Berkeleysider Manny Hernandez asks a simple question on Twitter: “Deciding where to send our 6 y/o son for summer camp in Berkeley. Any tips, recos about this?”

Our boys were older than that when we moved to Berkeley, but we had great success with the Cal Youth Camps.

What do other Berkeleysiders think? Any great experiences to report? Let Manny (and others) know through our comments.

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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  1. Check out “Sees the Day” run by Kirk Cooper, who runs the afterschool at Prospect Sierra during the year. It’s set outside in Tilden, smallish group of kids, about nature and problem solving and conflict resolution. A huge favorite of all the kids I know who’ve gone. Email

    Sees the Day, A Classroom without Walls: A value based learning program committed to instilling in children a natural respect and reverence for each other and for all life on earth. Unique excursions, character education, self esteem games, beading, swimming, storytelling, earthworks, nature awareness, thankful circles, mystery guests, love, laughter and good old innocent fun. Takes place in Berkeley at Tilden Park/Lake Anza and Glendale La Loma Park including excursions to UC Berkeley science laboratories. Morning and afternoon snack provided.
    Age: 6-11 (CIT 12+yrs), Dates: 1 wk sessions 6/28-8/13, Time, 8:45-3:45, Ext. Day 3:45-5:15, Ratio 6:1, 20-24 campers. Cost: $300/wk, inquire about scholarships, Deadline: FCFS
    Info: 215-1313 or (10)

    A second favorite is Shakespeare camp at John Hinkel Park, but you have to be 7 to do that one.

  2. The Downtown Berkeley YMCA runs day camps for children about to start kindergarten up through their Leader In Training Program for those entering grades 8 to 10. It’s the only camp that I know of that is open to accept children at 7:30 in the morning and stays open until 6 p.m. At no extra charge for the time. In addition to the six age group camps, and the one multi-age camp, it also runs 11 Specialty Day Camps covering cooking, science, arts and sports. Thanks to donations from members of the Y and the community at large about a third of all campers attend on a reduced fee “scholarship” so that every child experiences the full diversity of Berkeley. I’m writing this as both a grandparent and a member of the Y’s Branch Board. And as someone who has been helping raise the money for those scholarships for 15 years. Going to their annual Family Night is one of the highlights of my summer. The kids love the place and the counselors and the programs.

  3. Our son loved Monkey Business in Tilden Park at age 6. Subsequent summers have been sports focused. If your son likes soccer, check out Footfire.

  4. Just want to second the motion re Berkeley Parents Network. This kind of question is BPN’s bread and butter.

  5. Check out Camp Galileo,, for an awesome K-5 camp experience. The counselors are amazing, and the curriculum is so fun, your 6-year-old won’t realize he is learning.

    If your son is a baseball player, you might also look into East Bay Summer Ball camp, It’s a sweet little camp run by a family, and counselors, who love kids and baseball.

    My sons, who are very sporty, have also loved the Cal Camps, both the rec and the sports camps.

  6. Sarah’s Science in Tilden is a great combination of traditional camp activities (being outside all day, running around in the dirt, learning songs and games, swimming in the lake) with some fun science. It’s not the cheapest but we’ve had excellent experiences there; my youngest started going when he was five. Our kids liked A World of Peace camp over the spring break, which involved trips to a different Bay Area location (by bus) each day; our (then-6-year-old) enjoyed himself greatly. Perhaps a bit less expensive than Sarah Science. Agreed that the Cal summer camps are a great intro to lots of activities, and it’s nice that they get swimming instruction every day.

    Agreed that there are many, many wonderful camp experiences available in Berkeley. If only we could all go, all summer long.

  7. Re Camp Kee Tov: Yes, they have a program for 6 year olds. They start with kids entering kindergarten and have a program for kids entering 1st and 2nd grades. See

  8. We run a one week overnight camp in Tilden for martial arts for all…. a little self-promoting, I know, but I have to say it’s intimate and fun and has given me ever MORE appreciation for Tilden.

    We’re small, too, with only about 25 kids…

    I any case I agree with those above — there are many, many great camps (so many that I wish I could be a camper all summer!)

  9. For little ones (5-7) I recommend monkey business- the counselors are great. My son also went to Berkeley City Camp at six and had a wonderful time. It also is the cheapest summer camp I’ve found. Cal camp at strawberry creek is super fun for sporty kids. They even have swim lessons. The Berkeley YMCA camps aren’t bad… finally camp kee tov is awesome but a bit expensive. Really, when it comes down to it, there are so many camp options in Berkeley you can’t really go wrong.

    Manny- I’m berzerkeley on twitter. Feel free to dm me and we can talk further.

  10. Been away from Berkeley for a few years now, but when I was a nanny, my kids went to East Bay School for (of?) the Arts – wonderful summer programs, and 6 year olds can participate. Not sure if they are still around, but worth investigating.

  11. My (now) 6 year olds loved Cal Explorer camp for learning new sports and the fun college-aged staff. They’re trying Sarah Science up in Tilden Park this summer. Not to dismiss the greatness of Berkeleyside, I’d recommend checking out because there really isn’t any source more exhaustive (maybe exhausting?) this than the Berkeley Parents Network.