Suggestions for Sports & Outdoors Programs

Parent Q&A

Forest School, Trackers Micro School or similar for 2nd grader Oct 26, 2020 (8 responses below)
Outdoor activities for 7 year old boy Sep 24, 2018 (5 responses below)
Summer Camp for Sporty Boy - Berkeley Rec Sports? Mar 21, 2018 (2 responses below)
  • Hi BPN,

    Our pod is splitting up, so we're exploring other options for our 2nd grader. We're looking for an outdoor, masked situation in a stable group, for around 6 hours a day for 3-5 days a week that can complement the Distance Learning curriculum provided by the public school (we would stay enrolled). We're less concerned about the academics, but really look for an enriching, fun program where our kid can socialize and do things they would normally not get to do in a regular school year. Our kid loves being active, exploring nature and making things. We find it important there is social/racial justice integrated into the curriculum and a diverse student/teacher body. 

    I heard good stories about Forest School and Trackers Micro School. Can anyone share their experience there post-covid (so probably not the summer camp situation) or have you heard of other programs we would want to look into?

    Thank you.

    Our son is at Hello Hills, which is offering a multi-age program (age 5-10), 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. They have two openings right now - capacity is 12 kids. We love it. The hours are 9-3, so it isn't compatible to signing into zoom class, but I know one family at our school and another at BFS who are staying enrolled in public school - I think they just do zoom class some days and come to school a little late on those days. We aren't doing DL because our son would be in TK and it didn't seem worth it. 

    Their COVID protocols are good - kids wear masks most of the time (off for eating and when they are spread out), they do a screening for symptoms/behaviors and temp checks every morning, and they encourage all families to keep closed bubbles outside of school. Kids don't maintain distance from each other all the time, but with the outdoors and masks we feel comfortable with it and we are pretty risk-averse about COVID.

    100% thumbs up for Trackers! My son (K) went to Trackers summer camp for the first time and since September has been in the Outdoor Adventure program twice a week from 1- 6 pm. They are super COVID-19 safe and my son comes home with excited reports of exploration and cool skills like archery, carving, hiking, etc. I am so grateful for Trackers both for my son's benefit, and for their superb management behind the scenes. They are responsive and creative in support of families during the pandemic. They are now enrolling for second term starting in late November into Feb 2020.

    Another promising option is Outside School which meets in Alvarado Park

  • Outdoor activities for 7 year old boy

    (5 replies)

    Hello, I am a 100% single mom of a 7 year old boy who is really feeling lonely being an only child and fatherless. I would love to find a group of kids who do outdoor stuff together but don't require my presence every time. I looked into the Cub Scout but they require the parent to be there for meetings and outings/camping trips. Me and my son spend so much time together, I think it would be beneficial for him to be away from me sometimes (and I also need to be alone sometimes ;) Is there anything like this beside Boy Scouts ? I'm looking forward to your suggestions !

    I was just reading about these weekend programs through Trackers that sounds pretty cool. At age 7, it's one weekend day per month and no parents. Maybe you could check that out?

    Have you looked at Trackers, near the Ashby BART station? They have great outdoor, drop-off programs. Both of my kids have had a great time with them.

    My father volunteered with the Boys and Girls Clubs for many years. You might want to look into that. I might also suggest joining an outdoor social/hiking club (an alpine club or Sierra Club, for example) where he can meet other kids his age and hang out with kids and families who are engaged in hiking and other outdoor activities. There's a NatureFriends Tourist Club in the East Bay. It's not a mentorship program, but there are people with cultural and professional skills who might engage with your son. It's not a place you could leave him unsupervised, but there's a community feel amongst the organization's members, which are part of a larger institution across Europe and other territories/countries. Berkeley Family Camp also provides opportunities for parents and children to get together and socialize in the outdoors. 

  • We have a kindergartener who needs some sports!  We are looking for a sports camp for him (basketball, swimming, soccer, baseball are his favorites).  We were thinking about Berkeley Rec Sports Explorer Camp.   Does anyone have any advice?

    We have friends that send their kids to footfire.  They say that the kids are well-taken care of with lots of great treats.  As a bonus, their kids come home exhausted.

    I think your son would really like Explorer Camp. My 3 boys all went to Cal Rec camps and had a lot of fun, and learned lots of different sports. The camp is structured, they have great counselors, it's moderately priced. Try it for a couple of weeks!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions on this Page  

Any Cheerleading Camps out there?

March 2014

Does anyone know of a cheerleading camp for a 9 year old girl who is very athletic (Ballet, basketball, track) and high energy? tigger's mom

There is a cheerleading camp offered through the El Cerrito rec department. See

Camp with structure and sports for active 8 year old

Aug 2012

I have a son who will be 8 years old (entering 3rd grade) next summer. He is active and enjoys sports and structured activities. We moved to CA from the east coast and I guess I am more familiar with east coast camps (lakes, pools, zip lines, horseback riding...the whole 9 yards!). It seems like those camps don't seem to exist around here. My son has some social anxiety. He doesn't always know how to insert himself to play with other kids (especially in an unstructured setting). It takes him time and proper encouragement). I would be interested in learning about any camps you believe are worth looking into. I am open to all price ranges. He also has interests in robotics, gymnastics and theater. Thanks!!! In Search of Camp

