Which Camp for Teens & Pre-Teens?

Parent Q&A

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  • Summer Trades camp/classes for 15yr. old

    (2 replies)

    Hello! My rising Oakland Tech sophomore is interested in the trades as a career. Are there any summer camps/classes he can take? I've been poking around the internet but not finding anything for his age group (a lot of these are for Juniors and Seniors) Any help is appreciated! Thanks! 

    I heard from a friend about Laney Summer Institute at Laney college designed specifically for high schoolers. Laney is planning to do it again this summer. I also think the high schoolers can take regular summer classes like Carpentry at community colleges. 

    I am not aware of anything myself, but good for him and for you to help him learn more! I'd try reaching out to the local union(s) of the trades he might be most intrigued by at this point. They might be aware of/teachers for some one-off type camps or summer sessions.

  • My rising 7th grader was SO bummed that Lawrence Hall of Science no longer seems to be offering day camp for middle schoolers this coming summer. Any alternative suggestions for science-focused day camps in the East Bay for middle schoolers?

    Kids for the Bay is a great hands-on naturalist camp. Only draw-back is that you have to drop the kids off at a different location every day. Traffic was tough sometimes. 

    Cal Outdoor Adventures at the Berkeley Marina has a science-y bent to it, marine stuff and they go out on a research vessel one day. My 13 yo (who is more of a science guy than an outdoorsy guy) liked it a lot in summer 2022.

  • Winter break camps for teens?

    (2 replies)

    Does anyone know of winter break camps or classes for kids 13+? My middle schooler has aged out of their usual options.


     Some of the camps have youth leader or counselor in training programs.  Our kid did this at Monkey Business (https://monkeybusinesscamp.com/mbc-school-break-camps/), and it was great for her.

    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.  

  • Given air quality in some parts of California our plans for last week of summer changed and we urgently looking for outdoors full day (if not overnight!) activities for two teens for August 9th week in Bay Area - Berkeley, Oakland, SF preferred. Active sporty outdoorsy. Appreciate any leads!! 

    Trackers has space left. 

  • My son is a homebody so signing up for new things is always a bit of a reach. He's now 15 and very interested in animals and ecosystems. He doesn't like being the only Black kid in a group, compounded by the one time we convinced him to go to an overnight camp and he got into a fight w/ a kid who called him the "n" word. It seems like for teenagers it's mainly sleepaway and some hiking camps. I think he would be open to either if 1. there are animals or naturalist focus and 2. other Black kids.

    One benefit of COVID is that we've saved money on normal activities so we could afford to splurge. Except, the better a program looks (and costs), the fewer Black kids.

    Please don't recommend Trackers - they had really cool programming but you don't get kicked out for verified calling another camper the "n" word. 

    I wish I had recs for you, but I wanted to respond and say that that is disgusting that Trackers tolerated that. We used to go there. Gross. 

    Hi Annie in Oakland. I’m really sorry your son had that terrible experience. I don’t have a specific camp recommendation — I’m hoping others on the list do — but I wonder if www.OutdoorAfro.com might be a resource. There are a number of people in leadership roles in the Bay Area chapter and between them someone might have some leads. 

    Hi - I recommend you look into the camps at Hidden Villa, near Los Altos. They have a strong environmental focus and a long history of equity. I went to camp there as a kid and it was transformative. 


    I was part of an nature connection coop with my kid for five years so I try to keep an eye out for what is out there.

    This Peralta Hacienda Saturday program is for kids 8-14 but maybe there is a counselor job he could do? http://www.peraltahacienda.org/pages/main.php?pageid=135&pagecategory=5

    Another option is Sienna Ranch. I know Black kids who attend there but for a specific class you might need to call to find out about class composition. I see one animal care class for his age group on the website: https://www.siennaranch.net/siennaranchclasses/

    Outdoor Afro does not have camps that I know of but they do have a lot of events that your son might want to connect to: https://outdoorafro.com/about/

    I’m wondering if he has a Black friend or friendly acquaintance he might be able to sign up for something with to be sure he has someone. What about the Teen Wild Guides at the Oakland Zoo?  I have seen some Black teens doing this in the past but I have no idea what the breakdown is in any given summer — if he’s interested, I bet you could ask.

    If you live in Richmond, or other western Contra Costa Co. areas, YES, Nature to Neighborhoods, has great outdoor programs for kids and teens.  Most of the participants are people of color.  Prices are reasonable and scholarships are available.  If you don't live in that area, I suggest you contact them to hear about similar organizations in other areas, and check out their website to get a sense of who they are and what they do.  Their focus is equity in access to the outdoors.

    Check out Back to Earth for backpacking programs. Last summer, when Covid closed other camps, they offered trail programs, and I felt fortunate that my teen son could participate. My son is Caucasian, but there were at least 3-4 Black teens in the group of about 12 boys, and everyone got along well. The camp is very inclusive, and the men who run the program are wonderful in guiding the adolescents during this critical time in their development. The teens bonded deeply over their ten days at camp; many of them still see each other, and they are signed up again for this summer. Back to Earth run summer backpacking camps (called WILD) and a year-long program (called Mentoring Circles). Campers learn everything from backpacking and survival skills to appreciation for nature and its gifts. There is a focus on ritual ceremonies and challenging oneself physically and mentally. Maybe this program will be a fit for your child too. Good luck!

    Sorry that he had that awful experience, and wow Trackers definitely needs some work! That's inexcusable. 

    Shaffers High Sierra camp (definitely in the splurge category!) had several Black camp counselors and other leadership staff when my kid went. I recommend calling to find out how regularly they have Black campers. I found it very easy to reach a human to answer my many questions when I was signing my kids up. 


