Best summer camps for your kids

PRE-SCHOOL CAMPS

Miss Christine's Art Camp (San Francisco)
>> LINK
There are lots of art classes, but this goes beyond the typical art projects and actually teaches the kids (pre-schoolers, mind you!) about art. Each day there is a theme (lines, sculpture, opaqueness) and Miss Christine tours them through the de Young Museum teaching them about the theme through the art. Then, they do an art project based on the theme. Miss Christine is a pre-school teacher when not doing camp and is really great with the preschoolers. (9:30 - 1:00 - $350)

Bay Area Discovery Museum (Sausalito)
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This is pre-school heaven because there are so many cool camps to choose from, like super-hero camp, princess camp, woodworking camp, rock star camp... And there's a lot of flexibility for parents; you can do half-day (either morning or afternoon) or full day. The staff is great, and the classes are really tailored for the kids developmental stages. ($250/half day, $450/full day)

PRE-K through GRADE SCHOOL CAMPS

Tree Frog Treks (San Francisco, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Ross, Piedmont)
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Kids at this camp get to experience summer the way it should be: climbing trees, tumbling down sand dunes, exploring caves, jumping in mud puddles, building forts, picking blackberries, making messes, and catching frogs (and putting them back)! Campers take several hiking field trips all over the Bay Area. They also meet the Trek's rescued reptiles and amphibians and create hands-on science and art projects. ($375 - $429, full day) **Great on-set visual possibilities!**

Techknowhow (locations all over the Bay Area)
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This camp offers a variety of computer, robotics, and LEGO® and K'NEX® building courses. Students work with exciting technology while completing interesting and challenging projects. Not to worry, kids do get a chance to get outside, too, during supervised, outdoor recess breaks in playgrounds and sports fields. [Other similar camps, if their locations aren't convenient: Pacific Coast Kids (Palo Alto) and Robotics for Kids (Oakland and Mountain View).] ($345 - $375) **Great on-set visual possibilities!**

Bargain Overnight Camp: Wanderers Camp
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Wanderers is a 1-week summer camp where where kids don't stay still. We spend our days touching tide pool starfish, finding huckleberries, spotting tule elk and playing among the redwoods. Team-building games, leadership exercises and an end-of-the-week challenge are all part of the fun. The Sonoma Coast Hiking and Camping Camp (for 3rd graders to 6th graders) spends 5 days hiking and camping in the State Parks in Marin. The camp is a bargain for sleepaway camps - only $595.

MIDDLE SCHOOL

Hiller Aviation Museum (San Carlos)
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Each week-long program provides an in-depth exploration into the world of flight. All sessions include hands-on model construction, realistic flight simulation missions, exclusive behind-the-scenes experiences in the Museum and exciting encounters with real aircraft and their pilots. Camp Skyhawk includes flight simulation, which is very cool. ($329/full day - grade school - $309)

Coastal Camp (Sausalito) Eco-Quest 10
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Campers begin their week in the Marin Headlands working with a team to analyze the human impact on marine life. Mid-week, campers step aboard the schooner Seaward to spend two days sailing around the bay conducting scientific research. Campers stay overnight on Angel Island. Campers create a research project, test theories, and document discoveries with a photo and video journal. On Friday, campers present findings to friends and family. ($545)

As a service to View From the Bay Viewers, Signupforcamp.com has compiled a list of free summer camps (yes - FREE!), camp scholarships and inexpensive camps. See list below:

FREE CAMPS - YES, TRULY FREE

Aim High
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Aim High as a free summer program for middle school students with locations throughout the Bay Area. The programs are by application only.

Golden Gateway Tennis and Swim Club - Free Jr. Counselor Program
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Golden Gateway offers a free Jr. Counselor program for teenagers (ages 13 to 17), allowing them to volunteer for a fun and rewarding summer experience. For more information about the program, contact Youth Program Director, Laura Safran at summerkidscamp@ggtsc.com.

Vietnamese Youth Development Center (VYDC)
VYDC offers free summer camp to kids ages 11 to17 that runs June 14 to August 13, Monday through Friday, from 2 to 6pm. For more information contact Mike Nguyen at mike@vydc.org or (415) 771-2600 x 107.

