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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz County
Off to Camp We Go!
April 11, 2016
The Adventure of Camping

Day Camps
Keep Camp In Summer
The Arts

What if we gave them all the science they wanted?
Science Camps
Snacks for Campers
Sports Camps
Swim Lessons
Overnight Camps
Summer Festivals
Click to view our Business Directory
  The Adventure of Camping

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"If only school could be as much fun as camp..." said a young girl who just happens to be a local.  Indeed, children love to have fun.  It's their job.  And camp leaders know how to create fun environments and great memories. 

We think a camp experience --overnight, special interest or day-- creates memories for a lifetime, not to mention building character. Fortunately there are many creative people in Santa Cruz offering a great variety of camps with a wide range of fees, a camp for every budget.

(A Camps 2016) Camp_Owls_Yvette.jpgGo online to our A-Z SUMMER CAMP DIRECTORY to find detailed descriptions and contact information.

If you know of a camp we have missed, let us know! Click on the camp ads below to reach their websites and you will be delighted with the quality programs available. 

Have fun planning a great summer! Parmalee

Soccer Player from Santa Cruz Soccer Camp ~ Owls by art students at The Art Factory


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  Day Camps

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Baymonte Summer Quest  Kruz Kids
Renaissance Camp
Boulder Creek Camps La Selva Beach Day Camp Santa Cruz City Parks & Rec
Boys and Girls Club Live Oak Farm Camp Santa Cruz County Parks & Rec
Boys In the Woodz Montessori Scotts Valley Santa Cruz Montessori
Camp Auxilium Mount Madonna
Santa Cruz Waldorf
Camp Capitola Mt Cross SLV Quest
Camp Gateway Mt Hermon Redwood Camp Tara Redwood Inner Compass
Camp Kayetz Ohana Gymnastics Watsonville Parks & Rec
Camp Seascape Orchard Performing Arts Watsonville YMCA Day Camp
  Quail Hollow Time Travelers Sammy Slug Summer Camp
Campus Kids Connection Quaker Camp Kennolyn Camps

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  Keep Camp In Summer

By Marla Coleman

(A Camps 2016) CampHiking.jpgAfter 150 years, the idea of reforming the nation's schools by extending the length of the school year would be tragic for American education. Whether it's day camp or sleepaway, children learn what they cannot glean in school. A nation whose top priority is education in the broadest sense needs to have camp as a cornerstone of learning. One mother I know compares the morning ritual of donning the camp shirt to "changing into a Superman cape" for her son, because of the self-confidence he gets. Just about anyone who has been to camp knows the feeling. It's one of the lessons that camp, as an informal, experiential learning community, teaches better than school. Campers develop more sophisticated social skills and grow more independent, more adventurous and more willing to try new things.

(A Camps 2016) CampGame.jpgA parent once told me that the family was on a ski vacation, and his son was apprehensive at the top of a difficult run. The father "talked him down" by making this simple statement: "Pretend you are at camp. What would you do?" The child responded, "Thanks, Dad, I've got it from here." Down the slope he went.

The skills camp teaches are also crucial for competing successfully in the adult world. Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of "Emotional Intelligence," discovered in his studies of highly successful adults that it wasn't grades but other qualities that distinguished them from peers: empathy, optimism, teamwork and the ability to bounce back from failure. These are not subjects offered at school.

(A Camps 2016) CampFireMarshmallow.jpgThe teacher-centric mode of instruction isn't favorable for encouraging human connections; classroom walls limit hands-on experience in the natural world. Even a champion for year-round school wrote recently in The Washington Post that her children learn more during camp-like intersessions in their modified-calendar school than in the classroom: "My daughter had no idea that she was learning chemistry when her Harry Potter class made butter beer and chocolate frogs. My son developed a much better grasp of plot and character when he had to create both on film." This is how learning happens at camp every day. In school, we learn about biology by dissecting a dead critter, whereas at camp, we observe the wonder of the living world by trying to grasp a hopping amphibian in its natural habitat.

(A Camps 2016) camp_wadinginstream.jpgAnd research shows that increased contact with nature can improve problem-solving, creativity, self-esteem and self-discipline. It's not that school has failed, but that camp is also essential. Might they be the yin and yang of education? Because camp doesn't teach to a standardized test, and keeps no grades or permanent records, children are free to go at their own pace to conquer their fears. One child whose dread of horses left him afraid even to get on a carousel, for example, sat self-assuredly on a horse at camp within a few weeks. Time after time, parents will describe their child as defiant or teachers will label a child as a poor listener, while camp counselors manage to channel the same child's energy onto the courts, fields, stages or workshops. Children often shine when they can focus on what they are good at.

