City of Oakland Summer Camps

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Preschoolers, Kinder, School-Aged

Parent Q&A

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  • I signed up my child for a 4 week session of the Oakland Parks and Rec "Town Camp" at Defremery Recreation Center, which includes daily swim lessons. Does anyone have any experience with this program? I'm a little worried that it'll be freezing and miserable for my daughter in the pool. She's also not a confident swimmer so I don't want things to go wrong with bad instruction.



    Hello! We've also registered at DeFremery for session I as first-timers so I can't give a review, but as a suggestion on fear of freezing have you thought about getting a wetsuit? We had a shorty wetsuit my daughter for her lessons at the Y which came in very handy, and because they are not full-length was easy for her to get in and out of by herself. We noted the other kids were shivering in the pool during lessons, but our kiddo seemed just fine. They can be found relatively inexpensive ($25-40) on Amazon and Decathlon. Good luck!

    My kids have gone several summers to DeFremery and your kid will be fine! It’s heated but not hot and they’ll get used to it. The camp staff gets the kids to and from the pool but the kids are in charge of changing in/out of suits and gathering their stuff so your kid will learn some responsibility and independence. 

    In terms of bad instruction, I’m not sure what exactly your concern is but our kids were able to tell me their level, when they had “passed” a skill and I was informed at the end of the session whether they were ready for more advanced lessons. They provide instruction for all levels - my middle kid was only 5 and couldn’t swim his first summer there and at the end of the session was able to jump in a pool and be safe. Hope that helps!


  • City of Oakland rec center day camps

    (1 reply)

    Just looking for feedback on City of Oakland rec center day camps. My incoming kindergartener is doing 2 weeks at the Dimond Rec Center and so far it seems pretty chaotic. I'm wondering if they're all this way or if some are better than others. It's kind of a shock coming straight from a small preschool. I'd love to hear feedback about any of the City of Oakland day camps, including Studio One. Thanks.

    We've done the field trip camp at Studio One, and, indeed, it's pretty chaotic. We had a heck of a time just getting signed up, and there's not much hand-holding when you drop off or pick up your kid. Plus, on one of the field trips, they got back two hours late! On the other hand, our kid had a great time, and the low price for camp probably means you'll have to put up with some chaos. 

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I read somewhere that kids need about 30 hours of swim instruction to become proficient at swimming. So 1-2 times a week of 30-minute lessons will take a LONG time, and it's good to set expectations accordingly. I'd suggest summer camps where your child is swimming daily for several weeks. Oakland Town Camp + Swim Session has daily swimming (my daughter improved a lot after one month there), and may have some openings at some locations:

Oakland Parks, Rec, and Youth Development have a Winter Break Camp at Allendale Rec Center that seems to take kids up to 14+ years old and still has openings for both weeks.  

My kids (son and daughter) always loved Touch the Earth in Oakland. The kids get dirty, build forts and do basic camp activities. 

Check out the multitude of camps run by the City of Oakland, City of Berkeley, City of Piedmont, East Bay Regional Park District, etc.  We had a great experience last summer with the City of Oakland's boating camp (they also teach sailing for older kids like yours!) and with EBRPD's camp for young kids.  Camps run by public agencies tend to be much more affordable as they are essentially subsidized by tax payers.  Typically you'll get a resident discount, but won't necessarily need to be a resident to participate.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


General Questions about Camps

March 2008

I'd like to hear from anyone with recent experience with the Oakland Parks and Rec day camps at Dimond Park, Montclair Park, Redwood Heights or Joaquin Miller. My son will be going into 1st grade and likes to be active and creative, but isn't into sports. Thanks Mom

Sheffield Village Rec Center has a great camp for young kids -- very ''camplike'' ie they learn camp songs with their youth counsellors and have lots of time to just run around the play area, some art, snacks, etc. MWF, 9-3.

My son also enjoys Cubs Camp at Montclair Rec Center and the Montclair Summer Arts Workshop is great. Performing and visual arts as well as some free time to run and be a kid.

I live near Dimond and, from what I've seen, their camp looks a lot like After Care at school. (Maybe because they host that during the school year & the structure seems similar?)

Don't know about Redwood (but their field trips seems like they're geared to older kids) nor Joaquin Miller. Anon, please.

Oakland Fine Arts Summer School

Feb 2007

Re: Afternoon-only summer camps?
My children enjoyed (for several years now) the afternoon session of the Oakland Fine Arts Summer School (OFASS) offered as a collaboration b/w OUSD and Oakland Parks and Rec. MOCHA teachers teach the afternoon sessions, each afternoon consisting of 4 classes for each child (many classes overall but each child gets enrolled in 4), such as sculpture, pantomime, theater, drawing, instrumental music, movie production, dance, . . Some kids enroll for morning and afternoon session, making it a long day with about 7 classes, but many kids come for just afternoon. You can register for this camp on-line at (Parks and Rec), starting March 1. Maria

Oakland Tot Soccer

May 2008

I am thinking of signing my 2.5 year old up for the Tot Soccer offered thru the Oakland parks & recs. We didn't have much luck at the little kickers program in Alameda. My son is really focused on the ball and wasn't too interested in the other games they play (not many games with the balls). What was your experience with the class? I'm not sure if he's too young, he doesn't follow directions well yet. Soccer Mom

My kids had the best time doing tot soccer and tumbling at Dimond. Birrel Nicholson is a wonderful teacher. His focus is on having fun and following directions. The kids get lots of fun outdoor time, incidentally learn some skills and make a lifelong friend in Birrel. Jan L

Sheffield Village Recreation Center

April 2007

Re: Only need camp for 2 days of the week
Sunbirds camp at Sheffield Village Rec Center is partial - M,W,F 10-2. And, it's only $55 a week. Check it out on the Oakland Parks and Recs website. My son goes every summer for a couple of weeks and has fun. ~Alison

Special Needs Day Camp

May 2006

Oakland Parks and Rec has a ''Director of Inclusion'', Scott Means, whose job it is to make all OPR programs fully inclusive to children with special needs.

I was looking for camp options earlier this month for my high-functioning but multiply disabled kindergartener, dialed his number (it's listed on the Arroyo Viejo page in the OPR spring booklet) and was so impressed with the service.

He said - pick a rec center, pick a camp program, and we'll work with you and the director to accommodate your child. We talked about when and where my son might need an aide (he doesn't need one all the time, only for physically challenging things like a long hike, the swimming pool, etc.), and what my son's issues are. Scott recommended particular centers in my neighborhood whose directors have worked well with special needs before. I called Dimond on his recommendation, talked to Michelle, the director , and had a great conversation. I'll be enrolling my child in the regular camp there.

The OPR brochure doesn't make it clear that they'll accommodate all special needs. Be sure and call Scott Means at Arroyo Viejo center. Leila