Read our Ultimate Soccer Camp Guide for expert tips on choosing the best soccer camp to fit your child’s age, skill level and overall soccer goals.
Soccer camps are one of the most popular summer camps on ActivityHero. Played by over 2 million children nationwide*, youth soccer appeals to children of all ages and skill levels. With both recreational and travel soccer leagues in the Bay Area, there are many opportunities for both beginner and elite players to play year round. It is also a sport that can be started at an early age, with many kids soccer camps accepting those as young as 3 years old.
Finding the right soccer camp depends on your child’s age and motivation. Does your child dream of being the next Lionel Messi or Alex Morgan? Or, do you simply want a fun summer camp to keep your child active this summer?
Soccer Development by Age
From preschool to high school, soccer camps structure their programs to meet children at various levels of development.
Ages 3-5: The focus for the very youngest players is primarily on strengthening gross motor skills, socialization and having fun! Soccer drills for preschoolers are often just multipurpose games to keep players active, listening and making friends.Soccer camps for ages 3-5 often offer mini sessions that are semi-structured adventures designed to engage short attention spans.
Ages 6-9: For elementary school-aged children, soccer camps often divide players up by age and ability to maximize instruction. While some very advanced players can start to play at a competitive level, most soccer camps for ages 6-9 years old “focus on team building, social skills, and technical skill development. The emphasis of the soccer camp is to help our young players foster a love of the game,” according to the AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization).
Ages 10-13: For motivated players, this is the age where soccer development can be taken to the next level at camps such as the USF Junior Premier Soccer Camp. Developing technique, speed of play and simulated game situations are all a priority.
Ages 14+: High school soccer players can have a wide range of skill and motivation – ranging from recreational to student athletes eyeing a college soccer scholarship.
Specialized night training programs for intermediate to advanced soccer players aged 15-21 are available through San Francisco Soccer Camp. The night training can be very convenient if your high school player has a summer job lined up. Additionally, some travel leagues may encourage team camps, residential overnight camps or college ID soccer camps.
Specialty Soccer Camps
There are also specialty programs such as goalkeeper camps or striker soccer clinics. These camps are focused on developing specific skills related to your child’s preferred playing position.
What to Bring to Soccer Camp
There are a few items that you will definitely want to pack with your child for soccer camp.
Soccer gear: Cleats, Shin Guards and a Ball (optional). Sneakers can work too. *Tip: If you send a soccer ball, be sure to label it with your child’s name.
Water bottle: Your child will be working up a sweat!
Packed Lunch and/or Snacks: Keep in mind that most camps will not have a refrigerator.
Sunscreen: Campers could be outside in the sun for several hours.
Benefits Beyond the Field
Soccer can develop into a fun, lifetime participation sport where children can learn the value of teamwork, leadership, communication and respect.
“Active kids grow in self-confidence. They have the opportunity to develop an open mindset. They learn conflict resolution skills. They learn how to both cooperate and compete with others. They learn punctuality and responsibility. They learn how to contribute to a group. They learn communication skills and how to lead. They learn how to set and achieve goals toward self-improvement. The possible life skills, as well as sport skills, that an active soccer player could learn and benefit from is a long list,” said Sam Snow, US Youth Soccer Director of Coaching.
Find various coding schools and programming courses that teach kids python, java during summer or all year-round. Get expert tips on picking the right coding camp to fit your child.
Technology continues to impact our world at an incredibly rapid pace. As a parent, you may be looking for a way to prepare your child for the future. Introducing a child to programming languages could be either a building block for a career or an entertaining option for your young gamer. If your child has an interest in technology or gaming, a coding camp for kids could be a great option. There are also online coding classes and camps that allow your kids to learn from home.
One important note is that coding for kids is not something that can be mastered in a week. It is a process that your child can build on for years, if they are willing and excited to continue learning.
“My son is at the point where he can envision a problem he wants to solve and begin to develop the code to get there. It reminds me of student development in math and languages–it starts slowly but over time you see real progress and suddenly the child is bursting with ideas,” said a parent review.
Scratch Coding Camps
Scratch is a beginner level program that can be introduced to children in early elementary school. The Scratch coding camps focus on making sure children understand the foundational computer programming concepts. The drag-and-drop format of Scratch does not require a lot of typing skills and is suited for children who have never been introduced to coding. Games and animations are designed through ready-made blocks of code to help students build scripts. Scratch projects will encourage creativity, reasoning and problem-solving skills. More advanced Scratch coding camps will build on previous experience and children can develop more realistic and customized games.
If a child leaves camp excited to learn more, parents can visit the Scratch website at http://scratch.mit.edu. Scratch can be accessed free online or it can be downloaded for offline usage.
Minecraft Camps and Java Camps
Does your child love playing Minecraft or spend hours watching Minecraft YouTube videos? If they are curious about how to advance their gaming, Minecraft camps might be a fun opportunity. Introductory Minecraft camps are available starting in elementary grades and are focused on learning the fundamentals of creating fun mods. One important note is that some camps require a Minecraft account, so we recommend checking with your camp director prior to the first class.
