I’ve compiled a list of camps that take younger children — and you should feel free to add your own experience in the comments.
YMCA camp offers a Kindergarten Transition program. In addition to some school readiness activities, the fun includes nature projects, art, dance, gardening, swimming lessons, and use of the Kindergym. Outings include Fairyland, Tilden Park, and Habitot.
Location: Downtown Berkeley
Hours: 9 am to 4 pm with AM and PM extended care available
Habitot has ten weeks of themed programming for preschoolers from outer space to “Beaches & Sunshine”.
Location: Downtown Berkeley (curbside drop-off and pick-up available)
Hours: 9 am to 1 pm available every week of the summer except the week containing July 4. Last 2 weeks include an afternoon session option from 2 pm to 5 pm.
Price: $195 per week for non-members; $185 per week for members
Age: Starting at 2 years 9 months. Upper age limit for Habitot camp morning sessions is 4 years 9 months; afternoon sessions are for 3-5 year olds.
Sarah’s Science Summer Camp offers themed science weeks with topics like Ninja Science and Light it Up! Days include outdoor fun as well.
Location: The Berkeley site is at Tilden Park and the Oakland location is Roberts Regional Park.
Hours: Mon–Fri, 9:00am–3:00pm. Extended Care: 8:00–9:00am & 3:00–5:30pm.
Price: $340/week for core program; $20/wk for before-care; $60/wk for after-care. Discounts for multiple-weeks and siblings. Single days also an option.
Ages: 5-10 campers and 11-15 for CIT (counselors in training)
Head Over Heels is a gymnastics and circus arts program that also includes arts & crafts, and games. The sessions culminate with a show for the parents.
Hours: Half-day is available from 9 to 12; full day is 9 to 4 pm.
Price: Half day camp – $245/week; Full day camp-$300/week. You can do single days of camp for $70 per day.
Ages: 3-12; must be fully potty trained.
Steve and Kate’s is a multidisciplinary camp with a unique kid-driven agenda. We’ve heard mixed results from parents who’ve let their kids plan their own day at a Steve and Kate’s camp, but the facilities are impressive, and they call the rising Kindergartners “Kindercamp” and assign extra staff to guide them through their day.
Locations: There are 18 Bay Area locations of Steve and Kate’s, but the ones in the 510 are in central Berkeley and the El Cerrito hills.
Hours: Doors are open from 7:30 am to 6 pm but you can use any portion of the day within that window.
Price: Pay by the day for $75/day. 20-day passes are discounted at $1200. $2100 gives you unlimited access for the summer.
Monkey Business features many unusual themes (pirates, cooking, circus arts, and mad science) and rounds out the week with swimming at Lake Anza. The camp also takes advantage of proximity to Little Farm and other Tilden amenities. Each week has a different theme.
Location: Berkeley’s Tilden Park
Hours: Full day is 8:30 to 3:30 pm. Extended care is offered from 8am to 6pm .
Price: $325/ 1 week, Add $15/wk for AM care, $40/wk for just PM care, or $60 for extended day. Price breaks for booking by 6/1.
Ages: 5-10 (for swimming) with groups separated by age
Camp Kee Tov is a general day camp with many Jewish traditions, but welcoming to kids of all backgrounds.
Location: Drop-off is in North Berkeley, near Upper Shattuck, but a free school bus service is available at Chabot School in Rockridge and at the North Berkeley Library.
Hours: 9 am to 3 pm. Extended care is available for AM and PM
Price: For kids entering K, the 4-week session are $1000, and spots remain only for second session (last four weeks before school starts). ($650 for members of Beth El Congregation.)
Ages: Entering grades K-9. Kids are grouped by age for the majority of their day.
photo credit: Sarah’s Science Camp website
See also: 5 camps for kids who love to swim