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Monkey Business Camp (Berkeley & Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Summer Camps & School Breaks > Monkey Business Camp



Monkey Business Camp for almost 5 year old?

Feb 2014

I am looking for input about Monkey Business Camp. I'm considering sending my son who will be 5 in August and it would be his first real camp experience - he has only attended his preschool's summer program in the past. I'm wondering what the Monkey Business counselors are like with the kids in the 4.5-6 year old group. My son is the kind of child who will need to feel safe (emotionally) and connected to the staff before feeling comfortable to be independent, jump into activities, and focus on making friends. I would love to hear parents' experiences with the camp in general and with that age group more specifically. I'd also appreciate hearing about the staff:camper ratio and how involved the counselors are with the children. Do they help them navigate friendships, etc? What I do not want is a camp with frenetic energy where counselors herd groups of children from activity to activity all day and don't pay attention to their social-emotional experience. For those of you who know ''Sees The Day'', that's where my older child goes each summer and I'm looking for something with the same vibe, but for a 5 year old. I'm open to other camp ideas besides Monkey Business, too. Thanks in advance for your help! Deb


My son, now 4.5, LOVED Monkey Business camp last year. He attended for two weeks at the end of the summer at Tilden and again over winter break. He checks in with me at least once a month asking when he will be going to Monkey Business again! Though there were a few kids he knew from preschool, for the most part everyone was new to him. I thought the counselors were very nurturing and caring at the beginning of each morning, making sure every child had a place to be and felt comfortable and content, with new friends and old. The activities seemed to be plentiful but not overwhelming, and I think what my son enjoyed the most was just being outdoors with the energetic counselors, other kids, and beautiful trees. He also loved some of the spirit-type activities like singing songs together and doing appreciations at the end of each day. All in all, a fabulous experience that we will repeat again this summer! I think it's a great first camp experience. mom of 4.5 year old boy
My daughter has attended Monkey Business summer camp for the past few years (first in their 3-4 year program, then this past summer in their 4.5-6 year group. My daughter sounds similar to your son in terms of the need to feel secure before participating, etc. The MBC counselors (and the younger CIT staff as well) were great in supporting her, and creating a sense of bonding/connection. Our experience is that the staff really get to know the kids, and extend themselves to help ensure the kids feel at ease and are having fun. I'm not familiar with the Sees the Day program, so can't offer any comparisons, but I would highly recommend Monkey Business for a kid needing some additional support and kindness. Jennifer J
My daughter has been attending Monkey Business camp since she was 4, she's now 7. Three main things stand out for me about Monkey Business:

1) Values - there's a clear orientation toward healthy conflict resolution, respect and compassion. It's not over-the-top, just clear that the staff has been trained and encouraged to coach kids around solid values.

2) Staff - really the heart of MB. They are uniformly amazing. Even the early-teen assistants are the kind of young adults you want your kid to grow into. The staff is amazing, and our daughter instantly feels at ease (a big deal in the typical summer of many transitions between camps).

3) Finally - setting - the great outdoors. It's rare that kids in an urban setting get to spend quality time outdoors. Tilden is really such an incredible place, right in our backyard, and Monkey Business has found a way to help our kids connect to this amazing place.

My only misgiving, truly, the only one for me, is the fact that it's a bit of a haul each day up and down the hill. Our family has a pretty minimal commute during the school year, and the summer driving is a bummer - but a tradeoff for the awesome outside time. Not all Monkey Business camps are up in the hills (pretty sure their older kid camps are more local) - definitely look into that.

I totally recommend, we'll be going again this summer. -Kaety and Nate, Berkeley Parents


I know that everyone in the world loves Monkey Business Camp, but I don't. My daughter has special needs, so I always make sure that a program is able to work with her before enrolling her in anything, and I was assured that MBC could. She attended a Spring Break camp when she was 9, and she loved it. I was asked for some strategies to work with her by one of the counselors after she had a minor meltdown, and it all went well after that. I signed her up for a week of their summer camp, thinking that she would receive the same level of care, and I was wrong.

