JCC East Bay Summer Camp

Operated By:
summercamps [at] jcceastbay.org
Editors' Notes:
  • This camp was previously known as Camp Tzofim

Parent Reviews

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Our grandson with similar diagnosis has attended and thrived at Berkeley JCC summer camp.  The staff is well trained and they allow his ABA therapist to join him.

Heartily recommended.

My 1st-grade daughter is in Jewish Community Center's camp, usually held in Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland.  I believe that JCC has several options in different locations.  Camp runs from 1pm to 5pm, five days a week, so that's close to what you're looking for.  The one our daughter goes to is pretty good.  It's the same folks who used to run the after-school enrichment program at Joaquin Miller Elementary School, when we had in-person school.  So they have experience with kids.  I will say that t's not a very richly developed curriculum.  But the important thing is that my daughter gets to play with other kids and run around outside, in the park.

My daughter did summer camp with Trackers, and they were awesome, with great teachers and well developed activities.  And I have a friend with her son in Forest School, and they like it a lot, especially the social justice curriculum.  The JCC option is probably cheaper and not as well organized or well taught.  But it beats sitting at home all day.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2013

Re: Camp for 1st grader that lasts more than 2 weeks
We had originally looked at KeeTov last year, but had the same issue (sessions all full). We ended up going with Camp Tzofim (though the JCC) and after her positive experience with it, we're sticking there. My daughter was also between kinder and first grade when she started, and they were great with the little ones. She did six weeks (3 two-week sessions) and there was enough variation she enjoyed it all the way through. I particularly like that they go swimming 2x every week, as my daughter is a bit of a fish! Tzofim runs a total of four 2 week sessions. The actual camp is in Oakland, but they run a bus daily from the Berkeley JCC, and have early drop off if you need care starting earlier than the bus drop-off. http://www.jcceastbay.org/camptzofim/ - A happy Tzofim mama

August 2009

Re: your summer camp experience?

My children have been to Sarah's Science, Tzofim and Galileo. All three are excellent camps!

For the first time ever, I have all three kids at one camp - Tzofim - and they are all having a great time (ages 10, 10 and 6)! The camp is set up to really engage each grade level. The camp offers tons of exciting fieldtrips, small group sizes and wonderfully warm counselors. The kids come home singing camp jingles, with a dozen freindship bracelets on their wrists and a list of buddies that they want playdates with asap. The older kids have overnight camping trips.

Sarah's Science is another fantastic camp! The hands-on science projects are top-rate and worth keeping in the house! Sarah's Science also offers ''Bug of the Month Club'' throughout the school year -- highly recommended!

Galileo, another great camp with an impressive ''curriculum'' and excellent staff. mm

May 2009

Hello, My son went to Kee Tov last summer & had a wonderful time. I already signed him up for this summer when I learned about Camp Tzofim. I really like the fact that there are swim lessons, something Kee Tov doesn't have. It's also a bit cheaper, but not by much. Has anyone had experience with both for a good comparison? -Bobbie

Can't compare to Kee Tov, but what I liked about Tzofim:
The price
Swimming twice a week
Trips to a good variety of places - lots of local parks I never knew existed, museums, etc.
Late days for the younger kids, overnights for the older kids
Family get-togethers - pizza night, skits, camp songs, a sense of continuity - kids getting an idea of what to look forward to as they get older by spending some time together
Lots of good old-fashioned camp activities - silly games, running around... though one of my kids would like more crafts Some really great staff that works hard at getting to know each kid
My kids always made new friends
My kids also got more of a sense of Judaism is - more than their non-practicing parent could teach...!

For various reasons, this is our first year without Tzofim, and my kids were really disappointed. We'll be back next year! Ellen

I have kids who have been to both camps. Both are great, but I am favoring Camp Tzofim for a few reasons. One, the swim classes are key. Two, the program is a bit smaller, so I feel like my kids don't get so overwhelmed and can find their way better. And three, they are two week sessions, allowing more flexibility. The counselors at both are great, I know that many of the counselors at Tzofim also work in the JCC's afterschool programs. I've been happy with Tzofim and so have my kids. anon


March 2009

My daughter has attended the Oakland JCC since she entered Kindergarten 3 years ago. We have been thrilled with the staff as well as the curriculum. The staff is nurturing, creative and extremely fun. They have always dealt with conflict well and I have always felt my daughter is safe there. I have been impressed with the diversity of the staff as well as the students. My daughter is of bi-racial dissent and of mixed faith and she has always felt welcomed and encouraged to express herself. My husband and I both work full time and worried that our child would not be able to partake in after school enrichment classes but at the JCC she in constantly stimulated, challenged as well as loved. We love the JCC so much we have never sent her anywhere else, she also attends Camp Tzofim.

