Find a Summer Camp in Santa Cruz County

Patch readers shared their favorite summer kids programs. Find the right fit for your children here or add something we've missed.

Summer camp is almost a rite of the season for some families. For others, summer programs offer kids something to do while mom and dad are at work, a chance to explore a new interest or an opportunity to improve an exisiting talent.

There is no shortage of summer activities in Santa Cruz County that will stretch your child's mind or challenge them physically.

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 Field Editor Jennifer Squires or leave us a comment, and we'll put it in the guide.


Horse-n-Around Children receive daily horseback riding lessons at the Mitchell Ranch in Watsonville. Weekly sessions June 17-Aug. 15. Cost: $265/week. Info: 408-528-5461

Whisper Equestrian Pony Camp This outdoor camp connects kids with ponies, crafts and lots of fun in a safe country ranch setting in Aptos. Two sessions beginning July 8 and 15. Register one week in advance. Cost: $300/week. Info: 831-685-1342, Whisperponyjulie@gmail.com

Horse and Heart Held at Moving Expressions Ranch in Soquel, the program has three one-week sessions in the summer. Participants learn horsemanship and interact with nature. Cost: $400 with early bird discount. Info: 650-248-4451, lori@wisdomark.com

Pleasant Valley Kids Camp This Aptos horse ranch provides an indoor-outdoor environment where children ages 5 and up participate together in arts and crafts, and equine activities. Cost: $120-$350 Info: 831-763-2733


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. Summer classes start June 17. Cost: $395 and up.

All About Theatre offers musical theater and performing arts to youth. There will be five productions this summer. Cost: $225-$725. Info: 831-345-6340, lindsey@allabouttheatre.org

Seven Directions This arts and science day camp in Santa Cruz has morning or afternoon sessions throughout the summer. Cost: varies. Info: 831-345-9893, agintert@gmail.com

The Art Factory Summer Camp Week-long, creative theme-based camps provide children ages 4-12 with 5 hours of unplugged fun each day. Cost $285/week. Info: 831-688-8862

Santa Cruz Parks and Rec has arts programs for kids. Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

  • Creative Camp: Paint and Draw, cost: $160 (R) /$202 (NR)
  • Camp Tannery Arts, cost: $200 (R) /$254 (NR)

MAH Summer Art Camp in Santa Cruz offers everything from sculpting and metalsmithing to painting to music to photography. Cost: MAH members $165/non-members $215; varies per session. Info: 831-426-4923 x7020, ashley@santacruzmah.org


Watsonville Buddhist Temple Gakko, a parent cooperative program, is available for children who have completed kindergarten through the 6th grade. Classes begin July 1. Cost: $175 plus donations of time and food. Info: lynseysn@gmail.com

Celtic Music Day Camp Kids ages 7-13 learn to perform folk tunes from places like Wales, Ireland, Celtic Spain and across the U.S. at this Santa Cruz camp. The two-week program concludes with a garden party and concert. Cost: $395. Info: 831-426-9155, shelley@communitymusicschool.org

Kuumbwa Jazz Camp Students grades 8-12 will work on performing, basic improvisation and theory, concepts and phrasing, history and appreciation in this two-week program at Cabrillo College. Cost: $275. Info: 831-427-2227 

St. Andrews Music Camp The Presbyterian church in Aptos is offering a week-long music program in July. Info: 831-688-4211, kathy@standrew-aptos.org

Santa Cruz Parks and Rec has dance and culture-based programs for kids. Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

  • Summer Camp Around the World, cost: $160 (R) / $208 (NR)
  • Camp Hip Hop!, cost $175 (R) /$222 (NR)
  • Story Book Dance Camp, cost: $175 (R) /$222 (NR)

Environmental Education/Outdoor  

Peaceful Valley Farm Camp Kids ages 2.5 to 6 can get their hands dirty planting crops, learning about recycling and composting, and tending to farm animals in rural Watsonville. Six one-week sessions begin June 17. Cost: $45/day. Info: 831-840-5870

