Blog: Bright Ideas

Your Guide to Academic (and Fun!) 2018 SF Bay Area Summer Camps

Have you heard of summer brain drain? It’s a very real phenomenon whereby, in the summer months when they are less active, kids lose many of the skills and strategies they worked so hard to develop during the school year. And this doesn’t just apply to academics; kids can lose motor skills and other learned skills as well, such as musical or sports capabilities.

But according to experts, simply keeping your kids engaged with activities that stimulate both the body and mind can go a long way toward combating summer brain drain. That’s the beauty of summer camps, as these programs can serve as a fun and efficient way to engage kids while continuing to promote growth and learning. There are all kinds of summer camp programs out there, from traditional to highly specialized, and finding the best fit can take a little research. It’s worth it—a good summer camp program will not only keep kids’ minds and bodies active but will also equip them with new skills and greater confidence in tackling challenges so that they can head back to school in the fall with an edge. Here is a look at some of the many 2018 SF Bay Area summer camp programs that will be offered.

Traditional Overnight Summer Camp — Kennolyn

Lots of parents hear the term “summer camp” and they immediately think of their own experiences at a traditional overnight camp program. These were camps that featured hiking, swimming, canoe rides, campfires and some incredible friendships. For several generations, a majority of summer camps fell into this category, but recent decades have seen a shift toward more interest-specific day camp programs.

Kennolyn camper with horse.Kennolyn Camps strive to preserve that classic summer camp experience for today’s generation. Established in 1946 in Soquel, California, Kennolyn offers a traditional overnight camp program, along with day camp sessions. Founded just after the end of World War II, Kennolyn describes its camp as “a place where kids build lifelong friendships, unplug from technology, and explore the world around them.” Kennolyn offers residential, day and family camp programs that are traditionally structured and focus on “embracing the power of fun, play, and adventure.”

Sports Camps — SF State University Gator Youth Sports Summer Camp

If your kids are athletically inclined, a summer sports camp program may be a great choice to help your young athletes grow or refine their skill sets. San Francisco camp programs are available for a wide variety of different sports and activities, from team sports such as baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball, to more individual athletics, such as cycling, gymnastics and archery. Virtually every instructional center and sports organization offer summer camps or clinics for kids who are already involved in athletics.

But what about summer camp programs for kids who haven’t really decided where their athletic strengths and preferences lie? Well, that’s where a more general athletic program can be a perfect fit.

Kids sports camps.San Francisco State University’s Gator Youth Sports Summer Camp has been offering these more general sports camp sessions for thirty years. This day camp program is designed to boost confidence and improve skills, while also improving your kid’s self-esteem—all in a fun, nurturing environment. This program is aimed at boys and girls who are between the ages of 7 and 14. Campers are “grouped by age and offered a variety of developmentally appropriate sports and physical activities.”

San Francisco State University also offers a number of other sports camps and sports clinics year-round, including softball, baseball, volleyball and soccer. These camps are designed for older kids, 14 years old and up.

Music Summer Camps — Blue Bear School of Music, JAMCamp and Hayward La-Honda

Musically-inclined kids have a plethora of music camps to choose from in the San Francisco area, whether they play instruments or are interested in vocal training.

The Blue Bear School of Music hosts one of the most well-known SF band camps, offering multiple week-long sessions to kids of all ages. This day camp program—held in San Francisco’s Marina District from June through August—was developed by Bonnie Hayes, a well-known music educator and artist. It caters to kids with a variety of different musical talents, including singing, song-writing, recording and guitar.

Kids music camp.Another popular SF summer camp program is JAMCamp, which is hosted in SF’s Outer Sunset District. This program offers week-long summer camp sessions, along with a number of mini-camp programs throughout the year for younger kids, from 5 to 9 years old. This particular program takes a rather unique approach, blending singing, dancing, song-writing, crafts, nature, play and mindfulness.

