As you may recall, earlier this week we mentioned how sports camps are gaining popularity in and around Los Angeles. Just this week we've heard from families wanting our opinion on the best football camps, hockey camps and tennis camps in the city. And even though we're about to head into the coldest time of year, three other moms emailed us about their kids' surf camp interest for the upcoming 2017 summer season.
One of the things we learned long ago through our involvement with camps is when children express interest in learning a new skill or trying a new activity, it’s best to help them pursue those interests as much as possible to the extent that you can.
In this manner, you will be helping your son or daughter learn more about themselves as a person by discovering their likes and dislikes, interests and non-interests, while simultaneously helping them increase their self confidence and esteem as they grow into happy, healthy adults.
If your son or daughter has expressed interest in learning to surf, why not sign them up for surf camp this summer?
Surfing and Summer Camp Were Made for Each Other
If you live in L.A., you probably already know we're blessed with some of the best beaches, weather, and waves in the world. After all, our local beaches are here and available for your child's enjoyment, and if you're like most L.A. parents, you'll probably be sending your child to camp this year.
Why not combine the two and sign your child up for surf camp? Surfing and summertime go hand in hand.
No Prior Surfing Experience? No Problem
What if My Child Doesn't Know How to Swim? Can They Still Go to Surf Camp?
Great question. The answer depends on what "kind" of surf camp you're looking for.
It's important to distinguish between a pure surf camp -- where surfing's the primary (if not the only) activity offered -- from other camps which may offer surfing as a smaller component to a more comprehensive summer program that might also boogie boarding, water play, sand games, and other beach-related activities in addition to surfing.
If you want a pure, dedicated surf camp program -- where surfing's the primary focus -- we highly advise learning to swim before signing up for the program. Sending your child to surf camp if they don't know how to swim could potentially be a very unsafe (and not very fun) proposition.
Now there's just one more thing to note.
Despite our personal thoughts on this subject, individual camps may have their own guilelines regarding previous swimming experience required of their campers. Check with the camp director for their particular policies before signing up for any program.
How to Choose a Surf Camp
Given the sheer number of surf camps available, it's tempting to type "Surf Camps Los Angeles" into Google, then sign up for the first one you find.
While that's not a bad way to find a surf camp, keep in mind ANYONE can make ANYTHING look good online! This means you must be absolutely certain you're not choosing some fly-by-night program that just started teaching kids to surf yesterday.
This isn't to say newer surf camps aren't qualified to deliver an outstanding camp experiences to your child. All we're saying is, it's pretty darn easy to put up a website, head down to the beach, set up a tent or canopy and call yourself a surf camp.
Fortunately, there's a number of reputable, established surf camp programs in L.A. and Malibu you can choose from. One consideration is to contact the American Camp Association for a referral to qualified surf camps in your area. Asking your friends if they can recommend a program is always a good strategy, too.
Once you find some surf camps that interest you, talk to each camp director to narrow down your choice. Eventually you'll find one or two you consider to be the best match for your child.
How Will My Child Get to Surf Camp?
This is an important question and one often overlooked by families when choosing a summer surfing program. If you don't live near the beach, or your work schedule prevents you from driving your child to camp yourself, consider a surf camp that provides transportation. Some of the surf camps providing transportation do so for free, while others charge extra for the convenience.
Other programs require you to pick-up and and drop-off your kids yourself, so you'll need to find a way to get your child to camp yourself while braving the beach traffic. One popular arrangement we've seen used at many surf camps is a carpool arrangement with other camper families. Ask the camp director to help you facilitate a carpool for your program if this idea would benefit you.
The main point to remember is you have numerous transportation options when it comes to getting your child back and forth to camp.
When Should We Sign Up for Surf Camp?
Many camps in the L.A. area, notably the more popular ones, tend to fill up quickly. Camps register children on a space-available basis, so when the last spot's gone, it's generally gone for good. The only option you may have at that point is to join the waiting list and hope for the best.
