Pre-K FAQs

Please call us at (510) 540-6025 or email us if you would like more information. See the policies page for information about our entire program’s guidelines and cancellation details.

REGISTRATION QUESTIONS

Q: I’m registering Friday night and camp begins on Monday.  How will I know what to bring to camp or where to go?
A: If you register after Friday 2pm, your registration is considered last minute.  Your confirmation e-mail will have links to the camp week’s session letter and our last minute instructions.  These will have information that you need to prepare for camp. Bring a copy of your registration receipt and a camper form to camp.

Q: I have already attended a camp in the past. Do I need to fill out a new form?
A: Some information is kept in our system, while some forms need to be updated each season, so once for summer camp, and once for school break camps each year. But, we have some great news that some information will be copied over from the previous season for you to review and update as needed.

Q: Can I register for Camp via the internet, phone or email?
A: Registration is open online for our programs and is the only way to register at this time. There are some forms to fill out online in order for registration to be complete. If you are not very tech savvy, we suggest asking a friend who can help you navigate.

Q: Do you offer single day registration?
A: Yes, for our school break camps, camp is open to daily registration. For our summer camps, no, we do not, with the exception that if your child has attended before and the particular week is not full, please inquire with the office about dropping into a day or two.

Q: Can I add more camp after my initial registration?
A: Yes, you can log into our online registration system to add more camp days or weeks. Contact the office if you have added enough days or weeks to qualify you for our multiple-day or week discount, and we can apply that retroactively. Registering early will automatically trigger early registration discounts, which expire the closer we get to camp. We do understand sometimes people need care last minute, so, if there is room, you can add days up to the morning of camp.

Q: Will I get a confirmation and will it give me more info about camp?
A: Yes, you receive an automatic confirmation e-mail upon completion of your registration, which will include a link to a parent info packet, with details about camp location, parking, what to bring, etc, as well as a link to a youth leader packet, if your child is registered for that program. A session letter with parent info packet details, additional information on specific activities and staffing will be sent the Wednesday prior to each week of camp. You can log in to your account at any time to see your registration details. Please make sure your confirmation matches with your records and that you have signed up for the correct days or weeks, as we cannot make exceptions to our policies for errors in your planning. Please contact our office if you need help.

Q: Do the morning and afternoon extended care need to be reserved in advance, or can I add that later if I find out that I need it?
A: You may add extended care through our online system up to 2pm the Friday prior to camp. After that time, you may drop in to extended care, which will be charged to your credit card on file based on your sign in/out times. Daily drop in rates are more expensive, but sometimes a better choice if you only need extended care for a short time.
Drop In Fees: $13/hour; $7/half hour; $4/15 minutes. Office will review sign in sheets for your sign in and out time and charge your credit card on file. Fee will be determined by rounding to nearest quarter hour, e.g. 4:54pm sign out will be charged as though pick up was at 5pm or 8:06am drop off will be charged at 8:00am. If there is no sign in or out time, or if handwriting isn’t legible, office will charge you for drop-off of 8:00 or pick up time of 6:00.

Q: Can I transfer to different days or weeks and can I do it myself online? You can make changes if you give one month’s notice or more, and there is room.  We can transfer registrations for a fee of $5/day (school break camps) or $25/week (summer). See our policies for more details about transferring between programs or to another person. You cannot make changes yourself, so please e-mail or call the office to make changes.

Q: How do I know if there is still room available?
A: Online registration closes once spaces are full.

Q: What happens when your camp is full.  Is there a waitlist?
A: If a camp is full, we will create a wait list in our online registration system. If a space opens up, we will send a message to families on the wait list for the specific age and session hours that opened, and give them 24 hours to respond. Then we will give the space to the respondent who joined the waiting pool first. If a space opens up more last minute, whoever we reach first on the wait list will get the space. We often have spaces open up!  Feel free to check in with our office.