Campers will often learn core computer science skills as well as 3D modeling and texture mapping techniques. If your child is an experienced Minecraft user, they may be interested in a more advanced camp where they can create a custom game experience using Java. Java is a widely used programming language, making it a great foundation for students interested in learning more about app development. Java camps are often paired with other coding topics such as Minecraft and Python.
Since Minecraft camps range from beginner to advanced, it is recommended to review class curriculums before selecting a camp.
Python Coding Camps
Python is a very popular, all-purpose language. The lines of code are shorter and simpler than in other languages, making it easier to learn Python for kids. Python is a great language to learn after Scratch. However, you do not need previous experience if a child wants to skip to an introductory Python camp. While there are some Python camps available for children starting in 4th grade, many are designed for middle school children. The ability to type can be helpful for those starting to learn coding.
If a child expresses interest in building on their camp experience, intermediate and advanced Python camps are available to take coding skills to the next level. One of the advantages of learning Python is that it is used in real-world applications such as web and software development.
Web Design Camps
At web design camps for advanced students, Java will be used along with other programming languages such as HTML and CSS. At some camps, students will even learn to program a functional website during the week.
Video Game Design Camps
Roblox is an online gaming system where users create avatars and play games in user-generated 3D worlds. According to Roblox,”the types of gameplay on Roblox are just as limitless as the imagination of the creators themselves.”
Roblox camps can appeal to a wide age range of children because users do not have to have a strong foundation in coding to build a game. Younger campers use the built-in Roblox Studio to create 3D worlds without the need for text-based code. More advanced users can use the popular LUA coding language to create game actions, elements and mechanics. At the end of the week, campers can learn how to publish and share their game to the Roblox community.
Regardless of your child’s age or prior programming experience, there is a coding summer camp that is the right fit for your family. There are a wide variety of options available, whether your child just wants to continue their gaming or explore a future career interest. Kids can take a free trial class to make sure they like it before signing up for a longer camp.
Looking for something to fill your child’s time during fall break in October? Look no further, here are some fun camps in the SF Bay Area your kids are sure to enjoy!
In Palo Alto, Union City and other Bay Area locations: BrainVyne offers unique enrichment classes & camps using LEGO’s. Kids discover, explore, invent and create at Brainvyne camps.
Jewelry and Art Camps
In the San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego, Dragonfly Designs has been sharing the joy of art and jewelry making with kids. The aim of their family business is to enable children’s creativity through holistic art education.
In Campbell, Code With Us teaches students a variety of skills through coding education that includes popular programming languages, robotics, virtual reality, AI, microcontroller programming and much more.
In San Mateo, Camp Couture is a professional fashion studio that provides instruction, and assistance in making a creative vision come to life. Kids can make their own Halloween costume or learn to sew their own fashions.
Legarza Sports offers a variety of Basketball Camps with professionally certified coaches with college and professional experience in several Bay Area cities.
Here’s a new recipe from Stacie Dong and Simran Singh of A Little Yumminess that will get you cooking with kids and getting them trying new flavors.
Chicken curry may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think “kid food”, but this simple chicken curry will convert even the pickiest of eaters. Plus, the younger you start introducing kids to spices and unfamiliar foods, the easier it is to integrate new flavors, textures and tastes into your family eating repertoire.
If you’re not a curry maker, this is a great “curry starter” as it requires minimal spices, preparation, and cooking skill. It’s also a great recipe for kids to make. You can serve it with rice or store-bought naan bread. Add a dollop of yogurt to further “cool” the dish.
1 pound chicken thighs or breast cut into 1-inch cubes (save time by asking the butcher to do this for you)
2 cloves garlic minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 inch piece ginger, finely minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 cup Greek or other plain yogurt
1 tablespoon garam masala (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch of chili flakes or powder (optional)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (you can also use ghee or a combination of oil and ghee)
1 small onion, chopped finely
½ cup water or chicken stock
Marinate chicken in yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, coriander powder, salt and chilli (if using). Marinate for a few hours or overnight.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, or until onion is golden and softened.
Add the chicken with the marinade along with the water or chicken stock. Stir and continue cooking over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid and simmer for about 20-25 minutes till the sauce is thickened and the chicken is fork tender.
Simple Garam Masala Recipe
Many grocery stores these days carry spice blends, including garam masala. Pop into a local Indian market if you have one nearby as the spices are usually fresh and inexpensive.
If not, it’s easy to make your own garam masala for this and other Indian recipes by blending spices you may already have in your pantry. Whenever possible, grinding whole spices will yield the most flavorful, vibrant results. With fresh, fragrant garam masala on hand you can experiment by using it to season roast chicken, vegetables or even popcorn! Spice mixes also make wonderful teacher gifts, so consider making extra!