All in all, when you find a program that appeals to you, it's best to register sooner rather than later. This way you can sidestep the frustration and disappointment of finding a surf camp your child's eager to try, only to find out later they don't have room for you.
Los Angeles Winter Break Camps
The Holidays are almost here, so your kids will be home from school for several weeks. Why not sign up for a winter break camp here in L.A.?
For the most part we generally stick to the topic of summer camps around here. But Thanksgiving's only two days away, and that means the kids will be home from school for winter break in just a few weeks. If you're looking for something for them to do, why not consider a winter break camp?
In general, you may need to stick with a day camp type of program rather than a resident camp experience as we are unaware of any sleepaway camps serving kids on winter break here in L.A. But assuming a day camp suits you (and why wouldn't it, because you're probably just looking for something to keep your kids occupied for a brief period of time), here's a few options to consider.
LA Zoo Camp
Campers enjoy games, crafts and activities at the LA Zoo. Camp runs from 9am to 3pm with extended care available. Prices range from $60 to $65 per day depending on if you're a member or non-member. Dates of the camp are from December 26-30.
Tumbleweed Day Camp has an outstanding winter camp program. We know this for a fact because we used to work there :) The price for the camp is just $135 per day. This price includes free transportation. The camp is available to campers from PK through 8th grade. Activities offered include sports and games, Gaga, horseback riding, arts and crafts and many more of the very same activities offered at Tumbleweed's popular winter camp program.
Got Game Camp is another L.A. winter camp program you might consider. This one caught our interest because campers get to choose their own activities while deciding for themselves what they want to do all day. Sounds fun to us! The program takes place at Hancock Park Elementary School. The camp runs from December 19, 2016 to Jan 6, 2017. Prices vary depending on when you sign up (Early Bird discount ends Dec. 4) and how many days you attend the program.
These aren't the only L.A. Winter Camps Available!
We've only listed three L.A. winter camp opportunities as a means to help you get started on your winter camp program search. There are many more opportunities available. Here's a few final links you can visit with listings to various local programs.
10 Boredom Busting Winter Break Camp for Kids
L.A. Winter Break Camp for Kids
Los Angeles Winter Camp Guide
We are here to help
Hopefully we have provided some helpful information to get your started in terms of finding a suitable winter break camp. We are here to help, so please leave a comment if you have any questions or concerns and we will respond right away. Happy Holidays!
Since we started this blog over a year ago we've gotten various calls and emails from parents who've asked various camp-related questions. We get it -- you can never have too much information when you're looking for the right camp for your kids!
While the types of questions vary, one that comes up time and again is from parents of younger kids who are considering sending their kids to camp for the first time. In general, these are parents of preschoolers who want to know which camps are better than others in terms of serving first-time campers, and when is the right age to start sending their kids to camp?
We always want to give helpful advice. We checked online to see if we could find any camps that specialize in serving first-time campers plus any other resources that might be helpful to you.
Accordingly, here's an article that seems to offer some very good advice concerning How to Choose a Preschool Summer Camp. In addition, here's a website that lists various summer camps in L.A. for preschoolers. And if your preschool-age child loves the beach, you might look into Keiki Camp which takes place at Paradise Cove in Malibu. Beach camp specializing in preschool age boys and girls who are going to summer camp for the first time.
Special Needs Summer Camps
If you're looking for a summer camp for your child with special needs, we can help point you in the right direction
One of the points we've always tried to make throughout this blog and the L.A. summer camps website is there is a camp for every child. This includes campers with special needs. There are camps for children with autism, camps for campers who are blind, camps for children with epilepsy, and so many more.
How to find a special needs summer camp in Los Angeles
We suggest a two-pronged approach when searching for a summer camp for your child with special needs.
First, do a simple internet search on Google. We did this ourselves, typing in "Camp for kids with special needs in Los Angeles." A number of websites came up that appear to be extremely worthwhile resources.
