Steve and Kate's Camp (Berkeley, CA)
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Steve and Kate's Camp (Berkeley, CA)
Steve and Kate's for 4-year-old?
Hi fellow parents, I am looking for feedback from anyone who has used Steve and Kate's camp at
any location. The ease of the drop in seems to good to be true and we have a few holes in our
summer plans and Steve and Kate's would be great for a couple of days here and there. It says
they have been around for a long time. Our struggle is that my daughter is an outgoing 4 who
is headed for kindergarten but has an early fall birthday. Would it be ok for her age?
Off to camp
Hi there fellow parent,
I think Steve and Kate's would be a fine choice for your kid! Both my
daughters have attended multiple years. My older daughter, alas, has aged
out, but my younger (7 and with some special needs) is raring to go again
this summer which will be her 4th with Steve & Kates.
There is a cohort of pre-K kids and my littler dau was in the first pre-k
session when it was offered. My kids found the counselors sweet and
engaged, the check in and out mostly without glitches, the food
delicious, and the experiences varied and fun. At the end of the summer
that first year, some of the other sites were closed and there was a
total tsunami of kids that week at the Berkeley site and it was a bit
overwhelming for my little one. But even then, she wanted to go back, and
has really enjoyed it, even tho she's been offered other camping
If you have any questions, give them a call! I did to make sure they
could accomodate my daughter's hearing disability and mild CP, and they
were and are terrific. I think my older dau got a bit bored toward the
end of her last sojurn there as she had gone a few years in a row (even
tho she didn't want to go anywhere else) and feels it for littler kids,
say 4 to 11 or so.
see you at Steve and Kates
My girls have been going to the Steve and Kate's in Berkeley for the last
3 years. They love it! Yes, the drop in works - they do have a weekly
theme (the weekly special), but everything else just hums along the same
way no matter what day you attend. Some days they spend time in the
kitchen studio making food, other days they make movies. Its super
flexible. And we love that if we only need 2 days of camp for a given
week, we don't lose any money!
The camp for pre-K kids is a little different (from what I have seen, not
personal experience). They are a little more segregated from other
campers and move around more as a group. Optional nap time after lunch.
One of the common complaints of Steve and Kate's is that the flexible
nature of the camp means it can be harder to make friends. My girls have
always gone with each other, so they have a built in friend. If they were
going alone, I do think the ''drop in and out'' schedule does mean you
have to be confident/independent. Only you know your daughter well enough
to know if she has the confidence to make her way in that kind of
Steve and Kate's fan
Re: Camps with flexible schedule (2-3 days/week)
We are in the same situation - my husband works from home some days each week. After
throwing money away on all-week camps, we switched to Steve and Kate's. You can go
any days you want, in any location you want. You pre pay based on the number of days
you think you'll need in the summer - and at the end of the summer they refund any
days you didn't use at the full rate.
Steve and Kate's fan
I asked this question on my school listserv and got several recommendations for Steve
& Kate's camp. They have many locations throughout the bay area, you can drop in any
day, and it looks like great fun! My kids will be going there for several partial
weeks this month. I attended an info night at the new Oakland location a couple weeks
ago and was very impressed.
Hi. Has anyone got any feedback on Steve and Kate's summer
camp at The Berkeley School? I'm considering sending my
entering-K almost-5-year-old and was wondering if there were
reviews? The website looks great, but is it as good as it
looks? Worth the not inconsiderable cost?
My 2 kids (then newly turned 7 & 9) went to Steve and Kate's for a week or
so last year. I used the camp mostly as filler when our vacation plans
changed, since S&K is one of the few camps with a daily drop-in program.
Both my kids had fun and said they would like to go back for a week this
summer, BUT (and this was non-negotiable), only if each had at least one
friend who would be attending at the same time with them. That seemed to
reflect the general consensus amongst parents I've spoken with about S&K.
The activities are great (esp. for the 7+ age group) and the counselors are
fine, but they do not go out of their way to engage individual campers or
help campers build new friendships. Campers are generally left on their own
to ask for assistance, with little structure throughout the day. Personally,
I don't think S&K is ideal for a child just entering Kindergarten, esp. if
they are not attending with friends. Monkey Business Camp, on the other
hand, has a ton of young and enthusiastic counselors-in-training who dote on
the younger kids. My daughter attended when she was that age not knowing
anyone and had a blast. She's insisted on going back every year since Cb
regardless of whether friends are attending with her.
