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Sports

A Guide to Horseback Riding for Beginners

Do horses keep coming up in conversation with your kids? When you’re in the car, when you’re making dinner, when you’re on the way to school…the questioning is relentless. Your kid has riding on the mind and probably won’t stop asking about it until they are able to try it. Horseback riding is really one of those sports that everyone should at least try once in their lifetime, no matter what age, even if its just a fun trail ride because it such a unique experience building a bond with an animal that you can’t really get from any other sport. Before you let your mind get carried away with costs and other worries, let me help you get started.

Horseback Riding Camp

Start by choosing a day camp or a horseback riding camp. Camps are an amazing opportunity to be introduced into everything from barn work, to horse prep to riding with other like-minded kids. It’s important to look for a camp program that will give your child this type of experience because it will not only be more interactive, but it will make them a better rider and more responsible in the long run. Year after year, I see kids’ confidences and passions flourish over just a few weeks of camp, and they really start taking pride in all of the work they are doing, whether it be the stall they cleaned or the trot they perfected. Riding at camp will leave your child with a memorable experience. If your kid leaves camp wanting more or you are more interested in a solo starting experience for them, private lessons are another great starting point.

Find horseback riding camps near me>>

Private Horseback Riding Lessons

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Training programs will vary by barn and by trainer, so there are a few things to consider when looking for both of these things. If you are in completely unfamiliar territory, don’t panic. Start by asking around to friends and family to see if any of them know of farms in the area with good reviews or trainers that teach introductory lessons. Not every farm has lesson horses, so it’s just a matter of asking questions once you find them. Another great way to get information is by going into your local tack shop. Often times, the people that work there are riders themselves and know of contacts in the area. They also have bulletin boards with trainers and information about their riding programs. If you prefer to work online, you can also do a search for barns and trainers in your area and then check out their websites to find your best match. You can also do a search for local associations based on the type of riding you are pursuing, ie Dressage Associations, Hunter Jumper Associations, Western Associations etc, and find barns and trainers advertising on there.

Once you’ve found a barn and a trainer, you can decide on a program. I recommend starting with private lessons, at least for a few months. Like I mentioned before, every barn has a different way they set up with lesson programs. So when you’re making your decision of where to start, compare every program. It’s ideal for kids to be able to build a relationship with their trainer and build up their confidence on a horse in a one on one environment without being overwhelmed. Then once they are solid in the saddle and trust their trainer you can add in group lessons, which are a great way to start integrating your kid into the barn group. They will get to know the other kids, learn with them, and have fun. Private lessons are a great way to teach and refine, and then they can hone those skills in a group setting where they are really asked to focus despite the added distractions. Together, private and group lessons create a solid training program.

Dressing the Part

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Hopefully, you feel more comfortable about how to get your kid started in the world of horses. The next challenge is to get them physically ready. There are so many things that your kid could use, but when they are first starting out, just go with the basics and get what they absolutely need because otherwise it adds up too quickly. So what are the basics? The most important items to focus on are the helmet and boots. It’s essential for these to fit properly for the safety of your child and horse.

Always buy a helmet new. You will probably see some that are on consignment, but it isn’t safe because you don’t know if any falls occurred in them or other problems. Stop by your local tack shop to try on different styles and get the perfect fit. You can also measure on your own and order online, but know that every style will fit differently so it may take a few tries before finding the best one. For beginners, the IRH Equi-Lite Helmet is a great choice and it comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Remember though, helmets are not one brand fits all. If you are not familiar with fitting helmets, definitely go into a store and ask for help. Just so you know what they are looking for, the rule of thumb for fitting a helmet is finding one that provides even pressure all around your head. It should lie about 1 inch above your child’s eyebrows and not wobble around when they move their head or shake. The nice part is that many helmets come with adjustable pads that will help you perfect the fit, once you find the model that works best.

After you have found the helmet, you want to make sure they have a pair of good paddock boots, also known as short boots, which are perfect for beginners. You can look for a nice pair on consignment or purchase them new. My personal favorite brand for paddock boots is Ariat. Lastly, get your kid a pair of gloves and riding breeches and they will be set to go! It’s always a safe bet to start with less and then add to the wardrobe once they get more involved in the sport.

However you choose to get you kid started in the saddle, the most important part is that they like the barn and the trainer. Everything from there will fall into place and they will quickly fall in love with the sport.

>>For more horseback riding camps and classes, check out ActivityHero.com!

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Horseback Riding Sports

Should You Buy or Lease a Horse?

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So your kid loves horseback riding lessons and now they want a horse of their very own, right? Should you buy or lease a horse? In this article, I’m going to help you with that decision by giving you some pros and cons. It’s a big move I know. Go ahead and take a moment to digest it. To be honest, the answer is different for every family and is dependent on where your child wants to go with their riding. Are they on the path to competing, have they physically outgrown the pony they are on, or are they just looking to have the responsibility of their own horse? Before jumping on the horse owner train, let me give you some tips from someone who has been there before…a few times.

Leasing A Horse

Going from taking weekly lessons to owning your own horse is a huge step. Instead of throwing yourself into something before you and your child are completely ready, why not consider leasing. I’ve been in this sport for 14 years now, and I’ve watched more people go through horses than you can imagine because they rushed into buying something before finding the right match. If you aren’t completely ready for the commitment of buying a horse, talk to your trainer about starting a leasing program. This gives you the opportunity to find a horse that your child is compatible with and can grow with. Leasing gives your child the responsibility and consistency they are looking for but keeps some of the pressures and financial burdens off of your plate. In addition, leasing doesn’t have to be a permanent decision. When your child wants to move up to higher levels or is looking for a new experience, you can start a new lease with a new horse. Once you and your child have the experience of temporary ownership that leasing allows, you might feel ready to own your own horse; maybe even purchase the horse that you are leasing.

Owning A Horse

Having a horse of your own is a very large responsibility, but it’s also an amazing experience. It’s completely different from taking lessons or even leasing because you now have full decision-making capabilities. With that though comes vet bills, boarding, shoeing, tack, etc. which can get overwhelming very quickly. If that is something you are ready to take on, then absolutely go for it. Now is the time for you to sit down with the trainer and go over what everyone thinks is the best plan. I recommend not only looking for a horse that your child likes, but also one that they can grow with, in size and performance. You will be spending a lot of money, so it’s a smarter investment to get a horse that will be able to advance with your child, instead of one that will need to be sold within a year or so. If your childs horse skills increase, you could even sell the horse at an even higher value than you purchased it. I’m getting ahead of myself here but the point is, look beyond just the present when you are making your purchase. If you make a plan and organize your finances, it will not be as extreme of a change like picking any old horse would be.. Also, make sure you do a thorough vet check so you are fully aware of your horses health. People are not always upfront and truthful with problems their horse may have, so make sure your trainer and vet are involved in all steps of this process. Once everything passes, it’s time to have fun!

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Affordable Ways to Horseback Ride

If you and your child are not in the financial position to pay for a lease or purchase a horse, have your child start offering their riding services to other boarders in the barn, when they themselves can’t come up and ride their own horses. Sometimes this can even be done for money. It may not give them the consistency of riding the same horse all of the time, but it will make them a very good rider. Being able to adjust to different horses on the spot is a very unique skill to have, and believe me, not everyone can do it. Only the best riders know how to use their skills across the barn, not just on their own horse. It’s a great way to learn and advance, without having the financial pressures of owning.

