UC Berkeley Youth Recreation

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youth [at] berkeley.edu

With over 60 years of experience, UC Berkeley Youth Recreation (formerly Cal Youth Camps) offer a wide variety of award-winning camps and sports activities for ages 4-17. We offer year-round youth programs, comprehensive recreational summer camps as well as camps for nearly every interest, whether it’s swimming or skateboarding, sailing or martial arts, learning or leading. Fun is a given; laughter and great memories are the foundation of our programs! Convenient schedules, extended care options, payment plans, and financial aid available. Register once and sign up for a range of adventures. Camps and year-round programs are based on the beautiful UC Berkeley campus, with additional locations that showcase the best of the East Bay. Sign up today!

Parent Q&A

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  • Camp Blue at UC Berkeley

    Jan 13, 2022

    Has anyone sent their kids to Camp Blue at UC Berkeley recently and what was your experience? Any input welcome and appreciated. 

    Yep, sure did, last summer. I keep detailed notes of all my kids' summer camp experiences; here's the Blue Camp record (YMMV):

    Cal Blue Camp. 2021. Approx $450 for 2 week session, 9-4. Disorganized pre-camp communication, so worrying as the camp approached and they couldn’t/wouldn’t tell parents which section your child would be assigned to (there is a menu of interest groups within the large age groups). Luckily in practice it was okay - our child was signed up for “Games & Science”, well Science never materialized but he enjoyed the MTG, ping pong, frisbee, archery; did NOT like soccer “games” and we ended up complaining once when the instructor made them scrimmage. They move around a lot and stay busy. Child was annoyed on penultimate day when he found out some other sections had chess, which was not offered to “Games & Science” ??.  Also the camp changed location on campus last minute, from RSF (which I liked for being indoors, as well as closer to home) to Clark Kerr. He got sunburned.

    Hi there...we sent our 9 years old to blue camp last year, and I will be sending her again, but not for the whole summer. The cost is very reasonable for 2 weeks package. She was busy, and she had some fun. The only issue that we faced was in the beginning when she was enrolled for 1 week only (Albany and Berkeley have different school calendar, so she was in school in 1st week). She was enrolled in arts camp, but because she was in 1 week camp, there was actually no program for that. Program is only applicable to 2 weeks camp package. Therefore, she was doing a lot of door excercise that she didn't like Ex: football. She kept getting hit, and we had heat wave the first 2 or 3 weeks, and she told me someone passed out (I forgot if it was a participant or conselour), but they did try to make it better by doing water balloon war activities which she loved. The location is kinda far for us, so husband complaint a bit, but drop off and pick up are quite organized and we got used to it. Overall, my kid had some fun, she was outdoor and after covid restriction, she could use all the sun that she got, she got minor sunburn. Covid precatious was ok..they had to wear mask, but it was outdoor, so I feel ok about it.      

    My 7/8 year old did Blue camp last summer.

    Pros - lots of fun activities, big variety, some truly great counselors, affordable, reliable (has enough staff that camp won't close due to a single person being ill), lots of outdoor time, nice campus

    Cons - horrible pickup plan - I would only recommend this camp if you are willing to choose "leave on own" meaning your child walks unsupervised to Dwight way and waits for you there on the street without any adult.  If you want supervised pickup the wait time is 30-60 mins in the pickup line.  Not a great plan to support girls in the 7/8 year old group - my daughter was one of 2 girls with 10 boys in one session and had issues with the other campers and a CIT saying girls aren't good at sports etc.  The camp did address these problems as they came up but they need to be more proactive.  In the 9/10 group they do have a girls only program.  The free included swimming was cancelled and they then offered paid swimming lessons during camp for an additional fee with very limited spots.  So my kids could see the kids who were lucky enough to get these spots swimming while they were sweating and running around. 

    Even though the list of cons is long my daughter does want to go back now that girls only is offered - they really do have great activities.  We won't be sending my younger daughter to the 7/8 program since they don't offer girls only and her sister had so many issues.  My daughter is also interested in their skateboarding camp but it is an all male staff and mostly male kids - I hope Cal will be more proactive about supporting girls in sports in the future.

    My son attended last year as a rising 4th grader and liked it. I think it's a good fit for a kid who is fairly outgoing and likes being active all day. We signed up for the all sports track and my son got to try many new sports he'd never tried before like archery & lacrosse. The counselors were very good and much more mature that some other camps we've tried. They are skilled  in conflict resolution and communication with parents was good. It's probably most fun if your child can attend with a friend. Pick up and drop off is well organized and is set up so parents can drive thru without having to park. 