    Hi Annie

    I am horrified to hear of your son's previous experience in Tracker's camp, that's horrible and I am so sorry that happened to your son. My friend's son (who is Asian- mixed race) really enjoyed the teen volunteer programs at the Oakland Zoo. He learned a lot about animals and did this program for several years. I don't know what the races of others kids were but I think there were several non-white kids. They have a few programs listed here: https://www.oaklandzoo.org/programs-and-events/teen-wild-guides

  • 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. 

  • New to Berkeley with a 6th grader

    (3 replies)

    We are just moving to Berkeley and don't know yet which middle school my son will get assigned to. We hope it's King, in our zone. I would appreciate advice on few matters:

    1. Camps for August: My 11 year old doesn't have any activities lined up for 3 weeks of August prior to when school starts. Anyone has advice on best camps or clubs to get him into so he starts getting to know Berkeley and kids of his age? He is into biking, skateboarding, pretty much anything outdoors, and computers. 

    2. Any advice on school preps? We won't know till August 15th which school he got assigned to, which makes me a bit anxious. Any advice on getting to know community and having him start making connections with kids prior to school assignment? 

    3. Sports, math, science, music for the school year: will appreciate advice on sports and other extra curricular activities for after school hours during school year. Math, computer, swimming, track, drums are all part of his interest. 

    A bonus question: any advice for me as an incoming international feminist queer parent to Berkeley to get connected with likeminded community and parents :-) 

    Thank you!

    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.

    Welcome to Berkeley! 

    Trackers has some wonderful outdoor camps and a wonderful, welcoming, kind of nerdy culture. Camp Galileo has fun computer-based camps (virtual reality and 3D printing) at the Jefferson school location. My kids (now going into 8th & 6th) both love these camps. City of Berkeley also has lots of great camps, I know they have a skateboarding camp and some computer ones. 

    I think you'll find your people here, though I don't have any more specific advice that comes to mind (regarding your second question).

    I was in your position last year and was placed in August into Longfellow. At this point it is likely you will get Longfellow because it doesn't usually fill up as quickly as Willard and King. Longfellow isn't zoned and so parents have to select it. Sadly, Longfellow has developed a less than perfect reputation. However, It has been such a blessing for our child. The community is warm and welcoming with committed teachers. I got involved in the PTA and have met so many amazing families from culturally and internationally diverse backgrounds. My daughter has a really nice group of friends who really care about each other and motivate each other to do well. Because it is so much smaller than the other schools, teachers really get to know the students and any problem I've had has been addressed immediately. I am really glad we landed in Longfellow. My child actually likes middle school, and in my experience, that is a rare thing. -Very happy Longfellow parent 

  • Hi all,

    Looking for any summer camp recommendations for an incoming 6th grader to King Middle School in Berkeley. He is moving in from another district and was hoping this way he may be able to meet a few kids who also attend King.

    Thanks in advance!!!

    Try the City of Berkeley day camps or the Downtown Berkeley Y.

    My son was in the Cal Rec Sports camp before starting King.  He made two good friends there and by a twist of fate they were both in his 6th grade class.  

    If he plays an instrument, you might want to try the BUSD music camps run at Longfellow Middle School over the summer (specialty camp section-- www.cityofberkeley.info/recreation). 

Parent Reviews

I heard from a friend about Laney Summer Institute at Laney college designed specifically for high schoolers. Laney is planning to do it again this summer. I also think the high schoolers can take regular summer classes like Carpentry at community colleges. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Any good camp ideas for my 14 year old daughter ?

July 2015

I am looking for suggestions for open camps (drama, art, beginning Marshal Arts, dance?) for my 14 year old daughter in the Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito area for two weeks starting this Monday, July 13th. Any suggestions? Marc

Hi Mother of a 14 yr old: try Contra Costa Civic Theater in El Cerrito. Contra Costa Civic Theatre Performing Arts Theater Address: 951 Pomona Ave, El Cerrito, CA 94530 Phone:(510) 524-9132 Hours: Open today Ṗ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm Good luck. They may be full. demeterjan

I would highly recommend This Land Is Your Land up in Tilden Park. The Counselor in Training (CIT) program gives older students leadership opportunities if they want them and interesting science projects and fun in the outdoors. Check them out at http://www.sarahscience.com/pages/summer.html Happy Campers' Mom

Summer Ideas for Tween

March 2014

I am looking for summer ideas for my bit quirky tween boy. He is 12 and will be 13 in August. He is quite mature and responsible for his age, but does not have any friends that he likes to hang out with. He seems to not mind having any close friends, which baffles me. Adults love him and describe him as polite and super helpful. He WILL NOT entertain any sleep away camp, or really camp in general, unless he can be a CIT. Ideally, for me, I'd like to see him enrolled in some sort of 1/2 day school that focused on Spanish and math and the sciences, and perhaps music. He'll enter 8th grade in the fall. Ideally, he could do some sort of CIT job in the afternoon. Berkeley/Oakland area. Does such a thing exist? Thanks in advance.

Most CIT positions are reserved for older teens who have some experience being either day or residential campers. Usually the kids who have attended those programs for a few years are the ones selected for CIT roles because they are familiar with the camp program, routines and expectations. I think it might be hard for your tween to walk right into that kind of role due to his age and lack of experience at the camp.