Whether you’re leasing or buying a horse for the first time, my biggest piece of advice is just being patient and taking your time. It’s a big move and commitment, so it has to feel right. Work with your child’s trainer, have your child try a lot of different horses, and do a full check-up before finalizing anything. And have fun with it!

>>For more horseback riding camps and classes, check out ActivityHero.com!

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Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Mindfulness Parenting Resources Yoga

6 Ways to Lessen Stress

Manage back-to-school exhaustion and pandemic anxiety with grace.

Here are simple techniques to help us all get back on track using meditation from our friends at LoveHero.

Is it possible that we’ve all forgotten how tiring the first week of school or just visiting the office after being away for so long, really is? The 18-month long new normal’s transition back to the old and connecting with classmates and co-workers in real life has been much harder than expected for some of us. You are not alone.

1. Start with movement

For most young kids, attempting to sit in meditation without any exercise first will be a challenge. Kids understand energy. And, energy can be used as a vehicle to meditate. Start with 5-10 minutes of energetic exercises such as jumping jacks, scissor jumps or running in-place.

2. Use positive language

While exercising, maintain a positive attitude that will get kids thinking about their ability to monitor their emotions and tune into positive feelings. Affirmations such as “I am positive!” work great for this.

3. Use breathing to channel the energy

The next step is to start slowing down the intensity of the exercises and to start replacing them with breathing. Breathe with your belly holding the breath longer and making the inhales and exhales deeper each time.

4. Sit down, breathe and focus on the heart

The other thing that kids understand well is positive emotions. In a sitting position do a few more rounds of breathing, but this time, with the hands on the heart, imagine this energy you’ve built up turning into rays of green light that are shooting from the heart.

5. Become a hero

What good is love if you don’t share it? Kids love being heroes. Use the light shooting from your heart to send love to someone or something that might need it. It can be a group of people (frontline healthcare workers), a person you love, a pet or a plant. Become a hero using your heart to uplift others.

6. Sit in stillness

Finally, sit in silence and stillness for 30 seconds or longer if you can.  It helps to play soothing music at this point. Each child is different, so start small and build your way up.

To practice more yoga and mindfulness, find a live instructor in-person or online from home with LoveHero and other yoga options on ActivityHero today. 

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Featured Posts Mindfulness Parenting Resources Yoga

5 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety in Kids

Stress and anxiety is common for both children and adults. Butterflies before a piano recital or feeling nervous about a big test is a normal reaction to a stressful situation or event. As parents, we can’t eliminate stress in our children’s lives – only teach them how to manage it. 

Triggers that can cause stress in children include major life changes such as moving or divorce, family financial problems, peer pressure or bullying, body changes, and worrying about schoolwork. Helping our children form coping strategies at a young age will set them up for long-term success as they encounter education, career, social, and financial decisions. 

During 2020, the number of children expressing stress increased with schedule disruptions, school shutdowns, social isolation, virtual learning, and health concerns. According to a parent survey on ActivityHero, 86% of children reported the feeling of anxiousness. 

Without healthy stress management, chronic anxiety could lead to behavioral and physical symptoms in children, according to MedLine Plus.

  • Decreased appetite or other sudden changes in eating habits
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Nightmares or Sleep disturbances
  • Upset stomach or vague stomach pain
  • Sudden changes in behavior that are out of character
  • New or recurring fears (fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of strangers)
  • Clinging, unwilling to let you out of sight (separation anxiety)
  • Not able to control emotions; Aggressive or stubborn behavior
  • Unwilling to participate in family or school activities

Stress management for Kids and Teens

Here are 5 ways to help your child manage every day anxiety and take healthy habits into adulthood:

1) Good Sleep Routines

Sleep is essential for your body and mind to recover and reset from the day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 9-12 hours of sleep a night is recommended for 6- to 12-year olds. Teens need 8-10 hours of sleep a night. Set a schedule and bedtime routine for consistency. For younger children, this could include a “wind down” time of bath and story time. For teens, limiting screen time and gaming before bed can support more restful sleep. 

2) Physical Exercise

At least 60 minutes of exercise a day can have many health benefits for children, including relieving stress. This is a healthy habit for the whole family – hiking, biking, surfing, or other recreational activities are all great ideas to enjoy together. 

Other fun, non-competitive exercise and fitness classes for your child to manage stress (and burn off extra energy), include:

Kids Yoga

Yoga: Online stretching and yoga classes are a relaxing activity for all ages. In yoga classes for kids as young as 4, students learn basic yoga movements and body awareness.

Dance Party: Toddlers to teens can enjoy a fun dance party, connecting in a safe environment led by an engaging instructor. Many dance and movement classes have fun themes and do not require any previous dance experience.

Karate: Introductions to martial arts classes online do not require previous experience, and can be a confidence builder for children.

We’re here to help your child become even more engaged, strong and optimistic during this unique time.  We know that grit, resilience and laughter have never been more important than right now.

– Family Karate Online

Find Fitness Classes on ActivityHero>>

3) Schedule Relaxing Activities

In addition to exercising your body, scheduling relaxing activities can also relieve mental stress. Art, music, journaling, and other relaxing hobbies all have therapeutic benefits. The most important reminder is to make sure there is zero pressure – these should be purely for fun!

Art Classes for Kids: Art can be a constructive outlet for children of all abilities to express emotions and relieve anxiety. Drawing, painting, clay modeling, and crafts are all great activities.

In addition, any relaxing hobby your child enjoys can help them socialize and unwind. Cooking, theatre & drama, music, LEGO or even making slime could be good options!

Find Online Classes on ActivityHero>>

4) Breathing & Meditation

If your child is starting to feel overwhelmed, teaching them breathing exercises can help them work through their feelings. Taking deep breaths, visualizing themselves in a calming place, and listening to relaxing sounds are all strategies to help them refocus. 

“We started using online classes on Activity Hero after schools closed and I was furloughed. My son especially enjoys Vibras Meditation (now LoveHero). Positive messages and empowerment are so good for kids right now (and always I guess.) The instructor is great and we will continue even after things move to the new normal.”

-Parent Review

Find Meditation & Mindfulness Classes on ActivityHero>>

5) Model Self-Care and Positive Thinking

As parents and adults, modeling self-care and positive thinking is probably the hardest habit to implement. However, our children observe and absorb more of our adult stress than we realize. Some strategies include:

  • Talk with your children about how you have dealt with stressful situations and encourage dialogue about how they are feeling. Tip: Conversations can be more natural if you engage when your child doesn’t have to look directly at you – riding in a car, walking the dog, or sitting on the beach. 
  • Be mindful of your reactions; take a deep breath before responding to stressful situations. 
  • Avoid negative thinking; Model behaviors of self-care instead of self-doubt for your children.
  • Be Aware: Children are spending more time online and it’s important to understand (and teach) the dangers of cyberbullying, social media addiction, and predators. 

If at any time you feel your child may have chronic anxiety or depression, please consult your healthcare provider. Some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety or depression in children could be caused by other conditions, such as trauma. If you need help finding treatment, visit MentalHealth.gov

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After-School Activities Chess Mindfulness Online Learning

5 Fun Facts About American Chess Day

Join millions of chess fans in their love for the world’s most popular board game to celebrate American Chess Day on September 1st!

Chess tournaments, clubs, and classes continue to attract devoted members of the chess community. Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, there’s something for everyone.

