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Top 10 Summer Camps in Santa Rosa

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  • Camp Wa-Tam

    This is the Big Daddy of area Kid’s Camps. Locals have been swarming this Howarth Park camp for years, and now they’re signing their kids up for the fun. It’s not just a camp, it’s a tradition. Activities include canoing, archery, nature and craft projects, and hiking to Spring Lake for a day of swimming. Thursday nights are the special all-night campout. First, kids and counselors cook dinner over a campfire and then hold a performance for their family and friends. Afterwards, they sleep out under the stars. Tip: If this is your first time, be aware that kids bring oodles of candies and snacks to eat and share during the campout. Also, if you’re signing up late, the week of the 4th of July seems to fill up last. Or, put yourself on the waiting list. Plans change during the summer and there are often cancellations. In addition, Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks runs a number of other great camps that don’t fill up quite as quickly as Wa-Tam.


  • Roustabout Theater Summer Workshop

    Roustabout Theater, the resident theater company of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, runs an Apprentice Summer Program for kids ages 11 - 18. The month-long day camp culminates in a performance on the final weekend. The philosophy is that the kid’s shows should be produced in the same way as the professional productions. So, the typical summer camp performance employs Union light/sound crew, has an average of over 70 costumes (many of which are constructed for the show) and over 100 light/sound cues during the show. For the 2008 season, the company will be putting on the musical “Grease.”

    For something a bit more low-key, Sonoma County Children’s Music runs a popular Children’s Musical Theater camp each summer, and at the end of the week, the kids put on a performance for parents, family and friends. The center also runs a variety of other music classes for children 19 months to 12 years.

    The YMCA also offers a good theater camp (as well as several other day camps) as does Parks and Rec with their Drama Camp.


  • Sonoma Country Day School Summer Camps

    The Santa Rosa Symphony now holds its Summer Music Academy classes at the Sonoma Country Day school. These highly-regarded music classes or for beginners through advanced, elementary to high school age. Classes include wind ensembles, string orchestras, string classes, music appreciation, theory and composition, and an academy orchestra. All classes and ensembles culminate in a final performance.

    Along with the Summer Music Academy, the Sonoma Country Day School offers a number of camps/classes include actor’s workshops, basketball, website design, dance, science, cooking and more.


  • EXCEL at SSU

    This multiple award-winning program at Sonoma State University was originally designed as an enrichment course for gifted students. But, it has since opened up to all enthusiastic entering 4th to 12th graders who wish to experience subject matter in depth taught by mentor teachers. The 3-hour morning and afternoon classes can be combined for a full-day camp.

    SSU also offers the Super Kids Camp. The week-long, all-day camps for 6 – 12 year olds include a field trip, special event, and swimming in the SSU pool. And, the university holds several Sports Camps including volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball, baseball, tennis, swimming and water polo.

    Also, Santa Rosa Junior College offers a “College for Kids” program with a good variety of courses, such as astronomy, sculpture Lego robotics, fashion design and more.


  • McDonald Ranch

    The McDonald Ranch is a non profit working ranch that provides care for abandoned, unwanted, or injured animals. This is combined with teaching children animal husbandry, horseback riding, goat milking, raising orphaned animals, training, grooming, and the responsibility of domesticating animals. There’s also go-carting, swimming, archery, hiking and more. A lot of emphasis is placed on teaching kids to be caring and competent citizens of the world.


  • Cloverleaf Ranch

    This is good old-fashioned summertime fun. They offer horseback riding, rope courses, sports, crafts and more. Residence and day camps available.


  • Humane Society Camp

    Campers go behind the scenes at the Humane Society and meet dogs, cats, rabbits, farm animals, marine life, reptiles, birds, wildlife and other animals. Field trips may include: Assistance Dog Institute, Safari West, Bodega Bay Marine Lab and more.


  • Farm Camp at Summerfield Waldorf School

    Kids enjoy the daily rhythms of life on the farm as they learn animal husbandry, garden work, farm harvesting or picking and drying of berries, herbs and flowers for sun tea. Then it’s game time and craft time: making lavender wands, dream pillows, paper making or weaving and drying of yarn.


  • Rock Climbing camp at Vertex Center

    This indoor rock climbing gym offers youth summer camps with four half days in the gym and one all day fieldtrip outside.


  • FREE Recreation Programs at Santa Rosa Parks

    Kids can be dropped off at a number of city parks throughout town where they can enjoy safe, outdoor fun with trained staff. and organized activities like games, crafts, sports and more. Morning sites are open from 9 to 11:45 a.m. and afternoon sites are from 1:30 to 4:15 p.m. All sites are closed on Wednesdays for “Wild Wednesday” events. Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks trains their camp counselors at these free sites. Don’t worry, not only is there experienced staff on hand doing the training, but the counselors-in-training are always terrific. In fact, I’m constantly impressed with all these bright, enthusiastic and skilled young people who go on to work as counselors in the city’s several Summer Camps.

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