The Parent’s 2018 Guide to the Best Local Summer Day Camps in SoCal

Finding the right summer camp program can be a challenge. There are so many options and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution; each camper’s preferences and needs are truly unique. So how do you sift through the dozens of SoCal summer camps to find the one that your kids will remember for a lifetime? There are definitely a few key considerations that will help you and your child find the perfect camp!

Key Considerations When Deciding On a 2018 SoCal Summer Camp Program

As you explore the many options for SoCal summer camps, you’ll need to make a few crucial decisions. You can start by narrowing down your options and making the choice between

  • Traditional summer camp vs. specialty summer camp
  • Day camp vs. overnight camp

Camp Galileo camper stands by his creation.Traditional summer camp programs feature lots of outdoor recreational activities, such as swimming, volleyball and canoeing, along with creative craft projects and social gatherings. These traditional programs are the types of camp experiences that most parents recall from their own childhood. 

Specialty camps, on the other hand, are focused around a particular skill, theme or activity. From STEM camps that explore science, technology, engineering and math to sports camps, performing arts camps and beyond. Parents can also choose from specialty camp programs designed to accommodate kids with special needs, conditions or circumstances. 

The decision between a traditional summer camp or a specialized program really revolves around the family’s personal preferences, the camper’s interests and the type of camp experience that you’re seeking. 

Choosing between a day camp program and an overnight program is far easier for many families. An increasing number of day camp programs are now available, which is good news for parents of younger children who simply would not be well-suited to an overnight camp experience. 

Age and maturity level are two critical considerations when choosing between an overnight camp and a day camp program. Younger children and kids with special needs may find that a day camp program is ideal, while older, more mature kids seeking an intensive and immersive camp experience are often well suited for either a day camp or overnight camp program.

Cost is also an important consideration when choosing between an overnight camp and a day camp program. Due to the costs associated with meals, lodging and supervision, overnight camps tend to be pricier than comparable day camp programs. There tends to be a broader range of day camp programs to choose from, which is an advantage when it comes to finding the ideal camp experience.

How Do You Find the Best Summer Camp for Your Kids?

As you determine the best SoCal summer camps for your family’s unique needs and preferences, you’ll want to consider some of the following points. There are many summer day camps available in this region, and starting your research with specifics in mind will help you quickly focus your efforts. 

  • Does your child have any special needs? Physical or behavioral special needs can really impact a kid’s camp experience, whether it’s a peanut allergy, a behavioral issue or a medical condition such as autism, a limb difference or diabetes. Therefore, it’s important that you choose a camp that is equipped to meet their needs. Consider whether your childcare provider or school needs to make any special accommodations for your kids; if so, then there’s a good chance that similar accommodations may be necessary at camp.
  • Will the camp’s session schedule work with your family’s summer plans? Summer is a time for gatherings and get-togethers, vacations and fun family activities. Many summer camps only offer multi-week sessions which can lead to a scenario where you must plan your summer’s travels and activities around camp. This can lead to some major inconveniences or you may be forced to skip a portion of a camp session that you’ve paid for your kids to attend. Therefore, you’ll want to consider the length and dates for the summer camp’s sessions. A great option is a camp that offers weekly options to accommodate schedules but can still provide an entire summer’s worth of fresh and creative curriculum. Galileo’s 2018 summer camp programs for children headed into pre-K through the 8th grade. Each week-long session is also unique in terms of its curriculum and activities, which is relatively uncommon in the day camp world.
  • Galileo Summer Quest camper building a Go-Kart.Will the camp’s location and hours work for your schedule? Parents are typically responsible for transportation to and from the daily camp sessions, so it’s important that the location is close to your home or workplace. You’ll also want to be sure that the camp’s hours will work for your schedule. Some programs do offer transportation and/or pre-care and aftercare.
  • Will your child be truly engaged? Summer camp is supposed to be fun and engaging. But if you don’t take the time to thoroughly investigate a program, you could find yourself in a situation where your kids dig in their heels when the time comes to head out the door for the day. You want to be sure that your kids are well-suited to the program both in terms of its curriculum and activities, along with the overall structure and atmosphere. If your child starts to tune out after 30 minutes of guitar lessons, then highly structured music camp may not be a great choice. If your kids are very outdoors-oriented, then a program that’s conducted entirely indoors may feel very restrictive—like they’re missing out on all that summer has to offer.