At pick up time on Weds, she was covered in dirt (literally all over her, including her face), while the other kids were not. She told me that she fell out of a tree, that the other kids laughed at her, that the counselors yelled at her, and that nobody checked on her injuries or helped her clean up. When I called the camp, I was told that the counselors had no idea what I was talking about. Later I was called back and told that, after talking to them again, the counselors said they didn't help her because she jumped out of the tree, which was against the rules. Those are two different stories. I asked for the counselors to apologize to my daughter for their reaction, but they did not.

I had hoped that my daughter, who felt humiliated by the entire experience, would have been given medical attention and the dignity of being taken to the bathroom to be cleaned up, but she was given neither. Instead I was told that since she was to blame for her own accident, the counselors were not negligent.

The only time I ever heard from the camp again was the day after I left a less-than-stellar Yelp review. dawn


Feb 2013

Re: Camp for 1st grader that lasts more than 2 weeks
Monkey Business has camp for 10 or 11 weeks in the summer. Some kids go for all 11, some for part of the summer. My kids went for 6 weeks last summer. There were some familiar faces and some new kids each week, which was nice. It wasn't too repetitious but had a clear structure- my younger one really liked that. Too much new doesn't work so well for my kids, so this was a good mix. Berkeley mom


Feb 2013

The staff at Monkey Business Camp is wonderful. I had a little guy who needed camp for 2 weeks. He was in their youngest group.. I believe they are called the Papaya's. I was of course nervous with my son being so young, 3.5, and going to camp. He also needs ''additional assistance'' and the camp was very accommodating with our ABA support person joining him at the camp. It's February now and my son still sings the camp songs and asks when he can go again. Sure enough we will be joining the camp this summer! Kimberly


Feb 2013

My daughter has attended Monkey Business for spring/winter breaks and summer camp since she was 3.5 (she now 5). The counselors (and CITs) are uniformly wonderful, and I always have been impressed (and grateful) for how well-coordinated and organized the camp experience seems to be. They provide a really nice level of individual attention and care to kids, and the staff (on-site and in the office) are always very responsive to parent questions, etc. The days seem filled with a great range of fun indoor and outdoor activities for the kids. My daughter has loved every bit of her time with MBC to date! A local mom grateful for MBC


Feb 2013

Re: Playful summer camp for early elementary kids
My 2 elementary-aged kids had a great time at Monkey Business camp up at Tilden last summer. One is active, one quieter and they both made friends and had a lot of fun. The field games, the group singing, and the time to hang out and do what they wanted to do with friends is what I heard about most. When I asked what camps they want to do next summer and described some that other friends are going to - Monkey Business was it. Good luck finding the right camp for your kid - it's out there! Mom of 2 happy campers


Aug 2012

Re: Camp with structure and sports for active 8 year old
We just had our last day at Monkey Business Camp in Tilden & LOVE LOVE LOVED it. I was worried about sending my daughter to camp where she didn't know anyone. She's had a lot of social anxiety, and sent her to MBC bec. of recommendations of other BPN parents with shy/socially anxious kids. MBC has a really terrific structure and culture that really helps the kids settle in quickly. All the counselors were wonderful (many of them former MBC campers themselves), and the kids (of all ages) seemed really sweet & caring. I didn't hear a single tale of ''so and so wasn't nice to me!'' all summer long. The activity level seemed fairly high, they're outdoors all day long, and they swim at Lake Anza weekly (sometimes 2x a week), they go on hikes, walk to the Nature Center & Little Farm. I highly recommend it to everyone. And it doesn't hurt that it's also incredibly inexpensive if you sign up for the whole summer (much less than if you only sign up for a few weeks). Happy Monkey Business Parent


Feb 2012

Re: Summer camps for a shy kindergartner?
my son was like yours after kindergarten -- camp was tough for him socially when it was a free for all, but the highly structured programs didn't feel like a break from the structure of school. We found that Monkey Business was the best fit for him at that age. Although the environment was informal, there was an excellent counselor to camper ratio and the counselors included and engaged all of the campers. It was fun and silly. After first grade, my son was much more capable of handling the free-for-all city-run(more affordable)camps.