My daughter (6) attended Steve & Kate's camp in Berkeley for 7 weeks last
summer. There were pros and cons to the camp, and we did decide to go back,
but only for a couple weeks this summer.
I think this camp would be best for confident, self-directed, and outgoing
kids, and especially for kids who go there with friends. Rather than having
a counselor who takes responsibility for your child throughout the day, the
counselors are distributed to stations around the school. The activities at
the stations are super fun, including ceramics, video creation, giant water
slides, rock climbing, building blocks, and more. When a kid is at an
activity, I believe they are well-supervised. However, as far as I could
tell there was no over-arching supervision. Nobody to watch over your child
for a longer arc of days or weeks and make sure she's doing ok over that
longer arc. Personally I found it unnerving at pickup when nobody ever knew
where my daughter was (they use a walkie-talkie system to find out what
station she's at and send her out). Several times I saw small kids crying
alone, which was really sad.
If your child is the type who can self-advocate and get help when he or she
needs it, and enjoys having freedom to roam around and try different
activities, S&K may be a great match. But if your child is very shy or
anxious, doesn't easily grasp new systems and environments, needs a close
personal relationship with coaches/caregiver, or tends to suffer quietly, or
if you just don't feel comfortable knowing that a one continuous counselor
won't be keeping an eye on your child throughout the day, I'd be concerned
about sending him or her to S&K.
My daughter is a pretty savvy 6 year old and she enjoyed the camp most of
the time. She loved all the activities, called ''daily specials'' and
''weekly specials''. She did best when she was with a friend who knew her
way around the camp and who helped her navigate the system.
One thing I'll unequivocally say I love. The payment system, the refunds,
registration, scheduling, etc., are so clear and professional and well-run.
And it was super convenient not having to plan exactly which day or times to
go to the camp.
I hope this helps!
- fairly happy with Steve & Kate's
I think that your child's experience at Steve & Kate's depends a lot on your
child's temperment adn whether they know anyone else there. My daughter and
I also thought it looked great, so we signed her up last year (she was 9).
Because we had other things going on, she didn't end up attending until the
second half of the summer, and she did not have a friend with her. It felt
like there were already groups formed by kids who had been there earlier in
the summer (understandably), and because of the ''free choice'' style, that
there was no a lot of time or effort made to get her more comfortable or get
her integrated. The feeling at that campus (at least during drop off and
pick up) is pretty chaotic. Granted, my daughter was at an age where some
shyness and less willingness just to join another group of girls was already
happening, so your younger kid may be more comfortable.
Hope that helps,
Both my daughter & son attended Steve & Kate's camp from kindergarten
to 7th grade & 6th grade respectively. I can't speak highly enough
about their camp & until this day, my kids still have extremely fond
memories of all the great fun they had with and without their friends.
Here's their philosophy - it's all child directed. That's right -
your child picks the fun activities they pursue for the day & the kids
they'll hang out with as well as what they will eat for lunch from the
truly marvelous healthy choices they offer. Trust me, S&K + their first
class staff know how to offer activities that will ring your child's
bell. It is so empowering for your child to be in control of their own
day. What FUN it is for them to make decisions about their day while
being tended to by their carefully selected staff. My kids have always
led a very structured schedule while in school along with their
extracurricular activities of soccer, baseball & music lessons. As I
look back on their S&K camp days, the biggest gift they received was the
freedom to do what they wanted, an important aspect missing in the
accelerated world our children live in. The other attractive component
of their camp is the fact that you don't have to commit to session
dates. This means you can plan your vacations first, then fill in your
camp dates by purchasing camp hours. Whatever camp hours you don't use
are refunded back to you soon after camp ends. S&K's camp is just a
Has anyone had any recent experience with Steve and Kate's camps. They have
many locations around the Bay, and I was considering the Berkeley location, but
might do another location in Contra Costa country.
I would appreciate all feedback pros and cons.
In response to the question about Steve & Kate's Camp:
We have had a great time with them! There are so many activities for
our first grader and his older cousins (10 & 12). I love that things
like filmmaking and a recording studio are offered to the younger kids
as well as to the older kids. My niece loves the cooking studio and
that she can do whatever she feels like doing every day of the summer
- all the kids can pick whatever activities they feel like working on
each day and don't get stuck doing the same thing day in and day out.
My older nephew loved all the camp games and outdoor activities they
offered - seemed like they always did a good job of wearing the kids
out every day!