If your son is interested in music, perhaps he would be open to an amazing and different kind of music camp called ''Jam Camp West '' run by an Oakland non-profit called ''Living Jazz.'' Check it out here: http://www.jamcampwest.com/ and here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/jam-camp-west-la-honda

It has been a transformative experience for my daughter and her friends, many of whom she met at the camp and has maintained contact with for years. Plenty of the kids are interesting and quirky, and all they need is an interest (no training required) in music, singing or dance - the rest is magic! Jam Camp West fan

Summer camp for tween

Feb 2014

I'm wondering what kind of summer camps everyone recommends for an 11-year-old boy. I'd like him to go for most of the day, and it feels like he's outgrowing a lot of the typical day camps. I'm wondering if the CIT programs really are worthwhile? It's hard to find something that's affordable to do over multiple weeks. For example, we did some Galileo last summer, but this gets really expensive. Mom of Tween

The Albany YMCA has a great summer camp for tweens/young teens (6th-9th graders). I think it's called Awesome Adventures. Every day they go on an amazing field trip or have an exciting activity planned. Sign up week to week depending on what your kid is interested in doing. My son went from age 11 to 13 and there were always plenty of kids his age. Last summer he went river rafting, indoor skydiving, to every local amusement park, to baseball games, water parks, SF, Santa Cruz and a bunch more places I can't even remember. It's well run, the counselors are solid but it is a camp for older kids so they do give them a lot more freedom and less direction than programs for the younger crowd. The counselors mainly are there to supervise while the kids hang out. This was a major selling point for my son and one of reasons he loved it so much. Also it's affordable at about $240 a week(activities included) and runs from 7am-6pm, no extra charges love the Y camp

Low-Cost Summer Options for Entering High Schooler

April 2013

My stepson is 14 years old and a graduating eighth grader. He is getting too old for summer camps and is still too young to hold a job or internship. We're looking for specific ideas for summer activities, preferably ones that allow him to keep a semi-regular schedule. He is able to navigate public transportation and is responsible and enthusiastic. We've considered a regular community service commitment but haven't been able to find anything consistent that is also appropriate for his age and skill set. We've also considered counselor-in-training (CIT) positions, but most of them ask that CITs pay nearly the same camp rate as younger campers, which makes us wonder whether these positions are really just summer camp with a different heading (we'd like something where he has responsibility). Even better would be a job because he is eager to make money, but we have zero ideas other than the standard mowing lawns, petsitting, etc. gigs. Cost is definitely an issue, as we just haven't budgeted for his summer commitments due to having a newborn at home. We also figure that if we can find something where he can work (unpaid is fine), he shouldn't have to pay to help!

This is a hard age. They're too young to stay at home but there are often not a lot of programs either.

Look at your city/county recreation and park programs. These are usually quite affordable. There may be things like basketball, but there will also be those CIT positions. My daughter did things like that and did indeed have some responsibility for taking care of the younger kids and helping out. You can only expect so much at this age, however; no one is going to have a 14-year-old run a camp. I think when my daughter volunteered at camps for rec and park, we did not pay.

Other places, like YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, will charge you for CIT experience, but in our day anyway, the cost was half. You'd pay the same rate, but get two weeks of training. And yes, they trained them in all kinds of ways for the first week (CPR, for example) and then had them work with kids for the second.

We always managed with a combination of things. Some expensive stuff like YMCA, cheap rec and park things, trading ''playdates'' with other parents, some vacation time with parents. It was always a struggle as I was single-parenting and broke.

If you live in Berkeley you can check out the City of Berkeley camps, and the Berkeley Ys summer options which are low-cost. Cal has a lot of good short term and part day progams (sailing/windsurfing/skateboarding) which might provide enough structure without taking the whole day, or costing too much..

Mostly 14 and 15 year-olds whose parents work do go to summer programs or camps. If you are going to be home with him this summer, you could try to put some part-time things together. The trick is to figure out what he is interested in, or wants to try and have that play a role in structuring the summer. Students that young, aren't much use to organizations as volunteers, though I can see how he might look grown-up to you compared to your infant. Usually programs and organizations only take volunteers over 16, entering junior/senior year. anon

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

Mixed sports summer camp for 13-year-old

May 2011

My 13 y.o. son, who will be a 9th grander in the fall, has finally agreed to go to a summer camp and now I'm afraid I won't be able to find anything. He was very interested in Roughing It Day Camp, but then we discovered that at his age he can only do a 4 week program, and we simply do not have that kind of money ($3690). I'm looking for a 1 to 2 week camp with mixed sports, water skills, traditional camp activities, etc. He is old enough to be a CIT, and would like that role, but many camps only accept CITs who have attended before. Am I too late? Any recommendations appreciated. Valerie

Our twin daughters, who will turn 13 this summer, are returning to City of Berkeley's Echo Lake Camp for 1 week this summer. This will be their third year. It is a 5 day-4 night overnight camp in the woods and mountains near Lake Tahoe. Loads of cool outdoor activities, including sleeping in tents, swimming in Echo Lake, camp fires, etc. It costs less than $500. per child. You can choose from several weeks over the summer. There is a bus that picks them up in Berkeley on a Monday morning and returns them to Berkeley on a Friday evening. Our girls love it.

I also wanted to put a very big recommendation in for Stage Door Conservatory , if your child has any interest at all in a really supportive and fun theater arts camp. There is a 2 week commitment for younger children and a 6 week commitment for middle school and high school students. (Three separate camps.) The middle school kids will be performing Hairspray this summer. This is a fabulous summer program that is very bonding for the kids. They learn about creating together, acting, singing, dancing, stage sets, props, costumes, etc. The final productions are always over-the-top amazing. Our daughters are returning after a great experience last summer participating in Bye, Bye Birdie. More information at this link: http://www.stagedoorconservatory.org/ Sharon

Camp Unalayee , a wilderness camp in the Trinity Mountains, has 10 and 15 day sessions for ages 10-17. Fees are in line with other sleep away camps, But there is an active Campership program, available on an as needed (not necessarily strictly income based) basis. I believe there are still openings. www.gocampu.org Seena