March 2011

Re: Camp for sensitive boy entering kindergarten
My son sounds similar to yours. Wasn't really into typical ''boy'' games (sports, star wars, etc) the summer before entering kindergarten. Very rule oriented. I sent him to Monkey Business Day Camp in Tilden for 3 weeks last year and he LOVED it. He went with a friend, which I think helped, but I'm sure he would have had fun without him. He learned new songs, how to play tag, made crafts, made friends and really blossomed. I actually think it helped to send him there before kindergarten. They have some young counselors who seem to look after the ''little ones''. Definitely mention this stuff to them when you sign up and again when you drop him off on the first day. Good luck! Rachel


April 2010

Our 12-year-old has been attending Monkey Business Camp at Tilden every summer for 7 years now and I can't say enough wonderful things about Monkey Business. It has just the right balance of structured activity and free play so that the kids are never bored, but also get to just relax, frolic and genuinely enjoy their summer vacation. For example, every session has a theme but it usually only takes up 1 or 2 hours; the rest of the day may consist of journaling, monkey ball and a hike. The only exception might be the drama session, where the kids and counselors really get into the spirit of producing a show for the families. Its a highlight of the summer. Its always a great show, the kids are beaming, and most importantly, they really have fun creating and rehearsing their acts. The directors are 2 of the coolest and kindest ladies I know, they're always accessible and do their best to accommodate whatever special requests you may have. The counselors are youthful, energetic and nurturing. They all really care about the kids having fun while being safe and respectful. Friendships are created that extend past summer camp. As young as 11 campers can become CITs, counselors-in- training, where they take on more responsibility towards the younger campers. This has been tremendously rewarding for our son and I think for all the CITs; its a new responsibility but also a new privilege that they really value. Monkey Business is truly a home away from home for our son and he looks forward to going every summer even more than the previous. For us, there's no better recommendation than that. Teresa


March 2010

Re: Camp recommendations for 5 year old?
My 5 year old son absolutely loves Monkey Business Camp. He is a high maintenance kid requiring extra attention and support and he always received that extra help at Monkey Business. He needed a play-based type of camp and really thrived and became more creative at MB. Creativity, fun, and respect are all reinforced at MB and I was always impressed by how much individual attention he received. We actually dropped out of Galileo because it was too big and busy and he wasn't getting the kind of support he needed. a Monkey Business fan


Oct 2009

Re: Summer Camp for 5-year-old who needs structure
Your kid sounds exactaly like my kid. I sent him to Monkey Business Camp in Tilden Park, recommended to me by a friend who also had a kid with mild special needs issues. They were great! Monkey Business was very reassuring and told me that they discuss any campers who might be special needs ahead of time. My son did great there for 3 weeks, right from the get go. He'll probably go back this summer. Good Luck april


Oct 2009

Our daughter attended Monkey Business Day Camp 2 weeks last summer and during Spring Break 2008. We were pretty happy. It was unlike her other camps that were more organized and focused on specific themes (Sarah's Science, Zoo Camp, Crowden Music Camp) and we thought she would enjoy a camp with less structure.

This past summer we enrolled her in 2 weeks of camp at both Tilden and Roberts parks. The first week was at Roberts and we were really disappointed. They didn't have much of a program - art and crafts, but beyond that just spending time on the play structures at each park. For our child, it was basically a babysitting service.

They did not offer swimming at Roberts (although they had advertised that they would be swimming there) and when we asked they told us that they couldn't afford the insurance. The counselors even complained about the camp to me. Some of the equipment so worn that it was rendered unusable.