Neelam Patil’s Bliss Belly Kitchen takes a whole new approach to culinary skills. They not only offer eco-conscious and soul conscious cooking classes using farm fresh ingredients, but they also take the time out to use yoga and mindfulness to give children the best possible connection to themselves and to the land — the source of where their food comes from. At Bliss Belly Kitchen, a happy mind starts with a healthy belly.
Here, Chef Neelam shares a simple, fresh salad to add to your warm summer days that is perfect for outdoor parties or indoor family dinners.
Families can apply for financial aid to over 50 different summer camps on ActivityHero.
For the first time, families who struggle to make ends meet can apply for multiple summer camp scholarships with ActivityHero’s simple online registration. Thanks to over 50 summer camps who are offering scholarship spots for underprivileged youth, over 1,000 weeks of camp are available this summer for as little as $20, or 50-95% off the full price. Participating summer camps are located near San Francisco, CA, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, Wichita, KS, Arlington, VA, and Seattle, WA.
While some camps already offer scholarships to families with financial needs, each has its own application process and deadline. ActivityHero’s scholarship program allows families to apply for multiple summer camps with one application, reducing the application time and increasing the possibility that a scholarship will be available.
“We have an amazing variety of summer camps, extracurricular activities and sports on ActivityHero,” said Peggy Chang, Co-Founder and CEO of ActivityHero, “We want all children to have access to high-quality summer experiences and benefit from the social and learning opportunities.”
In particular, summertime poses challenges for working parents to fill in the 11-12 weeks that school is out. “Moms are most likely to take on the responsibility of finding childcare when kids are out of school,” Chang said. “And if there is a gap in childcare coverage, moms are often the ones that stay home with the kids, and this can impact their career. By providing an easy way to find camps, and connecting them with scholarships, we want to help moms reach their fullest potential in the workplace while their kids gain new experiences at camp.”
Many of the camps who are part of ActivityHero’s scholarship program have never offered financial aid in the past. “I’ve always wanted to offer scholarships but I didn’t know how to start it,“ said CD Hullinger of CD’s Art Studio. “ActivityHero’s scholarship program makes it easy for me to offer a few spots without the administrative work.”
ActivityHero.com is the leading online marketplace for camps, activities, after school classes, workshops, and kids’ nights out. More than 2.5 million families use ActivityHero to find and book kids’ activities from a wide variety of local providers.
Activity providers can claim and customize their listing or upgrade to ActivityHero online registration tools at https://www.activityhero.com.
The Culinary Dude‘s goal is simple and meaningful: Empower students with the culinary skills to become self-sufficient, and to make healthy choices for themselves, their families, and their future. Here, owner and chef, Scott Davis, shares with us a fresh and simple recipe to try along with your kids – the perfect summer salad for the pool or on the beach!
It is that time of year again; the time for kids to explore, learn and grow without the structure and conformity of school. Summer is the perfect opportunity to really delve into what your child enjoys and foster that passion using uniquely designed programs. When people hear the word camp, most think of a tent, a fire and bugs, but camp can be so much more. Check out these unique summer camps:
Whether your kid are 5 and want to be a bird when they grow up or 15 and pursuing aviation as a college option, Hiller Aviation Camp encourages this passion through hands on activities and models, aircraft demonstration, behind the scenes museum gallery, and aviation themed games. Flying camps teach science and life skills in a fun way that allow children to enjoy their experiences, while also continuing their education.
Sometimes you can just tell from a young age that your child is going to be a spy detective for the CIA. As unrealistic as that may sound, you really just never know. If your child enjoys spies, spy movies, or spying on his/her older siblings (or younger), develop that passion by giving him or her a summer filled with mystery, thrill and suspense. Spy Camps keep your child active with secret missions to accomplish each day. Whether you think your child will be a spy for the CIA or a detective for the police force, it is never too soon for you to encourage that pursuit.
According to the dictionary, a person with a compulsive desire for excitement and adventure is an adrenaline junkie. Adrenaline, however is not necessarily a bad thing. It prepares the body for stressful or physically demanding situations. You never know when you will need your adrenaline to kick and save your life or the life of another. Adventure camps develop a child’s sense of adventure through hiking, exploring and playing. Teaching positive ways of releasing energy helps children later in life know how to cope with the constant stresses of day-to-day life.
Your little fashionista probably isn’t going to be into the whole muddy, dirty experience of sleeping on the ground and exploring the wilderness that is offered at an average camp. However, the idea may be a little more appealing to him/her if there was some kind of fashion involved. Fashion may seem like a passion your child will grow out of, but it is important to develop this passion in a way that gives them life skills. It isn’t just putting on pretty clothes; it’s a lot of hard work. At fashion and sewing camps, your child will learn how to come up with an idea, sketch it out, and then create it with master cutting and sewing skills. Inspire their creativity and sense of style at fashion camps across the world.