Highest possible recommendation for Plantation Farm Camp! We have 3 girls (11, 12, 13) who all rate Plantation Farm Camp as a 100 on a scale of 1 - 10! It is a 3.5 week sleep-away camp for boys and girls ages 8-16 or so, 2 hours drive from the Bay Area, has been going for almost 60 years, and is run by a couple who are extraordinarily warm, skilled at dealing with kids, solid, values-based, and committed to the emotional health and growth of their campers as well as to their safety, peacefulness, and joy. Mature counselors are hired from around the world, and the kids spend 24/7 out doors except for barn dances in the 100+ year old barn. They also have a commitment to families with varied means and have a great scholarship program. The camp is open to visit one weekend a month all year so you can check it out ahead of time. This will be our 3rd year and, as an over-zealous parent, I have only good things to say about our Plantation Farm Camp experience. Andrea

Math and/or Latin Summer Camp for teens

April 2011

My 15-year-old is an enthusiastic student for whom studies don't come easy. Next fall he will be studying geometry and first-year latin, and he would love to get a jump on either one or both in a summer program in the Berkeley area. Does anyone know of a program that might be a good fit? Peter

I missed the original question, but ATDP, a summer program run by UC Berkeley has Latin and math classes. Language classes are intensive, 6 weeks equivalent to a year of high school instruction in the language. You can look up their website and contact them to see if there are openings or wait lists. chris

Summer Camp for visiting low-income 12yo nephew

March 2011

My sister-in-law surrendered custody of her 12 year old son to my father-in-law. He is currently living with grandpa and is happy, but we think grandpa will need a break this summer. They are up in Alpine county (which does not have much going on) and we thought bringing him down for a couple weeks to stay with us would be great. We would like to sign him up for camps and he has expressed interest in sports camps. We do not have a ton of extra money in our budget and are wondering if there are any special programs/camps out there that offer scholarships. He is a great kid but hasn't ever had the opportunity to play sports because of the situation with his mom. We work in El Cerrito and would like something nearby. How are the Cal camps? Scholarships? Thanks. concerned auntie

Camp Galileo is offering 1000 scholarships this summer. The deadline is March 15 [maybe they have extended it again?], so you'd have to hurry. There are other camps that offer scholarships. This list is from last year, but most likely these camps have financial aid again this year. http://blog.signupforcamp.com/2010/04/03/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-free-summer-camp-or-is-there/ Peggy

My son attended RATS a few summers ago and had a good time. The director is great and has many years experience working with kids. It's extremely reasonably priced ($175 a week 8-5:30!) and they offer financial aid if you need it. Kids play different sports all day and come home tired. Here's some of their posting from last weeks newsletter in case you missed it. Please check them out

RATS is a fun and moderately competitive program for boys and girls who want to play sports and games all day long. Kids play basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and a wide variety of alternative games. During down time they enjoy chess, checkers, board games, silly talent competitions and more.

Program Director Don Arreola-Burl (''Coach Don'') has many years of experience operating summer programs, coaching, and teaching physical education at several Berkeley schools. (During the school year, he works full-time as Washington School's PE Specialist.)

Kids of all ability levels are encouraged to enroll; all they need is a willingness to participate. So, if your child has a passion for sports and physical activity, or just loves PE, sign up now! To register go to: www.ratsports.org to download enrollment forms.

Affordable Summer Fun for 15-year-old daughter

March 2011

I realize that it may be late for some programs, but I'd love some help in my search for summer activities for my 15-year-old daughter. She is interested in acting, writing, reading, cooking, dancing and photography. I have found that most dedicated camps or experiences are quite expensive. Archived reviews are a little dated and mostly for younger kids. Does anyone have any suggestions for camps, programs or classes that inspire friendly, creative teens without costing an arm and a leg? East Bay mom

Sea Scouts is a great, affordable outdoors activity for Teens in the Bay Area. Is only costs $30 to join, is based in SF, and the teens learn how to sail, row, and care for their boats. We have kids from all over the Bay in our group, and with the America's Cup taking place in SF next, sailing will be on everyone's radar. Check out the website at www.corsair-viking.org, or email me at tamara.sokolov [at] gmail.com for more info. We'll be having an open house/free sail day on March 19th at 11 for any teens interested, just let me know if you plan on attending. Tamara

Camp Unalayee offers 9 and 15 day sessions. Very affordable because of their dedication to No Child Left Inside, actually Practiced not just Preached. 62 years and counting no child who wishes to participate has been barred by lack of funds -- campership awards range from $100 to $1500 dollars. So, Please, check it out at www.gocampu.org While theater arts are not a stated focus, nightly campfire skits offer as much participation as desired, daily activities always feature creative arts (craft shack, ''Special Day'' themed drama created by participants, music, mask making. . . ). A creatively inclined person can always find opportunity and partners-in-creation at Unalayee. Seena

Something new for 11-year-old this summer

Feb 2011

Looking for something new to do this summer for my 11 y.o. son. Need feedback on The Cruicible, Robotics for Fun and Berkeley Ironworks rock climbing camp. Thanks!! Sophia

I can respond re: The Crucible . My kids went there for two weeks last summer, and they said it was one of their favorite camps ever (at least partly because they served extra snacks!). Seemed well run, and they certainly learned quite a bit and really enjoyed themselves. My son recently retrofitted the robot he made there to do something else, so I was happy to see the wheels still turning in his mind. My only issue was the cost. It is one of the priciest options around here. They mentioned after the fact that about half the kids attended either free or on a significant scholarship, which in theory I think is great. However, I have no doubt that it was the dollars of the full price families that contributed to these ''scholarships'' but with no associated tax deduction. If I have to make a charitable contribution, then at least let me save on taxes. As I write this I realize I sound like a shrew, but at $1000/week for my two kids- it was quite an expense, and one we really had to stretch for. anon

Affordable Summer camps & programs for tweens?