Ocean Explorers Students ages 7-14 experience the thrill of scientific discovery at the Seymour Center, a working marine lab in Santa Cruz. They actively learn from field explorations, hands-on activities, games and crafts. Cost: $350-$610. Info: 831-459-3800

Wilderness and Nature Camps Set in the Santa Cruz Mountains, children ages 6-9 learn about science-based natural history, animal tracking and other outdoor crafts. Two sessions, starting July 29. Cost: $450/week. Info:

Adventure Trails Hiking day camp with games, nature studies, art, First Aid, survival skills, friends, beach days and Capoeira. Info: 831-345-0245, palmeras3@yahoo.com

Junior Explorers For the little explorer in your family. Join us in discovering the woodlands, beaches and all the wonderful nature Santa Cruz has to offer. Weekly field trips will enhance your experience. There are four two-week sessions this summer. Cost: $167 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$216 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

The Spot This summer Wagner Cottage will be where your active 8-10 year old will want to be hanging out. Enjoy the awesome nature of Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz. There are four two-week sessions this summer. Cost: $151 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$196 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

General Recreation

Beach Cruzers For the kid who wants to Cruz the beach all summer, Beach Cruzers is just for you. Your Cruzer will have the opportunity to play in the sand, build sand castles, enjoy beach games and learn to respect the marine environment. There are two four-week sessions. Cost: $242 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$315 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

Cabrillo College Summer Youth Institute  Students entering 7th-12th grade this fall can take part in week-long programs focused on Health, Astronomy, Computer Technology, Construction, Culinary, Digital Media, Engineering &Science, Entrepreneurship & Social Entrepreneurship, Oceanography/Geology, Fashion and Food Science at Cabrillo College. Cost: $165-$235/week. Info: 831-477-5605, website

Scotts Valley Recreation has 10 week-long sessions offer flexible scheduling beginning June 17 at Vine Hill School. Daily activities include fun programming, special events and field trips, for ages Kindergarten through 14. There are also sports and arts camps through the city Parks and Rec Department. Cost: $127-187/week. Info: 831-438-3251

Aptos Summer Adventure Day Camp The day camp features crafts, art, nature study, climbing wall, swimming, horses, field trips, and optional morning academics. Each week has a different fun and educational theme. Info: 831-688-1080

Camp Cruz The biggest and best camp in Santa Cruz will provide an exhilarating time for your camper. The clubs within Camp Cruz are sure to create an experience for every child. Cooking Club, Writing Club and Drawing Club are just a few examples. There are four two-week sessions this summer. Cost: $208 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$271 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

Super Camp Your little guy or gal will learn about the wonders of Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz and the local community in an atmosphere created just for a 5 and 6 year old. There are four two-week sessions this summer. Cost: $151 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$196 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

Camp Capitola The city has a variety of summer programs for kids ages 6-11
Cost: $135-$389 Info: 831-475-5935

Kennolyn Camps With day, overnight and family camps, children pursue a variety of outdoor rec activities (surfing, equestrian, fencing, adventure) at this camp in the Soquel hills. Camps start June 16 and run all summer. Cost: $100 and up for day; $1,545 and up for overnight. Info: 831-479-6714, camps@kennolyn.com

Watsonville Family YMCA The Y offers several activities from arts and crafts to sports for children to partake in during varying sessions throughout the summer. Week-long themed camps begin June 10. Cost: $125 (early registration), $135-$150 after May 15. Info: 831-728-9622

Kruz Kidz offers 4 weeks of Discovery Camps with 20 different options to choose from, and 5 weeks of Adventure Camps for all girls and boys entering 1st grade through 7th grade. Cost: $85-$105/session. Info: 831-465-3359, yolanda@tlc.org

Campus Kids Connection This day camp at Soquel Elementary School offers cooking, art, inventions, science, drama, sports and more, as well as field trips. The program is for kids entering first through sixth grade.