Chess is one of the most ancient, intellectual and cultural games, with a combination of sport, scientific thinking and elements of art. As an affordable and inclusive activity, it can be exercised anywhere and played by all, across the barriers of language, age, gender, physical ability or social status.1

  1. 2020 was a huge year for chess.

While people were staying at home during the pandemic, chess was the perfect way to connect with others online. Chess enthusiasm in the US spiked even more with the release of the incredibly popular Netflix Series, The Queen’s Gambit

With no in-person events to attend, chess masters streamed themselves playing chess. Online chess platforms were overwhelmed with new players. The number of games played on online in 2020 were up 66% from pre-pandemic times.2 

  1. Computers are now better than people at chess. 

In the late 1980s, computers became capable of beating strong chess players.  In 1988, the computer Deep Thought became the first computer to defeat a grandmaster in a tournament game.3 Now, even the world champion doesn’t stand a chance against the leading computer. 

  1. All schoolchildren learn chess in Armenia. 

Starting from 2011, chess was taught as a school subject just like reading or math in Armenian schools. It’s the first country in the world to include chess as a subject in primary schools. With all the benefits that chess has for kids—creative thinking, spatial reasoning, and concentration—it’s no wonder that this country has made chess a compulsory class for everyone. 

  1. There are over 2,000 variations of chess. 

Most believe that chess began over 1400 years ago in India.4 However, as it’s spread across the world, games like Chinese chess and Japanese chess have evolved to become popular games as well. Today, international chess is standardized by the International Chess Federation, which was started in 1924. 

  1. Ben Franklin loved chess! 

You can thank founding father Ben Franklin for American Chess Day. Although the United States Chess Federation started in 1939, Ben Franklin was an avid chess player and even published an essay about the benefits of chess in 1786. 

Celebrate American Chess Day by joining a community of chess players, whether you’re just beginning or an experienced player.

Find kid-approved chess classes and camps on ActivityHero>>

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Academic Writing Academics Basketball Chess Creative Arts Creative Writing Lego Martial Arts Parenting Resources Schools Sports Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms Tutoring

3 Back to School Pain Points with Solutions

(Pandemic Edition)

As we all continue to adjust to an ever-evolving new normal, surviving a back to school season in the time of a pandemic, remains challenging.

From experiencing unexpected school quarantines (e.g. a student in your kid’s class tests positive for COVID-19) to being waitlisted for after school extended care and all the driving around for drop-offs and pickups, here’s how three moms at ActivityHero are managing the chaos.

1. Hacking (Unexpected) School Closures

Meet Kathrine: Mom to a Kindergartener (Los Angeles)

We were so excited to go in-person to the ‘big’ school this year. Just a few days in, school communicated that a child in my Kindergartener’s class tested positive for COVID-19, so the classroom was going to shut down for 10 days. My daughter was sent home with a computer for virtual instruction along with packets of information and materials for next two week’s instruction.

Solution: Register for last-minute online camps with classmates to squeeze in some virtual play dates.  

Distance learning was scheduled for 9-11 am daily. With half the day still remaining, we found online classes to help with the afternoon so she wasn’t parked in front of the TV for all of that time. She really enjoys Minecraft and Roblox so finding social clubs or easy 45~min classes to support her favorite interests was easy. To help support some physical activity, we did also add an online Ballet class.

2. Mind the After School Gap

Meet Tabetha: Mom to a 3rd Grader (San Francisco)

After months of distance and hybrid learning, having school for a 6 hour block of time has been an amazing improvement. We were hopeful at first, then officially waitlisted for after school extended care to get us through to 6pm. As a household with two full-time working parents the 3pm pickup is challenging. With the luxury of school facilitated enrichment programs like Chess and Basketball (and this coveted time for when homework could be done with an on-site tutor) missing this year, panic-mode started to settle in. And then we chatted with some of my son’s friends and realized we could do online classes.

Solution: Find online extracurriculars for your kids so you can attend a meeting and make dinner. It’s a win, win situation for everyone.

Fun classes where learning looks like play is our usual approach for extracurricular activities so our son’s hobbies helped with the selection process. LEGO and Pokemon are his current favorites. Even better, the themed classes we found are actually great for problem solving, building and creativity. Dancing to burn off energy is also a must. Different than last year, only having a small window of online classes has been much more manageable. 

3. Less Driving = More Learning

Meet Kristen: Mom to a 7th Grader & 11th Grader (Sacramento)

We couldn’t wait for in-person school to start this year. For my 7th grader, this meant going to a new school. With two kids at two different schools and two different sets of activities, we didn’t realize all the added back and forth driving until it was happening. 
Beyond the everyday drive to and from school, I now have to make a 3rd and 4th trip, 4 days a week for sports. This is in addition to the same daily drop off to and from school at a separate campus and several evening practices for club sports at least an hour each way. Today, we spent over 4 hours in the car driving back and forth and didn’t get home until after 9pm. The boys had to do their homework in the car and I won’t even mention what they had for dinner.

Solution: Fuel kids’ brains with fun online classes to minimize time spent in the car.

We never thought we’d say this, but we were missing online classes and virtual sports. (We saved so much time and gas last year!) To help offset the in-person activities, we decided to go back and add online classes into our weekend schedule. Online Drawing and Art classes have become our time together to connect as a family. The kids are also now signed up for virtual Martial Arts and Coding classes. All of which can happen in the comfort of our home.  

Find your back to school solution! Create an account and profile for your kid to find even more personalized classes and camps at ActivityHero.

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Academics After-School Activities Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Sports Super Activities for Super Kids Time-Saving Tips for Busy Moms

5 Organizing Hacks Perfect for Back to School






Prepping for back-to-school means juggling after-school activities and loads more stuff. These 5 organization hacks will keep your family organized and ready for anything.

By Jillian Chamberlain

happy girl with organized folders

Where are my shin guards? Did you sign that permission slip? I can’t find my sheet music!  When you’re trying to get kids out the door and to their after school activities, time is at a premium. Taking a few minutes now to modify your organization process can help streamline things when you’re in a rush. Here are some of our favorite ideas from parents and caregivers who’ve been there, organized that.

1. “Stuff Station” — The One Place to Keep Everything

Photo Credit: IAmNotTheBabysitter.com

There’s so much to keep track of during back-to-school season, it gets overwhelming. When school is back in session, so are all of those music lessons, soccer practices, and martial arts classes. As parents of active children, you are guaranteed to be dealing with more STUFF. How do you keep it all straight and teach your children to be responsible for their things on any given day? Keep it all in one place, and color-code it! Your kids’ activity station can come in many different shapes and forms, but here is one ‘stuff station’ idea we thought was appealing to the eye and highly functional. Check out this and more organization hacks from IAmNotTheBabysitter.com

2. There’s a Bag for That

Source: Momtastic.com

Once you create a ‘stuff station’ for homework, permission slips and projects are sure to add a hook for an after-school activity drawstring bag. If you have a child with a lot of various interests, consider making an individual drawstring bag that is designated as the one place to keep any and all equipment for each sport or lesson. On Mondays and Wednesdays, your child knows to grab the yellow drawstring bag with their shin guards and cleats for soccer. On Thursday the red bag is ready at the door for martial arts. Momtastic.com has a great DIY tutorial for customizable drawstring bags. So simple!