March 2009

Re: Need summer camp recs for 5 and 9 yr olds
You should check out Camp Tzofim, run by the JCC of the East Bay. It's located at 4500 Redwood Road in Oakland.

This is just a terrific camp, and meets most if not all of the criteria you have. The kids have a great time doing all kinds of activities, and the counselors are fun, nice, and ... just great. It's got a long history, and I think some of the counselors were once campers.

You might also want to be aware that it's not just a stand-alone camp. It's a program of the JCC of the East Bay, which has kids and family programs year-round including preschool and afterschools (Berkeley and Oakland). The JCC is really very welcoming for all people, regardless of affiliation (or non-affiliation).

Since your kids may have specific needs, you could go to one of the open houses they're having and talk about things. From the web site (http://www.jcceastbay.org/jcc/child_teens_camp_tzofim.htm):

  April 1st Camp Tzofim Information Night at the Oakland Site April 2nd Camp Tzofim Information Night at the Berkeley site 

You could also call by phone - the staff are really nice and always helpful.

Good luck! Tzofim Community Family

Feb 2008

I notice the reviews regarding the JCC's Camp Tzofim are a bit dated. Has anyone had a child there recently? Any feedback would be appreciated. Peter

I've been sending my son to Tzofim since he was in kindergarten, and will send him again this year (he's in 3rd grade), as well as child #2 for her first year. I'm still happy with the staff, the enthusiasm, activities, and level of supervision.

My son's enthusiasm waxes and wanes - he's complained of the pool being too cold, of not liking certain other kids, of not liking the snacks. But he does love the outdoor activities, certain counselors he's bonded with, and he loved his first overnight camping experience last year.

I also like the exposure to Judaism (I'm of Jewish ethnicity but not practicing), and the staff's communication. i.e. When I realized that my son's real complaint about the pool was the instructor he was assigned to, they switched. They want to know everything about your child in order to make their experience as positive as possible. They also do a very good intro at the beginning of the summer to let you know what your kid will be doing and to answer every question you have. I haven't come across any other camp program that does that.

I do like that Josh has been doing this for years - nothing like real-life experience with endless varieties of kids and situations. And although all camps hire college-age adults who obviously cannot have the same kind of experience, I think Tzofim does a good job of hiring and training to help them deal with ''more challenging'' kids (such as mine). Mom of Two

March 2004

Does any one have any recent experience with Camp Tzofim? We live in Oakland and are looking for summer camps for our entering 1st grader. Johanna

Both of my daughters have attended Camp Tzofim since they were pre-kindergarten and they love it and ask to go back every year. (They are now almost 10 and almost 8). It is somewhat laid back, has some Jewish programming but not very heavy duty (lots of non- Jewish kids attend) and is your basic run-around-and-get-dirty, sing-silly-songs and make-new-friends-camp. Josh Kramer is wonderful, as is his staff and they are really good at building community. Josh and Darrell, who works with him, have been friends since they were in preschool at the age of three; there are counselors there who were campers once themselves, and kids who have been going for years. It feels good every summer to drive in and have my girls greeted by name and know they are in good hands. Tzofim fan

I highly recommend Camp Tzofim for your first grader. My 8 year old son has gone for 3 summers and his younger sister has gone for 2. Camp Tzofim is an old-fashioned summer camp whose director, Josh Kramer, has been involved with the camp for over 20 years (pretty impressive since he is only in his 30s). The staff are warm, energetic, kid friendly young adults who lead the kids in a huge range of activities including sports, drama, messy day, campsongs and arts and crafts (tie dye, lanyards, etc). For the older kids there are overnights and for the younger group there is a wonderful ''extended evening of fun'' with dinner; parents are invited for the campfire and songs that follow. We always looked forward to the Pizza Potluck nights when each family brings a pizza and we get to watch our kids in action with skits, songs and a slide show finale. My kids and I have made wonderful lasting friendships at Camp Tzofim. It is really much more than a camp....it is now a part of our family. There is usually a camp information night at the JCS in Oakland. You could call 658-9222 for more info or feel free to email me. Good Luck. sally