  • Can someone provide any current reviews on Cal's Explorers Camp? My son loves sports right now, but he wants to play them correctly, not just for kids. Is this the right camp? Does it provide too much variety so kids don't actually learn a sport? 

    Cal Explorers does not get "serious" about sports. It's all for fun, and many kids are just learning how to do a sport for the first time. My son is not sporty at all and he had fun. I think they serve a wide range of abilities, so your son might be fine. But my guess is that he won't be pushed toward greatness, which is what it sounds like he wants. Perhaps one of the University Village camps that focus on a single sport might give more time to improve in his chose sport. Check it out here: http://universityvillage.berkeley.edu/recreation/summer-camps

Parent Reviews

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My kids all learned and perfected their swimming at the Cal summer camps. http://camps.berkeley.edu/ The camp for 5 year olds is called Explorer Camp, and they say on their FAQ there are daily swimming lessons for Explorer Camp. Not sure if they still have openings though!

Sounds a lot like my seven-year-old who was just diagnosed with ADHD. We LOVE Trackers. It keeps him active all day and also teaches some good focus skills because some of the activities are risky (archery, etc.) and you really have to follow the rules in order to participate, so he is highly incentivized.

He also loved the Cal Youth camp (Explorers last year, we haven't tried any of the more focused ones like gymnastics) - it's very structured, with lots of activities, and he likes that.

Berkeley Day Camp is kind of the opposite though, with less structure and more free play and I think that is super important too, so we'll probably sign up for that again because I think that part of summer should be spent running around outside without much structure.

We also did Galileo last summer and he liked it but I didn't think it was worth the price compared with the city camp or Cal camp (whereas I think Trackers is so good that it's worth the extra money).

One thing that's very challenging for our kid is going somewhere without a friend, so we coordinate with his friends from school - it's extra work on the front end, but worth it when summer comes and he's less scared and resistant about going to camp.

We had a great experience at Sunshine, which allows part-time and part year, if they have space. Sunshine is on Grayson in Southwest Berkeley. They share a campus with CEID, which is a preschool for deaf/HH kids. The teachers were so nice! Our boys loved the large center playyard with a playstructure in the middle bicycle track around the edge.

When I started working at UC Berkeley, we moved over to the Early Childhood Education Centers run by the university. We also had a great experience there - especially with teacher Cheryl Kagawa. She was amazing - did all kids of fun art and science activities with the kids. They drew 100 rockets for C.Johnson when she had her 100th birthday and built a whole Mission Control in the classroom. Anyway, they often have more space in the summer, so you might be able to get a short-term summer only place.


There are a lot! Here's our list: Trackers, Sees the Day, Cal Explorers, Berkeley City Camps, Kids for the Bay, A World of Peace, Wild Ones Art Camp, One Generation, Monkey Business. Some of these are on our list of camps we want to try but haven't yet. We've done:

- Trackers: focus on outdoor skills, all outdoors, they do a great job teaching how to be responsible in the outdoors including leave no trace principles, how to be safe about things like knives. They throw in some cool fantasy stuff, like there was a dragon theme day over winter break where the kids searched for "dragons" (actually birds), and that makes it really fun for younger kids. This is the one I'd recommend the most for nature and hikes.

- Cal explorers: they had a little bit of indoor time but mostly outdoors with a huge range of activities - sports, arts and crafts, science/nature projects, dance, usually they have swim lessons but they canceled last year because of COVID. 

- Berkeley camps: they have a few different ones, with a range of activities and prices. We did one of the playground-based ones and it was simple but fun - lots of free play on the playground with some arts and crafts and sports activities mixed in. Some of their camps go to more nature spots like the marina and tilden, we want to try one of those this year.

Most don't have registration open, except for Trackers which is already full for most weeks!

You didn't say where you live, but Cal Berkeley Youth Camps is great for very active kids and the supervision is excellent. They also have a social skills camp especially for kids like your son.  I'm not sure if they will be fully open this summer but you could check. http://camps.berkeley.edu/  All three of my boys enjoyed going to this camp.  There are more suggestions for activities for hyper kids on the BPN website: Activities for ADD kids and Summer Camps for ADD Kids

Check out the Cal recreation summer camps. Good value, very well organized, and a lot of fun. My son enjoyed participating for years. https://recsports.berkeley.edu/youth-programs/camps-by-age-activity/

My son had attended Cal Explorers camp at Strawberry Canyon the last 2 summers and their academic and camp program since July 2020 for the pandemic. The summer camp is mostly outside with a variety of sports activities including swimming. The before and after camp hours were indoors in previous years with arts and crafts, chess, etc. They do tie dye days and other fun Friday activities. They are experienced camp counselors and have been following COVID regulations since last summer.