3. Car Homework Station

Homework happens. If there’s one thing to dread with the start of the new school year, it’s the renewed battle over nightly homework assignments. Convincing kids to sit down and do their work is one of the hardest parts of a parent’s job. One way to get them excited about homework is a comfortable and creative space dedicated to them…even if that is in the car. Consider creating a homework station in the car so that your little ones can knock out some homework while you’re on the road.

4. After-School Snacks on the Go

Kids start school relatively early in the morning each day. That means a big gap between lunchtime and after-school snack time. Kids need to refuel, and every parent knows how difficult it can be dealing with cranky, “hangry” youngsters. StuffedSuitcase.com has made it easy to steer clear of junk foods and other unhealthy quick fixes by gathering some easy-to-assemble snacks to keep ready in the car. After-school snacks can be healthy, fun and mobile!

5. Organize Your After-School Schedule, Too!

Searching ActivityHero on a phoneActivityHero can help you find local activities that work with your child’s calendar — and nurture his or her interests! Whether your child likes to dance, sports, outdoor recreation, music, or computers, ActivityHero makes browsing and registering easy.

Getting organized is about clearing the space and time for your family members to meet their needs and find focus, in whatever way works for you!

Search for after-school classes near you >>

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After-School Activities Basketball Biking Camps Golf Gymnastics Lego Online Learning Play/Outdoor Soccer Sports swimming Tennis

Summer Olympics Inspired Sports

Whether it’s gymnastics, soccer, or skateboarding, there’s something for everyone when it comes to the summer Olympics. Dive into a world of international sports, from table tennis to basketball. Feeling inspired by your favorite athletes competing on the world stage? Here are some beginner sports camps and classes for kids who are captivated by Olympic sports this year.

Online Classes

Pintsize Soccer: Backyard Edition (PreK – Gr 8)

Soccer skills and fun games that kids can do from the safety of their own backyard, garage or patio.  Your child will practice their individual gross motor skills, focus and agility to keep them sharp and ready for when the season begins! 

With fun challenges they can practice at home, your child will gain new skills and develop their passion for new challenges.

Martial Arts and Life Lessons (Ages 5-11)

Family Karate provides fun, fitness, karate, and life skills.  Now your child can enjoy our unique blend of martial arts and character building in our live online classes with a Master Instructor.

They’re here to help your child become even more engaged, strong and optimistic during this unique time.  Grit, resilience and laughter have never been more important than right now.

Beginning Judo Class (Ages 3-12)

Hajime Judo (Beginning Judo) teaches judo technique, culture, and character. As kids learn basic judo techniques, they work on developing balance, coordination and confidence. Every class finishes with games that develop motor skills and ends with laughter and fun. This is an amazing place to get your kids active and introduce them to martial arts. 

LEGO Creativity Camp: Sports (Ages 5-12)

What is your favorite sport?  Make it come to life during this week-long camp! 

Explore and enhance your LEGO building skills making stadiums, gyms, courts, obstacle courses and fields.  Learn how to make a round ball, a football, goals, or any other item you might use in your sport.  

Kids Fitness and Gymnastics (Ages 3-6) 

Join Fun & Fit TumbleBus for virtual gymnastics style fitness videos! They’re just created a NEW workout video. Get 2 warm up song videos,  1 gymnastics style workout, and free bonus videos!

Virtual TumbleBus videos are intended to promote a love of fitness in preschool and young elementary school age children. Videos work on children’s motor skills, listening & following directions, basic gymnastics, and balance, coordination & strength needed for all sports!

Challenger Sports Soccer Videos (Ages 3-8)

Access these on-demand videos with all sorts of soccer exercises and games! Go around the world with Mr. Matt, play soccer games with Smelli Elli, or go international with soccer in Spain or France. These videos can be viewed on your own time and are perfect for kids to try out soccer in the comfort of their own backyard.

In-Person Camps (SF Bay Area)

Tennis Summer Camp (Ages 6-14)

Follow in the footsteps of Naomi Osaka with a tennis summer camp! Introduce your child to something new this year with an exciting day camp experience. Euro School of Tennis will help make your child’s summer action packed on the tennis court. This is a chance to learn about tennis from personalized instructors who can help your child attain new skills in a fun, safe environment. Full day sessions include swimming and games in the afternoon. Half day morning or afternoon is also available. 

Kids Novice Tennis Classes (Ages 6-8)

No Tennis Experience? No Worries. Beginner Kids Tennis Lessons are Here!

The perfect time to help your child learn more about tennis is right now with our beginning kids tennis lessons. Dubbed the Mini Aces program, this class is designed for kids 6 – 8. This intergrade tennis program is the ideal option for first through third grade kids who haven’t had any real exposure to the game. Every clinic is a great way to keep your child active while helping them understand the basics. From learning more about game play to serve and return skills, we’ll help your child learn what to do in a match while having a great time.

Coach Ken Soccer Camps (Ages 4-12)

What a summer for soccer! Learn new and exciting soccer skills with Coach Ken. Coach Ken’s Soccer Camps have a proven record of helping kids achieve their full potential as soccer players. The coaches are knowledgeable and passionate about the game. All lessons are age-appropriate, challenging, and fun. All levels are welcome.

SPeeD Academy Golf Camp (Ages 5-17)

Try out the newly-reinstated Olympic sport: golf! All SPeeD Academy classes are taught by golf professional Roy Day, PGA. Roy has been named US Kids Top 50 Junior Instructors (2006-2008) and US Kids Master Junior Instructors (2009 to present). In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about golf, Roy makes learning FUN!!

Intro to Fencing (Ages 6-10)

This year, fencing consists of three separate events at the Olympics. Join in the fencing fun with this introduction fencing class. Learn to fence and have fun with peers in a safe way at Maximum Fencing Club. All equipment is provided. 

Legarza Basketball Camp (Ages 5-14)

Take after US flag bearer Sue Bird with basketball! At this camp, campers work hard and feel good about themselves in a safe, disciplined, highly structured and motivating environment. Players will learn to work together in a team setting while playing games and tournaments.

Camps are divided up by age and experience, keeping groups separated for the best overall camp experience. The equipment and curriculum for each age group is very different and age appropriate.

Little Twisters Gymnastics Camp (Ages 3-5)

Join Little Twisters this summer for days full of Gymnastics, Games, Free Play, Dance, Snack Times, and an End of the Week Performance. The facility is the cleanest and kid friendly facility in Santa Clara County and our instructors are top-notch. Sign up for this camp for a week of fun and gymnastics that your children will love.

Summer Ping Pong Camp (Ages 5-16)

Beginners with no previous table tennis experience will engage in learning exercises designed to energize, entertain and build a strong table tennis foundation.  Intermediate and advanced players, (competitive table tennis athletes who aim to take their game to the next level), will engage in rigorous training sessions that focus on technique, game strategies, skill reinforcement and physical conditioning. Players of all skills can join to try out ping pong and have fun practicing together. 

Skateboarding Camps (Ages 5-14)

New to the Olympics, skateboarding has swept the world as a fun and high-energy event. Try out skateboarding with Golden Gate Skateboarding. Start camp with an introduction to skateboarding specific stretching/yoga routines that improve performance and reduce injury probabilities. Cover beginner level skills all the way up to more advanced skills like Ollies, kickflips, 50-50 grinds, frontside 180’s and many more tricks. All skill levels are welcome!

In-Person Camps (Los Angeles)

Basketball Camp (Gr 2 – Gr 5)

Learn the fundamentals of shooting, passing, and dribbling. Understand the strategy of playing basketball. Have fun in one of KidzToPros’ most popular sports camps! Whether the camper is a first-timer or experienced player, they’ll learn skills that will carry them on to the next level. They’ll end each day engaged, passionate, and motivated for the next day of basketball camp! 

