Deciding which camp is best for your youngster
is not an easy task with the variety of locations and types available.
By Ward Lauren
Special to The Malibu Times
With the school year rapidly approaching its summer closing, Malibu parents face a unique but fortunate dilemma in making a choice of summer camp for their eligible offspring. Few places in the country offer the variety of outdoor activities and scenic environments that exist in Southern California. And Malibu, with the Pacific Ocean at its front door and the Santa Monica Mountains at its back, has to rate as one of the most generous of all.
Operators of several local summer camps have taken advantage of the area’s geographical bounty to provide a plethora of healthy, stimulating and educational activities that match their surroundings. Staffed with trained, experienced surfers, lifeguards, sailors, horse wranglers, teachers or CPR instructors, depending on their location and programs offered, they promise a valuable and memorable vacation experience for all who attend. So the question becomes not should I send my children to summer camp, but which one and when?
Following, alphabetically, are four established camps in nearby locations.
Aloha Beach Camp claims to be the only one in the Los Angeles area to offer a day beach camp program for children ages 5-7. Established five years ago by Eric and Teri Naftulin, it runs two simultaneous but separate summer programs: Keiki (Hawaiian for “young”) Camp, for the 5-7 age group to experience beach and gentle surf play at Paradise Cove, and High-Action Camp, a more mobile water-oriented program for children from age eight to 15, conducted at various beaches, lakes and harbors in the region.
Keiki Camp, which features such activities as swimming lessons, boogie boarding, a sand castle contest, grass skirt making, and Friday field trips to visit an aquarium or enjoy a motorboat ride, maintains a ratio of one counselor for every five campers.
For High-Action Camp, transportation is provided to and from a variety of water locations such as Zuma Beach, Castaic Lake, Santa Monica, Channel Islands Harbor and Marina Del Rey. Activities include a variety of water sports, and sun and ocean safety clinics are held daily. The camper-to-staff ratio is eight, or less, to one.
The day rate is $91 per camper, plus $30 per day for wakeboarding in High-Action Camp, and a one-time registration fee of $50. Fees include transportation, T-shirt and a rash guard. A camper’s first day must be on a Monday or Tuesday so he or she can be evaluated for swimming ability.
Camp Keystone provides a broad-based recreational experience for boys and girls from three to 14 years of age on 30 acres in a park-like environment in Agoura Hills. Under the direction of owner Larry Klein for the past nine years, Keystone offers the choice of a junior camp, a day camp and a sports camp for children 3-12, plus a leadership-training program for 13- and 14-year olds.
Activities during daily sessions range from horseback riding to boating, fishing, archery, go-carting, and arts and crafts. The camp is accredited by the American Camping Association, and offers basic instruction in swimming and water safety by experienced, qualified lifeguards.
“But what really separates us from other water facilities,” Klein said, “is the Slidewinder, our 274-foot water slide. Kids remember this for a long time after camp is over.”
Keystone is in operation for a total of 11 weeks from June 20 to August 29. Transportation to the site for children who live between Newbury Park and Studio City is available by camp drivers.
Rates range on a wide scale from $142 per child for two days per week, with transportation by parents ($182 with camp transportation provided), to $3,550 for 10 weeks of five days ($4,550 with camp transportation).
Camp Keystone is located at 2854 Triunfo Canyon Rd. 818.889.2224; www.campkeystone.com.
Lazy “J” Ranch Camp takes advantage of the Santa Monica Mountains to offer sleepover camping in an atmosphere of the old West. The 140-acre ranch, formerly the locale of the movies’ “Cisco Kid” and “Hopalong Cassidy,” is located at 12220 Cotharin Rd. in Ventura County, roughly halfway between Mulholland Drive and the eastern boundary of Pt. Mugu State Park.
In addition to typical ranch-type activities such as horseback riding, animal care, horseshoes, riflery and archery, youngsters from ages five to 13 can enjoy a variety of sports and arts and crafts, as well as swimming and kayaking at various Malibu beaches (ocean kayaking is available only for campers age 11 or older who pass special tryouts).
Five, two-week camping sessions will be held at Lazy “J”-the first one begins June 18, and the last August 13. Fees are $960 per camper for a one-week or split session; $1,890 for two weeks. Fees include meals, lodging and instruction in all activities and events.
For a one- or two-week stay, no visitation by parents is recommended, except for the awards ceremony on the last Saturday of the session.
Malibu Extreme Adventures calls itself “a youth adventure camp designed to give every child from 11 to 18 the opportunity to learn, experience and explore some of the world’s finest sports in a safe and fun environment.” In addition to water sports, there is also indoor rock climbing and various beach activities. The environment ranges from local beaches to Marina Del Rey and Catalina Island.
“We want to make our camp an invaluable learning experience for youngsters,” said owner/manager Kelsey Lichtenstein. “In addition to sports we will teach them about ocean tides and currents, and take them on hikes through tidepools.”
Malibu Extreme Adventures camp is a branch of University Tutors, LLC, a year-round home schooling, and private tutorial and test preparation firm. Safety as well as learning is an important part of the summer program, Lichtenstein said.
“For every three children attending the camp we will have one CPR-certified instructor.”
Four weeklong sessions, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., begin July 10. Campers will meet at Malibu Bluffs Park every morning; private vans will then provide transportation to the location of the day’s activities.
Cost of a weeklong session, which must be paid in full by June 1, is $1,995 per child.