Welcome! We moved to Berkeley two summers ago when my son was headed to 5th grade, so I understand how hard it can be.

1) For camp, you could try the Blue - Grizzlies camp run by UC Berkeley Rec. There's a discount if you sign up for a two-week session, and the staff is so big that it never fills up. My son did it the summer before he started school in Berkeley and it worked out for him -- he even met a few kids that were at his school. (We've continued doing it every summer.) It is heavy on sports but there are a number of other activities that he can choose form (you request the activities when you sign up), and there's also a skateboarding camp option, though I don't know anything about that. Anyway, my son is doing this camp for the next three weeks, so feel free to contact me if you'd like.

2) We found it challenging/impossible to meet families before school started. Because the middle schools are big (especially King), a lot of kids end up in classes where they don't know anyone, so he won't be alone in needing to make new friends. Also, I know several families who have been in Berkeley forever and are in the same boat as you because they missed the registration deadline. There is a welcome fair on August 23 (for King -- not sure the date for other schools), where you can get all of your questions answered (including about sports and music).

3) King and the other middle schools have an afterschool program that includes enrichment activities, and you don't need to sign up in advance. Music is before school, and anyone can join the band, orchestra, or chorus.

You didn't say what part of the Bay Area you are looking in. but if you are near Berkeley, Cal Rec Youth Programs has solid swimming programs. And of course the YMCAs also have good swim programs. My son learned to swim at the Oakland Y and then perfected it at Cal Rec.  https://recsports.berkeley.edu/youth-programs/

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!

Hi,  we haven't done camps in some years but when my son was that age, he enjoyed the week-long Cal Camps that played basketball, I believe, but there are different sports available.   He also did a tennis camp.  I think that you can find information about these in the archives.  For a different side of the brain, we also did BandWorks, a school of rock and roll which is in Oakland which caters to complete beginners and up.   It's a lot of fun.     I am sure that there are now rock-climbing camps in Berkeley as well if that interests him.   These camps are not inexpensive, however.   I'd also look into the Y for summer activities.  good luck! 

Your stepson is old for many day camps, but Cal Adventures offers camps focusing on activities like sailing, sea kayaking, and rock climbing that include teens.  We used to sign my visiting nephews up for these, and they enjoyed them.  I think Cal also has Archery camps for teens.  Alternately, maybe he could be a junior counselor at an outdoor camp like Sarah Science.

Our daughter loves Cal's Blue sports camp. It's $525 for two weeks. Not cheap, but a good deal for an all day camp that includes swimming and lots of fun.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Blue Camp

Feb 2013

Re: Highly Structured Camp for ADHD 6 year old
I highly recommend the Cal Berkeley Youth Camps for your ADHD child. My son, now 11, has ADD Inattentive Type. We tried several summer camps starting when he was 5 before we figured out that structure was essential. At the less structured camps, he would space out and forget to eat lunch, or not go swimming because he forgot his swimsuit was in his backpack, or wander off and not participate in activities. He would have an OK time, but it was frustrating for me that the staff didn't seem to notice that he wasn't participating and wasn't eating lunch.

The Cal Youth Camps start with Explorer Camp for 5-6 year olds and continue to age 13 with Blue Camp and many specialized camps. These camps are well-organized and very structured, but in a child-friendly way. Camps are sports-oriented, but kids can choose which activities they want, including non-sporty ones like chess, hip-hop dance, frisbee, martial arts, and card tricks. There is no pressure on kids to throw themselves into a frenzy of activity -- while they are encouraged to participate in each chosen activity, reluctant kids are not required to. The camp's main goal is to make sure kids have fun, and they'll find an alternate approach for kids who need it. This has been really important for my shy, inattentive kid. He is not that in to sports, but he has fun at Blue Camp, and has been willing to try a big variety of activities.

Blue Camp staff have been great at letting me know when there's a problem. For example, my son has always enjoyed swim lessons at camp and had progressed to be a pretty good swimmer after five summers at Cal. But last summer he had a different reason every day for why he couldn't change in to his swimsuit. Was he too shy in the locker room? Was there a scratch on his arm that hurt when it got wet? Was he now afraid of the water? What??!! The aquatic director phoned me every afternoon to tell me what had happened in swim class that day, and to suggest a variety of strategies to help him feel more comfortable. For such a large camp, this level of personal attention impressed me.