Two of the websites that really caught our attention are Special Camps for Special Kids and Very Special Camps.com. Have a look at theses two sites when you get the chance. There seems to be a number of special needs summer camps listed on each of these sites which may help you find just what you're looking for.
The next step we suggest is contacting the American Camp Association (ACA). This organization represents thousands of member camps, including many which specialize in serving children with special needs. When you contact the ACA, ask them for a referral or recommendation for the type of camp you're looking for in your area. They will be happy to help.
Do you run a special needs summer camp? Can you recommend one?
We realize the majority of those who read this blog are parents, kids and families looking for Los Angeles summer camp programs. In many cases, however, camp owners and directors read this blog, too.
So if you are involved in the camp industry and run a special needs summer camp, or you are aware of any such camps in the L.A. area that readers of this blog might want to know about, please share your information in the comments section below. It would be much appreciated!
How to Save $200 at Summer Camp
Yesterday we blogged about how to find the best summer camp discounts, basically pointing out you'll almost always find the best savings during the fall. Just to follow up, today we learned JCC Maccabi Sports Camp is offering a $200 discount if you sign up for camp by December 1. If your child's interested in a sports camp, this might be something you'd want to look into.
If sending your child to camp seems to get more expensive every year, trust us - it's not an illusion. One of the main reasons why is because most camps need to raise prices each year to keep up with rising operating costs.
Counselor salaries, program and activity improvements, insurance premiums and so forth are increasingly difficult costs for camps to absorb. Typically, a given camp's only solution is to pass these costs on to you in the form of higher tuition rates, otherwise they couldn't stay open summer after summer.
Hot Summer Camp Discount Tip
Now even though camps seem to raise prices every year, that doesn't mean you can't save good money.
To the contrary, many camps generally offer very nice savings opportunities at various times throughout the year.
Here's a hot tip to help you save money on summer camp. Even though you could probably get at least a small discount (and maybe more than just a small one) simply by asking the camp director what they can do for you, most camps offer their biggest discounts of the year during the fall for the upcoming summer after their current year's program just ended.
Why do Camps Offer Their Best Discounts in the Fall?
Just to reiterate, you will generally always get your best discount from any camp during the fall months of September through November. This is because camps are seasonal businesses and only have a limited window of time to generate as much income as possible until the next money-making summer season rolls around. During the fall, camps don't usually make any income whatsoever -- it's their slowest income stream period of the year, so camp directors are often willing to do whatever it takes to get at least SOME money in during their slowest off-season months. "Whatever it takes" is good news for you, because it means offering some really nice discounts for the upcoming summer if you're willing to pay in advance.
What Kind of Discounts Are We Talking About?
How does 50% off grab you? That's right, we've seen some camps offering as much as a 50% discount for families who sign up for next summer's camp during the previous fall. (In other words, you'd need to and prepay in full for summer 2017 during the fall of 2016 to get a 50% discount.)
While the size of this rather large 50% discount may be an exception to the rule, there's no doubt you can find several camps offering incredible savings opportunities of varying degrees throughout L.A. by doing a little online research. We suggest Googling, "Fall season summer camp discounts" or something close.
The point to remember is when you sign up for camp during the fall for the upcoming summer, you'll discover lots of opportunities to save money which would not be available to you by waiting just a few months longer until the tradition camp enrollment season starts, demand for camp increases, and enrollment activity is highest everywhere.
Perhaps the most common way parents and kids find summer camps these days by searching online. And one of the most common search phrases they type into Google is, "Best Los Angeles Summer Camps" or some variation.
We're not surprised, and we certainly understand. There's no question every parent in the world wants only the best for their kids. The question, however, is this: Is there really an absolute BEST camp here in L.A.? Is there an absolute "best camp" anywhere?
The answer is both yes and no.