PAYMENT QUESTIONS

Q: Can I set up a payment plan to pay for camp?
A: Yes, you can set up a payment plan during online registration. We offer this at no cost to our clients! This may not be an option if you are registering close to the camp dates.

Q: How do I apply a gift certificate or coupon to my registration?
A: Register online at the regular price to guarantee your spot at camp, and do one of the following within one week of registration.

  • For a gift certificate, call or email us with the code in the lower right corner, and we will send a refund or update your payment plan.
  • For a physical coupon, write your child’s name on the coupon and mail it to us, and we will send a refund or update your payment plan.
  • For a mobile coupon, hit “redeem” yourself to be shown a secret phrase, which you can enter online when registering for an instant discount. If you have already registered, email or call us with the code within one week and we will send a refund or update your payment plan.

Q: Do you have any specials or discounts?
A: We often have a “register by a certain date” or “register for a certain number of days or weeks” incentive, so check our website’s details for the particular camp to see what is currently being offered. Our registration portal will also have any details.

Q: Do you offer financial aid? If so, how can I apply?
A: Visit this page for financial aid applications for school break camps and/or summer camps. We offer partial scholarships, first-come, first serve, usually the maximum being about 50% of the camp fees.  Some weeks might not be open to scholarships. We would love for anyone who wants to come to our camp to be able to join us.

Q: Can I contribute to your scholarship fund?
A: If you would like to donate to the fund, you can do so when registering for a camp, choosing to Round Up your tuition or you can send a check. We are not a non-profit, so donations are not tax deductible. We double all “round up” donations. In addition, 100% of our shirt and other camp gear sales profits are donated to our scholarship fund. to help kids attend camp. We give away as much as $4,000 per year to help kids attend camp. We are grateful to everyone who helps support us making our camp more accessible to families with less financial means.

GENERAL PROGRAM QUESTIONS

Q: What is the group size?
A: Between 14-24 campers total.  We find it an ideal group size, with enough for variety of activities and friends, but small enough for a peaceful environment.

Q: What is the counselor: child ratio?
A: They are usually 1:6. In addition, youth leaders, about 1 for every 4 campers, help support the counseling team.

Q: Does my 3 or 4 year old need to be potty trained for the Pre-K program?  
A: Yes, being potty trained is required.  We will ask all parents to send their children with a bag with an extra set of clothes to be kept at camp for the duration of their attendance, in case of accidents.

Q: What is the daily schedule of the Pre-K program?

  • 8:00-8:30 AM extended care
  • 8:30 Arrival Open Indoor and Outdoor Play-flexible drop off until 9:30. Drawing, bubbles, climbing structure, sandbox, marble race, blocks, cars, costumes, book corner, doll house, kitchen play, play dough, science table.  Ages 3-4 share the indoor and outdoor space.
  • 9:30 Opening Group: intros, welcomes, songs, games.
  • 10:00 Morning snack-organic.
  • 10:30 Open Indoor and Outdoor Play with some new art or science playshop options.
  • 11:45 Lunch (bathroom break and hand washing before)
  • 12:15 Open Play with organized movement activity like parachute games
  • 1:00 Stories
  • 1:20 Rester time (some kids nap and parents can specify to staff length of nap to be allowed)
  • 2:00 Open Indoor and Outdoor Play with interactive snack (kids get to make fruit kebabs, cereal necklaces, etc.) and a special new activity.
  • 3:15 Closing Circle-gratitude for day, songs, gather projects to take home.
  • 3:30 1st Pick-Up-some kids home, some kids in extended care.

If you also have a child at the Tilden Park Outdoor Summer Camp Program at Meadows site (off Lone Oak Road), which is a 3-minute drive away, pick up there first, then come to the Pre-K program at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Hall, at 401 Grizzly Peak Blvd at Wildcat Canyon Road, and let staff know you are a bit late due to the above. 

  • 4:00 PM snack and more fun!
  • 6:00 Final Pick-Up

Sunscreen: kids come with it on in the morning and we re-apply after rest/nap time.  Bathroom breaks: Every hour.  Fridays we will walk outside for a treasure or nature scavenger hunt.