Watsonville Parks and Community Services The city has a variety of summer programs for kids of all ages. Cost: varies. Info: 831-768-3240

Montessori Scotts Valley Kids learn about organic gardening, and also receive instruction in math, reading, science and cooking. Info: 831-439-9313

Santa Cruz County Parks There are a variety of programs at county parks for kids ages 5-12, including the popular Renaissance Camp. Register online. Cost: varies. Info: 831-454-7900

Overnight Camps

Koinonia This week-long Christian-camp set in the Santa Cruz redwoods allows kids to engage in various team building activities. Cost: $355/week and up, prices increase after June 1. Info: 831-722-1472, programs@gotocamp.org

Frontier Ranch Camp From flying down a 300-plus foot zip line to playing with farm animals, kids grades 6-12 have many activities to keep them occupied at this Scotts Valley camp. Cost: $365/week and up. Info: 800-683-9133, website

ESL Summer Language Institute Children ages 12-17 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 month-long camp is in Watsonville. Cost: $6,000. Info: website

Redwood Glen Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Pescadero, kids of all ages can take part in music, drama, adventure or general recreation week-long programs. Cost: $185-199/week. Info: website

Santa Cruz County 4H Camp This is the summer camp for 4H members. It will be held in Watsonville and kids must join 4H to attend. Cost: $100. Info: 831-234-6666, robin@robinscakes.com 

Camp Opportunity A residential camp in Santa Cruz for children ages 8-13 who are at risk of neglect or abuse. Info: 1-800-750-CAMP (2267)


Coastlands Vacation Bible School Day Camp Students entering grades 1-5 will daily enjoy sports, crafts, large assemblies with singing, dancing and skits, themed events, and team lessons on valuable life principles at the church in Aptos. Cost: call. Info: 831-688-5775 x224, shiloh@coastlands.org

San Agustin Catholic Church in Scotts Valley will have a morning vacation Bible camp July 15-19. Register by July 8. Cost: $60. Info: (831) 438-3633

Camp St. Francis provides a wholesome Catholic setting for boys ages 7-13. The program has four one-week day and residential sessions at its campus in Aptos. Info: campstfrancis@gmail.com

Camp Kayetz This camp at Temple Beth El in Aptos includes visits to parks and beaches, a camping trip, music and theater, arts and crafts, a Raging Waters trip, sports and special Shabbats for kids ages 6-15. Cost: $225-270, early registration discounts before May 3. Info: 831-479-3444

Aptos Community United Methodist Church Vacation Bible School For kids grades K-5. Info: 688-2210

Camp Auxilium Residential and Day Camp Christian day or residential camps with campfires, swimming, art, crafts, talent shows in Corralitos. Info: 831-728-4700 ext.4

Santa Cruz Bible Church Vacation Bible Camp The one-week program for students age 3 through entering 5th will be held in June. Cost: $40. Info: 831-429-1162


MakersCAMP As a group, kids ages 9-13 design a self-powered walking robot at this Santa Cruz camp. Summer camps run from June to August twice a week with morning and afternoon sessions. Cost $225/week. Info: 831-621-0801, info@makersfactory.com

Outdoor Science Exploration Students age 7-14 years old do physics and chemistry experiments at parks and beaches in Santa Cruz and Capitola. Cost: $190, prices increase after May 15. Info: 831-423-5925, info@osefun.com

Explorers Science Camp is run through the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department. Cost: $200 (city residents) $254 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com


Summer Surf Camp The four-day camps taught by one of Santa Cruz’s top professional surfers, Bud Freitas, are for kids ages 7-167. Cost: $500. Info: 831-428-3647

Toadally Fun Martial Arts Camp The sports and martial arts camp starts June 17 and meets on the westside of Santa Cruz twice a week in the afternoon. Cost $200. Info: 831-818-5425, scottsymons3000@yahoo.com