Why there's no single "BEST" L.A. Summer Camp
It would almost be impossible to say one camp is better than all the rest. Nobody could ever agree on that because there's so much subjective criteria involved. You might think one camp's the best because they have the lowest prices. But your friend might think a different camp's better because they offer transportation. There's just too many different elements to consider, and each one carries varying levels of importance to each person. So saying this camp is better than that camp can't really ever be accurate -- the elements that determine what makes a camp good or bad are just too personal from family to family.
Why there's DEFINITELY a "BEST" Camp for You
Now just because we can't make a blanket statement as to which camp is the best, here's the good news: There's certainly a potential "best camp" (or group of camps) for your child within the specific context of what you're looking for. Here's what we mean.
Prior to beginning your camp search, you probably identified a specific list of features that are important to you in an L.A. summer program. For your particular purposes, camps that meets that specific criteria would qualify as being among the best.
Here's an example. Let's say you're looking for an overnight camp in Pasadena. Once you locate this type of program in your camp search, suddenly you've found what could be the "best camp" for you.
Comparatively, however, the family next door (for whatever reason) might be adamantly against sending their kids to a Pasadena overnight camp. So they'd automatically rule that program out; that program would never come close to being the best camp for them, even though it could be the best one for you.
Everyone Has their Own Opinion About Which Camp is the Best
If you've read this far, hopefully you agree finding the best summer camp is purely a subjective process. If I think mushrooms are the best tasting food in the world, but you personally hate mushrooms, there's really nothing in the world I could do to change your mind. It's entirely personal preference.
So next time your friend says, "Hey, I just found L.A.'s best summer camp, let's sign up for it," you might want to check it out yourself. It might not be the best camp for you... but then again, maybe it could...
Local Day Camp Introduces Hawaii Summer Camp Overnight Program for Kids and Teens
We always like to highlight the movers and shakers in the local camp industry, as well as those up and coming summer programs in and around L.A.
To that end, many people are familiar with Aloha Beach Camp's local summer day camp program. But did you know Aloha offers a Hawaii sleepaway camp, too?
About Aloha Beach Camp's Hawaii Summer Program
Aloha Beach Camp's Hawaii sleepaway camp is the real deal. It's for boys and girls ages 6 to 15 who are looking for all the fun an overnight summer camp experience can offer at the most beautiful place for a camp in the world.
Aloha's Hawaii summer camp program takes place at YMCA Camp Erdman, a breathtaking 20-acre facility on the beautiful North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The camp is located right on the beach, magnificently situated between the mountains and the sea. The camp offers offers clean cabins, three delicious meals each day, and tons of amazing activities, many of which are unique to Hawaii.
Hawaii Summer Camp Counselors and Staff
Many of the same camp counselors who work at Aloha Beach Camp's day camp program also work at the Hawaii camp. The staff is trained, experienced, caring, and has your child's best interests in mind to make sure this program will be the most fun they've ever had at camp! All Aloha counselors are Red Cross certified in CPR and First Aid, and each is a certified Lifeguard.
Registration, Dates and Prices
Aloha Beach Camp's Hawaii summer program runs for just one week from Monday, July 31 through Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. The price to attend is $1599 per camper, plus airfare and spending money. The camp offers a payment plan to help make paying easier, but families choosing to pay in full upon enrollment receive a $50 discount.
Some families have asked about any potential requirement to attend both the day camp and overnight camp programs. It's important to note that duel attendance at both camps is not necessary; campers may choose to attend Aloha Beach Camp's day camp, overnight camper, or both. However, there is one caveat.
If you are considering signing up for the Hawaii summer camp, keep in mind that overnight camps generally tend to fill up sooner than day camps. Moreover, Aloha keeps its Hawaii summer camp enrollment intentionally low (they only have room for 30 kids), so its best to sign up sooner rather than later to make sure your child's spot is secure and you can and avoid the waiting list.
Additional registration information for Aloha Beach Camp's Hawaii summer camp is available here.
Blog posts by Cora Carter of L.A. Summer Camps.com