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Oakland Zoo Camp (Oakland, CA)
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Oakland Zoo Camp (Oakland, CA)
I would like to see more reviews of the summer camp at the Oakland Zoo.
It's now a full-day camp (9-4). One past review said that bees at lunch
were a big problem (kids getting stung every day!). I'd appreciate
hearing about any other experiences people have had. My 7-year-old
daughter loves being active, loves animals, and likes to learn fairly
advanced information about veterinary care.
Thanks for any info.
Both of my children attended zoo camp for a couple years when they were in
the pre-k - 5th grade range. They had a great experience, the content was
age appropriate for the group they were in, they were able to get very
comfortable with the zoo and the program is extremely well organized. It
is not high-level animal contact or care, but it is a fabulous location
with environmental education that is actionable for kids.
My daughter attended Zoo Camp 2 yrs ago. Maybe if your kid REALLY
wants all zoo all the time it would work.
I felt like it was a lot about
'zoo' and there was not much sensitivity to kids' emotional lives or
The weirdest thing was that each group was named/themed
after an animal, and the head counselor of the group went by the name of
the animal. The kids were not allowed to know the real name of the
counselor until the end of camp. Another problem I had was that the theme
of my kid's age group (then 1st grade) was 'predators and prey', with
waaaay too much detail about how animals kill other animals. The
counselors considered themselves 'teachers', which meant that there wasn't
the fun-affectionate element I consider crucial to summer camp. They did
fun singing, but otherwise it was more like 'school at the zoo'.
Former Zoo Camp Mom
My daughter has gone to zoo camp every year for the past 4 years. From
entering K to entering 4th this year. It is one of her all-time favorite
camps, and it's one of the few from her younger years that she still wants
to go to this year. The counselors are great and have a lot of fun with the
kids, from camp-wide songs (including the Friday afternoon sing-along),
teaching about animals and environmental responsibility.
I think you asked
about bees--I have never heard of anybody ever getting stung by a bee, and
my daughter would definitely report that back to me. THey do actively
discourage sugary foods and juices in lunches, and I think they say it's to
keep the bees away. We've also been zoo members for the past 8 years, and
have never actually seen a bee either while visiting the zoo or while doing
one of their member activities like Zoo Night, where hundreds of families
are having picnics on the lawn, so I think they manage the bees actively.
The kids get to ride the train, see some behind-the-scenes activities, etc.
There are usually 2 ''themes'' plus ''nature play'' to choose from. I hear
many kids love nature play, but my daughter didnt' enjoy that one. The
poster who thought it was shocking that the counselors go by animal names
has a different opinion than me and my daughter (who thinks it's cool, and
it helps them remember the counselors from year to year and compare notes
w/ friends who went to diff sessions). I also find that they are wide open
to suggestions, including--as the other poster might have benefitted
from--paying more attn to a sensitive kid. That said, I wouldn't have done
the entering K program again, just b/c it was 9-1130, or barely enough time
to get your shopping done, and nearly impossible for working parents.
only real complaint is the dropoff procedure, especially the first day,
where they expect everyone to arrive w/in a 5 minute window, and you all
have to park, and I think it's disrespectful to parents and unrealistic (I
think they just don't want to pay their counselors an extra 1/2 hr). And I
think they should do a better job of policing the bad drivers in a hurry in
the parking lot, though they at least had a security guy out there the
first few days last year.
Bottom line, my kid LOVES zoo camp.
A friend and I are thinking about signing up our 4 year old's for the
Oakland Zoo's summer camp, but don't know anyone who's gone. Can
anyone please tell about your experience with this camp?
My daughter loved zoo camp last year, and it's the one camp that
she definitely wanted to go back to this year! She was in the
kindergarten program, which was only half a day (honestly a
little problematic for us working parents, and I've suggested
that it might be ok for them to extend it to 3pm, with an option
of ending at noon). but for 1/2 day you drop them off at 9 and
pick them up at 12, and you don't get a lot of free time
yourself. It's possible that part of my daughter's love of zoo
camp was that she didn't go to the after care program, and a
group of us just took turns taking the kids after school, but
she also really loved the activities: singing songs, crafts,
seeing the animals, learning about them (she still talks about
the things she learned), and I think they all got to ride the
train at some point too. Some kids want to keep going to zoo
camp forever, but I also know of some kids who weren't
interested. I think if your kid likes to be outdoors, enjoys
songs and activities with a group (I think the groups are about
8 kids each), and enjoys animals, you'd probably like the zoo
camp. If you're a member it's also cheaper (and you get a
discount for the 2nd week if you go for 2), so if you're
thinking of goign you might want to join--I should also add that
our zoo membership seems like one of the best we've got, and we
go all the time-sometimes jsut for an hour.
Anyone have any thoughts on the Oakland Zoo's camp program, in
general, or specifically for a 6 year old? I'd love to hear
feedback, as I hear the enrollment fills rapidly!
My kids have had mixed feelings about Oakland zoo camp. For one, it is
ridiculously inconvenient - only offering half-day sessions. By the time
you drop off your child, you have about an hour before you have to turn
around and pick them up. The thing my kids complained about the most
was battling the many bees during lunchtime. There were kids who
were stung every day at lunch. The activities were ''OK'' and the only
thing they liked was being able to go on the rides before the general
There are Better Options
My daughter loved Zoo Camp when she was in the 5- 9 age. Her
only complaint was that it was hot, temperatures were high those
summers. Zoo Camp does fill up quickly. Mine had a better time
when she signed up and went with a friend.
this page was last updated: May 10, 2011
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