Girls Leadership & Soccer Camps (Ages 5-13)

This girls-only leadership and soccer summer camp is an opportunity for girls of all playing levels to refine and develop new soccer skills. Along the way, make friends and gain exposure to new experiences including dance, artistic expression, and leadership training.

Super Soccer Stars Camp (Ages 5-10)

When school is out, soccer is in! Super Soccer Stars and Soccer Stars United are kicking into this season with summer, holiday, and day-off soccer camps. Coaches work with 4-8 children to build skills and create a team atmosphere. Have fun with the FUNdamentals of soccer! Kids across the country can have a blast in a safe, high-energy soccer camp that will keep them active and allow them to socialize with friends. 

Wrestling Club (Ages 6-12)

The Devil’s Gate Wrestling Club is a youth wrestling club chartered by USA Wrestling in 2014 with the goal of introducing the local community to the sport of wrestling. Their coaching philosophy seeks to teach wrestlers how to motivate and challenge themselves. The Devil’s Gate Wrestling Club strives to implement and teach our youth wrestlers core values like hard work, dedication, goal-setting, and discipline. 

Tiny Tees Golf Camp (Ages 3 – 13)

Tiny Tees Golf Summer Camp is open to players of all skill levels from beginner to advanced, ages 3-13. Children will work on individual golf skills: full swing, putting, pitching, chipping, bunker play, golf course etiquette, and course play.  Introduce your kids to golf through this fun camp designed for young beginners!

Karate Class (Ages 7+)

These classes teach Shorin-Ryu Karate, a traditional Okinawan martial art, and the complete system of self-defense. Beginning classes will teach basic blocks, strikes, and kicks, and the first form. Advance through these martial arts lessons with Wilmington Karate Club this summer. 

Olympic Games: Science, Art, and Outdoor Camp (Grades K-8 at Different Locations)

Go for the gold in a triumphant Olympic journey. This camp combines art, science and outdoor challenges that build creative confidence, nurture social development and deliver the big summer fun they crave—all in small groups that put safety first. 75% of time is spent outdoors!

Get fired up to create mixed-media torches or glittering medals to light up the games. Master the mechanics of athletes and their equipment by designing high-flying archery bows, judo robots or a go-kart you can race in (a Galileo Olympic event only). Celebrate the Olympic spirit with a range of outdoor games!

Surf & Swimming Camp (Ages 5-15)

This camp is focused on surfing, swimming, and playing at the beach. All surfboards and bodyboards are provided at camp. Experienced instructors will lead kids in swimming, basic surf techniques, and surfing etiquette. Learn about ocean safety and conservation while having safe play time in and out of the water! This is a great opportunity to spend time getting more familiar with our beautiful coast, and the power and fun of the ocean.

 

For more sports camps and classes near you, check out ActivityHero.com.

 

Categories
After-School Activities Parenting Resources Sports

Using Flexible Spending Accounts & Tax Credits for Summer Camps and After School Activities

Flexible spending accounts (FSA) can be a great way to reduce your taxes while you spend on child care. You can use money from your FSA to pay for summer camps and after-school activities. Certain after-school activities and care expenses are covered as well. If your company doesn’t offer an FSA, you can also cover some of the costs of camp and child care with the child care tax credit.

There are a few stipulations to consider, one being that only kids under 13 years old are covered. Only day camps are covered, not overnight camps, and both parents must be working or attending school full-time. Also, the same expenses cannot be covered by FSA and the child care tax credit. The child care tax credit covers only a percentage of child care costs and varies between 20-35% depending on your household income. If your adjusted gross income is over $43,000, your child care tax credit is limited to 20%. 

Other key points you should know about the tax credit:

  • Expenses are deductible only if the main purpose is the “person’s well-being and protection.” Summer school, private school tuition, tutoring and overnight camps don’t qualify.
  • Day care centers or after-school care qualifies if only if the center complies with all state and local regulations.
  • There is a maximum yearly dollar amount of $3000 for one child, or $6000 for two or more children.

Are online classes and camps eligible for FSA or tax credit?

In 2020 and 2021, many more families enrolled their kids in an online course or virtual camp. Unfortunately, some FSA’s are not approving online courses as an eligible dependent care expense because the parents were at home during the course and thus providing child care.

IRS publication 503 says “Expenses are for the care of a qualifying person only if their main purpose is the person’s well-being and protection.” One FSA administrator states in a recent notice that an online platform with audio and visual functions satisfies the requirement. But some FSA plans state that if the parents are at home, then the parents are providing care for the child. 

If I paid for a camp in 2020, but we attended in 2021, what year is my expense tax deductible?

If you paid for camp in one year, but your kids did not attend until the next year, you would count expenses in the year your kids attended. 

How can I get the EIN number for the camp or class provider?

When you register on ActivityHero.com, your registration confirmation email will include the EIN and other information you need to claim your tax credit or use your FSA funds. 

Please keep in mind that we know a fair bit about summer camps and kids activities, but we are NOT tax experts. There are additional restrictions to this tax credit, so read IRS publication 503 carefully or consult your tax advisor before claiming the tax dependent care credit.

Categories
Featured Posts Mindfulness Parenting Resources Yoga

5 Ways to Start the New Year Right for Kids

After a year of school shutdowns, schedule disruptions, and social isolation, many families may be looking forward to a fresh start. Here are some ideas for kids to take on 2021 the right way with health, education, and mindfulness.

2020 was a challenge for many families, and for many kids that can come with increased stress and anxiousness. Helping children manage physical and mental health is especially important this year. Look for ways to make 2021 their best year yet!

2021 Goals for Kids and Teens

Here are 5 steps towards a year full of growth and joy.

1) Physical Exercise

Exercising every day can help kids manage their sleep schedule, improve their mood, and decrease stress. This can be a healthy habit for the whole family in 2021 – hiking, biking, going for walks, or other recreational activities are all great ideas to enjoy together. 

Kids Yoga Classes

Other exercise and fitness classes for your child include:

Dance: Kids of any age can participate in a dance class or have a dance party in a fun, safe environment. Many classes are for beginners and explore many different styles of dance, like hip hop, ballet, and jazz.

Martial Arts: Martial arts classes help build confidence, leadership skills, and resilience while providing a fun space to stay active.

Yoga: Online yoga and exercise classes are a relaxing activity for all ages. In yoga classes for kids as young as 4, students learn basic yoga movements and body awareness.

See All Fitness Classes on ActivityHero>>

2) Nutrition

Nutrition and healthy eating is important for all ages. Establishing a good relationship with food is knowledge that kids can use for their whole life.

Getting started with cooking at a young age is a great way for kids to start learning about nutrition. Being in the kitchen can also help with independence, help picky eaters, and spark creativity.

Cooking Classes: Instructional classes with expert teachers bring kids through recipes while teaching kitchen safety, cleanliness, and art.

DIY Recipes: Have fun with recipes on your own time, with video tutorials to help you out!

3) Schedule Relaxing Activities

Along with exercise and nutrition, making time for enjoyable and relaxing hobbies has many benefits as well. A new year is the perfect time to explore something new, whether it be art, music, writing, or gaming.

