2012 Santa Cruz County Summer Camps Guide

Patch readers weighed in on their favorite local summer camps for kids. Have more to add?

From kayaking in the Santa Cruz Harbor to performing in a play in the woods, there are many choices for kids in Santa Cruz to stay busy—and entertained—this summer.

We asked our readers this week for your suggestions on local camps, and the following are what you wanted us to include in our guide. If you see a favorite camp that's not included, let us know! Email Associate Local Editor Rachel Stern at rachel.stern@patch.com, or leave us a comment, and we'll put it in the guide. 

Santa Cruz SPCA
Through guest speakers and time spent with cats, dogs and rabbits, elementary and middle school children learn about caring for, and appreciating, animals.

Horse-n-Around Children receive daily horseback riding lessons at the Mitchell Ranch in Watsonville.


Corralitos Cultural Center Art Camp Children will learn the art of tye-dye and watercolor, and create jungle animals out of clay to glaze.

Mountain Art Center Camp From creating characters with clay to assembling an animation movie set, children can enroll in several programs to tap into their creativity at this camp in Ben Lomond.

Academy at WEST Performing Arts  provides youth and families a creative outlet and training ground cultivates and treasures the imaginative process. 

Watsonville Buddhist Temple
Numerous guest artists and specialists teach children in special sessions focused on Japanese arts and crafts.

Environmental Education
Peaceful Valley Farm Camp
Kids can get their hands dirty planting crops, learning about recycling and composting, and tending to farm animals in rural Watsonville.

Wilderness and Nature Camps Set in the Santa Cruz Mountains, children learn about science-based natural history, animal tracking and other outdoor crafts.

Language Immersion
Aux 3 Pommes
Children visit virtual countries where their language of choice—from Spanish to Farsi—is spoken, and enact activities particular to that place.

ESL Summer Language Institute Children ages 12-18 receive help building their English skills while engaging in a variety of fun activities such as horseback riding, swimming and field trips, such as to the San Jose Tech Museum. The camp is in Watsonville.

Let’s Play in Spanish / Juguemos en Español Children three to eight years old are fully immersed in the Spanish language through a variety of activities with the theme of "Animales del Mar" in Santa Cruz.

Celtic Music Day Camp
Kids learn to perform folk tunes from places like Wales, Ireland, Celtic Spain and across the U.S. at this Santa Cruz camp.

Redwood Glen’s Children’s Music and Drama Camp Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, children have the opportunity to practice and perform in a scenic setting.

General Recreation
Kennolyn Camps
With both day and overnight camps, children pursue a variety of outdoor rec activities at this camp in the Soquel hills.

Watsonville Family YMCA This offers several activities from arts and crafts to sports for children to partake in during varying sessions throughout the summer.

Watsonville Parks and Community Services The city has a variety of summer programs for kids of all ages.

Frontier Ranch Junior Camp From flying down a 300-plus foot zip line to playing with farm animals, children have many activities to keep them occupied at this Scotts Valley camp.

Montessori Scotts Valley Through two summer sessions, kids learn about organic gardening, and also receive instruction in math, reading, science and cooking.

Overnight Camps
This week-long Christian-camp set in the Santa Cruz redwoods allows kids to engage in various team building activities.

Pali Adventures Set in the San Bernadino Mountains for one or two week sessions, this camp offers several fun themes from ‘Flying Trapeze’ to ‘Movie Make-Up Camp.

Camp Opportunity A residential camp in Santa Cruz for children ages eight to 13 who are at risk of neglect or abuse.

As a group, kids ages 9-13 design a self-powered walking robot at this Santa Cruz camp.

Outdoor Science Exploration Students age 7-14 years old do physics and chemistry experiments at parks and beaches in Santa Cruz and Capitola.

2012 World Cup Soccer Camp
Catalyst Soccer provides instructions on the sport to kids in a variety of outdoor settings, with sessions in various locations across Santa Cruz County such as Scotts Valley and Soquel.

Billabong Surf Camps This three-day camp in Santa Cruz teaches kids how to surf with the help of expert guides.