(A Camps 2016) CampSEALabTidepool.jpgPhilliber Research studied 80 camps in 2003 and 2004 and noted significant growth in campers' self-esteem, independence, leadership, friendship skills, social comfort, peer relationships, courage, environmental awareness, ethics and spirituality. A national survey conducted in 2007 by TRU, a youth research company, found that middle and high school students who attended camp are less likely than non-campers to say they drink, use marijuana or engage in sexual behavior. They also may be less prone to obesity.

Text-messaging, e-mail and video games, have made children more sedentary than ever. From this point of view, increasing the amount of time spent at a school or homework desk by hours, days or months is not a feasible solution for improving education. But let's say Obama's plan passes, and it becomes impossible to have summer camp.

(A Camps 2016) Camp_SwimJump.jpgIs there any hope of salvaging some of the experience? Already camps partner with schools, offering after-school care, weekend and extended-vacation camp experiences. We would see more of this, though these programs lack the unique design and intentions of a camp community. Unless we are certain that more of the same will yield better educational results, as opposed to what we get from a more holistic approach, we must defend the camp tradition. Remember, more school does not equal better-educated children. As one veteran youth counselor says, "School prepares you for college. Camp prepares you for life."

Marla Coleman is a past president of the American Camp Association. She and her family own Coleman Country Day Camp. President Barack Obama's ambitious plans for reforming the nation's schools include extending the length of the school year. "You're competing for jobs with kids from India and China," Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan told students recently in Denver. "Schools should be open six, seven days a week; eleven, twelve months a year." If this sounds like a pretty good idea, think about this: It would mean the end of summer camp as we know it.

  The Arts

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All About Theatre

Aptos Academy of Performing Arts

Aptos Music Camp

Art Factory

Be Natural Music

Community Music School


Cabrillo Youth Chorus

Earth Art Studio

Orchard Peforming Arts

Musical Me

Santa Cruz Mountain Arts

International Academy of Dance

CYT Musical Theatre Camp

Earth Art Studio

Seven Directions

Steps Dance

Studio 501

Studio Sprout

Melody Magic Camp

Watershed Art

West Performing Arts

Young Actor's Theatre Camp

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If I create from the heart,

nearly everything works;

if from the head, almost nothing.”

Marc Chagall

"Ah, music," he said,

wiping his eyes.

"A magic beyond all we do here!"
- J.K. Rowling,

Harry Potter and

the Sorcerer's Stone



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  What if we gave them all the science they wanted?

(A Camps 2016) OSE_MAGNIFY.jpgby Irvin Lindsey

If our kids have a primal interest it's probably science. The continual asking "Why" shows an insatiable and likely genetic thirst for learning. We've even begun to document various health benefits of learning in nature such as improved eyesight, memory, creativity, focus, social skills, relief from stress and even science test scores. A multi-sensory approach to science activities (or just about any school subject) can be particularly effective for comprehension, interest and retention.

(A Camps 2016) OSE_ScienceGirl2.jpgAnd today we know true science literacy can put students ahead in long term academics with better schools and jobs and higher life time earnings. Such literacy is also very important if not crucial for society's future. Perhaps now we're ready to face a new question. Have you ever wondered what it'd be like for kids and their future if we actually gave them all the science they could learn?

Then how can we get more long term science for kids? We know they like it and parents want it. We know it's very important. How can we insist and help schools teach it? One challenge can be that the unique logistics of teaching science can be overwhelming. Educators might wonder how to stay abreast of the varying fields of discoveries. And how to find, pay for, store and replace materials might be a challenge, too.

I taught a few years in the classroom and some more years with the nonprofit Outdoor Science Exploration and its Classroom Science Fun. With a focus on active learning activities with positive reinforcement and fun, students have sometimes applauded at the end of class. To me it's just science, but to them it's new and exciting. Classes are popular with participant families, and many wish all students could receive advanced science. There's been a large and steady increase in parent interest for their kids to get real science. Parents from different income levels and education backgrounds know many values of science for their kids. At the same time there seems to be a decrease in long and short term science opportunities at elementary schools until sometimes it's not really there.

(A Camps 2016) OSE_Spin.jpgBut some schools offer or could offer advanced science. All it takes is genuine support from the school community. Through active learning we know that elementary kids can understand a variety of energy topics, the laws of motion, fluid behavior, elements and the periodic table, properties of sound and light, and a whole lot more. Fifth graders can learn to balance chemistry equations. And even early elementary kids, before they are adept at writing, can understand the path of blood through all 4 chambers of the heart and explain the joke at home "why do parents and teachers not have kidneys?" (they have adult knees). Many elementary schools have been exemplary in supporting the effort to get challenging and fun science to their students. How lucky those kids are.

Recent research on kids and outdoor experiences

Outdoor Science Exploration and its Classroom Science Fun is a 501c3 Irvin Lindsey started about 19 years ago with a like-minded teacher, Diane Cornell. Today OSE/CSF teaches ~150 afterschool classes at local public and private schools during the school year, 5 weeks of summer field trips to Santa Cruz area parks and beaches, and for older youth there is a Yosemite backpack week near the end of July.