Q: What if my child is an older 4, how do I decide between the Pre-K and the Tilden Park Summer Program?
A: Here are some helpful items to consider for your decision between Tilden Park and Pre-K Program

Tilden (ages 4.5-10) Pre-K (ages 3-4)
Outside in Tilden all day (sometimes foggy, sometimes sunny, most locals know the variety) with a quiet area on a table with books. Indoor/outdoor, so both options, sometimes nice to have cozy space inside
Staff: camper ratio is 1:9, with 1-4 youth leaders for additional support. Staff: camper ratio is 1:6, with 1-4 youth leaders for additional support.
Quiet time: book of day time for about half hour Quiet Time: book of day for 15 minutes, then rester time, where kids lie down quietly for about 20 minutes after. Some kids fall asleep and we can wake them up after time specified by parents.
Numbers at Site: Entire site has 55 campers; 7 youth leaders; 6 staff so highly stimulating Numbers at Site: Entire site has max 25 campers; 4 youth leaders; 4 staff so less to process.
Large picnic tables, and a field of grass Smaller environment; outside has climbing structure, and sand box, so more specific support in terms of what to play; no grassy area
One swim/wading day a week with all that entails-getting on and off bathing suit, being in the sun and/or fog No swim day; if hot, we can do water play.
Share site with our older campers (ages 7-10) for part of the day Do not share with other age ranges
For kids who prefer to be the youngest in a group of older kids For kids who prefer to be older in a group of young kids; know what to do and can help others learn
Besides swim day, there is often at least one or two other times we take hikes or see other areas of the park. We will leave site only once at end of week for about an hour across the street near the reservoir for treasure hunt. Otherwise changes in days of the week come from what we provide for campers to play
Reminders to use bathrooms happen daily 3-4 times. Reminders to use bathrooms happen daily 8-9 times.

Q: My child has long hair and sometimes people think he is a girl. What support will they get at your camp?
A: We aim to be inclusive and respectful of our campers. There is a space for parents to add detail about this on our Camper Info Form and staff will review before camp.  In our trainings, we talk about inclusivity, and ways we can actualize this, by being sensitive to saying or doing things that stereotype by gender, having gender neutral bathrooms, hiring staff that are non-binary, and sometimes by adjusting books we read to use the “they” pronoun or if all characters are male, shifting some to female.

Q: What if my child does not want to do an activity?
A: The wonderful thing about our camp is that there are usually 2-3 options to choose from, so that kids can find what they like. We do have circle times twice a day for all the campers, but keep those to about 15 minutes. We also ask all kids to sit at lunch for at least 10-15 minutes and our staff reads or tells stories to help them stay seated.

Q: I am thinking of registering my child for the entire 3 weeks? Is this wise? Will they be doing the exact same things?
A: That is wonderful that you want to come for the entire time. We have found that kids who stay longer really enjoy it, as they know the routine and staff, yet still have new challenges and experiences. Additionally, you do not have to get used to a new routine, which is a big bonus.  A less stressed family is a happier family.  We will have different projects over the course of the three weeks, so your child will have variety for sure. Some favorites, like bubbles, face painting, play dough, interactive snacks, treasure hunts and parachute games are repeated, but who wouldn’t want to do those again!

Q: How well does your program serve an active child?
A: We pride ourselves on serving the needs of many types of children, whether shy or outgoing, very active or less active, artistic, scientific, musical, nature lovers. Depending on the week, we pay attention to who is there, so we can make the camp the greatest experience for all involved.

Q: Will you split up the group into different age groups?
A: All kids spend their day together, but there are different projects that will have smaller groups coming to participate at different times, and different areas of the camp, where kids can find a variety of things to do.