Art classes for kids

Art Classes for Kids: Art can be a constructive outlet for children of all abilities to express emotions and relieve anxiety. Drawing, painting, clay modeling, and crafts are all great activities.

Music Classes for Kids: Music is a great activity that anyone can pick up for fun, whether it’s learning an instrument, singing, or dancing.

In addition, any relaxing hobby your child enjoys can help them socialize and unwind. Cooking, theatre & drama, music, LEGO or even making slime could be good options!

See All Online Classes on ActivityHero>>

4) Mindfulness and Meditation

Look forward to a year of emotional health and reduced stress. Yoga, exercises to reduce stress, and meditation can all help to prepare for the ups and downs of 2021. Even five minutes of breathing or mindful exercises a day can help to develop healthy emotions and resilience.

Kids Mindfulness Classes

See Mindfulness on ActivityHero>>

5) Staying Connected

Many kids had to learn to navigate technology this year to attend school and socialize with friends. Live online classes or calls are a great time for kids to safely interact with each other and work together on fun activities. After feeling isolated this year, it is important to make time to keep connections this year.

See Social Skills and Social Media on ActivityHero>>

Along with encouraging kids to reach out to others, be aware of the risks of the online world. Teach your kids about cyberbullying and staying safe on the internet.

Categories
Adventure/Outdoors Biking Guest Posts Keeping Kids Active, Healthy + Engaged Play/Outdoor Super Activities for Super Kids

Biking: 6 Practical Tips for Families






Whether you love a leisurely ride or a real off-road adventure, find a type of biking that appeals to your family. Here are 6 practical tips to get kids started with family-friendly biking.

Source: Flickr

By the ActivityHero Team with Guest Amanda Wilks

Kids are often tempted to spend hours of their unstructured play time glued to electronic devices. Instead, why not encourage them to go out for a ride? With many benefits for the body and mind, biking is a healthy outdoor activity that can be done at almost any age. Looking to try it out? Here’s expert advice on sizing, types, gear, classes, and specialized activities like mountain biking.

1. Get Fitted

The most important step is to measure your child’s Inseam. A bicycle inseam (or leg length) is not the same as a clothing inseam.

To measure, grab a book and a tape measurer. The child should stand with her back against a wall, spreading her feet about 6 inches apart, either barefoot or in socks. Place a book between her legs, close to the crotch to mimic the bike seat.

Measure from the top of the book (that is, the spine) down to the floor. Choosing a slightly larger bike is fine in order to leave a little room to grow into. Avoid choosing a size which is too far off the mark for your child, which would impede his ability to learn correct riding habits and even expose him to greater danger.

2. Choose the Right Bike

Depending on your interests, there are three main styles of bike: road, mountain, and “hybrid” (a blend between the two), depending on your interests.

If you’re interested in mountain biking, according to MountainBikeReviewed, you can easily find and buy sturdy bikes for less than $300, like the Mongoose Statis Comp, the Villano Blackjack 2.0 or the Schwinn High Timber. Other great mountain bike brands which are geared towards kids are Spawn, Cleary, Early Rider, Pello and Stampede. Many mountain bikes are, contrary to opinion, quite cost-effective.

For road bikes, your local bike shop should have recommendations. Online retailers like Amazon will often have many customer reviews posted. There are also online outfits like BikeExchange if you prefer doing research online.

No matter what style you go with, when the child stands over the bike, there should be a 1-2 “ space between the crotch and the top bar of the bike. Also, “a beginner should be able to plant both feet flat on the ground when getting off the bike, which ensures safety and helps with confidence,” recommends Nick Pavlakis of Pedalheads, a learn-to-ride bike camp based in Seattle, Portland, Denver and Chicago.

Ideally, the right bike choice should be made based on the wheel size, not the frame size. Use the chart below:

Wheel Size 12″ —> Age 2 -3 —> Height 2’10 – 3’4

Wheel Size 14″ —> Age 3 -4 —> Height 3’1 – 3’7

Wheel Size 16″ —> Age 4-5 —> Height 3’7 – 4’0 

Wheel Size 20’ —> Age 5-8 —> Height 4’0 – 4’5

Wheel Size 24′ —>  Age 8-11 —> Height  4’5 – 4’9 

Wheel Size 26′ —> Age 11+ —> Height 4’9

These are rough approximations and, since every child is unique, you should use these numbers only as a guide.

3. Get Essential Gear

A good helmet which protects the brain is the single most important safety feature you must have. Make sure it fits, covers the entirety of the forehead and is properly ventilated. According to Pavlakis of Pedalheads, “research shows that up to 90% of fatal bicycle crashes result from head trauma,” so using a properly fitted and certified helmet will protect the head and brain from damage, which might save your child’s life. Note that helmets are mandatory for children under the age of 16 in most areas. “Check that there is no more than a two-finger gap between your eyebrows and the front part of the helmet,” advises Pavlakis.

Layer up with season-appropriate clothing. In summer, light clothing with good arm and leg coverage will protect from sun, and in cooler temperatures, don’t forget gloves, warm socks, and a wind-proof shell.

For urban and suburban biking, invest in a solid bicycle lock.

If you want to take the whole family along but have younger children who aren’t yet able to pedal on their own steam, the most common options are: Trailers (a wheeled carriage which attaches in back of a bicycle), Pedal-less Bikes (also called Balance Bikes, where kids push off the ground to move forward), and Trail-a-Bikes (a seat plus single-wheel that attaches to a bicycle, allowing pedaling without steering capabilities).

4. Find Classes or Camps

Classes and camps will generally cover the four basic rules of bike riding:

  • Riding in a straight line without deviating from it;
  • Looking back without losing balance or swerving;
  • Stopping the bike using the brakes, taking into account the surroundings;
  • Good speed control and adapting it in accordance with the terrain.

After mastering these basics, group classes are a great way for kids to learn important skills like giving hand signals, negotiating hilly terrain, understanding road signs and dangers, following traffic flow, and practicing proper spacing between riders.

 Find biking camps and classes near me > >

As a side note, older kids will benefit from learning some everyday maintenance routines, like checking the bike tire’s air pressure, putting the chain back together, and testing the brakes, often covered in more advanced classes or camps.

More inclined to teach on your own? Here’s a helpful guide.  Remember to read up on safety do’s and don’ts. If you get to the stage where a child is nearly ready to remove the training wheels, Pavlakis advises parents to take their time: “Don’t rush the process. Taking the training wheels off too early can become a negative experience for the child and may lead to resistance in learning.”

5. Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is a sport that is growing rapidly in popularity by offering excitement, challenge, and unique outdoor settings. To get kids started with mountain biking, you should remember that at the outset, your child might not have the physical endurance or the attention span needed to finish a certain route. Try increasing trip difficulty and length gradually to make the learning process smoother.

First, make sure your child is very capable and comfortable traversing flat, easy terrain. Then transition to doubletrack dirt trails with varying degrees of difficulty and topography. Plan ahead to reduce the chance of accidents. Initially choose short, fun routes that you know well and that you feel your kid can complete with relative ease. Have fun increasing the level of difficulty over time!

6. Find Focus, Stay Safe

Pavlakis recommends that beginning bikers “maintain focus and awareness at all times,” of the conditions on their road or trail to reinforce safe habits. Biking is a perfect way to leave behind the distractedness of everyday life and be more fully engaged in the present. Have fun!

On a roll? Check updated schedules and reviews of popular biking camps and classes in your area on ActivityHero.