Conversely, if your child is miserable after 20 minutes in the summer heat, then an outdoor athletics camp program could feel like a total nightmare to them. Think of your child’s personality, interests and preferences. Then, choose a program with these points in mind. Summer is a time for fun, so make sure you choose a camp program based on the unique qualities of your child. Be realistic when picking from the many SoCal summer camps so that you find one that your kids will absolutely love.

Selecting Your Child’s 2018 Summer Camp

Southern California is home to dozens of different camp programs, so you’ll have many options at hand. Remember, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions as you begin exploring the many camp options:

  • Camp Galileo camp friends.Will my kids enjoy this camp’s theme or curriculum?
  • Is my child well-suited to the degree of supervision that’s provided at a particular camp? A lower staff-to-camper ratio ensures that your child gets the attention they need.
  • Are my kids mature enough to handle overnight camp?
  • Are the drop-off and pick-up times suitable for our family’s schedule?
  • Will the camp session dates work with our family’s summer travel plans?
  • Is the camp equipped to accommodate any special needs that exist?

SoCal summer camps are diverse and plentiful. Here are a few of the most popular programs in the region:

Center Stage Studio Performing Arts Camp: Center Stage Studio’s summer camp program is one of many performing arts camps in SoCal. This particular program is quite popular thanks to its themed, week-long day camp sessions that explore everything from drama and acting to improv, dance, singing and beyond. Center Stage Studio offers summer sessions for campers ages 7 to 13 and 13 to 19. They also offer before-care and aftercare for kids with working parents. 

Endless Summer Surf Camp: Endless Summer Surf Camps are held each year on the beautiful San Clemente coastline (along with locations in Hawaii and Costa Rica). This camp offers an all-inclusive five-day overnight program that’s perfect for aspiring surfers and more experienced surfers who are ready to refine their skills. The summer of 2018 will mark this camp’s 25th year in business. This program is just one of the many options for Southern California athletes and kids who love sports. 

Mad Science STEM Camps: Mad Science offers a STEM summer camp program at multiple locations throughout SoCal. This day camp accommodates kids ages 6 to 12, engaging them in activities ranging from chemistry and biology to rockets, robotics and kinesiology. Mad Science offers week-long sessions—both full-day and half-day—where kids get hands-on experience performing science experiments, demos and engaging in dynamic lessons and games. Kids are also provided with a fun take-home project, which is perfect for parents who want to share the summer camp experience with their little ones. 

Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest: Galileo is an innovation camp that goes beyond traditional STEM activities to incorporate the arts (also known as STEAM) and outdoor play. Camp Galileo is perfect for kids entering pre-k through the 5th grade, while Galileo Summer Quest (GSQ) is designed for kids in the 5th grade through the 8th grade. Galileo’s week-long sessions allow for lots of scheduling flexibility and the program offers over a dozen different Southern California summer camp locations. Younger campers can enroll in a session that revolves around one of four specially-designed 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

GSQ campers can focus on one of 10 different majors, from chefology and go-karts to catapult construction, escape rooms, mod design with Minecraft and beyond.

Making Your Final 2018 Summer Camp Decision

When you are first starting the search for the perfect summer camp for your child, it can feel pretty daunting. There are so many considerations, but start by asking the questions we’ve outlined here: Does my child have any special needs? What does our family’s schedule look like this summer and how does summer camp best fit into it? Will the camp’s location and hours suit our daily work and life schedules? 

Finally, and perhaps most crucially, you need to ask yourself what type of camp will best suit your child’s unique personality. Remember, the things you would love in a summer camp may not necessarily be what they would enjoy the most. Have a conversation with them about it, learn what excites them the most, and then seek out a program that can satisfy both their needs and yours.

It’s Galileo’s quest to provide campers with a fun, dynamic environment where they can learn, grow and thrive. We invite you to join Galileo’s mailing list to learn more about the program and, if it’s a fit, to register for our 2018 camp season.