These are great parks and they could have taken some wonderful walks/hikes but that never materialized. I dreaded sending our daughter to the second week of camp. At Tilden, some of the counselors were not friendly to us, were unkempt (I mean these folks needed to bathe), and were crude (swearing and using coarse language). I had second thoughts about leaving our daughter in their care and wonder now why I did when I reflect on the experience. We didn't really have an alternative though. Needless to say, we will not return to MB. I don't know what happened but it wasn't working for us. Farewell to MB


March 2009

Re: Berkeley YMCA Camp for rising kindergartener


March 2009

Re: End of Summer Summer Camp?
We have found that Monkey Business Camp (MBC) at Tilden Park offers sessions all the way up thru the end of the summer/up to Labor Day (check their website for exact dates). This schedule accommodates our EBIS schedule and the very last week of summer, they offer a pay by the day option which is nice if you want to take a long weekend before school starts.

The camp location is near the little farm in Tilden and is a wonderful serene setting for the kids (and nice when you pick them up too!). The programs include arts and crafts, sports, science and drama - check the website for the weekly themes. This is my daughter's favorite camp and we have been going here since she was in kindergarten (she is now a 3rd grader). Karen


March 2009

Re: April vacation programs for 6 y.o. 1/2 or full day?
I highly recommend Monkey Business camp for the April 6-10 break. A link to their website is posted below. This is a very fun camp with warm counselors and lots of attention to each individual child. My 5 year old son enjoyed it so much, he wanted to go an extra day. We tend to be overscheduled with classes so he had so much fun playing and learnign how to make friends in a supportive atmosphere. http://www.monkeybusinesscamp.com/spring.htm
returning to MB


Feb 2009

Re: Summer Camp for 8 year old boy
My eight year old has two great recommendations. Monkey Business Camp has been a favorite of his and his big sister for years. It's extremely well-run and small enough to feel personal. All the counselors are ''nice, friendly and helpful.'' Many of them, like my daughter, started out as campers and remain part of the Monkey Business community as they grow up. They have a variety of activities to keep things interesting, but the kids get enough relaxed time to make it truly feel like summer (which is important to me). Donna


Feb 2008

We are thinking of sending our soon to be 7 year old daughter to Monkey Business Camp this summer. Their website sounds great. I'd love to hear from people whose kids were there last summer. Do they walk the talk? Our daughter is a little shy at first but then pretty out going and friendly, she loves the out doors and is very active, she loves swimming. She's not very project oriented. We'd love to hear recent experiences, both the good and the bad.


You asked, does Monkey Business walk the talk? The answer is, yes they do! They're very well organized and the staff is great. It's a traditional outdoor camp with a great mix of activities and just the right amount of structure. Our son has attended a couple of weeks there for the last two years (the first time as an entering-kindergartener, when it could have been rather overwhelming for him) and thoroughly enjoyed it. He's attended other camps we liked as well, but none we liked better! Holly
Our daughters have participated in Monkey Business Camps almost from their beginning 10 years ago. They both love MBC. Our 15 y.o. was a junior counselor, and our 11 y.o. was with the Girls on the Go at the winter break camp in January. The directors are not just great, they are fantastic! The staff and counselors are very well trained and the kids love them all. They are very mindful of the needs of each of the campers and on top of their interactions. The camp day includes group activities and theme days. Our kids like the activities which include art and cooking during school breaks and carpentry, tie dying, circus skills during the summer. There is also down time. The directors have always put energy to changing and improving their programs to fit the needs of their campers and staff. I'd be happy to answer any questions about Monkey Business as we are still very connected to them as campers and friends. Denise
My 2 daughters have been going to Monkey Biz camp for maybe 6 plus years now...One is now a counselor in training. When I begin the summer camp planning, they both ask to go to Monkey Biz every session! Stacy and Heather, the owners, truly care about the quality of their camp, and also hire marvelous counselors. Activities are varied, and there is always a couple of choices for kids..plus they don't get lost in the shuffle like they do at other large camps. We all love the Monkey Biz camp community. happy at Monkey Biz
My daughter went to several sessions of Monkey Business last summer and loved it. Nice combination of science, activities, hiking, singing, etc. The only thing I didn't like was the dash up to Tilden to get her, the dusty line of cars waiting to pick up their kids, and then dashing back to CAL to get my other camper! kl
Jan 2008