A key reason why this is such a good camp is the counselors, who are mostly in their late teens and early 20s, who return to camp year after year (and often attended as kids themselves). They are uniformly friendly and enthusiastic, and often play the sports themselves that they teach. Each counselor is in charge of a small group of kids, and they really get to know them and look out for them. There are also lots of friendly high school aged CITs helping out, so there is a great staff-to-kid ratio. The camp does a great job selecting and training their counselors, and I think this is a reflection of the bigger picture - a well-run, well-organized camp. Ginger

July 2012

My son just finished two weeks at the Blue Camp Cubs, up on campus at Cal. It was sports, sports, sports all day long, totally nonstop, and it was heaven on earth for him. He loved the whole thing. We'd never been to this camp before, and he went without friends, so I was a little nervous he'd be overwhelmed or lonely. But it didn't seem to be an issue at all - he felt comfortable with the leader and really enjoyed all the activities. They even get swimming lessons in there too. In any case, it's a great camp - the kids get a lot out of it in the two weeks. Well worth it! Rena C.

Jan 2012

Re: Summer camp recommendations for 2nd grader
I think Blue Camp at UCB is good. My kids are also more artistic/crafty and not into team sports, but they had a good time. True, 2nd graders can't choose exactly how their day goes (older kids can), but it's a nice opportunity for kids to try something for short periods that they think they don't like. And my kids loved that they had swimming every day. I liked that compared to other camps it was reasonably priced. Website here: http://recsports.berkeley.edu/insidepage.aspx?uid=c32aa7f0-9cad-4618-ba7d-e7aa527d6181 Ellen

March 2010

Re: Camp for 7 year old boy who loves sports
I would recommend the UC Berkeley Rec. department camps: http://www.recsports.berkeley.edu/youth/index.aspx satisfied parent

Defintely you should try Blue Camp 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.

Feb 2010

Re: Camp that will accept special-needs 8 year old
I am not sure if it would work for your situation, but my son who has multiple physical disabilites, but no developmental delays, has been welcomed and supported at the UC Berkeley Blue Camps. He usually does the sports and arts track so he gets a break from all the physical stuff over the course of the day.

For the past three years they have accomodated his needs and been very supportive (especially when all the kids kept asking him about his leg braces). I was very nervous to call and ask them to accomodate him because I had been told no by other private camps (made my son sad because he wanted to go to a acting/storytelling camp). The staff at Cal has been amazing and my son loves going there. Sarah

Feb 2009

I've been looking at the web-site for Cal Youth Camps, especially Blue Camp / Cubs and Skateboarding Summer Camp, both at the Golden Bear Recreational Center at U.C. Berkeley. I was wondering if anyone had any reviews, positive or negative, about either of these camps that I am considering for my 8 year old son. Thanks!

Blue Camp at Clark Kerr or at Strawberry are great. My 12 yr old and 8 yr old have been going for years and love it. The administrators are excellent. The few issues I have had have been dealt with quickly and well. The staff are mostly college kids and have been very responsible and fun. We mostly do aftercare. On the days when we didn't, I found the key was to NOT pick them up right at the beginning of pick up time. And we generally park of campus and walk over for the pick up, cuz the on campus parking police are serious. It's a great way to spend 2 weeks of the summer for kids who like sports for all or part of the day. anon

This summer will be my 8-year-old's third year at the Cal Camp. He likes it, has a good time, comes home worn out. And for me as the mom, I love that it is very structured and well-organized, and the young counselers are peppy and enthusiastic. My son is not a huge team sports fan, but he loves the swimming every day, hip-hop classes, tae kwan do, and archery. I really think this is one of the best camps in Berkeley!

June 2007

Re: Summer camp for visiting Italian kids
I think you and the kids would be very happy with Cal's summer camp. Check it out on line-look for Blue Cubs, Blue Bears. There are a few foreign kids that have fun and make friends at the camp. Best of luck! anon

The 5 yr old and 13 year old might like the Strawberry Canyon/ Clark Kerr sports camps run by UC Berkley Recreation Department. They run for 2 week sessions. The kids do a variety of sports each day. The 5 yr old would likely be at the camp at the Strawberry Canyon pool. The older child would be at the Clark Kerr campus. But they really are't very far apart, and doing both drop offs or pick ups is not so difficult. I'm not sure how many 13 yr olds go to the camp. You could tryp to get a feel for it from the camp director. You can look on line at the site for uc berkleey rec. department for the camps. The exact name is not so clear - Perhaps ''strawberry canyoun'' or ''golden bear''. Just check out the site. Another program run by Cal Rec department is Cal Adventures. Those kids do kayaking, rock climbing, sailing and other stuff. More specific (and pricy and shorter) sport-specific camps are run by the Cal athletic department. You can find those on line too. Most of them do not run on Fridays. The older kid, if he has good english skills, cold be a CIT. Mom