LOGISTICS QUESTIONS

Q: How do you manage special needs, whether medical, social, or behavioral?
A: Thanks for checking in advance.  We have a ratio of 1 staff for every 6 campers, so kids need to be able to operate within those ratios most of the time. While we would love our staff to be able to manage all situations, it is not possible. Some kids need more behavioral or emotional coaching or physical support than our regular staff can provide.  Your child’s aide/coach is welcome to come to camp to assist your child, so they can have that social experience and get the support they need. Please check in with our office about this option. Often kids will grow into more independence with time and support, and often be able to manage without that coach/aide later on. It is important to remember that there are new kids and occasionally staff each week, so there is a lot more change than at school, which contributes to making it more challenging.

Q: My child doesn’t have strong English skills, as we are from another country.  We would like them to come to your camp this summer, to hear and speak English a bit more and have fun experiences. Do you think this will work out?
A: Please be in touch with our office to let us know you are interested in attending, so we can inquire about your child’s experiences.  We have had children attend, and for the most part, it has worked, but if your child is very sensitive to being in new situations, it can be challenging if we cannot comfort or explain things to them. Sometimes we have other campers or staff who speak the child’s native language, so you can check in to see if we know the staff roster at the time of your registration.

Q: How can I find out about what my child did at camp?
A: In our session letter that we send out the Wednesday before each week of camp, we will list activities for the upcoming week.  On site, the dry erase board at the sign in area will list what’s up for that day.

Q: How do you group the kids?
A: Great question.  Here are details about how we group kids at our different programs:

  • Pre-K co-ed camp for ages 3-4: All ages spend day together.
  • Tilden Park co-ed Summer Camp for ages 4.5-10: All ages arrive to the same location and spend the free play and snack period from 8:00-10:15 together. After that time, the camp splits into two distinct groups (our Strawberry Bananas: ages 4.5-6 and Mango Coconuts: ages 7-10) for most of the remainder of the day, except for lunch and post lunch free play from 12-1, PM extended care from 3:30-6:00, Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon all camper celebrations, when all ages are once again together. For swim days, campers are together all day.
  • Winter, Feb, and Spring Camps for ages 4.5-10: All ages arrive to same location for AM extended care 8-8:30. After that time, the camp splits into two distinct groups (our Strawberry Bananas: ages 4.5-6 and Mango Coconuts: ages 7-10) for remainder of the day, except for morning outside free time, lunch and post lunch free play from 12-1, PM ext. care from 3:30-6:00. There are days of lower enrollment, like Christmas eve, when all ages spend entire day together and split into age groups sometimes for activities from 11-12 and 2-3.
  • Girls on the Go program and Boys on the Go program for ages 9-13: All ages spend day together.

Q: Do you provide lunch or snacks? If so, what do they consist of?
A: Parents send lunch and a water bottle for the basic day.  We provide 3 snacks-one for morning, one early afternoon and one late afternoon.  It consists of fruit or vegetable, crackers, cheese, and we make sure to have water bottles nearby and refill them during the day.  We have weekly cooking projects, like baking muffins. Our commitment is to serve almost 100% organically grown food as that is congruent with our philosophy of helping support the planet and all its creatures. We plan alternatives for common allergies and sensitivities. All food items that we provide are vegetarian, kosher, and nut free. If your child has food allergies, restrictions or sensitivities, make sure to note on your child’s Medical form. We list items there that are part of our food program.

 

Q: I would like to order a T-shirt, sweatshirt, hat or bag with your logo. How do I do that?
A: We will have camp gear on sale on site at least once a week. Payment options: Fill out slip authorizing us to charge your credit card on file (no need to have your actual credit card with you) or bring cash or a check. 100% of all sales profit goes to our scholarship fund, so while you shop, you can know you are supporting a great cause.

Q: I would like to carpool to camp.  Would it be possible to get a list of families interested?
A: We love to help support carpooling and will compile a list of families who have opted in on the online registration system. The list will include parent, street address, and email addresses, and will be sent 2-3 weeks before each camp session. Please be sure to add carpoolers to your list of adults authorized to pick up your child by 2pm the Friday before camp.

