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Drop in summer camps (or the alternative to emergency childcare)

June 30, 2010

Summer is here,  and many parents have lined up several weeks of camp and several weeks of  downtime for their kids.  But what happens if you get in a bind during those downtime weeks? You have an appointment that can’t be rescheduled or an opportunity for a short project —  or maybe there’s just too much downtime (your child’s friends are at camp and he or she is getting bored). This is when a drop-in camp can be a lifesaver.

Below are a few examples of San Francisco Bay Area camps which offer more options than just weekly registration.  A couple are so flexible you could actually drop your child off at the last minute for a day of camp.  Most require some pre-paid days, registration, and/or some notice so they make sure the camp is properly staffed.  At a few camps the one-day registration process may not be very clear on their website, so don’t hesitate to call them for help.  We find summer camp folks to be pretty friendly!

Camp Doodles
Three locations in Marin, plus now three convenient pick-up locations in San Francisco,  provides many Camp Doodle options.  Register for any number of weeks ($300 per week before 6/1) or days ($75 per day).  Their whole-summer option is $1800, plus a bit more for extended care.  Optional hot lunch is available for purchase at all locations.  Camp day runs from 9:00am – 3:30pm, with earlier/later pick-up/drop-off from San Francisco.

Kids Outdoor Club
This camp meets in Speedway Meadow of Golden Gate Park, but travels within the park and elsewhere in the city.  There’s a 5-day punch-card option ($425) which you can use any time during the summer on a drop-in basis.  Full day camp runs from 9am – 5pm, with an extended day option.   There’s also a punch card  for their half-day program (9:00-1:30) for a bit less ($325).  Once you have the punch card you can drop-in any day without advanced notice.    Note:  There’s  a punch card discount of 10% through May 30th.

Andy Harader Tennis
This camp in Palo Alto, for kids 7-16,  has a daily rate of $70 available.  You can register in advance on their website to let them know the dates you are planning to attend.  This sounds like a perfect option if you have another full week of tennis camp and want to add on a few more days for extra practice. Camp is half-day only, 9am – 12pm.

Steve and Kate’s Camp
With 19 Northern CA locations, Steve and Kate’s sets the bar for maximum flexibility.  They’ve been going strong since 1980 and have the logistics down pat.  You can buy any number of days ($75 per day) and use them anytime at any location. Unused days are fully refunded automatically. Alternatively, the “20-Day Bundle”  is just enough to get in the groove and is  a great deal at $1200 ($60 per day).  But the best value of all is the All Summer Membership at $2100.  (This is less than $50 per day, if you take full advantage.)   Camps are open from 7:30am – 6pm and include all lunches, snacks and drinks.  (And the food sounds fantastic BTW.)

The Dancing Paintbrush
The Dancing Paintbrush in Berkeley provides lessons on color theory and famous artists in art history, go on field trips, and host special guests to spark the creative process. They encourage individual exploration of personal themes and interests and value working together and sharing ideas. Drop-in students are welcome at the rate of $75/day on a space available basis. Please contact them at least 24 hours in advance to see if space is available. There are no drop-ins on Field Trip days.

Sticky Art Lab
Sticky Camp fills the mornings with a structured art or craft project (with local artists whenever possible), then in the afternoon the kids get to design their own project ideas. It’s a perfect combination of focused skill-building, then self-directed learning. Partial weeks, 2-day minimum at $60 per day.

Paresh Martial Arts
Voted Red Tricycle’s 2011 Totally Awesome Sports and Fitness Classes, Paresh Martial Arts provides dynamic, fun, empowering day camps for children aged 5 & up, with or without martial arts experience. Their day camps teach core life skills through the art of Tang Soo Do, a traditional Korean karate that develops self-awareness, self discipline, self-confidence, respect, and integrity. The camp program is led by certified black belt instructors. It is well-paced,  including games, reading time, and adventures in Golden Gate Park. Camps are available by the day(s) or week, and early drop-off can be arranged.

Summer Blast!
BLAST! … is designed to be just that… a BLAST! They do their best to create a ridiculously fun and inviting camp for your child, a camp where they are encouraged to participate in and enjoy an exciting, safe, and physically active environment. LOTS of variety… Each day, they engage your child in a wide range of sports, modified sports, recreational games, individual and group activities, arts and crafts, and COOL SURPRISES!… all designed to minimize competition and maximize FUN!  Your child will feel the love, enthusiasm, and guidance of our excellent staff who are hired for their ability to be kind, helpful, positive, and energetic. SPEND a day, a week, or a chunk of the summer they’ve got options for you!

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