April 2010

I'm in Alameda but would be interested in camps around Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro. I can't believe how expensive a single week of camp is, and there is so little available for tweens. My daughter's 11 and has outgrown the little-kid crafts and singalongs, but still needs organized events and lots of activity. I don't want her to spend the entire summer watching TV and playing on the computer. What's good out there? What's affordable? What's worth doing? I can't be the only one in this boat. Thanks! Alana

Does your tween like music? Check out the Laney Summer Music program at www.laneysummermusic.com - they have 2-week camps in band, orchestra or chorus for only $125 for the 2-week session. parent of tweens

Day camps for 12 year old boy not into sports

April 2010

Hi, I am still hunting around for some camps for my 12 year old son during a few weeks of the summer. He is going to be entering 7th grade. He is very independent and so I would love to find some half day camps he can bike to, but am open to anything that will be fun and interesting to him. He is interested in science, mythology, robotics, tech classes, writing... that sort of thing. Ideas? Thanks. Middle School Mom

For the person who is interested in science, mythology, robotics, tech classes, writing... that sort of thing. Ideas?

He may enjoy the Roleplay Workshop . They offer weekly day camps all summer, Mon-Fri all day (with optional extended care). You didn't say where you live, but the Roleplay Workshop is on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. The games are creative and involve science and mythology, as well as a little math. My son and daughter have both been attending for years and LOVE it! See their website for more information: http://www.roleplay-workshop.com/about/index.html

Summer day camp details here: http://www.roleplay-workshop.com/about/summer.html

I think the minimum age is 10 years old, and goes up through 17 or 18. (There's a separate teen table.) - love love love Roleplay Workshop

If your son is interested in science, he should check out This Land Is Your Land Summer Day Camp in Berkeley (Tilden Park), Oakland (Roberts Regional Park), or San Ramon (Little Hills Park). As a 12-year-old, your son could be a Counselor In Training (CIT) where he assumes some additional responsibilities such as helping with snack, assisting his counselor with the daily camper projects, etc. It's also perfectly okay if he doesn't want to be a CIT. Older campers get to prepare an advanced project at least once per week. The camp is outdoors, so all kids are fully exposed to the beauty and wonder of nature and all campers complete one or more science projects and bring them home every day. Campers play typical camp games if they want but there is no pressure to participate in games if they choose not to. They hike through the forest, go swimming one day per week, and truly enjoy all of the fun of being outdoors in some of our most beautiful parks. The basic camp hours are from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and before/after-care is also available. My 10, 12, and 13 year-old grandsons are excited abouted attending again this summer and my 17-year- old grandson is hoping he can be a paid counselor. All of my grandsons rave about this camp and the three younger ones are eager to become old enough to become a counselor!! You can get additional information about the camp at www.sarahscience.com or you can call the office and talk to the staff there. The office number is 510-581- 3739. Gran Kathy

Sarah's Science sounds like it might be a great fit for your 12 year old. The camp is an outdoor camp with locations in Oakland at Roberts Park and Berkeley at Tilden Park. Campers complete science projects to take home each day and do outdoor activities like hiking, fort building, bug hunting and swimming. They do a great job of dancing the science around the fun projects the kids create and the campers are constantly active without relying on formal sports activities. Hope that helps. Anonymous

What's a music major to do for the summer?

March 2010

My daughter will be coming home from college for the summer. Looking for ideas for a 19yo music major (vocal & violin) around the Bay Area or not. Internships? volunteer work? Work might be tough in this economy. Anyone with great ideas or where to find some good ideas? -Anonymous

Your daughter should contact the many area camps with music programs, or those devoted to music. http://www.cazadero.org/v2/ http://www.steveandkatescamp.com/studios.html or something more local. She also might want to consider offering lessons this summer...introductions to music, note reading, voice, string, etc. Good luck, happy summer planning. Andrew

The Oakland Symphony Chorus offers sing-ins during the summer on Tuesday evenings. Have her join us! OSC member

Try Music at Menlo and Piedmont Choirs Summer Camp. There is also a well known instrument and voice summer camp based from, but not necessarily in, Berkeley which lasts a no. of weeks in the summer but I'm blanking out on the name-Something in the Redwoods? My daughter also gave individual voice lessons. Mom of Music Major graduating this year.

She could take a Kodaly course at Holy Names University! This is wonderful training in music teaching which she can use in many ways in her life. Contact Anne Laskey at laskey [at] hnu.edu for more info. Or, try to help out or teach at the Crowden School, or the Young Musicians Program at UCB. Cazadero music camp may need counselors. Good luck! pianojeanette

Day camp near Walnut Creek for picky 6th grader

March 2010

Our daughter is 11 years old and in 6th grade. She has now rejected her previous daycamps now as being ''for kids'' so even though they are not (they go through the teen years), I am looking for suggestions for daycamps with the following criteria:

  A MUST: * full-day program with aftercare * location in or near Walnut Creek  DAUGHTER ENJOYS: * swimming * horseback riding 

I went to a camp fair today and got all sorts of flyers and brochures and, just as an example of what I am dealing with, she rejected things based on the fact that there were pictures of younger kids, hence the ''that's for kids!'' remark. I know she's wrong, you know she's wrong, but one thing she is is extraordinarily strong-willed. As an added factor, our daughter is not particularly comfortable in new social situations, for what that's worth. Thanks for any suggestions! working parents who need a daycamp

I suggest you check out Adventure Day Camp in Walnut Creek. My 15-year-old daughter has been going there for years and loves it. She now is a counselor-in-training there. Fun and age-appropriate groups include ones for teens, who get to horseback ride, canoe, swim, play games, do art projects, and so on. Yes, there are groups for younger kids, but she would be in a small group with kids her age. Go to adventuredaycamp.com for further details. If your daughter might like to talk to mine, email me at the address below. nancy