Camp SeaScape Everyday kids practice a variety of sports, ranging from sand volleyball to basketball at this Aptos camp.

Kung-Fu Kids Summer Camp Kids practice martial arts in Santa Cruz’s forests and beaches, with field trips to places like Great America included.

Kids Kayak Camp Set in the Santa Cruz Habor, kids receive practice in kayaking, boogie boarding and stand-up paddeling.

LightSpeed Martial Arts Academy This popular program is not only packed with Martial Arts, hiking, swimming, bowling, beach days, nutrition seminars, movies, and padded weapons classes, but also includes field trips to places such as the Boardwalk and museums. 

Monte Vista Christian School Children practice sports such as basketball, football and volleyball in full and half-day sessions in Watsonville.

Santa Cruz Soccer Camp Children Children ages 5-15 receive coaching for experts in DeLaveaga Park in Santa Cruz.

Valley Sports Camp Kids in kindergarten through 9th-grade will spend the entire day at this camp at San Lorenzo Valley High School being active by participating in a number of different sports activities, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, swimming and dodgeball.

Junior Guards There are junior lifeguard programs all along the coastline. State Parks runs a program in South County, Capitola has a program and there is a Junior Guards program in Santa Cruz.

Didn't find what you're looking for? Peruse this guide from Parenthood.com for summer camps across the region.

Soccer! May 22, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Please mention the Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps. They are an excellent camp experience and I am sending my children there. They have a week in Aptos and other Cities around us
Emily Scheese May 31, 2012 at 06:46 PM
As new camp director on the women's side of the Summer Residential Nike Soccer Camps for youth (10-18 years old) up at UCSC, I'd like to recommend our overnight soccer camps which take place in July. Kids ages 10-18 come up for a 4-day/ 3-night stay in the dorms on our beautiful campus and get to engage in a fun to competitive level of soccer at the university field. They will experience exercises, technical and tactical skill sets, and games under the direction and supervision of our UCSC coaching staff and mentoring by current UCSC college players. I include the links to the 2 programs in July below. NIKE Summer Soccer Camps - (Ages 10-18) July 7-10, 2012 July 23-26, 2012 http://www.ussportscamps.com/soccer/nike/nike-soccer-camp-uc-santa-cruz/ Over and above the Catalyst and other local day camps, these camps at UCSC offer the overnight/ college campus aspect in addition to high level soccer coaching for youth players. There is also a commuter option for discounted rate, but the overnight appeal gives parents the leeway to free themselves up for a few days. We also have a team discount offer of $30 off per player for teams that have 8+ players register together. Get in touch with me for more details. Contact me at wmsoccer@ucsc.edu if you have any questions! Emily Scheese Head Coach - Women's Soccer - UC Santa Cruz (831) 459-3362 (office) wmsoccer@ucsc.edu www.goslugs.com
Mary Jo Epperson April 02, 2013 at 06:39 AM
3 Great theater camps to celebrate our 3rd year of theater arts education. CYT Musical Theater Summer Camp is one of the most affordable quality musical theatre camps in California. In the morning, students rotate with their team to a variety of theater classes including dance, drama & voice taught by qualified instructors. Summer campers play exciting outdoor games before they come together with all the teams for showcase rehearsal. All the students perform in the musical theater showcase for family and friends at the end of the week. July 8-12 will be "Pirates and Princesses" for kids 4-12. Kids will enjoy performing songs from Mulan, Honk! and Veggie tales in this hilarious comedy about rivalry between the sexes. July 15-19 will be our "Godspell, Jr." camp. This best loved musical by three time academy award winner, Stephen Schwartz has been specially adapted for use at a camp. Godspell is a groundbreaking and unique retelling of the gospel of Matthew. It shows a reflection of the life of Jesus, with a message of kindness, Grace and love. Godspell features a string of recognizable songs, including the international hit "Day By Day." Join us and be transformed! Our final camp, Shakespeare camp, takes place August 5-9 in Saratoga. Kids age 8-12 will get the chance to reinterpret and perform one of Shakespeare's famous works, while the older kids, 13-18, will perform the play as originally written. Visit www.cytsantacruz.org for more info/registration.


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