I loved that they didn't have to go off site for any field trips (so I
didn't have to worry about them traveling around the Bay Area without
me), but every day there was something new and exciting that the staff
brought in, like a magic show, a water slide, bouncy houses, and
petting zoo animals. The staff seemed more mature and experienced than
many other summer programs we've tried out (they're all at least in
college-and it seems like many we got to know were teachers or in some
other kind of professional field working with kids during the school
year). I know this year they are planning on adding many more
locations. Their website says the East Bay locations are El Cerrito,
Berkeley, Lafayette, Danville, and Pleasanton, and you can use
multiple locations if it's more convenient for you. We will just stick
to our home campus, though - the kids get so involved with the staff
and the new friends that they make, that I can't see mixing it up by
going to more than one location. It sounds like a nice option, though,
for people who need it.
my 2 very different kids have both ADORED Steve & Kates! We have used
Kentfield and Berkekley sites-you can send the kids to any camp site,
and because different cities have different schedules for school
vacation, we had almost 100% coverage for the entire summer. Older kid
loved the arts & crafts; she's a pretty picky eater but thought the
food was awesome. Younger kid loved meeting all the different kids and
making lots of new friends and got a big kick out of the game-show
stuff, which older kid avoided. She ate like a horse the entire
summer. I loved having one place to drop my kids off, knowing they
were having a great time, and certainly didn't miss packing 2 lunches
on a daily basis. The staff is young, energetic and as great as you
would hope they'd be with the kids. I think it's worth the $!
Back to Steve & Kate's this summer!
Got to give Steve and Kate's two thumbs down, I'm afraid to say. My
son had one day at the Berkeley location and that was enough. My son
is shy, and he was going to be there without anyone he knew. Before I
left in the morning, I asked the counselors and the camp director to
check in with him and help him find some friends.
But when I picked him up at the end of the day, he was playing Lego by
himself. When I asked him how his day had been, he started crying.
He told me that he'd played video games all morning (they have a room
set up just for playing video games), and that he'd played Lego alone
When I called the staff later to ask what had happened, why they had
basically let my son spend the day alone, a young woman asked me
''what's wrong with your son? Does he have a social problem?'' No, my
son does not have a social problem, unless you think shyness is a
I should say also that the next day at Monkey Business Camp, the head
counselor had this same shy son helping and laughing and part of a
group group of kids within 10 minutes of arriving. A little emotional
& social intelligence and kindness was all it took to help him join
the group. I left confident that he would have a good day.
As a prior poster said two thumbs down, that was my assessment too,
from summer of 2009. My son is very social and outgoing. He makes
friends very easily. He started Steve & Kate's camp in Berkeley 2
summers ago in July so many or most kids had already been there since
June so they knew the drill. The counselors whispered: ''ok, 8 year
olds, come with me'' at which point all the 8 yr olds knew that they
were supposed to leave the morning assembly to move on to the next
plan. My son was sitting on the fringe of the campers, he did know
know that any whispering was going on, and that that would be how he
would receive his cue to leave the morning assembly. Zero orientation
on that front. So... luckily, another parent told me what was going
on. (the whispering was being done to reinforce less shouting or
something like that.) I went to the 8 yr old group counselor and
told her my son did not know what was going on and she pretty much
told me to go get him, which I did. He joined the group. But nobody
was friendly or inviting to him at all. He played with the video
games most of the day and a bit of Lego. The playground at the
facilities they use looked cramped and crowded. I don't know if the
kids care but this is summer, right? It looked like a crowded school
day. I have never seem my son so unstimulated at a summer camp, and
I did not send him back after that one day.
We are considering sending our 8-year-old son to Steve and Kate's
camp for the entire summer - it looks great on their website, but we
don't know anyone who has attended. Of the 3 reviews in the BPN
archives, two are positive and one is negative. We'd love to hear from
others about the good and not-so-good things about this camp - please
also say how many weeks your child attended. I'm wondering if kids
might get bored after a few weeks. Thanks so much.
Camp planning mom
My 2 daughters (7 and 10) went to Steve and Kates for 5 weeks last summer
and LOVED it. They were at the Berkeley camp. The centers themselves are
the same each day, but the activities within each are different (some by
day, some by week). Some activities were quite popular - the girls would
have to stop by a few times over the week to get in - but they always did
what they wanted by the end of the week. Each day the ''daily special''
is different (not required to go) and they can always choose free play if
they don't want to go to a center.
