A stirring youthful memory for me was the last hour of my month at a sleep-away music and arts camp in Idyllwild. By program’s end, I’d met young people from almost every corner of our country and gained an infinite amount of wisdom and understanding of how fortunate I was to have such an experience — and I didn’t want it to end. 


One of my bunkmates ran up to me to say goodbye just before she and her family prepared to fly back to Minnesota. She embraced me with a quick but heartfelt “have a good life.” It was understood that we’d likely never cross paths again, but I was so touched by her words and the import of all I had learned and seen over the past four weeks. For me, it was a wonderful way to send off an acquaintance you’ve become fond of but one you are destined to lose touch with, and I never forgot it. 


Thirty-plus years later, I can recall with such clarity how special those friendships made me feel at the time and what I learned about myself in my interactions with others from other parts of the nation, and the world. 


The American Camp Association (ACA) website (acacamps.org) explains camping’s connection to our psyche and development thusly; “… children and adults have the opportunity to learn powerful lessons in community, character-building, skill development, and healthy living — lessons that can be learned nowhere else.”


The ACA estimates that there are more than 7,000 overnight camps dotting the American landscape, and about 5,000 day camps. They accredit over 2,400 camps and use a strict standard, with the members being forced to meet more than 300 safety, health and program quality requirements. 


Specialized camps can be loosely grouped into three categories: Art, Sports, Academic. The general camp offers a well-rounded camp experience with no particular area of focus. Rather, it provides campers with a variety of activities, including sports, crafts, music and the arts. It is often seen as the best bet for the novice camper, or the camper interested in an eclectic mix of activities.


This useful guide is but a small offering of the amazing summer camps in Pasadena and its surrounding neighborhoods, but it’s no substitute for thorough research of each program and thoughtful consideration of your child’s likes, dislikes and needs. 


Parents will be delighted to find that child care and camp options exist to feed the needs of most families, including special-needs facilities and camps that focus on corrective behavior, the underprivileged and the underserved. 


Cost, of course, is another important factor, but be aware that many quality camps offer programs on a sliding-scale basis, or scholarships, grants or other types of financial assistance. Fees are sometimes based on certain segments of the summer program, which are generally broken up into 6-week or 2-month-long segments, and you may find that the late-summer segment is cheaper or less-crowded than the program at the start of summer. 


Some camp programs offer special trips or events in some segments, such as mid-summer, but not others, so ask plenty of questions about field-trips and special programs and any extra fees associated. Keep in mind, many of these camp extras are offered at an additional cost that is separate from the regular fees paid. Check with the individual camp for availability as soon as you identify a program for your child. Space fills up quickly for the most popular and for the most affordable summer programs. Often there is a waiting list you can request to be placed on, but be sure to have a Plan B and C in place, just in case.


City of Pasadena

Theme camps, such as The Arroyo Seco Adventure Camp, Senior Camp, Soccer Camp and Non-contact Boxing Camp remind us why the city is so often praised for its diverse offerings. Even hesitant campers and skittish parents will love the impressive choice of day camps in many parks and recreation areas in the Pasadena/Altadena area.


Young ones will love the Tiny Tots Camp, an outdoorsy approach to popular Mommy and Me activities. Many parks play host to general service day camps, where campers are supervised and grouped in age-appropriate clusters and participate in a wide-range of activities. 



Steve and Kate’s Camp

This charming alternative to larger-scale day camps operates out of preferred schools in select locations. The Sequoyah School is the host of this unique camp for 2015 and they succeed in their approach to promoting summer fun by offering an unstructured, yet supportive environment to help children thrive. “Instead of a rigid structure, we give our campers choice,” their website explains. “Instead of teaching kids the typical way, we give them tools and gentle guidance to help them become autodidacts. The difference is subtle — and it’s profound.” 



(323) 472-4752, ext. 136 | steveandkatescamp.com 

Sequoyah School location: 535 S. Pasadena Ave., Pasadena


This immensely popular and award-winning computer summer camp makes science fun and relevant to even the most techno-phobic youngster. Blair Middle School in Pasadena is host to their one-week session, from June 29 to Aug. 7. Their 2015 program features intriguing course titles, such as Multimedia Youth Track for second and third-graders. Younger kids will love the Kodu Game Design and Scratch Game Programing. Video Game Design Track and Visual Arts Production Track are ideal courses for students in grade 4-9, and Unity 3-D Game Development is designed for young people in grades 6-9.

Main Office: 

(310) 443-7607 | www.planetbravo.com

Pasadena Location: 

Blair Middle School, 240 Allendale Road, Pasadena

Polytechnic School

This prestigious but welcoming school has a fabulous summer program that includes language-immersion courses in Mandarin, Italian and Spanish for younger children, and experimental sciences and robotic-engineering for older kids. Writing, math, arts, computers and drama courses are also a sample of Polytechnic’s multi-disciplined approach to gain as much knowledge as possible after the last school bell rings for the summer.


1030 E. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 396-6300