Legos may seem like just a toy, but they are in fact great teaching tools and used by some of the most well known professions. Engineering, construction, and developing all start with one simple design, and this design can be created using “toys” such as a Legos. They also help with spatial skills and math concepts that children may not realize they’re even learning. Lego robotics, spatial skills, engineering, and so much more are at the heart of a kid who plays with legos. So, if you have a Lego obsessed child, get them into a LEGO camp to support their passion and desire to learn.
Unique camps are a tremendous way to foster a child’s creativity and enhance their learning experience. It may not always be possible to send your child to a week long camp at $80 a day or more, so read part 2 for ways to transform an ordinary camp ground into a fashionista dream land or spy camp never spied before.
From ‘MasterChef Junior’ to ‘Chopped Teens’, more kids than ever are learning to navigate their way around the kitchen. Cooking with kids not only teaches them a valuable life skill, but encourages them to use math and critical thinking skills, gets them trying new foods, and provides plenty of opportunities to talk about making healthy food choices.
Here’s a recipe from Stacie Dong and Simran Singh of A Little Yumminess that will get you cooking with kids and getting them to try a few new flavors.
By varying the basic theme of “rice with toppings,” you can take your family on a world tour: from New Orleans-style red beans and rice to Japanese donburi, Puerto Rican arroz con gandules (pigeon peas), Hawaiian loco moco, to Korean bibimbap.
Korean bibimbap, which means ‘mixed rice’, is one of our favorite global rice bowl variations. It’s a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. Traditionally, it combines a variety of fresh and cooked seasoned vegetables, as well as small portions of marinated meat, egg, or tofu (sometimes all three). You can keep things simple by choosing just a few toppings, or go all out with six or seven. In any case, it’s always fun to use bibimbap as an opportunity to try out a new ingredient or flavor alongside more familiar ones.
Another reason we love bibimbap is because it’s a great example of the vivid flavor and color combinations you’ll find throughout Korean cuisine. In fact, a guiding principle of Korean cooking is to bring together five colors (red, yellow, white, green and black) and five flavors (sweet, spicy, salty, sour and bitter). Kids will love the chance to go on a culinary scavenger hunt, looking for these colors and flavors in their own unique bowls.
There are many popular traditions at Christmas, from gingerbread men to ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’. But where exactly did these traditions come from? Many American traditions come from Europe and have evolved over the years.
Here are some fun facts about the origins behind some of your favorite Christmas traditions:
Gingerbread men and houses
The first recipe for gingerbread came from Greece in 2400 BC. But it was Queen Elizabeth I who decided to decorate the cookies with gold leaf and shaped like animals, kings and queens. These became very popular around Europe. The tradition of Gingerbread houses came from Germany and were popularized by the Brothers Grimm story of Hansel and Gretel. Every year for the since 1991, children and volunteers in Bergen, Norway build an entire town, out of gingerbread, which they call Pepperkakebyen.
The 12 days refers to the time between Jesus’s birth and Epiphany, the day that the Magi come to honor the newborn. The song, however, is of French origin. It was published in an English children’s book in 1780, which made it popular in the English-speaking world. The song was used as a memory game, where if a player failed they had to perform some sort of forfeit. Today the most popular Christmas song is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”
The idea of the modern Christmas tree started in western Germany. Germans would bring in what they called a “paradise tree” on Christmas Eve. It was called a “paradise tree” because it represented the Garden of Eden. The tree was used to celebrate the feast day of Adam and Eve, thus the connection to the Garden of Eden. However, it was Queen Victoria who popularized the tradition in England when she and her German husband, Prince Albert had Christmas trees as part of their festivities. 25-30 million Christmas are sold each year in the United States.
While the true origins of the candy cane are unknown, it seems that they came to America with August Imgard, a German immigrant, in 1847. White candy sticks were already popular at Christmas, though it wasn’t until the turn of the century when Georgia candymaker, Bob McCormack, started manufacturing the red and white curved candies that we know today. Every year 1.76 billion candy canes are sold in the US.
Santa Claus is based on the very real Saint Nicholas, a fourth century Bishop who had a reputation of helping the poor and secretly giving gifts to those in need. However, the modern day image of the jolly man in the red suit with his flying reindeer did not emerge until the mid-1800’s, when Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’, which we now call ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. Initially the poem was only for his children, but it was published anonymously the next year, and by the late 1800’s, political cartoonist, Thomas Nast had created the first illustrations for the piece. Today, Icelandic children believe that there are 13 different Santas and many of them like to steal things from houses.
Having a hard time finding child care during school holidays? Here are four great options to consider.
By Anita Sharma
It is holiday season, which means that there are lots school breaks coming up. For kids it’s exciting they do not have go to school or do homework for a short period of time while they spend time relaxing. But what happens when parents have to work during the school holidays and there is no one to help them watch the kids?