Q: Do you offer transportation to and from camp?
A: At the current time, we do not offer transportation.  We have researched and found the cost is prohibitive. If things change, we would post information on our website and in our group e-mails. Please consider joining our carpool list when you register as an alternate option, so you can share the driving with another family or two.

Q: Are there many kids who come without knowing anyone in advance?
A: Yes, many kids come without knowing other campers in advance. Staff works on creating a friendly community, where campers can meet and get to know each other.  That said, staff are not miracle workers, so it is helpful if you notice your child is having challenges, please communicate as soon as possible with the one site staff, so they can help make things better. This can make a world of difference.

SAFETY QUESTIONS

Q: My child has a food allergy and gets a severe reaction to nuts. They will be bringing an EpiPen. What are your policies and experience with this?
A: We have a lot of experience with this in all our years of camp, and have never had any issues arise where we have needed to use and EpiPen, even though we have had hundreds of kids with EpiPens. Our on-site staff review details weekly from your child’s online Medical Form which you fill out once and review after you register, so you can give details about allergies, sensitivities, and medications. We have many campers with severe nut allergies, so we have a no-nut or nut butter policy, although items made on shared equipment are fine to bring. Staff gets practice with a tester epi-pen in the first aid training. We serve organic items like Trader Joes’s popcorn, Annies’ Cheddar Bunnies, Lundberg Rice Cakes, Tortilla Chips, Barbara’s gluten free Puffins, Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzels, Whole Foods Organic Pretzel Sticks and Rounds. We keep aiming toward goal of making each item we serve and use in cooking, work for as many children as possible.  If your child cannot eat products processed in facilities that also process nuts, or if you are at all concerned and just want to make sure your child eats only what you provide, please bring alternate snacks/treats with you on the first day and give to the site director.

Q: My child does not eat gluten and will be staying all day into PM extended care.  Will she be able to eat the snack?  Also, will she be able to participate in cooking projects?

A: 90% of our PM extended care snacks are gluten free, and there is always a gluten free alternate.  For cooking projects, we do our best to plan for food allergies and sensitivities and have alternates.  We cannot always guarantee it, but there are always lots of fun activities besides the food project, so your child will be able to participate in other fun. When you register, in the medical form, you can view foods we serve, and make any notes for staff.

Q: What do you do to insure my child’s safety?
A: Safety is number one for all of us at Monkey Business Camp. Of course, playing entails a certain amount of bumps and bruises.  When the kids are gathered and given clear, organized instructions, we can really enjoy ourselves and minimize dangers. We are proud to say that since 1999, when we first began, our safety record is stellar. Staff receives in house training, get First Aid and CPR certification from outside accredited organizations, and keep things structured and clear on site. Parents help us by filling out medical information yearly, which, staff reviews before camp, so they are aware of details. Thank you for being thorough when entering your child’s medical info and for your patience in doing it yearly, so that our staff can have most up to date info.

Q: Do you have parent references?
A: Yes, we do. Please contact our office to access this information. There are also quotes from parents available on our website, and reviews on YELP and Facebook. We have been operating camps in the Bay Area since 1999 and parents chose us as a top camp in Alameda in Parent’s Press Awards over the past 5 years. Most children who come to our camp enjoy their time with us, and for any challenges during camp, with support from parents communicating to on site and support staff, we help address and usually resolve issues.  We have found communication to be so helpful and a great example to the kids.

Q: Who will staff the camp? How do you screen and train your staff?
A: We have a main Site Director for each group and PM Director, who have extended experience with recreation programs, and 3-5 additional Counselors, who are newer to the field, but still very experienced at camp. Our search for a qualified, fun, diverse, caring, safety-conscious team is very rigorous. It includes a phone interview, individual interview, a multiple employer reference check, background check, and detailed training. Teams meet weekly to keep things organized and creative. You can see the bios and photos of our year-round team on our staff page. Most school break camp staff have also worked at our summer camps in the past.

Thank you for checking in about camp!  We hope to see you this summer.