Re: Summer Camp, Oakland, entering 1st grader
Responding to your question about a summer camp, have you considered Monkey Business Camp, www.monkeybusinesscamp.com My child has attended for 4 years and loved it. Here are some of the things you said you were looking for: Music- at camp, they sing fun camp songs each day crafts and other variety activities- each day, a van is brought to the site with equipment for activities. Art is included daily, there are fun group and circle games, short hikes with fun focus, like ''scavenger hunt'', and creative focused days, like Messy Day, Tie-dye day, Mad Science. Each session has a focus too, so you can choose that too. Swimming- they go to Roberts Pool one afternoon a week Staff: they choose fantastic, engaging counselors who spend time focused on campers, not each other, which I have seen at other camps. It is very well supervised. Hours of care: they have a 7-hour basic day. My child attended extended care from 3:30-6:00pm and enjoyed it. Sign-ups: they offer one-week camps, with exception of Drama Camp, which is 2 weeks. Age range: The Oakland site has an age range of 5-8 year olds, and a small group size of 20-27 campers for more intimate feel. The group is split by age for some activities as well and the day is structured, so they have focus and are attended to by staff. They also have a few youth leaders on site each session, which are 9-15, and they provide extra attention to younger campers. Cost: The Directors are former local teachers, and run their own local business. I notice they have worked to keep their fees low and if you compare with similar programs, I think you will notice this. Happy camper


Jan 2008

Monkey Business Camp is great! We have experience of several bay area camps--Monkey Business has the best directors, the best staff and the best program. The staff is fun, kind, mature and thoughtful. The Directors are available, friendly, kind and very wise. They know all kinds of kids, and how to supervise and lead kids well. They know how to help kids' strengths shine and how to accommodate or work on challenges. These folks are tops!


June 2007

Looking for a fun summer camp for your 5-10 year olds? Conveniently located at 2 sites, Berkeley's Tilden Park and Oakland's Roberts Park, Monkey Business is a wonderful camp that my daughters have enjoyed for years. My 11 year old once said ''It's like recess all day''. The directors, Stacy and Heather and their well trained staff provide a fun environment for kids to be outdoors, participate in activities and make friends. The camp is very organized and they have an up to date website with more information. www.monkeybusinesscamp.com

We also recommend their Girls On the Go camp ...


I just found out that Monkey Business Camp still has some one week and two week openings this summer. We've been doing this camp for years and think it is great. The counselors are wonderful and the camp is a nice mix of outdoor activities as well as arts and crafts and other projects. Each session has a theme and there are really fun theme-related activities. You can access them at www.monkeybusinesscamp.com monika
March 2007

Monkey Business Camp operates terrific programs for kids 5 and up. Both of my children have had excellent experiences there, learned interesting things and felt welcomed and appreciated. Monkey Business is safe and well-run. The directors are accessible, hard-working, perceptive, intelligent and genuinely interested in kids. We have tried several camps in the East Bay. Monkey Business has the most mature and thoughtful counselors by far. kaval


March 2007

I would like to recommend Monkey Business Summer Camp as having a great program and terrific staff. We have two children (ages 6 and 9) and have tried several summer camps. Monkey Business stands out dramatically as the best program we have found. Monkey Business has the most mature and compassionate counselors. They understand kids, can set appropriate limits on behavior and make kids feel really welcomed, seen and understood. The Directors are accessible, personable and well- informed. These are great people. Jim


January 2006

I have sent my children to Monkey Business Camp for the last few years. I like this camp for them because it is about just plain fun. I have gone by the camp a few hours into the day and see children doing different things based on their interests: some playing soccer or luna stix, some drawing or doing a craft, some playing on the grass or the playground equipment.

I find the counselors to be sensitive and well-trained; my children have made a few friends and seem to be comfortable in the group setting. Last summer, during the session themed ''drama camp'' my boys were both anxious re the possibility of performing, and the counselors were happy to include them in the way they were comfortable.