Here are some choices that parents face when school is out:
Parents can try to entertain kids by using screen time to distract them and keep them entertained while they work. This way parents will not have to pay extra money for child care and they will get to spend more time with their kids. We’ve all seen kids with iPads at store and restaurants in an effort to keep them out of trouble while their parents shop or enjoy their dinner.
Cons: Kids may only be entertained for a limited amount of time. Phone meetings may be challenging if the child needs your attention in the middle of the call. According the American Association of Pediatrics, there are concerns around too much screen time use because it is addicting, increases BMI, and makes children lose valuable sleep.
Many local activity providers host day camps on the school holidays such as Veterans Day or Thanksgiving Week. They usually offer full day sessions that allow parents to work from 9-5. You can find a wide variety of day camps for school holidays on ActivityHero. These camps are guaranteed to excited and engage children whatever their interests might be and give them useful skills for the future. At camp kids will make friends with other kids who have the same interests and are a similar age. ActivityHero makes it easy for parents to find and book camps for their kids, making it simple for parents. Parents can even pay for the camp through the ActivityHero website.
Cons: Parents will have to drop off and then pick up their kids.
Price: $8-18 per hour
Sitters will take care of your kids at your house, which will make it easier for you to run out of the house while your kids are eating breakfast in their pajamas. Neighbors and friends can be a good source for sitter recommendations. And the babysitter website Urbansitter taps into your network to find recommended sitters that fit your needs.
Cons: The sitter you like may not be available for the dates and times you need.
Price: $10-20 per hour for one child. Prices vary by region.
Day care is the middle ground between camps and sitters. The caregiver may be hosting several kids at a home or center, and there are usually fewer kids per caregiver than you’d have at camp, which may be a plus if your child is less than 5 years old. You can often find daycares through your local county resource center, such as Children’s Council in San Francisco. The Children’s Council even helps families pay for childcare if they cannot afford it themselves.
Cons: Parents will have to drop off and pick up their children from day care. Not all day cares will accept new families who need care for only a few days or weeks.
Looking to put some “spring” into your home cooking routine? We asked the head chef at a kids’ cooking school to share handy tips and a delicious recipe.
By Wendy Chou
Cooking for kids can feel like a thankless task. When kids reject new foods and haven’t got a clue how much effort went into prepping a meal, it’s easy to get frustrated. Now consider cooking with kids. Having your kid help in the kitchen can break down some of their prejudices and teach them to appreciate where real food comes from. ActivityHero talked with Chef Cindy Roberts of the popular Bay Area-based “La Toque De Cindy” cooking school to hear how an expert helps kids learn to cook.
Cooking is Fun… and Practical
Each of Roberts’ weekly summer camps showcases a different type of cooking: chocolate, world cuisine, and handmade pizzas and pastas are just some of the tempting offerings this year. She likes to emphasize the joy and creativity inherent in cooking. Cindy Roberts started cooking at the age of 3 and believes cooking can inspire as well as educate. “I focus on the “fun” aspect of cooking,” Roberts points out, “but it’s my sneaky way to teach them the health, cost and taste benefits of home cooking.”
Getting Kids to Try New Things
Roberts knows one way parents can broaden the palette of picky eaters: give them a say. “Have them taste test something… and suggest improvements,” advises Roberts. In her cooking classes, asking the kids to experiment directly with ingredients “gets even the most finicky eaters trying out what we made and giving it a second chance.” In other words, the more they know about how a dish is put together, the more they can keep an open mind, even about foods they weren’t keen on at the outset.
When asked what the kids in her classes find most surprising about cooking, Roberts says that young chefs are completely “surprised at how easy it is to make some of the products they buy packaged at the grocery store,” including basics like chicken stock and mayonnaise. The homemade versions wind up being fresher and better-tasting. Empowerment and self-confidence: these two ingredients are welcome on any family menu.
Try It at Home
Here’s a savory spring-inspired recipe for you to try at home with your kids. The kid chefs at La Toque loved it (and ate their vegetables)!
Leek and Olive Tart
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Adapted by Cindy Roberts from Field of Greens cookbook
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 ½ – 3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 medium sized leeks, white part only, cut in half then thinly sliced
salt and pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 small whole olives, pitted and chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Italian parsley
3 or 4 eggs (use fewer if using jumbo eggs)
1 ½ cup half and half
½ teaspoon minced lemon zest (optional)
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, about 2/3 cup
MAKE THE SHELL: Mix flour, salt, butter and shortening until mixture has the appearance of small peas.
Add water a little at a time until dough holds together. Press into greased quiche pan (or pie pan).
MAKE THE FILLING: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Saute the leeks for a few minutes until starting to wilt with ½ teaspoon salt and a few pinches of pepper. Add the garlic, cover and sweat for about 7 minutes. Remove the lid and sauté 2 minutes more.
Mix leeks in a bowl with olives, thyme and parsley.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Beat the eggs with the half and half. Add ½ teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper and optional lemon zest.
Spread the cheese over the bottom of the tart dough, followed by the leek mixture. Pour the cream mixture over. Bake for 40 minutes until set.
