By Miriam Raftery
June 4, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – As a writer who worked from home when my kids were growing up, it was great spending time with family. It was also great to let the kids go to camp half-days for at least one week each month, giving me some quiet writing time while the kids enjoying trying great activities and making some new friends. Fortunately, San Diego’s eastern regions has a wealth of exciting choices for kids of all ages.
Options include learning circus skills, aquatics, iceskating , horseback riding, archaeology, zoology, theater arts, hiking, and much more. Venues range from recreation centers and a brand new YMCA to ranches, wildlife preserves, parks, lakes, and museums. Dates, prices, and age limits vary, so click the links on each camp listing below for details—and have a great summer!
Camp Science Safari – With locations in Rancho Bernardo and Carmel Valley, Camp Science Safari offerings include paleontology, geology, robotics, marine archaeology, and engineering/structural design. In the latte class, budding inventors take to the skies after constructing an XTreme Wings stunt glider! Kids will also savor the delights of Culinary Camp, gaining cooking secrets from top chefs. http://www.campsciencesafari.com/summercamps.php
Circus Fund - Now kids can run off and join a circus – at Circus Funds’ flying trapeze circus camp at Kit Carson Park in Escondido. Kids will learn juggling, acroatics, tight-wire, hops, Poi, hand balancing, Spanish web, flying trapeze and more, building confidence and self-esteem as well as unique skills. http://www.circusfund.org
City of El Cajon – Dance, art, indoor soccer, outdoor sports, skateboarding, and “wacky Olympics” featuring events such as marshmallow shot put, sled races, belly flop, cracker whistle, hokey hockey, and ping-pong are among the offerings through El Cajon’s recreation department.
City of La Mesa – La Mesa’s recreation department offers a wide range of day camps ranging from sports-themed to camps with field trips to popular area attractions. Two innovative options this year include film-making and video game design. http://www.cityoflamesa.com/index.aspx?NID=892
City of Santee – Santee’s day camps are offered at a variety of cool venues such as an Aquatic Center with water slide and in-pool play equipiment, a “Sprayground” play area at Santee Lakes, outdoor activities at Big Rock Park, and specialty camps ranging from cooking to fashion design to a skaboard/BMX camp. Active kids can also sign up for mountain running in Cleveland National Forest. http://ww.ci.santee.ca.us
El Capitan Equestrian Center - At Sarah Brooks Five Star Training Horse Summer Camp in Lakeside, participants will learn riding techniques (including English, Western and bareback), basic care, feeding and exercises horses, as well as grooming, saddle and tack care. Students also learn ranch maintenance skills and participate in trail rides and equestrian obstacle courses during July and August. Campers also participate in a gymkhana event June 12 and a hunter jumper show June 20 at the Poway Rodeo Grounds.
Heritage of the Americas Museum’s College for Kids – Kids love learning pioneer skills in a “Survivor” class where students build a model shelter, learn orienteering and other survival skills. Other options include studying geology, paleontology, archaeology and anthropology in a “Dig it” class, or opt for an “art Stars” or “You, the Artist” class. The museum is located on the Cuyamaca College campus in El Cajon. http://www.cuyamaca.edu/museum/.
Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center – Kids can climb the walls – literally! Activities at this fun-filled facility include a rock-climbing wall, ice skating rink, skate park, pools, gym, athletic field, and theater. http://kroccenter.org/day-camp.
Lions, Tigers and Bears “Big Cat Day Camp” – Learn about conservation and hear rescue stories behind all of the exotic felines including tigers, lions, bobcat, a mountain lion and more at this big-cat rescue facility in Alpine. This one sells out quickly and is offered on only three dates: June 23, 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. to noon. www.lionstigersandbears.org
San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park – Learn what it’s like to be a zookeeper, veterinarian, or animal trainer. Create artistic interpretations of wildlife through painting, sculpture, or photography. Take an up-close tour to explore the Wild Animal Park—or even sign up for an overnight camping option. www.sandiegozoo.org/calendar/wap_summer_camp.html.
YMCA – With several YMCA locations in East County, you’ll find a wide range of camps ranging from l sports, aquatic and dance camps to musical theater and more. At the brand new McGrath Family YMCA in Rancho San Diego (El Cajon), A Lego models and machines camp enables students to combine solar power, gravity and motors to create Lego racing cars and operate robots on a Martian-style landscape. Meanwhile in a YMCA far, far away…it’s Jedi training time at Star Wars camp. Other options include extreme and outdoor sports ranging from lazer shots and paintball splats to hiking, rock climbing and kayaking. There’s also a “Survivor” camp –but fortunately, no one gets voted off the island! For more YMCA info see www.eastcounty.ymca.org or http://www.rancho.ymca.org/test/day-camps/summer-day-camp/y-kids-camp.html.