Call of The Wild: Summer Camps That Let Kids Get Dirty


Warmer weather means summer is around the corner and summer camps are on our minds! We love the opportunity to unplug and escape the hustle of the school year and what better way than summer camps where kids are encouraged to get dirty? From good ‘ole fashioned outdoor recreation camps to mountain biking and surf camps, our roundup scoured the Bay for camps where kids are expected to get dirty.. and have fun while doing it!

WilderSkills, Redwood City and Saratoga
There is nary a screen in sight as kids learn backcountry, primitive survival skills such as how to start a fire with friction, filter water for drinking and even make their own tools out of rocks and sticks. At WilderSkills, kids gain a strong connection to the outdoors while learning hands-on skills and learn to enjoy time spent outdoors. Geared towards kids ages seven to 13, the culmination of the week is the day when campers truly learn to blend into their environment and leave camp completely covered in mud camouflage!

Videos From Tinybeans

Adventure Camps, San Francisco
What kind of camp offers blackberry picking, fort building and crab catching as part of its many offerings? The completely mobile camp of Adventure Camps! For 51 years, Adventure Camps has been driving kids ages four to 12 all over the Bay Area for adventures tailored just to them.  All you need to pack is lunch and a change of clothes and the counselors choose the day’s destination and activities based on the interests and ages of the campers—this year’s adventures will focus largely in SF from Presidio to Fort Funston. 

photo by Kids Adventure Games

Kids Dojo Mountain Bike Camps
For kids who can’t get enough of trail time and pump track, this is the camp for them. Whether your rider is learning the basics of mountain biking or honing in on racing skills, kids will have a blast while improving their two-wheeled skills. With locations in Belmont, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz and Palo Alto, kids ages eight to 14 up and down the Bay can wheel away this summer with Dojo. 

Mountain Camp, Woodside
Mountain biking, outdoor survival skills, swimming and archery—this good ‘ol fashioned outdoor recreation approach to camp means campers in grades K- 10th are kept busy, active and of course, dirty!

Photo by Surf Camp

Surf Camp, Pacifica
Kids six through 18 can learn how to surf, body surf and boogie board while learning ocean safety and awareness through certified lifeguards who are also veteran surfers. These half day camps will teach kids everything they need to know about the ocean and how to enjoy it safely. Surf’s up!

Trackers Earth, El Cerrito and Kensington
Kayaking, fishing, blacksmithing and urban homesteading—it’s just another day at camp with Trackers Earth. Campers aged K-12 choose from among these and other unique options and spend a week totally immersed in their chosen theme.  Interested in being a pirate for a week? Campers who select the Pirates of the Golden Gate theme learn skills such as navigating with maps, surviving on a desert island after shipwreck and swordplay!  Aye, aye captain!

Parks, trails, beaches and mountains will all be explored with Avid4Adventure. Campers pre-K through 11th grade will develop their outdoor skills while biking, hiking, rock climbing and stand up paddle boarding in some of the most beautiful local recreation sites around. Creative activities like yoga, music and art help to balance out the more active parts of the day. Campers come away learning teamwork, communication and outdoor skills that will aid them throughout life.

Avid4Adventure has four Bay Area locations: Mill Valley, Menlo Park, Oakland, Orinda and Palo Alto 

Youth Science Institute Summer Science Camps, Los Gatos
Kids who want to dig deep in the dirt should check out the YSI Summer Science Camps at Vasona Lake County Park. Spend the week learning all about reptiles or aquatic creatures. Explore the world around us as a Nature Sleuth. Or, bring your bike with you for the week as a Bike Explorer.  Whatever option you choose, kids will get out in the fresh air, get their hands dirty, learn about nature and have fun while doing it!

—Christine Lai & Kate Loweth


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