Chef Cindy’s Tip:
The amount of participation is easy to modify depending on age. “Kids as young as 4 could assemble. At age 8, kids could make the crust themselves. By age 10 they could make it all on their own!”
Ready to explore more cooking? Find cooking camps and classes near you by visiting ActivityHero.com.
Vote and Write Reviews to Help You AND Your Favorite Camp Win
Businesses who have earned parents’ trust and recommendations have the best shot of taking home the prize. Here’s how it works. You can vote directly from your camp’s ActivityHero listing (look for the logo), or you can search the gallery of contestants and click the “vote now” button under your favorite camp or class. Each vote counts as an entry. You can also write a review of the business, which counts as three entries. Here’s a bonus: Every vote and review you submit enters you in a drawing for ActivityHero gift card worth up to $100! Votes and reviews will be tallied from now until July 31. Votes received before May 31 will give the business the best odds, since there are 3 monthly drawings in total (May 31, June 30, and July 31) to determine finalists. In August, the judging phase of the contest will determine the ultimate winner based on whether camps stand out in innovative ways or make a significant impact on their communities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I vote for more than one camp or class?
A: Yes, you are allowed at most 1 vote per activity provider, but can vote for as many providers as you want.
Q: Can my kids participate in the Business Grant contest?
A: Unfortunately, you must be 18 or older to participate. You must also have a valid e-mail address.
Q: Where do I submit a review?
A: Go to the camp’s individual ActivityHero listing and scroll to the bottom where you’ll click on a “write a review” button.
Q: Can I write more than 1 review?
A: You may submit at most 1 review for a specific business. You may review as many businesses as you wish.
Q: I don’t see my favorite camp or class in the gallery. How can I support them?
ActivityHero.com is the leading online marketplace for camps, activities, after school classes, workshops, and kids’ nights out. More than 2.5 million families use us to find and book kids’ activities from a wide variety of local providers. Visit https://www.activityhero.comto start your summer camp search today!
With so many choices available, how do you find a summer camp that fits your family’s style? Here are key questions to ask when starting your search.
By Wendy Chou
Some parents see summer vacation as a chance to try new skills and challenges, and some would rather that their kids unplug and unwind from the pressures of the school year. Whether you are researching camps for the first time or looking for some refresher tips, these simple questions may come in handy when considering a camp for your child.
What is the ratio of campers to staff?
Is the program staff composed of college students, more experienced teachers, or a mix?
Do students roam independently or stick closely with one counselor throughout the day?
Does the camp offer more free time or more structure?
Is the focus on learning, on fun, or on a combination?
Do campers tend to return year after year?
What sets it apart from similar camps in the area?
Does the camp cover gap subjects (ones that your child sees less of during the school year)?
Special Features and Accommodations
For skill-based camps (for instance, coding or sports camps), how do you accommodate different ages or abilities?
How would staff try to accommodate the needs of my introverted camper, or my spirited camper?
If needed, is before or after care available (if so, how does it differ from the main day’s activities?)
Are transportation options (e.g., bussing) available?
A Camp Director’s Perspective
Parents should feel free to call or e-mail camp directors “if they want to know more,” recommends Rory Judge, who has 40 years’ experience with the Bay Area’s Adventure Camps. Chatting with parents one-on-one about their summer camp questions is the perfect way to help “even the most nervous first-time parents warm up to camp,” Judge explains. For starters, he likes to find out a prospective camper’s age, how much camp experience they already have, and what school they attend. With websites, reviews, and other online tools becoming more popular, Judge finds that parents today seem comfortable doing their own research online in lieu of calling in.
Whether you like to gather information online or talk to camp staff, keeping these questions in mind can help you narrow down the field of camps that really fit your family’s style. And to easily find camps that match your child’s age, interest and available dates, check out the search tools on ActivityHero. You’ll find reviews from parents and can book your camps with one convenient registration form.
Worried your child won’t warm up to summer camp? Here, top camp directors share secrets for helping shy kids step outside their comfort zone.
By Laura Quaglio
Worried that your child might be too “shy” to enjoy summer camp? Plenty of parents are. That’s what we do sometimes: we worry. Rory Judge, who started at Adventure Camps in 1978, says that he has talked to many fretful parents over the years, but he assures those of us with kids on the “quiet” or “shy” side that there’s usually no real cause for concern when it comes to enrolling them in a summer camp. “When parents inquire about shy kids, I just tell them to send them to us,” he says. “We can usually work with them to make them comfortable really quick.” In 38 years, Rory says he has never had to take a child home partway through the day – not even the ones who were crying, clinging, or even hollering at drop-off. That’s even more reassuring when you consider that his camp has a unique setup: as “the only completely mobile day camp in the Bay Area since 1971,” Adventure Camps boards kids onto counselor-driven vans each morning and heads out to various locales for a wide variety of activities including woodland hikes, beach play, swimming, nature crafts, and talent shows.