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Camp suggestions, 1 to 3 weeks, age 12/13, both genders

June 2009

Hi there, Does anyone have Camp suggestions for ages 12/13, both genders, half- or full-day, near Berkeley, FUN, active, varied? Hopefully not too costly? Not ''young kid'' camps, but geared for the teen (young teen though!) Thanks if you have any suggestions! Can't let them completely ''veg''

Feather River Camp ...www.featherrivercamp.com. It's not local but I've signed up my sons for the program. You can apply for scholarships. Good luck! anon

How about the Roleplay Workshop summer day camps? I already posted information about them in the ''schools, preschools & camps'' newsletter, but here it is again. As we're all looking ahead to summer and finding activities for our kids/teens, I'd like to make sure everybody knows about a fantastic weekly summer program called ''The Roleplay Workshop''. The program is located in a loft above Dr. Comics and Mr. Games on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. (They also walk to a local park for lunch and ultimate frisbee games in the afternoon.) Do your kids like fantasy, science fiction, or other imaginary worlds? If so, the Roleplay Workshop may be perfect for them. My two kids both started as soon as they turned 10 years old and this summer will be their 4th and 6th years attending. It's their favorite summer activity! My daughter says ''Roleplay Workshop is a great place to have fun and express yourself.'' My son says ''Roleplay Workshop is fun for beginning and advanced players.'' Check out their website here: http://www.roleplay-workshop.com/summersplash.html Sharon

Ideas for summer activities for 15-y-o gamer

June 2009

I need to find some activity options for my son for the summer. He's a fairly good student in a small school at Berkeley High. He is easy going but likes to sleep and stay in his room most of the time when not in school. Since school let out last week, he has been in front of the computer gaming all day long i.e. he wakes up at 2 pm in the afternoon and stays up late at night. He used to be passionate about skateboarding, used to take music lessons, tried one martial arts class and never went back. Right now the only scheduled activity for the summer outside the home is Drivers Education. He knows that I will be taking his computer access away for certain hours of the day starting next week and that he needs to find things to do in the community. He is very bright but has a very shy side and has always been difficult since early on for him to try new things. Ideas greatly appreciated!

I highly recommend The Roleplay Workshop (also called Abantey)...it's a table-top role playing game and if your kid likes interactive computer games, this will be up his alley. It's even better however because it's real people sitting across from each other interacting in the moment and the game masters are very creative folks. Also, the kids go out and play an hour of ultimate frisbee each afternoon so they get some exercise too. This camp is above Dr. Comics & Mr. Games on Piedmont Ave. http://www.roleplay-workshop.com/ Brenda

Artsy camp for 15-year-old granddaughter

May 2009

I have a 15 year old granddaughter who is very active with choir and all music, the arts and learning French. She is a very bright young girl and will not back down to a challenge, so physical camps are also great for her. She will be coming to Berkley this summer and I would like to find something for her to do while she is here! If anyone has any ideas as for days camps in the Berkley area that would be great. As I said, anything Music, French and or Art related is what were aiming for, but anything really is great. Please and Thank you, Georgina

If your grandaughter is interested in Art, the Academy of Art college offers a Pre-College program in the summer from mid June till the end of July. You can take up to four classes for around $500. My child enjoys the college like experience and it will look good on her college applications too. Art mom

Berkeley/Albany summer camp for 5th/6th grader

May 2009

I'm looking for a fun, safe summer for my son who is currently in 5th grade. He thinks he can put together his own fun summer, but I'm not ready for the fallout and/or boredom that I'm sure will come by the beginning of July. Does anyone have experience with a camp for entering middle school kids that has a decent balance of structured activities/trips and a little bit of just being a kid and having some hang-out time? Areas of interest include Albany, El Cerrito & Berkeley. Thanks -not quite done with camps

My son was very hesitant about going to camp as a middle school kid (he, too, wanted to stay home and hang out w/ friends all summer - w/ no parents!!?) but he really enjoyed Awesome Adventures camp with the Albany YMCA . He liked that they went on field trips to places that I don't have time to take him - river rafting, Great America, rock climbing, etc.- plus they seemed to have plenty of hang out time w/ ping pong, foosball & card games. He liked the counselors, spoke highly of them, but what I liked is that they were adults who kept control and had rules that the kids learned to respect... the no cell phone rule was great, in my opinion! I hope you can check out the Y's website and see if it's a good match for you and your son! Here's a link to their summer programs & info: http://www.baymca.org/albany/albany-Summer-Programs.aspx 8th grade mom

What to do with 15-year-old this summer?

Feb 2008

I have a 15-year-old daughter and am wondering what to have her do this summer. Sitting home alone every day with nothing to do but entertain herself on the computer is not an option. I'd love some suggestions about activities that would meaningful, challenging, educational, or fun that would be appropriate for a girl who is too young to work or drive and too old to do nothing. Any and all suggestions welcome. anonymous

I have a daughter who is currently in 9th grade. this summer she turns 15 and I wonder what she will do while I work full time ( I have some flexibility in my schedule) It seems like she is too old for camp but too young for a job. she is very shy and not one to go out and ''make something happen.'' What do other working parents do with their teenagers over the summer? single mom of a teenager

That's a hard summer. They are kind of in between things. Too old for camp and too young to work. Though, that said, if your daughter is into being a counselor-in-training it's a great summer for that! There are plenty of camps in the BA that would want her. Try the City of Berkeley's camps or Monkey Business. If she is onto playing music she could take a ''class'' at that school of rock place, I can't remember the name of it! It's all over the BA. If she's into science I think the Lawrence Hall of Science has interships for kids that age. Then there is just sending her away to a relative for a week or two in some other state! Oh, there is also the Academy of Art in SF, has classes for $100! (There are also those expensive pre-college art classes at CCA, but it's not really worth it...) There are week-long sports training camps through CAL for the athlete. Dancers can take classes at Destiny Arts and Shawl-Anderson.

