You’ve planned an amazing summer for your kids, one packed with camps, family travel, trips to the beach, time at the local library or just relaxing at home. But not everything always goes as planned.
There may be gaps between when one camp ends and the next begins. Or maybe your family trip starts midweek and you don’t want to pay for a full week of camp when your child will be missing most of it. Drop-in day camps can help fill those gaps. They can also give your child a chance to try something new without committing to it long term. Have your kids always wanted to try surfing? Rock climbing? Painting? There’s a camp for that. And there are plenty of options in the L.A. area.
Creativity and Kids’ Choice
Stacie Harris-Williams, who lives in Baldwin Hills, loves Steve and Kate’s Camp (steveandkatescamp.com) almost as much as her 10-year-old son Elijah does. He’s been going to this camp for six years.
“We didn’t need a camp that Elijah could attend every day, since he has a grandmother who is happy to take him on outings and spend time with him in the summer,” says Harris-Williams. “But we still wanted him to have the camp experience.”
The camp boasts a wide range of activities to choose from at its five area locations – Beverly Hills, Valley Village, Pasadena, Manhattan Beach and West L.A. – through late August. The goal is to provide maximum flexibility and maximum fun. No need to call ahead. Just book online and show up. Passes are good at any of the locations nationwide, so your child can spend some days at a local Steve and Kate’s Camp and some days at a camp farther afield.
With guidance from enthusiastic counselors, campers can learn moviemaking, bread baking, music, sewing, coding and robotics. “Kids decide for themselves what they want to do on a minute-to-minute basis,” says Kevin Kahn, director of Steve and Kate’s Camp in Valley Village.
Lunches and snacks are included in the $90-$110-per-day fee. The camp, which is open from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., is open to preschoolers through seventh graders and can accommodate campers with disabilities.
For Summer Fun, Just Add Water
Anderson Adventure Camp H20, held at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena (rosebowlaquatics.org), features swimming and diving lessons for kids in first through seventh grade. But the program also has an arcade room, arts and crafts, board games, capture the flag, dodgeball, kickball and sports that include water polo, flag football and soccer.
Special events – a barbecue, camp carnival, magic show, water wars and visits from farm animals – vary weekly. Campers also go on field trips once a week to places such as Knott’s Berry Farm, Raging Waters, laser tag, ice skating, bowling and miniature golf.
You can choose to send your child for a day, a week or more, with no minimum number of days or weeks per summer. Field trip days tend to fill up quickly, so it’s best to book these well in advance. Hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. for $68 per day, with extended care available until 6 p.m. for $12. The camp runs through Aug. 23.
Sports and More
Located at Hancock Park Elementary School in Mid-City’s Miracle Mile neighborhood, Got Game Sports Camp (gotgamecamp.com) invites campers ages 4-14 on a day-by-day basis as long as space is available. In addition to Friday field trips (book in advance), Got Game offers a daily variety of indoor and outdoor activities, water play and special on-site surprises. “Our camp is home to the most fun, loud, inspiring, engaging, totally awesome and experienced coaching staff around,” says owner Korey “Coach K” Kalman. “Our coaches facilitate activities such as sports and games, short- and long-term art, science and collaborative projects, robotics, drama, dance, water play and so much more.”
The camp runs through Aug. 16 and is able to accommodate students with disabilities, working with families one-on-one to create the best atmosphere for their campers. Camp fee is $75 per day for the 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. session, with extended care from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. for $12.
Catch Ride to the Beach
“What sets us apart is the fact that we are the only surf camp in Pasadena,” says Zach James, general manager of Summer of Surf (summerofsurf.com). “We want every child to experience the stoke of surfing, so we provide transportation to the beach.”
Summer of Surf will pick up kids ages 7-18 living in the Pasadena, South Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge area and drive them to the beach in Santa Monica. The camp provides surfboards, wetsuits, bodyboards, shade tents, beach games and snacks. Campers bring their own lunch, towel, sunscreen and water. Hat, sandals and sweatshirts are recommended as well. Summer of Surf maintains a minimum 1-to-4 instructor-to-surfer ratio. For first-time surfers and those dealing with anxiety or special needs, a 1-to-1 ratio is available.
Pick-up time is 8-8:45 a.m., drop-off is 3:10-4 p.m. and extended care is available until 6 p.m. for an extra fee. Camp fees range from $149 per day to $629 per week, with a discount for parents providing their own transportation. Camp runs through Aug. 30.
Make an Artful Mess
For kids who want to experiment, create and get messy, Makers Mess Summer Art Camp (makersmess.com/kidscamp) is the ticket. Located in Silver Lake, Makers Mess is a great creative outlet for ages 4-12.
Weekly themes include color theory, shape exploration, collage, recycled art, figure making, nature and art, masked crusaders, prints on prints, science of art and lotions and potions. The $85 per day or $375 per week fee gets you creative time from 9 a.m.-3 p.m,. and the camp runs through Aug. 30.
Rock Climbing Rocks!
If your kids are getting stir crazy and climbing on the furniture, why not get them out of the house and have them try rock climbing instead?
“What separates this camp from other camps is its mission to introduce kids to a nontraditional sport in a setting where they challenge themselves while having fun doing it,” says Veronika Hair, recreational program manager at Sender One (senderoneclimbing.com), with a location near Los Angeles International Airport.
Climbing camps for ages 6-13 are designed to introduce the fundamentals of rock climbing through action-packed activities. Kids will climb soaring walls, balance on a slackline, crawl through obstacles, zip line through the gym and conquer the elements in Sender City.
You have to book at least 48 hours in advance, and camps are filled on a first-come first-served basis. Children who have disabilities but have fine-motor control, some degree of independence and the ability to process and follow instructions can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis. Sessions are half day, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or 12:30-4:30 p.m., and cost $89 each (or $399 per week). Early drop-off and late pick-up are available for a fee and the camp runs through Aug. 23.
You’ll notice that drop-in programs generally cost more than camps you book by the session, but they can be a great option if you’re stuck. And even though many of these programs don’t require much in the way of advance reservations, it’s a good idea to at least scope out your options. You just might find a new favorite activity that gives your child a break from the ordinary, or even sparks a new interest.
Rachel Zimmerman Brachman is a writer, educator and outreach specialist. She and her son live in Sherman Oaks.