We just had our last day at Monkey Business Camp in Tilden & LOVE LOVE LOVED it. I was worried about sending my daughter to camp where she didn't know anyone. She's had a lot of social anxiety, and sent her to MBC bec. of recommendations of other BPN parents with shy/socially anxious kids. MBC has a really terrific structure and culture that really helps the kids settle in quickly. All the counselors were wonderful (many of them former MBC campers themselves), and the kids (of all ages) seemed really sweet & caring. I didn't hear a single tale of ''so and so wasn't nice to me!'' all summer long. The activity level seemed fairly high, they're outdoors all day long, and they swim at Lake Anza weekly (sometimes 2x a week), they go on hikes, walk to the Nature Center & Little Farm. I highly recommend it to everyone. And it doesn't hurt that it's also incredibly inexpensive if you sign up for the whole summer (much less than if you only sign up for a few weeks). Happy Monkey Business Parent

I love, love Trackers ( My son also has similar social anxiety issues/hard time joining in and their summer camps have been perfect. Low key, yet outdoors the whole time. My son has done a fishing camp, a wilderness survival skills camp, and because he had such a good experience,we did an after-school program through Trackers this past school year. The groups are small so the staff is able to engage with each of the kids. It's not a bells-and-whistles kind of camp but engages kids more than most of the camps we've tried. You could start with an after-school program and if your son likes it, try a summer camp. anon

I don't know about the social anxiety part, but there is a camp in Lafeyette that has most of what you describe in terms of activities. Check out Roughing It ( for a list of different activities and how to sign up. They even have bus service to pick up kids in most areas of the East Bay. Expensive, but I think they are worth it. Karen

Hiking outdoor summer day camp for 9.5 yr old girl

April 2012

Does anyone have a summer day camp that is outdoor based with hiking that can be recommended? My almost 10yr old daughter has asked specifically for this type of day camp but I am having a hard time finding anything. We are in Oakland. We would also need aftercare. Also, any input on ''Touch the Earth'' an outdoor day camp in Joaquin Miller..Thanks! a mama

Have you looked at Trackers , Some of their programs are going to have a bigger hiking component than others - I'd bet a Rangers week would be good. They do have extended care until, I believe, 6:00. Hiking Mama

This Land is Your Land fits the bill (the name alone!) This is the summer camp offered by Sarah's Science. My kids have attended for several summers and are always itching for more. The camp is outdoors, all summer long, in local parks in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Ramon. The kids hike, swim, build forts, create interesting inventions and contraptions, and look for lizards and banana slugs. Simply put, they have fun and get dirty every day! I've met THE Sarah of Sarah's Science at camp a few times and it is clear to me that she is dedicated to the cause. She actually has written a few very interesting pieces about children and nature. See: Woody Gutherie Fan

Baseball or football camps for 1st grader

March 2011

Hi - do you have any recommendations for baseball or football camps in the East Bay? I have a first grader who has fallen in love with both sports and desperately wants to take camps in these areas. I see some listed on the Cal Adventures website - do you have any feedback on that organization? Thanks in advance for any advice.

For a good baseball camp, especially for your son's age, check out BALL Summer Camp . It is run by an Oakland couple with three sons, all of whom play baseball. My high school sons have been CITS/counselors there. Kids seem to love it, it is well run, and reasonably priced. The kids are divided up by age group so younger kids aren't having to compete with much older kids. Check it out = Baseball mom

My son did BALL Summer Camp for baseball last summer at age 6 and is already begging to go back for more this summer. It's run by a long-time North Oakland-South Oakland Little League family (playing and coaching) and they have a really great and enthusiastic staff of counselors who not only know baseball but really connect with the kids. They work on skills and drills and also play organized baseball games daily. More info at Baseball Mom

Cal Athletics (not Cal Adventures or Cal/Golden Bear Recreation) offers a non-contact football camp in June. Especially if your first grader is a Cal football fan, this a fun experience. The drills are run by the Cal football coaching staff, and many of the players on the roster, including some of the marquee players, assist, and they are generally all very accessible and encouraging to the campers. My son attended the camp a few years ago with a buddy and had a great time.

The camp is suitable to kids of all levels, and the focus is on skill-building and having fun, so it's not a hard-core development camp or anything.

That being said, I would recommend that your first grader attends the camp with a buddy or two. There are a few kids attending the camp who have ties to the Cal football coaching staff or player roster, or kids who have played Pop Warner football, so they come into the camp with a sense of familiarity or perhaps an elevated ego for whatever reason, so there is a bit of hierarchical posturing that goes on at the camp. Mom of camper

Camp for 7 year old boy who loves sports

March 2010

hi, i am looking for camp ideas for my 7 year old son who loves sports. we live in the east bay and would appreciate any ideas. thanks! anon

I would recommend the UC Berkeley Rec . department camps: satisfied parent

Defintely you should try the camps at UC Berkeley . My 9-year-old has gone to the Cal Rec camps for three years now. It's very well-run and well-organized, and staffed by enthusiastic young counselors. The great thing about the camp for a sports fan is that a variety of different sports are offered, so kids get to try out sports they might not encounter otherwise. There is swimming every day, and the kids stay busy and active.