Tilden Outdoor Summer Program
& School Break Camps (Winter, February, Spring)
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: We give incentives of much better rates, about half as much, for early sign ups and you may add extended care onto the basic day through our online system up to 2pm the Friday prior to camp. After that time, and also for the shorter day registrations (8:30-1:30) which are only open to drop-in extended care, you may drop in for hours between 8-8:30 and 1:30-6:00, which will be charged to your credit card on file based on your sign in/out times (write legibly!). Drop In Fees: $13/hour; $7/half hour.
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 or $25/week. 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.
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.
Q: I have an 8 year old and a 6 year old. Although you have two different groups and my children would be separated because of their age, would it be possible for them to participate in the same group?
A: We do not recommend it. Many staff are skilled in helping with separation anxiety, so we can help your younger child adjust to the group. All ages do get to be together outside in the morning free time, during lunch, after lunch free play period and in afternoon extended care. Also, often, on Friday afternoons the groups join together for a camp-wide activity. In addition, during the summer Tilden Outdoor program, all Wednesday mornings are combined and Thursdays (except for one near July 4th and last week of summer) are swim days, which are spent all day together.
Q: What if my child is an older 6 and all his friends are 7?
A: We realize that some kids are in grades with older children, or vice versa, so please contact us with any specifics before you register, so we can help with best placement. Three hours of the basic day is shared time with all ages, all of afternoon extended care is shared, and some other activities are spent together, so even when kids are in different groups, they do have quite a lot of time together. We want your child to have an excellent time at camp!
Q: My child is turning 4.5 a couple months after Spring Camp starts. Can s/he attend anyway?
A: We look forward to the time your child can begin, but we can only consider kids who are within a few weeks of the age cut-off. Reminder that for summer, our new minimum age is 4.75 (4 years, 9 months). We already have a wide age range, and need to stick to this cut off. We hope you will sign up for our e-mail newsletter, so we can stay in touch!!
Q: Summer Program Age Question: What if my child is an older 4, how do I decide between the Pre-K and the Tilden Outdoor Summer Program?
A: Here are some helpful items to consider for your decision between Tilden Park and Pre-K Program
|Tilden (ages 4.75-10)||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 nap, but only for about an hour.|
|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 most weeks 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.|
GENERAL PROGRAM QUESTIONS
Q: My child is gender non-binary. What support will they get at your camp?
A: We aim to be inclusive and respectful of our campers’ genders, including those who identify outside of the gender binary. 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 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.
Q: What is the daily schedule?
A: Parents have noted that our days have a great balance of structure and spontaneity or choice. We want to provide campers with some required activities to try out, while also having periods when there are options, so they play based on their interests.
Our mornings from 8-10a.m. are open play times, which during Winter, February and Spring Camps include some indoor options; in the summer, outdoors only, with many activities set out on tables, like board games and blocks. After a morning snack at 10, we have gatherings in smaller groups to get to know each other, play, sing and hear about morning adventures (hikes and other nature exploration or walk to local park) or playshops (led by special guests in art, science, cooking). Lunch happens at noon, after which there is more open play before a period of stories and journaling (drawing, activity pages, coloring pages). Finally, there is an afternoon playshop, followed by closing gatherings for our basic day program, where we also give gratitude for the day. For afternoon extended care fun, we have some new activities and games and a snack!
For specific activities for our morning and afternoon playshops, check the webpage for the specific program. Please call us at (510) 540-6025 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information. We are happy to talk with parents.
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. On the occasions when there is an activity that all the kids participate in and your child really does not want to or cannot join, they can read, draw, build, or maybe even run outside as necessary.
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: I am thinking of registering my child for more camp. Will they be doing the exact same things? Will the staff be the same? Is this wise?
A: That is wonderful that you want to come for multiple weeks, or in the case of school breaks, for more than one day. We have found that kids who stay longer really enjoy it, as they get a chance to know the routine and bond more with staff & youth leaders and vice versa, yet still have new challenges and experiences. We will have different projects over the course of camp, so your child will have variety for sure! Some favorites, that kids often love repeating, like carnival games with prizes, tie-dye, water balloon tosses, treasure hunts and field games are planned for multiple times. We try to maintain consistency in staffing over school break camps. During summer, we usually have some shifts at the mid-point, so depending on what weeks you choose, this could impact your child’s experience. We find that as long as you do not get too attached, the kids pick up on that and flow with the changes. We list on the session letter we send to you the week before camp what staff are working in the upcoming week.
Q: What is the group size?
A: This depends, so we cannot say for sure what make-up will be. Usually the Strawberry-Banana Group (4.5-6 year olds for school break camps, 4.75-6 for Tilden summer camp) has about 15-29 kids and group is split into smaller groups by age during activities; the Mango Coconut Group (7-10 year olds) has about 12-24 kids. During some of the days around Christmas, and start of summer or July 4th week, sometimes there is just one group of about 20-25 kids and all the ages are together for those days, except sometimes for group gatherings and reading.