Mountain Bike Summer Camp The premiere mountain bike summer camp for childrent takes kids riding on all of Santa Cruz's favorite mountain biking trails during five days of learning and fun. Classes meet at Bike Dojo in Santa Cruz. Cost: $350 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$400 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

Skate Camp This camp is for beginners who want to get comfortable on a skateboard and at the skate park. Learn tricks like ollie, kickflips and how to ride the ramps, as well as how to be safe. Required gear: skateboard, helmet, protective gear, elbow pads, knee pads, water. Cost: $85 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$105 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

Baseball All-Star Camp This camp, which runs during all stars, is designed with the all star player in mind. It is specifically designed to sharpen the skills of the all star player before their games during this week. Held at Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz.Cost: $155 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$200 (non-residents). Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

Santa Cruz City Youth Soccer Camp The week-long camp at Harvey West Park wil be offered twice in August. The camp will be targeted to committed advanced players, boys and girls ages 9-17, and focus on technical skills, technique and small-sided game. Cost: $125. Info: 831-588-6407, rom48us@yahoo.com

World Cup Soccer Camp Catalyst Soccer provides instructions on the sport to kids ages 4-6 and 6-14. Sessions will be held in Scotts Valley, Soquel, Aptos and Santa Cruz. Cost: $75-$125/week. Info: 831-423-3556

Billabong Surf Camps This three-day camp in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay or Pacifica teaches kids ages 8-12 how to surf with the help of expert guides. Cost $245, discounts offered. Info: 800-509-3954, surfing@adventureout.com

Adventure Out Rock Climbing This course is designed for kids and teens who desire to experience the thrill of rock climbing. Each half-day class will be held at beautiful Castle Rock State Park in the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz Hills. No previous experience is necessary. Cost $245, discounts offered. Info: 800-509-3954, rockclimbing@adventureout.com

Nike Soccer Camp UC Santa Cruz Kids ages 10-18 come up for a 4-day/ 3-night stay in the UCSC dorms and 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 UCSC coaching staff and mentoring by current UCSC college players. Cost: $458-$585. Info: wmsoccer@ucsc.edu

Camp SeaScape  Kids ages 3-13 practice a variety of sports, ranging from sand volleyball to basketball at this Aptos camp. Six two-week sessions are available. Cost: $95 and up. Info: 831-688-1993

Rock Climbing Camp This one-day program through Santa Cruz City Parks and Rec takes kids to Castle Rock State Park to rock climb, and also explore the flora and fauna of the park. Cost: $89 (Santa Cruz city residents) /$110 (non-residents). There also is a day camp at Pacific Edge Climbing Gym ($135 residents, $175 non-residents) Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

Cougar Junior Guards Aqua Day CampThe swim program for kids ages 7-13 will be held at the San Lorenzo Valley High School swimming pool. Campers will improve their swimming ability, endurance and technique. Along with swimming, the Junior Guard Aqua Camp will introduce campers to water polo, snorkeling, spring board diving and Life Guard training. Cost is $160-$300. Info: 831 239-4228, kurt@cougarswimschool.com

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. Cost: $105-$225/week Info: 831-251-1269

Kids Kayak Camp Set in the Santa Cruz Harbor, kids and teens receive practice in kayaking, boogie boarding and stand-up paddling in two- and three-day classes. Cost: $110-$160. Info: 831-479-1121, staff@kayakconnection.com There also are kayak and outrigger canoe programs run through the Santa Cruz Parks and Rec Department and facilitated at Kayak Connection. Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

LightSpeed Martial Arts Academy This popular program in Scotts Valley 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. Cost: $234 by May 10; $244 after. Info: 831-438-6068, MasterSalisbury@gmail.com

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. Cost: $180-$220/week with early registration discounts before May. 1 Info: 831-246-1517, SantaCruzSoccerCamp@gmail.com

Valley Sports Camp Kids in kindergarten through 9th-grade will spend the entire day at this camp at San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley high schools being active by participating in a number of different sports activities, including basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, swimming and dodgeball. Cost: $250/week, discounts for multiple weeks. Info: mercer@valleysportscamp.com

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.