CAMP SCHOLARSHIPS

Foundation for Jewish Camp
Get Up To $2,500 for Camp! The JWest Campership Program seeks to increase the number of Jewish youth in the Western United States enrolled in Jewish overnight summer camps. The JWest Campership Program awards financial incentives of up to $2,500 over two or three years to middle school-aged kids who attend one of 23 nonprofit Jewish overnight camps for the first time. Funded by the generous support of the Jim Joseph Foundation, JWest is an initiative through the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Go to www.onehappycamper.org to learn more and apply!

CAMPS THAT OFFER SCHOLARSHIPS

Acrosports Circus and Specialty Camps - San Francisco
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Acrosports offers tuition assistance for families in need. Contact Acrosports for more information (415-665-2276).

Bay Area Discovery Museum - Sausalito
>> LINK
The Bay Area Discovery Museum has a scholarship program, however they have been exhausted for the 2010 camp season. BADM offers sibling discounts: register more than one child (from the same household) and receive $25 off each additional registration. BADM also offers $25 off the third session when you sign your child up for three or more sessions of camp.

Camp Edmo - All Bay Area
>> LINK
Camp Edmo as a scholarship program. Families can apply online. In addition, Camp Edmo also has a Magic Bird Discount through March 31st.

Chabot Space Explorers Summer Camp - East Bay
>> LINK
Space Explorers Summer Camp offers scholarships of up to $200 per camper for one session. Scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Apply onlne.

Cipriani After-School Care - Belmont, San Carlos
>> LINK
Cirpriani After-School Care offers a limited numbers of scholarships. More details

Crissy Field Summer Camp - San Francisco
>> LINK
provides the greatest amount of financial aid for summer camp in San Francisco! If your camper receives free or reduced-cost lunch, you automatically qualify for financial aid. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit our website or call (415) 561-7762 to request an application. Crissy Field began accepting financial aid applications on February 27th.

Crystal Springs Uplands School - Hillsborough
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The Crystal Springs Uplands School offers substantial financial aid to its summer programs. Applications are available online.

The Experiment in International Living - depart from LA airport
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The Experiment in International Living offers financial aid from 5% to 50% off the program fee. Contact the Experiment in International Living for more information.

GreenPlay Sustainable Summer Camp - Mill Valley, Larkspur and Tiburon
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Green Play offers scholarships with up to a 100% waiver of the cost of the summer camps. More details.

Judy Berlin's Kids On Camera TV/Film Acting Camp
>> LINK
Camp fees at Kid on Camera camera are relatively inexpensive at $280 per week. In addition, the scholarship program provides for a reduced fee for work exchange during class time. Work hours are evaluated and can result in a reduced fee of up to 40%. Contact Judy Berlin at (415) 440-4400 for more information. Scholarship applications are available at online.

Kids Outdoor Club - San Francisco
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Kids Outdoor Club offers both scholarships and discounts, including a 10% Early Bird Discount if you register and pay by April 1st. Teachers receive 30% off. Kids Outdoor Club has always prided itself on being a low cost, flexible alternative for families. There are a number of needs-based scholarships available. For more information, email info@kidsoutdoorclub.com.

MEEP Summer Camp (Miraloma Educational Enrichment Program) - San Francisco
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This year, MEEP is proud to offer scholarships and financial assistance for its summer camp sessions. The organization has varied scholarships and financial assistant programs to accommodate families. To obtain an application, please email meepgo@msn.com or call (415) 584-7080.

Oakland ZooCamp - Oakland
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The Oakland ZooCamp offers scholarships, however the funds have been exhausted for the 2010 season. The Zoo is hoping for more grant monies to accommodate those in need this year, so is still accepting scholarship applications to keep on file. They do offer an Early Bird Discount of 10% off if you register for ZooCamp by April 15th.

Presidio YMCA - San Francisco
>> LINK
The Presidio YMCA offers scholarships of up to 75% off the cost of the camp. Last year, they awarded over $50,000 in summer camp scholarships. Parents can apply using this online form or pick up an application at the branch.

TechKnowHow - All Bay Area
>> LINK
TechKnowHow offers scholarships for half-tuition at all of their locations. TechKnowHow has also extended its Early Bird Special until April 5th. Contact TechKnowHow at (650) 474-0400 for more information and an application.

CAMPS, $300 OR LESS PER WEEK

Academic Chess - $200 San Francisco, $175 San Jose
>> LINK
Academic Chess offers affordable camps. In addition, registrations received by April 30th get an extra 20% off. Sign up for multiple weeks for even more savings.