April 2007

Re: Summer/language camp for 12-year-old from Turkey
Hello, I recommend the programs offered by UCB, Cal Youth Programs. They offer mainly sports summer camps: For 12 year olds, there is a huge variety of fun stuff like rock climbing, sailing, sea kayaking, etc. They also do mixed science in the morning and sports in the afternoon. My son (albeit 5 years old) went last year all summer and loved it, and will go again this year. The cost is reasonable (in comparison with other camps in this area) and it would be very convenient for you since it is located on the UCB campus. Check out the web site: http://calbears.berkeley.edu/insidepage.aspx?uid=0f65eaf9-fb1c-4327-b6a6-3a44ada5e072

This does not help you with the English, but perhaps just spending all day speaking English with kids and teachers would be enough? Otherwise, maybe you could hire an English tutor once or twice a week. I bet you could find a UCB student willing to do it for reasonable rates. It may be difficult to find exactly what you are looking for, as clearly, most camps are set up for kids living here who (mostly) already speak English. Good luck and I hope you have a great summer here in the beautiful Bay Area. Love CAL Camps

Jan 2007

Re: Summer Day Camp for 13 year old boy
Check out Cal Adventures at http://calbears.berkeley.edu/insidepage.aspx?uid=0f65eaf9-fb1c-4327-b6a6-3a44ada5e072
It is run by the recreation department at UC Berkeley and offers a wide variety of camps in the summer time. There also may be orpportunites for him to be a CIT or junior CIT at some of the camps that age out at 12. So check out camps with stuff he likes and see if they have early CIT programs (If you htink he'd like that) Mom

Oct 2006

My sisters would like to bring her one 4th grader, one 3rd grader, and one first grader here in the Bay Area next summer and enroll the kids in some kind of programs to learn English in a natural and fun way. I have no clues of any existing programs in the East Bay. Could you recommend any sources for my sister? Thanks Wen

You might want to look into the Cal Bears Sports camps. It might be a nice, easy way for the kids to improve (or learn?) their conversational English without being in a classroom. My daughter loved the Explorers camp and even her friends who are not very athletic enjoyed it as well. Good luck with your search. - RK

March 2006

Re: What do Thirteen Year Old Boys do in the Summer?
I would recommend Strawberry Canyon. They have a camp for older kids, and they also have a counselor in training program for kids who have finished 7th grade. Also you can look on http://www.bayareakidfun.com/index.html for other ideas. There are some cool camps in the city--one by the SPCA looks particularly interesting, but i don't have any experience with it.
have experienced many camps

Re: Albany Sports Camp vs Strawberry Canyon (June 2004)
My son has had great experiences with the well-run Strawberry Canyon summer camps for 4 years now, and will be attending again this summer. Hope this helps, Sports boy's mom

Our son is now 8 and has been to both the Strawberry Canyon and Albany Sports Camps. He enjoyed both equally. The Strawberry Canyon site can be a bit of a nightmare picking your child up, long lines, etc. even though they have a very good ''runner'' and sign out system. The Albany Sports Camp seems looser in structure but I think the kids have just as much fun. Drawbacks are that Albany s.c. doesn't have swimming and that if it rains there isn't an ''indoor'' place to take them. A big positive is that it costs quite a bit less than Strawberry Canyon. kl

Albany Sports Camp and STrawberry Canyon are quite different. Albany is more laid back. I have heard STrawberry Canyon has even the younger kids going from one activity to the next all day schleppign back packs and all -- tiring, but depends on the kid. I think the structure from day to day is similar. Also it includes swim lesson. From one summer experience my impression is that Albany keeps the kids in activities all day, but is not so rigid in terms of time frame. One thing about the age of your child -- mine went to Albany around that age. The staff reassured me there would be kids his age the week we signed up for, and that was only true for the last day or two. Also I think they were a little off on appropriate age level of games in some cases. Also, once when my son was not into a game he sat out, but apparently in the hot sun, and came home sick. I was angry that they didn't use better judgment. Good luck

Sports camp for 8 year old boy

Feb 2002

Looking for recommendations of a summer sports camp for an active 8 year-old boy. Not looking for a specific sport because he's pretty athletic; more important to be low in competitiveness, while offering good, patient instruction and experience. Preferably in Oakland or Alameda, Berkeley OK. We have been disappointed in Alameda programs that have high staff turnover, lackluster instruction, and low staff-student ratios. I have looked over the Parents-net website but hoped for some more general recommendations based on our needs. Thanks! Nils