Tamar Hill, director and founder of the co-ed all-day sports camp Spartan Allstars (with locations in La Canada and Menlo Park, Calif.) agrees that most kids are quick to make friends at summer camp – even if they start the day hiding behind Mom. “I think ‘shy’ is something we tell our kids that they are,” says Tamar, who taught high-school biology for 16 years and served as a coach for the school’s women’s varsity basketball team. “Really ‘shy’ is an emotion, not an identity,” she says. “I think it’s a state of anxiety rather than a state of being.”
In fact, Tamar adds, most of us act a little “shy” in an unfamiliar setting, especially among complete strangers. She believes that it’s helpful to talk to our kids about why they’re feeling shy, nervous, or anxious about attending a particular camp or activity. By understanding their concerns, parents and camp staff may be better able to help that child feel at ease. And that, she says, is a much better solution than denying them all of the magical perks – emotional, social, physical, and academic – that summer camp offers.
Still a bit anxious? Remember that helping your child adjust won’t fall solely on your shoulders. Many camp directors and counselors really take pride in helping all children feel at ease, says CD Hullinger, owner of CD’s Kids Art Studio studios in San Jose. “When I get a shy kid, I immediately tell them that I am glad they are here because I need a helper,” she says. She asks these kids to hang out with her and let her know when they’re ready to participate. Once they warm up, she often has them, in turn, help befriend another camper who might be hovering at the fringe of a group activity. It’s a great way to encourage kids to make connections and to show children that they can make a difference in another child’s life.
Of course, these camp owners also have a few ideas of what parents can do to set the stage for a more successful start of summer camp. Here, a few of their top tips:
Get a Sneak Peek of the Camp
Summer camp websites often have class/camp descriptions, counselor bios, photos, and sometimes even videos of previous sessions. They may also have a Facebook page that shares highlights of special events and activities. Take some time to explore these sites with your child to familiarize them with the program. You can also ask the camp director if it’s okay to drop by during a session or if you can schedule a face-to-face meeting and a tour of the facilities. You can also request a more complete itinerary (if available) so your child will know exactly what to expect on a day-by-day and hour-by-hour basis. You could also sign up your child for a one-day drop-in session or an after school program at that camp. That way, when summer session begins, your child might already know some of the campers and counselors.
Ask What the Camp Does to Welcome Shy Kids
Rory says that his Adventure Camps program is set up to engage kids from the get-go. Before the campers even arrive at their first destination, they are greeted individually by counselors and are welcomed into “their” van – Great White, Snow White, or Cool Blue, which were given their names by the children. The fun starts as soon as the kids enter the van, which is not just a means of transportation but a great space for meeting new friends. By the time kids arrive at their first activity, any nervousness has usually disappeared.
Rory also tries to take kids’ interests into account. If one child is a fan of horses, Rory might bring outlines of ponies for that child to color … or the group might schedule a visit to the stable in Golden Gate Park. “We meet and greet each child by name, take an interest, and really pay attention to each one,” he says. “It’s the simplest thing, but that’s all it usually takes.”
Each camp director may have their own method of helping kids feel special. CD’s Kids Art Studio owner CD Hullinger has a “charming” secret that often works magic on apprehensive kids: “I have fused-glass trinkets that are small enough to fit in pockets,” she says. “I give one to the child and tell them that this little trinket is good luck! Usually by the first hour, they are hanging out and having fun.”
If you know your child is truly hesitant to make new friends, our experts advise trying to sign them up with a friend.(ActivityHero makes this easy to do: Once you register, just share your registrations with the parents of your child’s friends.)
Also consider enrolling your child in multiple sessions at the same camp, especially if that location hosts an array of activities and programs. Spartan Allstars, for instance, offers sports camps, as well as ones with a drama theme. She does advise against over-scheduling your child for camps that are heavy on physical activity, though, because that can be exhausting, even for energetic kids. Try to break up those sports-camp weeks with something artistic or academic, for example.
Help Counselors Understand Your Child
If you have any concerns or helpful information about your child’s personality, behavior, interests, or special needs, share them with the camp’s staff before the session starts. For instance, let camp counselors or directors know if your child has been diagnosed with a condition such as an Asperger’s spectrum disorder or ADHD, if they have an aversion to something (such as getting wet or muddy), or if they’re afraid of something (such as dogs, heights, or clowns). You should also alert staff if something stressful is going on in your household, such as a recent move, the death of a loved one, or a divorce – or even if your child is just having a bad day or didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. The more information counselors have, the better they can help your child feel comfortable at camp.
Tamar adds that it’s important to remember that summer camps are not an extension of school, and many are not equipped to make the same accommodations as schools do. If your child needs a great deal of modifications, consider seeking out a camp that advertises an expertise in working with children who have special needs. Find out more about camps that serve kids with special needs.