I asked my kids to describe the camp: ''not boring'' ''get to play most of the day'' ''dodgeball, soccer, baseball--all kinds of sports'' ''work in a journal'' ''tons of hulahoops'' I also like that it is a local family business. My older son first went when they were starting the camp. And I like to see how much it has grown in these last few years. Their website monkeybusinesscamp.com has lots of info about the camp and staff. Jennifer


January 2006

Last year my now 6 year old had her first summer camp experience and we are so grateful to have found Monkey Business Camp. Each 2 week session has a different theme and all sessions include singing, games, nature walks etc... As a parent and an educator I really focussed in on the counselors, many of which were college grad students who were not only loving and tuned into the kids but were also very bright. Stacey and Heather, the two founding members of the camp, have had extensive experience as educators themselves. My daughter and our 9 year old friend (older kids are in a different part of Tilden Park) enjoyed the camp immensel y. In response to the parent of a 12 year old looking for a new camp experience, Monkey Business has a Girls On The Go program for girls ages 10+. You really can't go wrong with Monkey Business and they also have programs throughout the year that give parents a break and kids an opportunity to see each other again. mallorie


January 2006

Hello, My twelve year old has just announced that she doesn't want to attend the eight- week camp that she has been going to for the past four summers any more. I told her that that was fine, but that we had to find something else regular -- the main problem being that I work all day. I've checked the archive for summer camps, but most of the entries for girls her age are fairly old. I'm looking for suggestions for day or overnight summer camps for pre teens. She is very academic and loves math, science, and reading, though likely wouldn't want to go to summer school; is physical and enjoys the outdoors, though has never really enjoyed team sports. The camp she has been attending is a drama camp; she has loved it, but most of her friends are leaving this year as well. I think though, that she would be open to trying something else in the performing arts. Please help. Thanks! anon.


I recommend taking a look at the Monkey Business Camp web site. www.monkeybusinesscamp.com I have a 13-year-old daughter who has spend many years at Monkey Business Camp. Our 9-year-old has been going for many summers as well and I can't say enough about the program, counselors, and directors, Stacy and Heather. But for your 12-year-old, they have 2-week sessions called Girls on the Go, which our 13-year-old has attended for the past few years. Run by the directors of Monkey Business, it is a full day, travel around the Bay Area, just for girls camp. Our daughter has had great fun and made good friends. She has also worked as a CIT, counselor in training at their Kids Night Out and Winter/Spring Break Camps. Stacy and Heather have a won derful training program keeping the pre-teen/teens interested and participating in camps learning counselor skills. These skills translate to babysitting skills as well. Email me if you'd like more specifics, or just check out their web site. Denise

Also recommended: Bar 717 Ranch, Girls on the Go, Stage Door Conservatory


Nov 2003

Re: Building class or camp for 7-year-old
Monkey Business Camp has a summer carpentry session, in both Oakland and Berkeley hills regional parks. They also havea winter break session, but don't know if it includes carpentry, I think it's more general. WWW.monkeybusiness. com. Kate


March 2003

Re: Any Summer Programs end of August?
Try Monkey Business summer camp. They are wonderfull. I don't know how old your child is, but they have a program for little ones 5+ and girls on the go 9+.They have a web page: http://www.monkeybusinesscamp.com Valeria


Nov 2001

Re: Winter Break Camp
I just got an announcement for a great winter break camp/childcare program - I know the owners/teachers and they are wonderful. Two former Step One School teachers who now operate the "Monkey Business" summer camp in Tilden. Renee


June 1999

Monkey Business summer camp in Tilden Park is a wonderfully inventive camp for children from kindergarten to age 11, boys and girls. Teachers Stacy Raye and Heather Mitchell were my childrens' preschool teachers, and they are great. You can sign up for one week at a time, from July 12 - Sept. 3, for $160/week for 8:30-3:30 and $7/day for extended care. Call Stacy and Heather and they'll tell you about the weekly themes (from wacky and wierd science and art to sports and new games): 540-5295 x2 until June 20; after June 20 @ 652-6590.
Merry


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