Cal Sport Camp located on Clark Kerr Campus at UC Berkeley is a great program for kids to try lots of different sports. The parent comments go something like this... ''Oh, my kid loves Cal Sports Camp, and they sleep so well that week!'' It is an active program with energetic college-age and a few adult-age (older than college age) counselors. Some of the adult counselors are teachers. The kids participate in 6 (I think)hour-long sports classes. Camp sessions last 2 weeks. The hard part is choosing which sports to try! I think the registration has the kids sign up for 10 and then they put schedules together and there is some opportunity to modify the schedule in the first day or two. I suggest having your child go with a friend which can help kids feel connected more quickly and it can help with tranpsortation. Getting there from Alameda may be a pain, but I have to say drop off and pick up are well orchestrated. My child participated for the first time last summer. Lissa

A cautionary tale: while almost everyone I know has great things to say about the Sports Camp at Cal, I wanted to quickly relate our experience. My five-year -old son attended last year and yes, the counselors are lovely, the place is well-organized and for the most part my little guy had fun (and yes, he was exhausted at the days end). However, on the Wednesday before camp ended, I got a call from the office staff around 3 pm that my son was suffering from over-exertion and dehydration. I raced off to camp to find my son in the makeshift infirmary, covered head to toe with iced t-shirts, with a fan going, with a core body temp of about 103 degrees. It took hours to cool him down, and led to vomiting, chills, and a sustained fever. He missed the final two days of camp. I will say the staff, once they recognized the problem, were very kind and attentive. However, the problem was triggered by my son's wearing a heavy fleece sweatshirt that no one bothered to suggest he take off, despite the very hot afternoon temperatures and the fact that they'd been running around for five hours by the time he got so overheated. My son, to this day, is upset when he recalls the experience, and based on the comments of the caretakers, his was not an entirely isolated event, suggesting that they have experience with overheated kids and know what to do when it happens. I just wish they'd been more on the ball and prevented his experience from happening in the first place. signed, a mom heading to a different camp this summer

Feb 1998

One of the best summers my daughter has ever had was at Blue Camp here on campus(summer of 96). Before you invest your money in other camps, call the Strawberry Canyon Recreation program. Their phone number is 643-6720. They offer two camps which cover ages 8-11(Blue Camp) and 12-15(Gold Camp). For an additional fee, they offer childcare before and after camp. Camp is from 9:00am-12:00 and 1:00-4:00pm. If your child attends camp for the entire day, their lunchtime is supervised by skilled, energetic college age students. Most importantly, the kids choose which classes to participate in each week. Each activity is 1 hour and they offer such classes as first aid, swimming, archery, track, soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, gymnastics, leadership, etc. The kids are taught by a great staff of college age students who have some personal experience with the sports/activity they teach. There is a real sense of a camp atmosphere in these programs. Your child will be tired at the end of the day, but not disappointed. I can't say enough about Blue/Gold camps. Good luck in whatever you decide to do. Kimberly

Explorer Camp

Camp for Kindergarten Boy with Self Regulation Challenges

Feb 2016

My kindergartener has moderate sensory challenges and difficulty with self regulation. He currently manages himself fairly well in a classroom with a great deal of structure and clear expectations. He has more difficulty in times of free play, especially when his environment is chaotic. He is also a little young for his age socially and could use some facilitation with making friends and playing in a group. As the summer approaches, I am searching for camps that might work for him. My sense is that he needs a camp with mature, experienced counselors, a low ratio and group size, and more organized activities than free play. He likes science, sports, animals and anything outdoors. Any suggestions would be very appreciated. I work full time so need to find a full summer of activities for most of the day (8ish-3ish), preferably in the North Berkeley area. Thanks in advance for your advice! camp seeking mama

You should check out the UC Berkeley Camps http://camps.berkeley.edu/ Explorer Camp is the one for 5 and 6 year olds and it is at Strawberry Canyon which is pretty convenient to North Berkeley. The kids are in small groups that each have one main counselor who gets to know each kid and guides them through their day. CITs help out. My 3 boys have all gone to the Cal camp, and one of the things I appreciated about it was how structured it is. There really is not any free-play wandering-around time in the day when your kid can wander off, or forget to eat lunch, or get into trouble with another kid. They are always under the guidance of a counselor. The counselors at the Cal camps are well-trained and seem to genuinely like being around kids. The kids have a lot of fun too, and come home tired. And whenever one of my kids had a problem, I found the staff to be very kind, helpful and communicative. The Cal camps are really great for working families too, as they offer before and after care from 7:30am to 6pm (camp is 9-4) Mom of 3

Feb 2013

Re: Highly Structured Camp for ADHD 6 year old
My son does not have ADHD but also really struggles with unstructured time. Cal's Explorer Camp was GREAT for him last summer. He loved it and was very successful there. The staff spoke with me in advance of camp about my concerns and made a point of placing my kid in a group with an additional counselor. The high level of structure and activity worked well for him, and he will definitely be back this summer. Loved Explorer Camp