The counselors are fantastic, the food is wonderful (so nice not to have
to pack lunches and snacks like other camps!) and the girls really liked
the ''big'' weekly activities (bathtub races, climbing wall) and the camp
games that end each day.
When we asked the girls what they liked best about the summer before they
went back to school, which included us taking standard ''vacation'' type
trips and family adventures, Steve and Kates was in both of their top 3
a Steve and Kate's fan
My daughter (age 10) really enjoyed her time at Steve and Kate's
(Berkeley site) last year and has asked several times to return this
year. Our schedule is flex so she went about half a dozen times -- not
all in a row -- so it stayed fresh. I wouldn't recommend an entire summer
but there are tons of activities and she said the food was good (cooked
in the school's kitchen). The counselors had great energy and every day
there is a special activity. Like a tiny disneyland.
My daughter, who was 9 last summer, attended Steve and Kate's in Berkeley
for the first time. She spent 2 weeks there and enjoyed it quite a bit. I
think much longer and she would have been bored. She chose the 2 weeks
based upon the special weekly activities.
You didn't say which campus you are interested in. The Berkeley campus
was nice, but very urban and small. It would have been great if there was
a swimming element to the camp.
Since I've been sending my kids to summer camp (the past 12 years), I
have found 2 weeks is the max for most camps with the exception of the 6
week drama camp they have enjoyed.
Check out This Land is Your Land too..
Our son was 11 when he went to Steve and Kates. Things he liked were the
freedom to do his own thing/pick his own activities and the food - he
raved about the meals! He felt that a lot of the kids were younger than
him and he would have preferred more in his age group (this would not be
a problem for your child's age group). The other possible negative is
that many of the activities are ''rewards based''. Lots of prizes...I
think it may have been a little bit too rewards based for our son.
Overall, he enjoyed the camp fine but I think (in retrospect) I would not
have put him in for several weeks as we did. You might try it for a week
or two and see how your child likes it. In our experience, we were able
to book at the last minute and still get him in.
East Bay Mom
Steve & Kate's Camp (Berkeley location) looks like a
wonderfully creative place for my 6-year-old daughter, but I
don't know anyone whose children have attended. I would
appreciate feedback from those who have experience with it,
in particular the quality of counselors and activities.
My kids went for 2 weeks last year (ages 6 and 9, female and
male). They both found the freeform nature a bit confusing and
it took them a week to get the hang of it. They had some anxiety
and frustration over it.
In the end though, they both loved it and would like to go
back (alas, I can't afford it this year).
Quality of staff? What I witnessed was fine - friendly, outgoing,
caring. But for the rest of time? I heard no complaints from my kids,
no ''horror stories'' of any kind. I suppose I wish there was a better
way to acclimate kids who were trying to figure out the system,
but then again, it's also good for kids to do some real-life problem
solving - let them talk to staff and kids and figure it out - which they did.
My older child suffers from an anxiety disorder and is also
a picky eater (so their open-all-day cafe had little appeal
for him) - but if HE wanted to go back, then I'd give it a
thumbs up for all.
Mom of Two
Steve and Kate's camp was not a good fit for my child. The
camp seemed really centered around competing for things:
rubber chickens, honey sticks and prizes. My daughter came
home in tears both days she went because she said the adults
were really unfair and didn't give prizes to everyone for trying
(disclosure: she goes to a school where she doesn't
encounter rewards as incentives or lots of competitive
activities). The counselors didn't remember her name and
she was confused with another child and reprimanded for
doing something she didn't do. Steve and Kate's publicize
their special activities like making a movie, but she didn't
get her first choice activity either day she went and while
making the movie she did she felt bullied by another child
and the counselor didn't help her. Granted, both days she went
were in August towards the end of the summer, but I expected
a higher caliber of care for the price. There was lots of
sugar available throughout the day in the foods (oatmeal
available every morning with unlimited sugar, ice cream in
the afternoons.) Yes, it was organic! It was not at all
worth the price in our opinion. Paying for a week of the
Downtown Berkeley YMCA and only using two-three days
of it is a much better use of our money!
Re: Summer camp for daughter just finishing kindergarten
Steve and Kate's Camp - About $2,000 for the
entire summer. Kids have a great time - you need a self
motivated kid because there is a general assumption your child
will choose one or more of the activities if they're
interested. Great value, lots of fun. There is a dog, so if
you're kid is allergic this is not the camp for you.
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