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Camp Kee Tov (Berkeley, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Summer Camps & School Breaks > Camp Kee Tov



Jan 2014

We are interested in potentially sending our son to Camp Kee Tov this summer however we would like more information. It does not look at though anyone has posted a review about Camp Kee Tov for the past couple of years and we are interested in feedback about your experience. As far as we can tell most kids and families love Camp Kee Tov. Our son is 6 years old, he will be entering 2nd grade next year. He does not like to be too hot and is fearful of bees, although recently he has not spoken too much about them so we are hoping this has dissipated. He is a pretty social guy, loves math, and likes chess. Is the whole camp split up into different age groups and as such they go to different parks? Do the campers of varying ages come together as a whole at all during the day? What happens on rainy days? What about extended care from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm where is this located and what do they do? Thank you. Anon


I was the Director of Kee Tov many years ago (my son is now a counselor there); it's a huge family. There is extended day care, both in the morning and after camp. Camp spirit (we call it RUACH!) is a major part of camp for all ages -- songs, cheers, dancing, all of it. Rainy days are rare, but the camp has the run of the temple on those days. Kee Tov is the best day camp in the East Bay, without question. Feel free to contact me for more in depth information. Oh, bees and heat: camp makes those things tolerable by being prepared and knowledgeable. Richard Sugerman
My kids, now in 9th and 7th grade, have been going to Camp KeeTov since the summer before they entered kindergarten. KeeTov is summer to them. My daughter is applying to be a CIT now. The kids are divided into age groups, one or two grades per group, and the activities and locations are correlated to the age groups. The youngest group, entering kindergarten, for example, mostly stays right at BethEl all day and the oldest group is adventuring out in the world - from backpacking to volunteer service, river rafting to mini-golf. The activities become more outward focussed as the kids get older and are ready for it. The camp is very aware and sensitive to what activities are age appropriate. Because the synagogue itself isn't much of location, the groups go out on busses each day to a local park, the pool, etc. There is lots of singing and just sort of simple, low-tech classic summer camp activities. Art and Crafts, games, pool, campfire, cooking, drama, etc. My kids have only had amazing experiences though I do know one or two kids for whom it was just not a fit - very quiet, solitary kids, older kids who don't want any structure, etc - but for most it is a blast. Both Zach, the director, and Emily, another administrator, I am sure would be more than happy to answer any and all of your questions. There are bees, quite naturally, in the parks so that is a personal decision for you. The counselors are wonderful with the kids and I am sure would do all they could to address your child's fears and needs. Hot? Well, when it is hot (how hot to Berkeley summers ever get?) it is hot. If your child doesn't want to run around when its hot then he probably will choose to sit or do shady, low-key activities. The camps does get together for all camp shabbat but, at least to my memory, the kids are mostly in their own units. Hope that helps. A KeeTov Mama
I didn't see the original post but about Kee Tov I've had two opposite experiences, and like most things in parenting, it proves that one size doesn't fit all. My extroverted, very social, loud, sporty son loved Kee Tov and went happily. He made friends and loved the activities. My introverted, socially somewhat awkward, artsy daughter hated it and never wants to go back. She didn't like the loud cheering and loud singing (she is very musical), and messy day freaked her out. So it really depends on your child. Since most people/kids are somewhat extroverted most seem to love it! I was sad that it didn't work for my daughter but we've found other, quieter camps that do. We're lucky to have so many great options around here. anon
Dec 2013

I'm considering sending my 8-year-old son to Camp Kee-Tov and noticed that there aren't any recent reviews in the archives. If you have sent your child to Camp Kee-Tov in recent years, I would love to hear about your experience -- the good and the not-so-good. In addition to the regular camp day, I'd love to hear about the extended care program and the bus service. Thanks! Nicole


My daughter has attended Camp Kee Tov for two summers now, and will return this summer. It is hands-down her favorite camp. She adores the counselors and clearly has a great deal of fun. It is the most camp-y of the day camps we have tried. She is singing songs in Hebrew all the way to Christmas and beyond (and we're not Jewish). The camp is extremely well-run. We use the bus service in the morning, which has gone very smoothly, and we use the after-care program, which she loves. When I pick her up in the afternoon, she is happy (and often dirty). Carmen
March 2010

Kee Tov provides a fun, energetic and playful environment that can't be matched! My son has been going to Camp Kee Tov since Kindergarten. He is now in 6th grade and won't miss it. (In fact, we tend to plan our summer vacations around the Kee Tov schedule.) He has made friendships every year since he started Kee Tov that have endured over the years even when they don't go to the same school. Even kids who have not attended the prior years are welcomed and fit right in. The counselors and directors are what make this possible! The kids love the counselors who are amazing role models. (They are all college-bound and energetic. It's amazing that Kee Tov can find such great counselors year after year.) "Family Night" takes place the last evening of each session and is always a fabulous way to close the session. Parents get to see first-hand why the kids want to keep coming back. It's always a little bittersweet as the kids are just so sad that such a great time has to come to a close. Many hugs are exchanged and tears shed as kids go back to school and the counselors are off to college. I can't recommend this camp more highly --it's one of the great things about living in the East Bay. Fran


Feb 2007

Starting Camp Kee Tov before K
We are thinking of sending our son to Kee Tov for the first time this summer. He is entering kindergarten but won't be 5 until Sept. He didn't go to Beth El for preschool. Is he too young for it? Is it too big, esp if he doesn't know anyone starting with him? Any recommended alternatives if so? Want a happy camper


My Sept birthday son attended Kee Tov the summer before starting Kindergarten and had a wonderful experience. He didn't know anyone before he started and quickly made friends. It was a great transition from preschool to K. The camp is still always at the top of his list for the summer. Kee Tov Mom
June 2006