  Science Camps

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WOLF (Web of Life Field) School

MOD SCChildren's Museum of Discovery

Outdoor Science Fun

Seymour Ocean Explorers

Camp SEA Lab


Life Lab Science

Cabrillo Summer Programs

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  Snacks for Campers

(A April 2016) Beets_Rainbow.jpgRainbow Beets make a great snack in lunches! Although beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables most people can safely eat beet roots a few times a week, enjoying not only their sweet, earthy flavor but also their powerhouse nutrients that may improve health in several ways. Of course most children do not need to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation or detox, but learning to like and benefit from eating vegetables can serve them well all their lives.

(A April 2016) RainbowSpringRolls.jpgAnother Great Snack is Rainbow Spring Rolls made with rice wraps (or any wrap you like), rice noodles and any vegetable you have on hand. Try these ingredients, all raw: lettuce, thin slices of beets, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, cilantro, shredded cabbage (green or red), mint or basil. Little bits of shrimp or chicken add to the flavor.  Wrap, chill and when ready to eat dip into your homemade peanut sauce made from: no-sugar-added peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, no-sugar-added hot sauce to taste and water to thin.  Refrigerate and eat the next day!

If you've never worked with Spring Rolls, go here for a quick tutorial.

  Sports Camps

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Adventure Sports

Aikido Santa Cruz

Basketball Jones Hoop Camp

Bike Dojo Camp

 Camp Flip, Ohana Gymnastics

Catalyst Soccer

Lightspeed Martial Arts

MB Horse Center

Monte Vista Equestrian

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Santa Cruz Soccer Camp

Surf School Santa Cruz

Toadal Fitness Camps

UCSC Sailing

Valley Sports Camp

Horse 'n Around

Luma Yoga

Pleasant Valley Horse Club

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  Swim Lessons

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 Adventure Sports Unlimited  Santa Cruz Jr. Lifeguards Jim Booth Swim School
 Cabrillo Swim School  Seahorse Swim School  SLV Swim Center
 Cougar Swim School  Simpkins Swim Center  SC County Swim Classes
 Santa Cruz County Jr Guards  Capitola Jr. Guards  
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  Overnight Camps

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Camp Campbell

Camp Hammer

Camp Koinonia

Camp Winnarainbow

Frontier Ranch at Mission Springs

Growing Up Wild

Monte Vista Horsemanship

Mt. Hermon Camps

Camp Unalaye

Kennolyn Camp

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  Summer Festivals

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Summer Camp Guide
click to view website
  Summer Camp Guide
view all details >>
Summer Camp Guide
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  Summer Camp Guide
view all details >>
The Gilroy Garlic Festival
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  The Gilroy Garlic Festival
Gilroy Garlic Festival
Date: Every day (Jul 26-Jul 28)
Ages: All
Details: "Ultimate Summer Food Fair"; three days of incredible food, beverages, arts & crafts, live entertainment and
Special Instructions: Santa Teresa Blvd & Club Dr
City: Gilroy Phone: 408-846-6886 view all details >>
Summer Camp Guide
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  Summer Camp Guide
view all details >>
California Rodeo Salinas
click to view website
  California Rodeo Salinas
California Rodeo
Date: Every day (Jul 18-Jul 21)
Ages: All
Details: 2018 California Rodeo... Cowgirl and Cowboy Up!
City: Salinas Phone: (831)775-3100 view all details >>
Summer Camp Guide
click to view website
  Summer Camp Guide
view all details >>
Scottish Games & Celtic Festival
click to view website
  Scottish Games & Celtic Festival
Scottish Society of the Monterey Peninsula
Date: Every day (Aug 3-Aug 4) from 9:00am to 6:00pm
Details: Pipe bands, Drum Major and Solo and Pipe Band competitions, Highland Dancing, Irish Step Dancing, Sheepdog Herding and...
City: Monterey Phone: (831) 682-2022 view all details >>
Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival
click to view website
  Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival
City of Watsonville
Date: Every day (Aug 4-Aug 5) from 10:00am to 7:00pm
Details: Strawberries, music, food and strawberries every way you can imagine
City: Watsonville Phone: 831-768-3240 view all details >>
Scotts Valley Art, Wine & Beer Festival
click to view website
  Scotts Valley Art, Wine & Beer Festival
Chamber of Commerce Scotts Valley
Date: Every day (Aug 17-Aug 18) from 10:00am to 6:00pm
Details: Come enjoy fine art, wine & beer tasting, great food, and live entertainment in an open park setting
City: Scotts Valley view all details >>
Summer Camp Guide
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  Summer Camp Guide
view all details >>
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