Santa Cruz Parks and Rec has many more sports programs for kids. Info: 831-420-5270, instareg@cityofsantacruz.com

  • Aikido Summer Camp, cost: $75 (Santa Cruz resident) /$92 (non-resident)
  • Martial Arts Summer Camp, cost: $200 (R) /$254 (NR)
  • Diggerz Beach Volleyball Camp, cost: $100 (R) /$124 (NR)
  • Baseball Pitching Instruction Camp, cost: $165 (R) / $210 (NR)
  • Baseball Summer Camp, cost: $155 (R) / $200 (NR)
  • Wiffle Ball Camp, cost: $100 (R) / $125 (NR)
  • Baseball Beach Camp, cost: $105.00 (R) / $135 (NR)
  • Baseball Fielding Camp, cost: $155 (R) / $200 (NR)
  • Baseball Hitting Instruction Camp, cost: $165.00 (R) / $210 (NR)

If you didn't find the perfect program for your child here, Santa Cruz Kids has a town-by-town listing of summer camps and drop-in programs. The Santa Cruz County Chamber of Commerce also has an extensive list of youth summer programs.

Know about a great camp we missed? Add the information—including phone number, email address and/or website—in the comment section below. Thanks!

shirley Rhoades April 15, 2013 at 06:47 PM
Shirley Rhoades Summer Art Classes in Scotts Valley Week long Painting workshops and classes begin in June. A variety of classes offered for children and for adults. Watercolor, Acrylic, Oil, sketching in charcoal and pastel. Gourd Crafting and Street Painting. Class Prices start at $65. Call or email Shirley for more information or to sign up. 831-566-5741, slr125@comcast.net or visit website: www.scottsvalleyartcenter.com
Nelda Nichole Kerr May 21, 2013 at 04:23 PM
www.wildnoise.org Wild Noise Arts Camp will combine outdoor installation art, film, and music. Staffed by a team of professional artists, musicians, filmmakers, and teachers from all over the western states, the camp will invite participants to work on large-scale installations, filming and editing, music-making and recording. July 29-Aug 1 will give us 4 days and 3 nights to complete one major installation project on our large lawn, and a short film that will capture the experience and be entered in the 2013 Santa Cruz Film Festival. A Wild Noise commemorative album or EP will be made of the music recordings. 16+ Full Stay: $350 – 4 days, 3 nights, 9 meals Commuter: $165 – includes 4 meals
Sara Walpole May 26, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Girls' Basketball Camp - Our Power's 2nd Annual Art of Basketball Camp at New Brighton Middle School Gym. We are a strong team of women leaders offering a unique and creative infusion of body awareness exercises with the mechanics of basketball; building a strong and well-rounded athlete. It is our intent to provide a safe and creative space for youth to evolve, freely express who they are, and embrace who they are becoming. Camp Dates: M-F 9am-1pm Teen Girls' Skills Camp (7th-12th grade) - July 8-19 Youth Girls' Camp (3rd-6th grade) - July 22-Aug 2 Aftercare available after youth sessions Activities include: basketball fundamentals, yoga infused with dance, pilates in rhythm, body awareness movement, meditation (walking, silent, sitting) www.ourpower1.net Contact Coach Kinsha kinsha_66@gmail.com or Coach Sara sara.mamaluv@gmail.com 831-297-3028 or 831-435-6278
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Andrew Puccetti February 06, 2014 at 03:18 PM
Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp is a unique leadership camp for teens who care about community service, activism and social justice. Our California session is located in Ben Lomond. YEA is open for registration for summer 2014. Check out this short video and their website www.yeacamp.org to learn more about this program!


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