About the author

Amanda Wilks is a writer, veteran MTB rider and sports advocate. Her passion for mountain biking dates back to her childhood, when she would join her dad every weekend for a quick ride uphill. She is now addicted to the sport and she never misses a trail. Learn more about Amanda on Twitter.

Categories
Chess

9 Reasons Chess Classes Are a Smart Move

Sure, chess is a great brain-booster for type-A kids, but did you know it’s also perfect for children who struggle to focus in school or organize their homework? Here, a seasoned chess coach explains why every child can enjoy many brain-boosting, skill-enhancing benefits when learning this “Game of Kings.”

By Rachel Stamper

Chess camps, chess clubs and chess classes are the perfect way to introduce your child to the “Game of Kings.” While experts disagree on the optimal age to begin chess — some say as early as kindergarten, while others recommend starting at second grade — all concur that chess offers incredible benefits to boost the developing brains of children of all ages.

My son, now nearly 13 and in 7th grade, participated in after-school chess club throughout elementary school, and the skills he learned in chess continue to benefit him both socially and academically. “I don’t like sports, but do like competition,” he says. A variation called “bughouse chess” was his favorite, because it’s a team chess game. “Plus I’ve got a shelf full of chess trophies!”

I chatted with Coach Brett Ramirez of The Chess Club about these and other benefits of enrolling a child in a chess program. He offers the following insight, gained from his more than 20 years’ experience coaching chess for elementary through high school kids.

#1 Chess Encourages Focus

Learning and playing chess teaches children the benefits of careful observation and concentration If the student doesn’t watch what’s happening, they can’t respond to it, no matter how smart they are.

#2 Chess Teaches Visualization

We prompt children to imagine a sequence of actions before it happens. This strengthens their ability to visualize by training them to shift the pieces in their mind several moves ahead to predict outcomes.

#3 Chess Trains Thoughtfulness

Children are taught to think, then act. We teach them to ask, “If I do this, what might happen as a result and how can I respond?” Over time, chess helps kids develop patience and learn to think ahead.

#4 Chess Inspires Critical Thinking

We teach students that they don’t have to do the first thing that pops into their mind. They learn to identify and weigh options and consider the pros and cons of various alternatives before they act.

#5 Chess Instills Analysis and Logic

Children learn to evaluate results of a series of actions and outcomes. They ask themselves, “Does this sequence help me or hurt me?” This way, they see that better decisions come from logic, rather than impulse.

#6 Chess Guides Abstract Thinking

We teach kids how to step back from details periodically and consider the bigger picture. They also learn to transfer patterns used in one context and apply them to different, but related situations.

#7 Chess Supports Planning

Children are shown how to develop longer-range goals and take steps towards accomplishing these goals. They are also taught how to reevaluate their plans on the fly as new developments change the scenario.

Photo Credit: The Chess Club - San Jose, CA
Photo Credit: The Chess Club – San Jose, CA

#8 Chess Inspires Multiple Lines of Thought

We encourage students not to become overly absorbed in any one consideration, but to try to weigh various factors all at once. Simultaneous juggling of multiple considerations is a skill that can be learned early.

#9 Chess Spurs Socialization

In schools, chess serves as a bridge, bringing together children of different ages, races and genders. Chess helps build individual friendships, camaraderie, healthy competition and sportsmanship.

Coach Brett adds, “The beauty of chess as a teaching tool is that it stimulates children’s minds and helps them to build these skills while enjoying themselves. As a result, children become more critical thinkers, better problem solvers and more independent decision makers.”

Now It’s Your Move!

Find an online chess class or club  and introduce your kids to the great game of chess.

Categories
Camps Creative Arts Dance Featured Posts Music Performing Arts Play/Outdoor Science/Technology Sports

Bay Area Summer Camp Guide for Kids and Teens

This summer camp guide will help you find camps that fit your kids interests and provide some tips on how to make it easier to plan your summer with the greatest ease. 

Adventure Camps | Best Bay Area Summer Camps at Activity Hero

Bay Area kids benefit from a large variety of summer camps — sports, art, coding, outdoor and specialty camps! Many parents describe the camp planning process as a jigsaw puzzle as they try to fit together multiple kids, friends, and camp schedules. 

At ActivityHero, our mission is to make finding and booking summer camps easier for parents. We’ve put together this summer camp guide to provide an overview of all the top camp categories.

Sports Camps

Sports camps are popular with kids of all ages. Summer is a great time for kids to further explore a sport that they love or try something new. Besides keeping kids active, sports camps help kids learn teamwork and perseverance. Sports camps also tend to be less expensive than other camps. 

Boys and girls love soccer camps, and even in the summer, it’s not too hot in the Bay Area to be on the soccer field. The youngest campers have fun playing games and running off all that extra summer energy. Experienced players benefit from extra instruction during the off season.

Family favorites:
Coach Ken Soccer Camps: “Great staff and great experience for my son and daughter! This was our first year and my daughter who is 6 was interested in playing sports like her 8 year old brother. They both had a great time, learned a lot, and it was a great learning environment for the kids. Can’t wait to go back!”

Basketball camps are great for coordination, exercise and team-building. Campers learn the fundamentals of basketball through games and fun drills. Coaches group children by age and skill level, making it a suitable choice for beginner or advanced basketball players.

Family favorites:
Legarza Sports “My son loved his week at Basketball camp. Good instructors who care about the kids. Drop off and pick up were very easy. He’s excited to return next year.

Dance camps are a great way for artistic children to explore their creativity through a variety of different dance disciplines such as modern, jazz, ballet, hip hop, salsa or even aerial dance.

Family favorites:
Grrrl Brigade “A terrific empowering experience that exposes and teaches your child a wide range of dances, music, positive approaches to thinking and expressing themselves. The “show” at the end of the week is very inspiring and the staff is thoughtful, patient and kind in leading the girls through an impressive array of choreography.”

Multi-sport camps are a good way to give kids a variety of several different sports and outdoor games. Bald Eagle Sports Camp proudly says their multi-sport camp is “known for getting even the laziest kids up and moving…and loving it!” 

Family favorites:
Growfit “The staff at GrowFit are simply amazing. I sent both my kids here during the school break and they had an awesome time. The staff went above and beyond when my son was being called names. I really can’t say enough good things about them.”

Coding, Science, and Robotics Camps

Parents know how kids can consume technology for hours at a time on video games, YouTube videos, and social media. So it’s not a surprise that many parents are interested in directing this interest into creating video games, making movies, or coding the next social media app like TikTok. 

Summer is a great time to explore coding for kids because most schools don’t offer coding during the school year. Many coding camps use video camps as the subject matter for teaching kids how to use Scratch or Python to create their own game or learn Minecraft or Roblox mods. Teens may choose Java programming camps to prepare for high school computer science courses or App development camps to explore new app ideas. 

Science camps and STEM camps are popular for girls and boys who are naturally inquisitive. Camps that focus on science, technology, engineering and math challenges are engaging for curious children who like to explore the how and why. For middle and high school students, STEM camps can showcase a wide variety of potential career opportunities.

Family favorites:
Camp Galileo
Camp EDMO
Destination Science introduces new kid-oriented themes each year, like animals, space, or amusement parks. 

Robot summer camps are like coding camps with an extra element of competition. TV shows like BattleBots have introduced more families to the thrill of designing and battling robots. Many introductory robotics summer camps use LEGO Mindstorms, which is also used by the First Lego League in nationwide competitions for kids. 