The Hayward La-Honda Music Camp offers a more intensive week-long session for kids in the 6th grade through the 12th grade, including vocalists, string instrument musicians, pianists and wind instrument musicians. The program blends music instruction with other fun activities, such as crafts, canoe trips, horseback riding and beyond.

STEM Summer Camps — STEMful and iD

Science, technology, engineering and math or STEM camps have gained tremendous popularity in the past decade. This is especially true here in the Bay Area, where the tech industry is thriving. There is definitely no shortage of STEM summer camp programs in San Francisco.

STEM activities for campers.STEMful is a summer camp program designed to “sprout their curiosity” by teaching kids about everything from space and chemistry, to geometry, animal migration and magnetism. This program offers a variety of options, including full-day sessions and half-day sessions, with pre-care and after-care sessions available for kids with working parents. STEMful caters to kids who are 3 ½ years old to 10 years old. They also offer sessions during winter break and school vacation weeks.

If your kids are obsessed with games, then the iD Tech Game Design and Development Academy may be a great choice, as it introduces kids between the ages of 13 and 18 years old to video game design and development. Held at the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, the program gives kids an opportunity to explore a variety of topics, ranging from programming, and game design, to 3D modeling/printing and more. Teens who are interested in more general development can also register for the iD Tech Coding and Engineering Academy, which is held at the same location.

Innovation Camp — Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest

There’s no doubt that STEM is vital, but more and more we are learning about how the arts and engineering can work together. If you’re looking for a full experience for your child that combines these essential areas, consider looking into a STEAM program. Camp Galileo offers some very unique programs to campers in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, including the Los Angeles area and Chicagoland. Galileo’s program is comprised of week-long camp sessions for children in pre-kindergarten through the 8th grade. As an innovation camp, Galileo blends elements of a STEM camp program with activities related to visual arts, creativity, socialization, teamwork and outdoor play. Galileo’s programs are all about the activating an innovator’s mindset and developing an innovator’s process—that is, identifying a problem, formulating a plan for a possible solution, executing that plan, evaluating your efficacy in solving the problem and identifying any mistakes or missteps so you can improve, learn and grow.

For campers in pre-k through the 5th grade, there’s Camp Galileo, which offers a wide variety of fun and educational camp sessions that are based around a particular theme. For the summer of 2018, there are four themes:

  • The Incredible Human Body: The Art and Science of Being Human
  • Space Explorers: Cosmic Art and Astronaut Science
  • Road Trip Adventure: Art and Engineering on Route 66
  • Galileo Makers: Materials Challenge: Extraordinary Art and Inventions with Ordinary Supplies

Campers are free to pick a session focusing on a theme that suits their personal interests. What’s more, Galileo’s expertly-crafted curriculum is designed so that each week-long session is totally unique. Galileo supernovas create art.This means that campers can attend all 4 weeks of different themes for the most immersive and beneficial experience possible.

Older campers, those in the 5th grade through the 8th grade, can enroll in Galileo Summer Quest (GSQ), which provides kids with a chance to explore different “majors” during each week-long session. GSQ offers a diverse range of majors, from “chefology” and painting, to catapult construction, 3D modeling and printing and even mod design using Minecraft. There’s really something to suit every kid’s interest.

Kids who will be entering the 4th grade through the 8th grade can also register for Galileo’s Summer Camps @ The Tech, which is a program that’s exclusive to the Bay Area since it’s held at The Tech Museum of Innovation. Kids who enroll in this camp can choose from over twenty different areas of interest.

Galileo’s innovation camp sessions are so-named thanks to the program’s unique approach to learning and engagement. Campers leave Galileo’s summer camp sessions with a new mindset; one that embraces the entire innovation process—even the mistakes, which are viewed as a valuable learning opportunity. In fact, many parents who were delightfully surprised when their child returned home from camp with a totally new can-do attitude, complete with new vocabulary terms such as “determination” and “collaboration.”

It’s Galileo’s passion to provide campers with a fun, dynamic environment where they can thrive. To learn more about Galileo and to be notified as soon as registration begins for the summer of 2018, we invite you to join our mailing list.