Acrosports Circus and Specialty Camps - $250 >> LINK Acrosports offers an exciting camp for relatively low cost.

Cipriani After-School Care - $210
>> LINK
All of the week-long camps at Cipriani After-School Care are $210 and the organization does offer limited numbers of scholarships.

Inspire Music - $290 (through Sign Up For Camp through 5/15 only)
>> LINK
Inspire Music is offering Sign Up For Camp visitors a discount of $60 per session when they enroll by May 15th.

Judy Berlin's Kids On Camera TV/Film Acting Camp
>> LINK
Camp fees at Kids On Camera are relatively inexpensive at $280 per week. In addition, the scholarship program provides for a reduced fee for work exchange during class time. Work hours are evaluated and can result in a reduced fee of up to 40%. Contact Judy Berlin at (415) 440-4400 for more information. Scholarship applications are available online.

Kinetic Arts Center Summer Circus Camp - $290
>> LINK
Kinetic Arts offers affordable and exciting camps.

Paye's Place - $175
>> LINK
Payes Place offers basketball camps and other sports camps at a very reasonable rate.

Presidio YMCA
>> LINK
Most camps are under $300 per week, including all traditional day camps and most of the speciality camps. Prices range from $235 to $410. In addition, before and after care (from 7:30AM to 6:00PM) are included in the cost of the camp, which is a great deal. See Presidio YMCA camp options.

San Mateo Gymnastics Camp - $199 to $260
>> LINK
At San Mateo Gymnastics, camp fees are $260 for kids ages 6 to 12 years old and $199 for kids ages 3.5 to 6 years old. A $10.00 discount will apply if registered by May 15.

SF Gymnastics - $255 members/$280 non-members
>> LINK
SF Gymnastics has half-day weekly sessions for even less and also has an early sign up discount.

West Valley Gymnastics - $297
>> LINK
West Valley Gymnastics in Santa Clara offers a full day (9:00 AM - 4:00 PM) for only $297. Half day is just $150. Discounts are also available, and the camp offers drop-ins.

A SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR VIEW FROM THE BAY VIEWERS

Kids Nature Adventures - San Francisco
>> LINK
Mention View From The Bay and get 15% off ($55.50 off) the camps at Kids Nature Adventures .

ABOUT SIGN UP FOR CAMP
The brand new website, www.signupforcamp.com, makes it easier for parents to plan their kids' summer schedules. In the Bay Area signupforcamp.com, offers the most comprehensive directory of camp listings online and it's available free to parents. From pre-school to high school, from day to sleep-away, the site covers the full gamut of camps, with the great benefit of easy access to camps outside of those a parent's network knows about.

The site lets you search by date, zip code, and by each child's age-so parents can identify camps that will take both children or be able to find camps for a handful of campers with similar hours in proximate locales. It also lets you read and share camp reviews written by other parents.

The benefit that parents are most excited about is the camp calendar. Camps of interest can be saved to the calendar, and the calendar can be shared with other families. Now families can see all the camps they and their friends are considering all on one page. No longer with parents have to send endless rounds of emails to ensure their kids end up in camp with a friend. And it makes arranging carpools much simpler.

ABOUT SIGN UP FOR CAMP FOUNDER JENNIFER SILVA
The idea for signupforcamp.com was born when Founder and working mother Jennifer Silva spent dozens of hours planning her son's summer last year. Between finding camps to fit her sons' passion for art and science, and coordinating with other moms to ensure that he'd have friends at camp, she sent out almost 100 emails arranging the summer. She didn't wish to endure the process for another 12 years-and not just with her son, but with her four-year-old daughter as well, and felt that there had to be a better way. Jennifer teamed up with other parents who knew just how painful and arduous signing up for camp can be. The company is now comprised of nine such parents, all currently working on their own dime to help fellow parents avoid the summer planning ordeal. Prior to founding Signupforcamp.com, Jennifer was the Vice President of Marketing and Merchandising for Sheet Music Plus. Under her leadership during her six-and-a-half year tenure, Sheet Music Plus's revenue grew from 6.5 to 25 million dollars. The website had nearly 2,000,000 visitors each month. Jennifer also serves on the board of the Golden Gate Mothers Group and has been very active in the San Francisco mother's community since her son was born seven years ago.

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