Q: What is the counselor: child ratio?
A: They are usually 1:9, but sometimes go as low as 1:6 or up to 1:10. Youth leaders, about 1 for every 10 campers, help support the counseling team and are mentored by our staff.
Q: Do you spend anytime indoors?
A: For our school break camps, we are at a school that has classrooms and two outdoor play spaces. In the summer, we are outside all day in the incredible Tilden Park, except for occasionally visiting the Environmental Education Center, on our hikes over to the Little Farm or Jewel Lake.
Q: Do you leave the main camp site?
A: During some Winter and Spring Camps, we walk to Washington school playground across the street to utilize their fun outdoor space. In summer, we hike to Little Farm, Jewel Lake, to redwood tree groves, and around Lake Anza.
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.
Q: How do you manage special needs, whether medical, social, or behavioral?
A: Thanks for checking in advance. We have a ratio of 1:9, but sometimes go as low as 1:6 or up to 1:10, 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. Often kids will grow into more independence with time and support, and be able to manage without that coach/aide later on. It is important to remember that there are new kids and occasionally staff each day, 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 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: Yes, we have had many experiences with this in the past. Usually some of the kids have a little English, but at quite a variety of levels. It is very possible to do most of camp with low skill level. It can be interesting to watch how kids figure out other ways to communicate with each other. Sometimes we even have other campers or staff who speak the child’s native language. The only time is can get tricky is if you want to register with a lot of friends at the same time, and all have very basic English, so please be in touch if you are in that situation. Many staff speak another language besides English, which we find a support when international families enroll, which is a wonderful addition to our camp.
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:
- Tilden Park co-ed Summer Camp for ages 4.75-10: 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 4.75-6 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.
- Pre-K co-ed camp for ages 3-4: All ages spend day together.
Q: What are your rainy day plans?
A: Summer: we will continue our plans if there is only drizzle/heavy fog. We like the saying, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” We have a site nearby to Tilden where we can meet in the event of a strong forecast for significant rain. We will send out an e-mail message to all enrolled families as soon as possible. We also leave a written message at our usual site. If the rain begins while we are at camp, we stay outside for heavy mist or short periods of light rain and may use shelters in the park as needed. Please send rainy day clothes and an extra set of clothes. The highest chance for rain is usually in the June weeks.
School Breaks: We can continue most of our programming in the indoor spaces of our site. For more active pursuits, we have an extra room available.
Q: Do you provide snacks? If so, what do they consist of?
A: Parents send snacks and lunch for the basic day (8:30-3:30). We provide an afternoon snack for those staying into PM extended care (3:30 onward), which consists of fruit or vegetable, crackers, cheese and we make sure to have water bottles nearby and refill them during the day. We sometimes have cooking projects, like baking carrot muffins or making fried wontons. 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: 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’ 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: I get really nervous about my child being away from me and want to make sure she is safe. Is there anything you can say to assure me?
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, gets First Aid and CPR certification from outside accredited organizations, and keep things structured and clear on site. For any medical information provided by parents, staff review before camp, so they are aware of details.
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.
SUMMER ONLY—TILDEN OUTDOOR LAKE ANZA SWIM DAY QUESTIONS
Q: I see you have a weekly swim day at Lake Anza, except for July 4th week and the last week of camp. Does my child need to know how to swim to participate in the swim days?
A: No. Children can wade and play in the sand (we bring sand toys), so they do not need to know how to swim. We bring some other items as well, like beading or a board game.
Q: My child is not a very good swimmer. What is your swimming protocol?
A: We take the safety of all of our campers very seriously, particularly in the swimming areas. To that end, we have come up with a strict protocol which we cover in our staff training. Children are not allowed in the water above chest deep-level. Younger campers stay in the shallower first roped off area. Older campers can go into the second roped off area, and are accompanied by a counselor. A counselor is required to swim with the campers and we increase that number to 2 if there are over 6 campers in the water. Finally, we assign another counselor to play on the shore or the grass with campers who do not want to swim. This is all in addition to a full aquatic lifeguard staff at Lake Anza.
Q: My child does not always like to swim at Lake Anza. He gets too cold when in the water? We still would like to come to camp, will there be another option for him?
A: Yes, we understand that some kids love swimming and others do not. There are other options for campers. We spend the morning until about 11:30 on the fields outside, offering games, hopscotch, sidewalk chalk, string arts, a 1970s VW Bus Tour (almost all swim days), or a hike. Once inside the swim area, we eat lunch, and, afterwards besides swimming, wading, and playing in the sand, there are some options in the grass.
Q: What if Lake Anza gets closed, for example, due to toxic algae?
A: Since running our camps in Tilden Park from 1999 until the present, there has never been a time when the lake was closed. That said, with climate change, there could potentially come a time when this could happen. In this case, we would have programming at our usual picnic area, and include water play, weather permitting.
Thank you for checking in about camp! We hope to see you soon.
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