Prepare for the First Day of Summer Camp
Day One at summer camp usually means plenty of paperwork, traffic snarls in the parking area, parents with questions, and very young siblings running around wreaking havoc as only toddlers can do. If your child is already anxious, all of this won’t help. That’s why Tamar suggests making an extra effort to start the first day of camp with a positive attitude. If you’re anxious or stressed, your kids will pick up on that, but if you’re calm, they’ll be more likely to mirror some of your happy-go-lucky approach. Try this pre-camp preparation strategy:
A month before camp, clear your calendar for an hour before and after drop-off, so you won’t feel pressured during check-in. Also, make sure you’ve completed all of your camp forms. ActivityHero makes this easy, too, just go to My Registrations and you’ll see links to the forms that you need to complete, if there are any.
The Friday before camp, re-read all of the camp handouts and emails. Double-check drop-off and pick-up times and all requirements for paperwork, medications, behavior, clothing, and supplies. Have questions? Ask now; don’t wait until registration, when the director and counselors have a million other things vying for their attention.
The night before camp, lay out clothes and shoes, then pack lunches, backpacks, and gym bags with all necessities (including sunscreen, a water bottle, and a snack, for instance).
The morning of camp, if possible, carpool with your child’s camp buddies – or arrange to arrive at the same time so your child won’t have to walk in alone.
On the ride to camp, stay calm. Don’t stress about traffic or ask “Are you nervous?” or “Will you be okay?” Turn on some fun music, and chat about one of your child’s interests (such as a favorite TV show) during the drive.
When you arrive at camp, expect a significant wait time. Even at the most organized camps, it may take up to an hour to pass out T-shirts, introduce counselors, collect paperwork and payments, and the like. “If you lower your expectations, you’ll never be disappointed,” says Tamar. And if the process goes quickly, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Say a Quick Goodbye … Then Leave
At the start of the camp session, some parents would like to hang out and watch for a while to make sure their child is okay. While Tamar doesn’t mind, she says that lingering in the background may not be the best approach with anxious or clingy kids. “Half the time when parents do that, the kids are looking for them all the time,” she says. Instead, once your child is transitioned to the care of the counselors, it’s time to head out.
If you really don’t love the idea of being out of the loop during your child’s day, ask the camp director if there is anything in place to help you stay connected or informed. For instance, Spartan Allstars has partnered with Kinderlime, which offers apps for parents that allow them to view photos taken at camp and uploaded throughout the day.
Tamar adds that sometimes kids are less likely to try to manipulate an early pickup if they know Mom or Dad has plans for the day. She advises saying something like, “I’m really busy at work, so I can’t come and take you home, but if there is an emergency, the camp knows how to contact me.”
Imagine Them Having a Great Time
Generally, says Tamar, kids are happily participating within 5 minutes of beginning their first Spartan Allstars activity. So try to forget about the waterworks that your child turned on during drop-off. Believe it or not, Tamar says that kids who start out “kind of hiding behind their mom” are usually the ones who become the most attached to counselors and other campers throughout the week. “They break out of it really quickly,” she says. “Most kids do.”
Rory agrees, saying that – 9 times out of 10 – even the most distraught kids are fine before the parents leave the parking lot. In particular, he remembers a 4-year-old girl who came to his camp feeling excited but also very nervous. As the day progressed, he noticed she was participating and smiling, so he joked with her. “At one point I said, Are you okay? I can call your mom … and I reached into my pocket and pulled out a banana and put it up to my ear,” says Rory. “She just started cracking up. Her mom said she never stopped talking about that.” Sixteen years later, that girl is now one of Rory’s camp counselors.
Don’t Let Problems Fester
If you or your child has a concern about something that happened at camp, share it with the camp director right away, says Tamar. It’s often easier and more effective to mediate a problem in its early stages (especially if it’s a social one). And allowing more time to pass generally leaves parents and kids growing more frustrated and upset each day.
“We don’t want any child to have a bad experience,” agrees Rory. “We want every kid who comes to Adventure Camps to really love it. For them to be safe and have a fun time and go home feeling great about who they are.” Your calm and honest feedback can help ensure that this happens at your child’s summer camp sessions.
And Don’t Forget to Share Praise, Too!
“Parents often don’t say anything if they’re happy,” says Tamar. One year, she received complaints (but no positive remarks) about a “color run” type of activity, in which kids get powdered from head to toe with colored cornstarch. The kids loved it, but the negative feedback caused her to nix the event the following session … only to have many families beg for its return. (She reinstated the event, but now allows kids to opt out if they don’t want to wind up with hair that’s temporarily pink and blue.)
Also spread the word to other parents about what makes your favorite camps special, including the ways that they helped your child feel at ease. Of course you probably already offer this info to friends and family. But for a greater impact, take just a few minutes (literally) to write a positive review right on ActivityHero. It’s a great way to show your gratitude to a special counselor or camp director – and it might help another family find a new favorite summer camp for their shy or not-so-shy child.