My daughter attended several sessions of Camp Tzofim last summer when she was an entering first grader. She loved it and is enthusiastically looking forward to going this year. My daughter looks for fun and friends. I look for age appropriate experiences, a trustworthy staff, and safety. We both were happy. My daughter loved the activities, staff, and made friends quickly. In fact, helping children connect and start friendships is built into the experience. Josh Kramer and his staff are very experienced with programming summer day camp and with elementary children. Discipline is maintained but gives the kids the chance to be kids. With a non-swimmer, safety around water was very important to me--especially since they go to a pool or beach frequently during the sessions. Josh listened thoroughly to my concerns and satisfied me with his staff preparation and the way children were screened for water safety and supervised day to day. The camp is mostly held in various locations in the East Bay Regional Parks. The outdoor setting is a plus for me. Satisfied Mom with a Happy Summer Camper

I sent my daughter (now age 7) to camp Tzofim the past two summers, for 4 week sessions. We won't be sending her again. She refuses to go. It's a very hectic camp, with lots of long bus rides (and long delays according to my daughter) every day. The lead counselor, Josh, is great, and really does his best, but overall the camp didn't work for my daughter. Things that didn't work for her include: a lack of a home base, too much variation in the daily activities, not liking many of the daily activities (things like going to baseball games and playing dodge ball), and schlepping around on the bus. That being said, there are kids who like it there and go back every year. I guess it depends on your child, so I hope the details I provided are helpful. twr

April 2003

Re: Jewish summer camp for entering 1st grader

My son is in second grade and attended Camp Tsofim last summer. I'll let him respond:

''I liked Campsofime because the person who runs it is very nice,simple,smart,and plays alot.There is alot of other reasons why I liked Campsofime.Do you want to hear them?Well hear is a list: #1.Every day in the morning the teachers play a skit.#2.Sometimes they take the kids to canyons.#3.Once a week you will go to swimming lesons.So,did you like it?''

And I'll add that the director, Josh Kramer, is absolutely wonderful. I don't think most of the children know each other in advance, so your child wouldn't be alone in making new friends. They are very safety-conscious, especially when swimming (which, BTW, is more than once a week :-). Sophie

I have heard nothing but praise for camp Tzofim from parents. We've observed it at Lake Temescal and it seems like a very well organized, high energy camp that nurtures all the little people there. I particularly like the fact that they segregate by age. The bad thing is cost, which is out of our range.

March 2003

I would like to hear from parents who have sent their kids to the Berkeley-Richmond JCC summer camp. What has been your experience? What were the activities? Were the kids bored? Did they spend enough time outdoors? Thanks for any information. Mona

My son went to the JCC day camp last summer and will go for both sessions this summer. He really liked it...He was going into 2nd grade last year when he went (just turned 7). They did plenty of activities and he was never bored. They do a lot of art, singing and running around/games etc. at the JCC and then they go on a field trip, I think once a week and also go swimming twice a week. I don't remember too many older kids there...I think the oldest might have been 9 or so. The director, Karen ??? is really great and she had a great crew of counselors last summer. My son is extremely shy and doens't warm up to new situations easily. He really liked that camp and is looking forward to going back. June


If you have comments (good or bad) about Camp Tzofim in Oakland, especially in comparison to Camp Kee Tov, please share them. Thanks. Suzanne

In response to the query about Camp Tzofim: I think it's a terrific, well-run and friendly camp. The camp director, Josh Kramer, is a doll -- great with kids, really energetic, creative and absolutely committed to every child having a great time. He generally hires a very good staff. Josh is very responsive to concerns and questions. My 7-year-old spent most of the past two summers there (before kindergarten and first grade) and enjoyed himself. That said, my son is now a bit tired of the place and wants to try some new camps this summer. Rachele

Last week of summer at JCC 1999

Re: last week of summer
You might check out the Berkeley-Richmond JCC on Walnut between Rose and Vine. Summer camp is available in one-week increments and you can sign up for partial or full days, so it's more flexible than many programs. I think they still have space available in the camp programs for most, if not all, age groups. Of particular interest to the 11-year-old: they have a fun program for that age group in which the kids each day go via small van on a field trip--or several--to various nearby places. My 10-year-old, who's beginning to think of herself as having outgrown the J, is loving this. The kids get to plan their own outings for the week and plenty of opportunities for swimming, horseback riding, etc., are built in. I signed her up for only one week this summer and now wish I'd opted for more.

Finally, for the person looking at Albany after school programs: the JCC picks up children from Albany elementary schools and there are LOTS of Albany kids there so you might add it to your list of possibilities. I think there should be recommendations for it on the home page already (including one from me). Nina

From: Barbara

Berkeley/Richmond Jewish Community Center in Berkeley. I highly recommend it (you don't have to be Jewish). My 12 year old has been going there since she was 5 and my 7 year old since the summer before Kindergarten.

The Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center has wonderful secular summer programs (as well as preschool, bridge-K and after school programs) Some focus on theater, or art, or community service. They are a little pricey for me, but very high quality. My first grader will go for after school, which is very well priced (much cheaper than the Y).



I can recommend a camp for a child entereing kindergarten in the fall. It's Camp Tzofim, through Jewish Community Services in Oakland. They are located on Monte Vista between Oakland Ave and Piedmont Ave. My daughter has been going to Camp Tzofim since she was in kindergarten. The camp does have some Jewish culture included in the program, but I know that not all the children are from Jewish families. The staff is wonderful and has a good deal of continuity from year to year. The camp has four two-week sessions with a one week session before the first regular session and one week in the middle and at the end of the summer. I believe there is also a regular daycare program during the year for little ones, so they have lots of experience with kids that age. If you are interested, I would contact them right away, because signups have been going on since mid-March. Phone number is 658-9222. You can ask for Josh Kramer who is the camp director. Debbie


I didn't notice the day camp my daughter goes to on the web site. It's Camp Tzofim, run by Jewish Community Services of Oakland and Piedmont. For those of you who live in South Berkeley or Oakland I can recommend it highly. My daughter has been going there since kindergarten. It runs all summer, from the week after the Oakland public schools get out until the week before school begins again. There are four two-week sessions, with one week sessions before, between sessions two and three and afterwards. Programs run for kids entering kindergarten in the fall through eigth graders, plus a CIT program. Many of the counselors return year after year. The program runs from 9am to 3:30pm each day, with childcare available from 7:30am to 9 and 3:30 to 6:00 in the evening. One day of each session the younger kids go on a field trip and one day they have an extended day where they get dinner and entertainment. The elementary grade kids get the field trip one week and then an overnight campout the next week. Slightly older kids get a two night overnight and the oldest kids go someplace different every day and get a three night overnight. Places they've gone include Santa Cruz, the Russian River, a ropes course in Sonoma county. The offices are off Oakland Ave, between Grand and MacArthur. The younger kids spend the day at Lake Temescal for activities and swimming.

Camp Tzofim has afterschool programs during the school year and activities on days when Oakland schools aren't in session as well as Christmas break and spring break camps. At those they usually go on field trips everyday, such as the teddy bear factory, or to the jelly belly factory or to the movies. For those of you who live in South Berkeley or Oakland I can recommend it highly. My daughter has been going there since kindergarten.


When it came to after-school care, the program is really good, I think, for K-1 and maybe grade 2. By third grade, Steffi was bored and there was never any homework support so all the homework was left for when we got home after 6 pm and she was pretty tired by then. Homework got to be a frustrating chore and often ended in tears as the clock neared 7 and sometimes 8, which is very late for a third-grader to be doing homework.

Winter & Spring Break Camps

March 2009

Re: April vacation programs for 6 y.o. 1/2 or full day?
the JCC costs less per day and they usually run activities there, like games and crafts and outdoor play at their site and then they do a field trip for part of the time as well. At winter it was ice skating one day, the Jungle another, the zoo another, Jelly Belly factory, etc. berkeley mom

Nov 2003

Re: Full-day winter break camps?
Hi, we sent our son to the Berkeley/Richmond JCC's winter camp for the last 3 or 4 years. He really had a good time. He's outgrown it know, but if your child is in the under 10 set, it's a great option. They do lots of field trips from ice skating, to the Jelly Belly factory, movies, crafts, etc. The nice thing about it is that you can pick just a few days, or enroll for the entire time. There is before and after care for those of us who must work! ;-) Mollie

Re: Full-day winter break camps?
The Berkeley Richmond JCC has a good winter camp program with a mix of structured activities, field trips (they go to Adventure Playground, bowling, ice skating, etc.), art projects, and play. I think it's open first to kids in the aftercare program, but I know friends who have sent their kids to the winter camp when there was extra room. If your child goes to a Berkeley Elementary school they are bound to have some friends there. Carol

Nov 2001

Re: Winter Break Camp
YMCA has one--at least they did when we checked it out a couple of years ago. It was structured like their summer camp, which my son has loved for 4 years now. The Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community Center opens its full-day child care to the general public during these two weeks, too. It is $40/day if your child isn't enrolled in their after-school program and is open during Dec 24-Jan 4 every day except Dec 25 and Jan 1, 8:30AM-6PM. Their sign-up deadline is Dec 10. Fran