July 2012

I wanted to write and say that I literally can't say enough good things about my son's recent experience as a 5-year-old at Cal's Explorer Camp. He has some challenging behaviors and the staff took a proactive, positive, and professional approach that allowed him to be fully successful. Moreover, he LOVED the camp and was eager to show me his sports moves every day. His only criticism was the fact that the camp ended after his two week session was up. We will be back next summer! Mom of a happy explorer

May 2011

Re: New reviews needed for YMCA day camps
I can't offer a review of the Albany Y Camp, but I highly recommend Cal Explorer Camp at Strawberry Canyon. I just got an email saying they still had room. My daughter went there last summer, before beginning kindergarten, and it was a great experience for her. It is very well organized, and the kids stay busy and pick up a lot of new skills and confidence. It includes daily swimming lessons, and I was very happy with the results. She was tired every day when I picked her up, a good, healthy, active summertime kind of tired. And my favorite part: you don't have to park and get out of your car when you pick them up; they have this fantastic drive-through system. No dragging a poky younger sibling out of the car and then wrestling them back in, no searching for sweatshirts and backpacks, no arguing about going to a friend's house; they just get popped in the backseat with all their stuff and off you go. Awesome. Anon

Cal Explorer Camp for active 6 year old boy?

Jan 2011

My son will be six this summer. He loves sports and is very active. I would like to find a camp for him that has good oversight, is in a safe location, and will give him the chance to play lots of organized games and sports. He is very competitive by nature, so I would also like a place that is attuned to helping kids to constructively channel their competitiveness into team spirit and hard work. We have had mixed experiences with Cal gymnastics but have heard about the Cal camp, Explorers. We are hoping for interested and involved counselors and were wondering if anyone has had recent experience with the Explorer's summer program for 5 and 6 year olds. Thanks! -Sports lover's mom

Loved, loved, loved the Cal Explorer camp. My son turned 6 last September and he took the camp for two weeks last summer. It is most definitely organized -- perhaps to a fault -- but he came home enthusiastic, tired, and happy. I was amazed that even in two weeks he learned things about football, swimming and other sports that he could repeat and explain to me and then apply himself. The counselors were positive and thoughtful and relaxed.

The one caveat is that it's a big camp. My son was a 1:1 type kid then and the large camp didn't bother him because he was able to find other like-minded kids. But there *are* lots of kids and everyone is shuffled from activity to activity every 30-45 minutes so there's not much time to settle in a make friends by just hanging out. That said, maybe that's a strength for your kid's personality. It's also basically entirely sports, with the exception of a few art/craft activities.

If you don't live nearby the drive up to Strawberry Canyon is a bit of a grind but no worse than any other driving around Berkeley in the morning rush hours.

BTW, the insanely hyper-organized parking pickup routine cracked me up at first but it is a great way to get your kid in and out efficiently. Loved Cal Explorer

Hello! My kids both went to Explorer camp last summer and absolutely loved it. I would say it has everything that your post asked for. The kids rotate through a series of sports each day. Every kid gets in the pool every day. I thought the supervision was outstanding because there were both senior counselors, counselors, and then counselors in training, so between all of them, the camper:counselor ratio was great. I went to the open house day to check things out, and happened to catch my son being disciplined for bad behavior. I watched the entire encounter and was quite impressed with how the counselor handled things. The kids aren't running all day, though. There is down time while waiting in line for your turn at the drill or moving from one location to another. We're going back this summer!

I highly recommend Cal Explorer camp! My daughter had a great time there last summer and will be going back this summer. Lots of sports but it's not competitive or pressured at all. It's very well organized and the counselors these lovely energetic young people. Your son will love it! Anon

Our oldest daughter attended the Cal Sports Camps for the last 5 years and her younger sister was an explorer last year. The camp definitely keeps kids busy with physical activities all day long and has a good schedule of different sports. We were relatively happy with the camp until this past summer when the camp really took a downturn for us. The college-age counselors acted bored and unengaged - mostly we saw them talking amongst one another and they seemed to be ignoring the kids. The first time I observed this I thought it might be an off moment but it was virtually every time I observed an interaction (or lack of ) throughout the summer. Also, our youngest child decided that she did not want to swim so did not suit up for swimming. She did this all summer and no one from the camp informed us! We could not understand why she could only doggie paddle after an entire summer of swimming lessons until our older daughter told us her sister didn't suit up. So much for swimming lessons. All in all, our kids were not in physical danger at the camp but they were not engaged either. They were indifferent. It was a lot of money for the return.