I think my daughter took several classes that summer, one at that music place, one at the ASUC (student union at CAL) in photography, and maybe an art class at Studio One in Oakland. I got her a pass to the Strawberry Canyon pool but summers here are dreadfully cold so that wasn't a great investment, I think she went twice! She also played softball but that was mostly in the evenings and on weekends. We also took a week to go somewhere ourselves. It was really a week of this and a week of that, a pain to coordinate. Good luck anon

I also have a 15 year old daughter. She will be a jr counselor again at Monkey Business. She was a CIT 2 years ago & then became a jr counselor. (Jr counselor is by invitation only at this camp.) She was also a CIT at Echo Lake, Berkeley's sleep-away camp near Tahoe. At 15, there are numerous CIT & JC opportunities. At this age, it's likely a reduced fee or essentially volunteering. It's great experience. Maybe she could recruit a friend to sign up with her. There are also some teen programs (there was an item about Cal's teen program in the issue that included your query) for which she could still be a camper. Good luck! another mom of teen daughter

Hi I just answered another parent with similar question. My son, his friend and I actually joined a summer camp in China last summer 2007. Both of them do not know any Chinese language. The program lasted about 3 weeks. The kids learned the Chinese language, culture. At the end of the session, they travelled to Inner Mongolia for about 4 days. The program itself is really well-organized and safe. You can check their website, it is www.sinolanguage.com . I like this camp because the kids came back with a much mature view not only to the world but to their own life. anna

How about Counselor in Training programs? Quite a variety of camps have them. You'd probably still pay for her to be thee, but she'd be with other teens, adults and little kids. You could try to find ones with activities that she'd like. Anon

I have a quiet 14 year old son and have always been in a quandry about summers, breaks, etc. A combo of 'work' and classes would be good! Here are some ideas I'm considering and you might too:
1)Volunteering at the movie theatre!-Unlimited free movies and she would get a lot of low pressure people/work experience.
2)Dog Walking/Housesitting-if she could get a friend to do it with her, even better.
3) C-Scouts-work on 'ship', learn to sail, knot tying, etc. Cheap to join, but need uniform- go on excursions, but weekend ones are a bit pricey. Search net for info.
4)City of Pinole-tv station run by teens and they teach/do all facets-camera, lighting, sound-students can act, write, do sets, etc. During year, but check if avail summers. Best of luck! amy

Affordable summer camp for 13 and 16 year olds

Dec 2007

Hi parents, I am writing on behalf of my little sister and brother. My sister is 16 and my brother is 13. I am trying to find a summer camp for them (doesn't necessarily have to be the SAME camp or program). We are looking for a program that is lengthy (lasts the whole summer ideally), affordable, and based on teens not younger children. They are willing to go anywhere in the country, as long as it's affordable! The goal is to get away from home for a summer. I think it's important that they gain some time away from my parents (who are going through a divorce and the home situation is less than healthy), where they can have safe fun and be somewhat independent teenagers for several weeks. They are social, athletic, creative, and into dance, photography, martial arts. It would great if they could meet some new friends. Unfortunately the main limiting factor is COST of the program. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. They are also interested in summer classes, going abroad, the main limiting factor is price. We are in the financial bracket of ''not quite eligible for financial aid'' but cannot spend more than $600.00 per kid. When high school can be such a tough time, draining both mentally and physically, I'd really love for them to have a healthy, happy summer, peacefully away from the messy divorce! I appreciate any & all advice! --Big Sis

Since the money is so tight, a lot of options are cut off. But maybe they could find opportunities as counselors for younger children?

There would be other older kids also working, so it wouldn't be completely exile among children; it might even give them a little cash of their own, and it would get them out of the house and busy all summer.

I don't know their competencies, so I can't recommend anything specific, but Cal has a general summer camp that might have openings -- there are lots of programs around, and this is the time to be applying. laura

Summer Day Camp for 13 year old boy

Jan 2007

My stepson comes out from Indiana to stay with me and my husband during the summertime. He is going to be 13 this summer and we both work outside the home in Walnut Creek. What are some summer DAY camps that we should look into for teen age kids? Last year he was in a Sports Camp which he loved but has an age limit of 12. We do not want an overnight camp since he is only with us for 7 weeks. Any advice would help. We're new to the East Bay and do not know parents with kids his age. Liz, East Bay

Take look at Adventure Day Camp which is right in your neck of the woods in Walnut Creek. They have programs for kids through 9th grade. My son will be going there for the third year this summer. He's younger than yours but he really enjoys the tremendous variety of activities. Older kids get to sail, kayak, horseback ride, etc. You can check it out online at adventuredaycamp.com. You could also check out the CIT program for kids 11-15 at Sarah's Science ''This Land Is Your Land'' camp. www.sarahscience.com Fran

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

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Summer for 15-year-old step-daughter with attitude

May 2006

My almost 15 year old stepdaughter will be coming to live with us in Berkeley this summer. She is not excited about this fact, as she has got that ''attitude'' that seems to accompany adolescence (part of the reason she is coming to live with us). I am looking for suggestions and/or opportunities for her to make some social connections (we know no teenagers around here). Are there groups/classes/summercamps? She doesn't have a lot of interests other than watching tv and playing with make-up. Also, should we provide her an allowance that is somehow tied to responsibilities? I want her to have some freedom but also know she will be expected to contribute. She does not have this set-up at home (hence all the tv-watching). I expect the transistion will be difficult for all of us at first, but I am hoping to provide her with some opportunities to make this summer not the ''drag'' she inticipates it to be... NOT the wicked stepmother

Would classes be an option? It might be nice to give her a choice, tell her you want to make sure she meets some people her own age, and has a few activities that she knows she'll like. The Crucible has some interesting classes for teens. http://www.thecrucible.org/classes/index.html

Also, if she likes applying makeup, how about letting her feel good about that. There are some retirement communities that would love a teen volunteer to come once a week and apply makeup to their residents. Give the teen a sense of purpose and make a senior's day! Ann S.