Re: Looking for a Great Camp
To the Berkeley area parent looking for a great camp: I would encourage you to check out Camp Kee Tov. It is a GREAT camp and still has a few openings for this summer. It is an ''imagination-oriented'' day camp, which (to me) means that the kids spend the bulk of their time doing good old- fashioned summertime fun things like: sing songs, play games, do crafts, swim, hike, play sports, make up and perform skits and plays, and generally have fun and be silly with their friends. Many of the counselors were campers there themselves and it has a very warm ''family'' feeling that the kids love. Check out their website: http://www.campkeetov.org/
very happy Mom of 8-year-old camper


May 2006

I've just heard from a reliable source that the fabulous, much sought-after Camp Kee Tov still has a few open spots for this summer. My son has been going to this camp for the past three years and absolutely loves it! It is an ''imagination-based'' camp that relies on good old-fashioned fun things like skits, arts and crafts, swimming and outdoor games. One of the best things about the camp is the staff: a great group of positive energetic fun-loving teenagers and young adults, many of whom went to the camp for many years themselves. If you don't already know about this wonderful, warm community, check out their website at www.campkeetov.org. Lauran


March 2006

I checked the archives and was surprised to see absolutely nothing posted about Camp Kee Tov. I know that it is a very big and popular camp, but I'm wondering if I can get any more info. from anybody out there. My son is going into first grade. He is a bit shy and takes a while to observe before jumping into things. He's energetic and likes to run around, but also enjoys and needs quiet down time. I'm wondering if he'll feel overwhelmed by a big camp, the long days and bus rides. Does anybody have any experience they can share? Thanks


Our son went to Camp Kee Tov a few years ago. It was a bit of a tear jerker seeing him get onto the big yellow school bus at the North Berkeley Library for the first time, but a very convenient place to drop him off and pick him up! He enjoyed the camp very much and we had a big family picnic at the end for everyone to celebrate. It seemed like standard camp fun fare. The only thing I personally disliked was ''Messy Day.'' He came home with purple dye and shaving cream in his hair and it took weeks to get all the purple out!! kathryn
My daughter, now in the second grade, will return to Camp Kee Tov for her third summer this year and it has been great for her. It is very well organized, there are lots of activities, a reasonable amount of free time and terrific -- really, really terrific -- counselors. My son, who is in kindergarten now, is looking forward to his first summer and I'm sure that he will love it. I will say that neither of my kids are particularly shy, but I think that Kee Tov works for a wide range of personalities, because the staff is so good. Ann
It has been many years since my then 6 year old went to Camp Kee Tov. I knew it was a very popular camp, had heard great things about it, knew friends whose kids loved it, but it was not a good fit for my child at this age. She, too, was quiet and shy. She didn't attend Beth El preschool, so didn't know too many of the kids. She had a hard time breaking into the social mix, and found the non-stop activities too much for her. She had not experienced an all-day child care type situation, and found the days much too long (I know it's only 9-3, but her preschool had ended at noon, and kindergarten also was only half day, so this was the longest time she was in a group situation at that age). She found the bus rides interminible, the activities were just not her thing, and while one of the counselors was wonderful and really tried to engage her in activities, the rest were quite busy with the other kids, and didn't have much time for her. After a very long week and a half we pulled her out and chalked it up to experience. It certainly soured her on day camps for many years! Judy
My daughter who is pretty shy tried Kee Tov the summer after kindergarten and hated it. But I have to say that almost all the other kids that I know who went there (which is quite a few) absolutely loved it and some of them are a bit on the shy side. Most kids have a lot of fun. They keep them very busy and active. My daughter found it to be too rowdy and too noisy on the bus--they sing alot, but my daughter found it too loud. My daughter, I learned much prefers the quieter camps focused on arts and music or a single sport. It would probably help alot if your son went with a friend (regardless of which camp he goes to). The counselors and the director are all very nice and accomodating but they agreed it probably wasn't the right camp for my daughter, mostly because she wasn't happy there. anon
Hello, my name is Adam Schwartz, Director of Camp Kee Tov. I'm happy to answer specific any questions about camp via email (info at campkeetov.org) or phone (510-848-2372), and here is a blurb for everyone: Camp Kee Tov is celebrating its 40th summer this year with another action packed and nature-filled calendar. We are an ''imagination-oriented'' Jewish summer day camp, spending much of our time in the beautiful Tilden Park in Berkeley. Our camp is for everyone - grades K-10 and all backgrounds. Kee Tov is based on ''Ruach'' - the energetic spirit that our campers and counselors share. Each summer we sing songs, play games, overnight in the parks, swim, hike, play sports, perform skits and plays, enjoy imaginative theme days, and have fun together. This year, we have a beautiful new home in Berkeley and a new program for 9th and 10th graders. This is one of the most wonderful camps in the area, with a strong reputation and a caring staff with outstanding camper-counselor ratios. This kind of positivity and excitement is a rare experience for kids! Camp Kee Tov has a before and after-camp care, a scholarship fund, and a wide variety of programs. info at campkeetov.org | 510-848-2372 | www.campkeetov.org
I was both a camper and counselor at Kee Tov. I am a quiet person, more inclined towards sitting under a tree and drawing than participating in high energy games. I even sometimes liked running around, just not while my team cheered loudly for me to reach the finish line. I'm also a slow adjuster to new situations. As a six year old, Kee Tov was overwhelming - so many kids, so many loud sing alongs on buses, so many different activities - it was like a caucophany. My mother reports that I fell asleep each night at 6 pm. I just remember feeling very small. As a counselor, I had a fantastic time. I was old enough to handle the high energy level. I also observed many children who did not share my quiet, artistic temperment and for whom Kee Tov was just pure FUN. It's a strong community with much affection and joy but it's definately very energetic and big. Lanyard Queen
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