many people who had signed up will no longer need their spots given the shelter-in-place. The City of Piedmont is also running a camp, though I'm not sure they'll take kids as young as four and I believe residents have priority so it may fill before it opens to the general public. I would also try open preschools to see if they'll consider short-term summer enrollments--many are re-opening in June as more people go back to work. Good luck!

  • Online Camps for Teens this Summer

    (1 reply)

    I'd love to get some suggestions for some online interactive camps and classes for tweens and teens for this summer of COVID when many of our kids won't be able to go to regular in-person camps.  Please note if you have any experience with the organization to know if they are reputable.


    There are a number of online college prep classes and seminars for teens who are academically inclined. For example, it looks like Northwestern has some good seminars for high schoolers in July and the application is still open . They are limited, though, to rising juniors and seniors so younger teens can’t participate. The SF Marin Food Bank is also open to volunteers in person for teens who want to help out with the Covid effort this summer. JFCS is doing a virtual teen professional boot camp/mentor program, in place of the canceled internships, but applications are closed. That’s about all I have found so far. Still looking. 

  • Refund for Cancelled Summer Camp

    (5 replies)

    Hello BPN parents - we recently received a message notifying us that one of the summer camps we signed our child up for in July has chosen to cancel their summer sessions because of CV-19. We signed our child up for two sessions (covering 4 weeks) coming to a total of $1600. The company offering credits or the option to donate tuition. I submitted an email inquiry about a refund (as that was not an option listed in the original email, notifying us of the cancellation and asking what we wanted done with our funds). I received a generic response that that the option to convert tuition to a donation or a future credit are the only options they can offer to emerge from this crisis. My family is fortunate in that we both still have our jobs and this was the only 4 weeks we had paid for in advance but I'd be lying if I wasn't worried about one or both of our jobs and/or income being affected by the looming economic downturn and that $1,600 isn't trivial. We will also need to look at other avenues for putting our child in summer camp or securing other care (i.e. we'll have to spend additional $ for this summer in addition to what I spent). I guess my question is -- what are others doing in similar situations? Are you accepting the credit(s) hoping you don't need that money and will just use next year? Any perspectives on similar experiences would be appreciated. 

    We had this happen too and are very frustrated, but able to handle the hit financially. Camp Galileo was the camp that issued this aggressive "no refunds - we're holding on to your money for summer 21" policy; other camps have been much better about either full refunds, or refunds minus the deposit. If I were in a tighter financial situation, I would escalate complaints, until I got to speak to a manager with the actual authority to make an exception and refund all or most of the funds. I would simply tell whoever picked up the phone I am very desperate and very angry, and don't want to scream at this person, so could he/she possibly pass me on to her manager. I would just repeat myself, and keep this up, and then ask to speak to her manager's manager until I got some kind of sensible settlement. 

    I'm in the lucky position that our camp is offering credit for next year, donation or refund options, so some camps are offering refunds and I've been keeping track of the ones who do it and plan to support them more in the future as I think they are doing the right thing and try to avoid the camps that are pulling the no refund thing now.  For the camp my kids are enrolled in, we are voluntarily choosing the next-year credit option since we can afford it, know for a fact my kids will want to attend next year and are ok supporting them through this.  My concern with the credit is that some camps might go under and then you will never recover your money so credit only works if it is a camp you trust to stay in business or really like and ok supporting no matter what (which is the case with the one camp we are registered in, but I would not do it for all camps).  In terms of getting refunds, some camps can do it and do exceptions in which case you should call them and ask, while other camps (like Galieo) already stated publically that they are not doing refunds and there are no exceptions, in which case your only resort is contacting your credit card and see if they can help (I know parents who were able to get credit cards to help get money back by reversing the charge if the payment was relatively recent since the service is no longer being provided) or consider legal action (some parents are joining together and getting legal help together -- check facebook for groups being formed).  Do consider that going the credit card or legal action might end up succeeding but if many do it, it will likely lead the camp to declare bankruptcy or close, but if this is a camp that is not your regular and you are not ready to support it through this, then those are all reasonable options if you need the money back for other chilldcare this simmer since they are no longer providing the services you paid for. Good lucky!

    For another perspective, there are businesses that will absolutely go under if they make full refunds. Not only do they - we - have expenses related to having to book, advertise and employ people to ready for this season which won't happen, they will absolutely go in the hole because they will have to eat all banking/charges. As someone who runs a small camp myself, I know this is incredibly stressful on small businesses - as you might imagine. We, too, understand these are hard times for all - and I'll bet local parents will have far fewer camp options in 2021 if everyone demands full refunds.  Let's all try be as kind during these tough times as possible. These camp businesses are not mega rich meanies, they are folks with whom you have (previous) entrusted your precious kids.

  • What are parents doing with summer camps this summer? I am very lucky not to have booked any summer camps prior to the shelter in place in March and feel for all the families that are now dealing with cancelled camps and no refunds (i.e. Galileo camp comes to mind) but I'm undecided what to do going forward.  Are some camps still happening this summer and it is worth booking them (and taking the risk that they won't happen and I'll have no refunds) or do I not book (and take the risk that SIP is lifted and I have to go back to work with no camp/childcare coverage for kids)?  Looking for some advice on what other parents chose to do regarding summer camps at this point of uncertainty. 

    While none of us have a crystal ball, it feels like a pretty safe assumption that large gatherings (like camps) will continue to be prohibited through the summer. Small gatherings (meaning small day care situations) *might* be allowed for all families. Day care is already allowed now for essential workers, and spots are opening up for school-age children (again, you are supposed to be an essential worker).

    The summer camp we had booked (ATDP) notified us last week that it was going online, so we are not going to take the spots or pay a deposit, but also not being refunded the application fee despite the camp changing its nature.

  • Could some of you recommend a super engaging online course for my 16 yr old son to take this summer? He is an athlete & team sports may be hugely curtailed so I need a few ideas to occupy him. He’s really bright but NOT super academic & has ADHD. He loves controversy & argument so for example he’s been listening to Ben Shapiro podcasts to have something to argue with us liberal Jewish parents about (gay rights, feminism). He’s interested in economics, ethics, politics, black culture, business. I don’t care if he gets high school credit for the class but it might be incentive for him to compete for an A (he’s very competitive)! Thx

    I’ve got the answer!!     

    The Practice Space, El Cerrito is holding a summer debate camp.  Either in-person or online depending on COVID-19. He’ll work with a top parli coach, who brought El Cerrito High School the state championship in 2019.  

    This will be an extremely rigorous program.

    See if any of the following might be of interest.  It has been my experience kids with ADHD or  who are bright and don't do well in academics really like and do exceptionally well with cybersecurity and the world of Arduino.  See if he's interested in any of the following. 

    Hacker Highschool is a complete, self-guided curriculum for cybersafety and cybersecurity. It is designed for teens from 12-20 years old. HHS combines instruction written in narrative and practical exercises which can be completed with a standard computer and an internet connection to facilitate learning in a classroom or at home. (Free)

    Python computer language - Your kids will learn how to create games instead of playing them.  (Free)  ($13.00) 

    If you kids like building things with Legos introduce them to the world of Arduino.
    Amazon sells starter kits starting at $17 with instructions full complete lessons suitable for kids 10 and up.  (Providing Amazon links to a $17 and $30 starter kit.)  Each kit contains 25 - 50 projects with over 100 hours for instructions which will keep your kids busy.