Your posting already sounds negative and your stepdaughter hasn't even arrived, you need to have a much more open mind about this new person who will be living in your home and since you are the stepparent, this is not your responsibility to make these decisions for her summer, it is the dad's child and better for him to step in here and for you to back off - this will be a much more difficult transition for the teen than it will be for the adults, she will feel uncomfortable in a new city, new rules, new bedroom, god the changes this kid will have to adjust to will be huge and your only job is to make her summer as pleasant and happy as possible and if you can act as a positive and welcoming steparent, your stepdaughter will adjust much more quickly and everyone will benefit. and by the way you obviously aren't around teens much as they all like to watch TV too much. Do you have a computer for her to keep in contact with all the friends she will be apart from, how about suggesting the two of you go shopping to Target and get her new sheets, new comforter, new pillow, nightlight and other things to make her feel welcome. Movies are $10.00 a ticket, BART to SF is over $6.00 roundtrip - everything is expensive so be generous with your allowance, there are many postings for babysitters and check with your neighbors on babysitting possibilities. Provide time for dad and daughter to go out together - it is very important for dad to spend time with his daughter over the summer. And by the way 'attitude' is part of the standard teenager personality - they all have it, it's all in the way adults respond. 15 is a very difficult age and having to cope with a new living arrangement at this young age will be challenging for everyone. JLS

My two teens think Berkeley is TEEN HEAVEN -- the ease of public transportation, the variety of things to do, etc. It won't be too hard to find something for her besides TV, as long as she's willing to participate in an organized activity. Two quick suggestions:

1. Academy of Art summer experience for high schoolers -- if she likes art at all, the variety of college-level courses in this program is great. Located in SF, close to BART, inexpensive for you, very hip for her. www.academyart.edu

2. Does she like acting? Berkeley Rep has theater courses/workshop in the summer. Easy to get to on BART or bus. good luck! Lisa McL

It's hard to find summer camps for 15 year olds, but there are a couple of good ones where she might make some friends. Ask her which ones she might like to do:

Beginning windsurfing camp at the Berkeley Marina through Cal

High school students program at Contra Costa Civic Theater good luck

Last minute summer plans for 15 year old

May 2004

Well we didn't plan on it this way but several things fell apart and now my 15 yr old daughter has nothing set for the summer and no desire for anything that I suggest--can't see her sitting at home so wondering if anyone has any ideas on what short term (1 week -3 week) programs or ''things'' are available in this area for a non motivated teen who'd rather be somewhere else, but can't be. any ideas welcome

Even with advanced planning our 15 year olds will be
1)working out at the Y,
2)reading books,
3)helping around the house,
4)finishing lingering academic requirements and
5) Rowing with ''Row Oakland 2004''out of the Old Lake Merritt Boathouse (They're already rowers and will be interning).

Row Oakland offers 3 two-week programs (the first begins 6/21 and the last ends 7/30) and both morning or afternoon sessions. Its a great chance to get a workout and a tan, learn a new skill and meet other teens, close to home. The interns for this program tend to be kids your daughter's age from the Berkeley (boys and girls) Crew, and it is run by the BHS Crew Head Coach. Each 2 wk, 1/2 day session cost $90, with fee waivers available. Phone 510-273-9041 for more information. Heather 

Looking for suggestions for summer camps

April 2004

We are looking for some suggestions for summer camps for teens that may be off the beaten path or not advertised as heavily as the YMCA, etc... Cal has some great programs, but they run from 9:30 to 4:00 and as working parents, we cannot transport our children within this time...We are curious if anyone has found out something that we haven't. Thanks for any imput!


  • Outward Bound
  • Young Actor's Summer Theatre Overnight Camp

    2003 & Earlier

    Feb 2000

    Summer camps for 12-13 year olds: I have had the same problem with my daughter who is now 14. Albany Y has the most interesting teen camps which are open only to teenagers. Some are only half day but others are longer. This allowed her a little bit of time on her own but still provided structure. If you find a friend to go with them it helps. Cal Adventure camps ( through the University) also offer interesting teen camps, again they are often half day and a little pricey. Last summer I was able to get her a job at her younger sister's preschool which was wonderful, but I know this would have been impossible if I had not know this school for so many years. There are CIT (counselor in training programs) but many don't take kids untill they are 14 or older, same is true for most summer jobs. I believe Albany Y offers the youngest CIT program for 13 year olds, but you need to apply early. The other idea I had before finding her the preschool job, was to have her volunteer at places like the senior centers. I know kids who have done this but never followed up on it myself. I would imagine many of the preschools would be interested in part-time volunteers. Good luck, it is not any easy task and usually incorporates a lot of pieces. The volunteer or CIT work will definetelty help them get jobs in the summers to come. -Lynn

    April 1998

    I believe the Berkeley-Albany YMCA has some pretty interesting teen summer programs. Also, try the Berkeley YMCA. Cal has sports and adventure camps (ck with Intercollegiate Athletics depart). Finally, for referrals ck with BANANAS (658-7101)-or better yet-go there to look over all their summer program flyers. Dianne