The Best Summer Camps Near San Francisco
By Devin Holt
Whenever I got rambunctious as a youngster (which was often), my family would push me out the back door onto our farm, where I had six acres of goats, vegetables, and wells to play with. For San Francisco parents, finding activities outside the apartment can be more challenging. The end of the school year brings a thick blanket of fog with it, and it’s not so easy to send the kids out back when the yard is a slab of concrete.
So for everyone looking for something fun for the little ones (or even themselves) this summer, we’ve rounded up a few of the Bay Area’s most unique camps.
Circus Camps at AcroSports and Circus Center
These two nonprofits are amazingly similar. AcroSports and Circus Center are located on the same street, housed in nearly identical buildings, and offer the same type of classes. They also both have summer programs designed for kids who can’t sit still, with activities like juggling, acrobatics, breakdancing, aerial arts, and clowning. And if you stop by one of them and don’t like the options, the other is only a block away.
Cost: Starts at $330 per week for AcroSports, $379 per week for Circus Center
Age range: 6-12 at AcroSports, 7-14 at Circus Center
Camp starts: AcroSports starts June 3, Circus Center June 9
The perfect option for parents of a future builder, inventor, or fine artist. Kids at Galileo’s “innovation camps” choose a major and focus on that activity. It offers varying levels of intensity for different age groups and classes on “cool chemistry,” filmmaking, and 3D printing.
Cost: Starts at $389 per week for pre-K, and $479 for 5th grade and up.
Age range: Pre-K to 8th grade.
Camp starts: June 23
Jiu-Jitsu Camps at Bay Jiu-Jitsu
Don’t worry, there's nothing brutal about a jiu-jitsu camp. Among martial artists, it's known as “the gentle art,” because it focuses on controlling your opponent through grappling holds instead of punching and kicking. Bay Jiu-Jitsu’s camps emphasize fitness and self-defense, but still make time for fun stuff like Nerf battles. And it offers adult classes, so this is good if you’re looking for something the whole family can do.
Cost: Starts at $250 per week
Age range: 4 and up
Camp starts: June 23
The choice for kids who love action movies. Naturally, the organizers of Spy Camp “cannot predict what type of missions our cadets may be assigned.” But previous adventures include recovering dangerous materials, interrogating enemy operatives, and rescuing the presidential puppy.
Cost: Starts at $350 per week.
Age range: 6-10
Camp starts: June 16
What About the Grown-Ups?
There are less options for those of us who accidentally became adults, but we found some worth checking out.
Unique Camp and Camp Grounded both offer immersive getaways that don’t allow cell phones or other social media intrusions. But the two camps take very different approaches. Grounded discourages talking about work or even keeping track of time, while Unique plays up the networking aspects of its camp, and proudly displays the many occupations of campers on its website.
And speaking of camp for adults, it bears noting that the Nevada mega-festival Burning Man is, essentially, an art-themed summer camp.
Unique Camp: May 29 – June 1, $1250-$1350
Camp Grounded: June 6–9, 13–16, and 20–23, $485-$570 per session
Burning Man: August 25 – September 1, $190-$650 (sold out)