Family favorites:
Wizbots
TechKnowHow 

Art, LEGO, and Maker Camps

Creative kids can grow their skills and express themselves in any number of art camps and maker camps. From learning to draw to learning to build, art and other maker camps can bring out the creator in every kid.

At a LEGO camp, kids build LEGO animals, spacecraft, and other creations. 

Family favorites:
KidzToPros
Brainvyne LEGO Camps 

For budding master chefs, a cooking camp like Sprouts Cooking Club or Culinary Dude offers hands-on cooking experience and a daily menu. On-demand activities include recipes and video walkthroughs for meals and desserts.

Kids and teens who want to learn to sew will find some creative sewing camps such as Camp Couture in San Mateo, owned by Project Runway finalist Alexandria von Brommson. Sewing camps like this let kids design their own fashions, accessories, and even soft toys. 

Woodworking camp is very popular, even in the high-tech age, but harder to find due to the specialized equipment and instructors. Maker Nexus in Sunnyvale has sewing camps as well as woodworking and industrial arts for kids and adults. You’ll also find woodworking at Tinkering School in San Francisco and Young Builders in Palo Alto. 

Outdoor and Nature Camps

For both boys and girls, outdoor camps are a top interest with kids ages 5-13. This is great news for parents who want their kids to spend less time with screens and more time connecting with nature and playing outside.

The Bay Area is the perfect place for kids to enjoy both water sports and mountain adventures. Kids can take a hike along creeks or try rock climbing, mountain biking, or canoeing. 

Family favorites:
Camp Galileo
Avid4 Adventure

Also popular in the Bay Area

Academic camps are a top interest for kids ages 7-10 who would like to explore a subject beyond the typical classroom curriculum in an exciting and engaging way.

Family favorites:
“My daughter loves math circle. She tells me that she’s not doing math like at school, rather she says she’s doing puzzles and games and that it’s really fun. I love that she’s having fun learning and that math circle helps her develop a positive attitude about math.”

Girls-only camps are a chance for girls to connect with other girls and get a unique perspective on topics such as leadership, teamwork and goal setting. A single gender camp can boost confidence and help girls find their voice while making friends.

Summer Planning Made Easy

Are you juggling a summer camp schedule with multiple children? Or, are you trying to coordinate camps and carpool with friends? ActivityHero has launched a new tool to make inviting friends and teammates even easier. You can now add your favorite summer camps to a saved list, invite friends and share as a group. Parents are able to RSVP that they are interested, registered or unavailable for that camp all in one convenient location. Save time and plan the ultimate summer experience with your child’s classmates, teammates, neighbors and more!

How many camps should my child attend?

It really depends on your child. Some kids can be single-minded and want to enjoy one camp for the summer and focus on their favorite activity, other kids want to take several classes in different areas throughout the season.

You can find these Bay Area summer camps and many more camps near you on ActivityHero or download our iPhone app for faster and easier searching!

Categories
Camps Soccer Sports Uncategorized

Soccer Camp for Kids: Finding the Right Fit for your Child’s Goals

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.

Find kids soccer camps near me | Summer Camps at Activity Hero

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.

Types of Soccer Camps

There are many different soccer camps available this summer to fit your schedule and child’s goals. AYSO offers week long programs including half-day soccer camps (3hrs), full-day soccer camps (6 hrs, ages 8+) and mini sessions (1.5 hrs). The programs are open to all players and the curriculum is developmentally appropriate for any skill level. Other popular half-day and full-day soccer camps include USF Youth Academy Soccer Camp (K-5th), Challenger Soccer Camps (multiple camps ages 3-16), Coach Ken Soccer Academy (ages 4-12) and Stanford Soccer Camps (ages 4-10).

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.

Regardless of your child’s age or skill level, there is a soccer camp that is the right fit for your family. You can find all these Bay Area soccer camps on ActivityHero or download our iPhone app. Early bird summer camp discounts could save parents up to $200 a week.

Categories
Sports Super Activities for Super Kids

Choosing Sports for Kids: 8 Ways Parents Can Help






How to choose sports for kids
image from Flickr user tbsphotography

When kids start to express an interest in sports, it might be hard to know where to start. How do you know if your child is a Steph Curry or a Serena Williams?

Here’s some ways you can help kids find the right sport for them.

1. Child’s activity level

Is your child constantly running about and complaining of boredom? Or do they prefer to spend their free time doing low impact activities like reading?

If you have a high-energy child, consider a fast-paced sport such as soccer, football, or basketball. If they are less interested in contact sports, your child may like individual sports such as golf, tennis or swimming.

2. Consider physical traits

Although many teams need a variety of different players, take into account your child’s stature and what activity may best suit them. Children that are taller and broader might make better football players while those that are shorter and more slender would be great runners.

But don’t let your child’s physical traits limit them from their passions—the only limitations are the ones set in the mind.

Choosing sports for kids
image from Flickr user Snap-Happy-Mom

3. Check out the coaches

A passion for a sport can fizzle out due to an ill-prepared or off-putting coach.

Some things to look for in a good coach are encouragement, knowledge of the game, and approachability. A good coach is passionate about the sport and dedicated to helping kids do their absolute best. Check out the 10 qualities to look for in a good coach.

Observe the children on the team—are they smiling? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves?

Feel free to ask the coach as many questions as time allows, if they are truly committed to their job they’ll gladly give you feedback.

4. Individual vs. group

Does your child perform better in individual or group situations?

Some kids work better on a team and find it to be less pressure than individual sports where they are competing one-on-one. Some might find the opposite to be true.

If your child is more independent, consider sports like tennis or martial arts where kids compete one-on-one.

5. Widen your options

Try to introduce as many sports to your child as possible so they can see what interests them and what comes naturally.

Kids will have more trouble sticking with a sport if their minds wander to something they’ve never experienced.

Practicing different sports with your child will help open their eyes to their talents and skills. Pay attention to your child’s attitude during each sport and ask them how they feel after playing.

Sports for Kids
image from Flickr user Boston Wolverine

6. What sports does your child like watching?

Some kids can sit through an entire baseball game, excited from beginning to end, while others would rather flip the channel. Chances are if your child can watch an entire sports game from beginning to end they may have an interest in playing it.

Try to introduce your kids to as many sports games on TV as possible and take note of which ones grab their attention. Ask your child what they like about the game and if they can picture themselves playing the same game.

7. Consider costs

Before your child decides to be a star quarterback or a gymnast, do a little research on the costs of the sport.

Things like tennis rackets, soccer cleats, and leotards can be more expensive than you’d think. If your child is eager to start an expensive sport, be sure you have a solid commitment before making expensive purchases.

8. Importance of sportsmanship

Let’s face it: no one likes to lose, but studies show that kids who cope with losing end up more resilient in the face of future challenges. Temperament matters, too; some kids are more graceful losers than others. Read more about promoting self-reliance in kids and teens.

Some kids can find it especially tough to deal with loss in a team setting where there is a shared responsibility for success. Other kids might not struggle as much with this scenario. On the other hand, one-on-one sports like tennis or golf deal with facing personal loss. Know which types of challenges your child can handle.

Either way, it’s important to teach your child that winning isn’t everything. Playing to the best of their ability, not holding a trophy, should make them feel successful.

How Parents can Help Choosing Sports for Kids

ActivityHero lists hundreds of top-rated sports classes and camps. Find the right match for your family today.

Written by Sarah Antrim