My suggestion is to take your $$ elsewhere where your child will be truly supervised and involved with the counselors and activities. The camp was a true disappointment for our family. - won't be back to Cal Camp

My active 6 year old son went to the Cal Explorer camp last summer for six weeks and loved it. They did a lot of sports. He was excited to go to camp every day. I highly recommend it.

My son was 6 last summer, and he had a blast at the CAL explorer camp. I'll admit I was not convinced this was going to be a good match for him. He's not particularly athletic or competitive, and the structure of a different activity every 30 minutes sounded a little manic. But I was wrong, and it was his favorite camp of the summer. It is very well organized. The people who teach each individual sport/ activity were, from what I observed, very good at teaching the basics of the sport as well as supporting more affective goals like sportsmanship and perseverance. Also, a counselor and at least one junior counselor stay with the same group all day and herd them from place to place, which keeps everything organized and under control. My son came home every day exhausted but very, very happy. He went not knowing anyone and quickly made friends and felt comfortable both socially and physically. I could see this camp not being a great fit for a very shy or inactive kid, but for a fairly social kid who likes to move, I can't recommend it highly enough! Happy Camper

My son is 9 and went to the Explorer Camp for two years, and last year graduated to the Blue Camp. You said your son loves sports - OMG he will be in heaven at Cal Camps!! My own son is not all that into sports, but always has a good time and camp. He has especially enjoyed the daily swimming lessons and has really progressed in swimming. From a parent's point of view, I have really appreciated the structure and organization of the camp because my son is a very inattentive ADD kid and needs a lot of guiding along and encouragement. Also anytime there has been the tiniest problem, which has been rare but happens, the office has been extremely responsive and helpful. We'll be there again this year!

March 2009

Re: 14 year old boy needs summer soccer
I can enthusiastically recommend the summer soccer camps at UC Berkeley. Type Cal Bears in Google and there should be a link to the summer camps. Our 14-year-old daughter went to day camps for 2 years and then the residential camp for 1 week last year. She got to stay in the dorms with the Cal Women's Soccer Team! I don't have any firsthand experience with the boys' program but based on our experience with the girls', your son will love these opportunities. Nancy

Jan 2007

Re: All-day summer camp in Oakland for a 6 year old?
Not in Oakland, but near. Cal Rec summer programs are very active, and in my experience very well-run. The Explorer Camp near the Cal football stadium is for 5-6 year olds and runs 9-4 with extended care available. My soon-to-be 6-year-old will be going this summer and my older kids really enjoyed these camps in years past. Swimming and hiking and also many other activities such as basketball, frisbee, track & field, etc. The kids really do learn how to do all these things and what they sample when they are 6 at Cal Rec may well turn out to be their passion in middle school and high school.

March 1999

My now six year old went to Strawberry when he was just 4 and a half, and again last year. He went to the half day camp the first year and the full day the second year. We mostly really liked the camp, especially the really great swim lessons. I think that a full day at Strawberry Canyon for all but the most durable four year olds would be extremely tiring and maybe too much. Even last year, Ben typically fell asleep in the car on the way home. He was lucky (and they may all be as good!) and got a pretty great (and experienced) counselors both years, who knew *little* kids, not elementary age kids. I also think it was really terrific for Sports but a little less good for the other things. I was a little less pleased with the after-care, but since it's fewer kids and of varying ages, it's really hard to do that well. We're probably going to do a few weeks this summer. It's a whole lot easier on the kids if they sign up with a friend. Myriam

Lunches at UC Berkeley Summer Camps?

Dec 2008

Hi, wondering if anyone out there tried the lunches offered at UC Berkeley Summer Camps last summer. The catering company was called Kid Cuisine, I think, (or some other clever name) and they provided lunch and snacks (at an additional cost) to campers. Was it good? Worth the money? Any reviews? Thanks. curious

I think you mean Kid Chow. My son went to the Cal Explorer camp last summer and that was the lunch company they used. I thought it was good and my son enjoyed it. I liked that you could select a couple of different sides each day to go with the main lunch item. At camp they only provided room temp foods, nothing hot, which was fine. There were several vegetarian options, and it all seemed pretty healthy, too. I would use them again, but at $5.00 a lunch, it could get expensive. It was pretty easy using their website for ordering, but you couldn't easily change your order once it was placed.

My son went to Blue Camp last summer for 3 sessions and we used Kid Chow for the whole time. Kid Chow also delivers to my son's school, and this is our second year doing it. The lunches are good and fresh and well balanced and it's easy to order on their website. My son likes the food. The best part is it reduces the morning rush stress for the parents. You can look at their website and see what you think: www.kidchow.com