Summer is fast approaching and while it’s exciting to think about fun-filled vacations and beach-y afternoons, the truth is there will also be some serious downtime. Mix that with a heat wave and you are in for an interesting concoction of cabin fever + tantrum trouble.  Instead of driving yourself nuts trying to plan each day with something to do, take this summer to prepare your little tots with skills and knowledge through fun and diverse camps.  We know…it’s tough to find camps geared specifically toward toddlers and pre-schoolers but we’ve rounded up a lucky 13 camps that all offer up a little something-something for every type of budding personality.

For the precocious pre-schooler
If an educationally fun week is just what your little Einstein needs, look no further than Summer at Brentwood held at Brentwood School. The weekly lower division day camp keeps kiddos entertained through a variety of activities from learning Spanish to jewelry making to yoga. There are six one-week sessions to choose from (the first five are open to Kindergarten-aged children) and each offers different courses. (Dates vary, $475 per session, Brentwood.)

summer at brentwood

For pre-school prepsters
For parents looking to get their toddlers ready for preschool, St. Matthew Parish School offers a Preschool Summer Program. The program is geared towards helping tots make the transition to preschool and encourages  kids to explore everything from movement and music to math, cooking and science. (Session 1, June 24-July 12, $650; Session 2, July 15-July 26, $490, Pacific Palisades.)

For the toddler that needs variety
Tocaloma Summer Day Camp, located at Berkley Hall School, is along the more traditional camp lines and offers sessions for kids ages 4 to 14. The preschool group features a ratio of 1 to 4 staff to campers during activities and is sure to keep your intrepid kiddo entertained. There are tons of fun events lined up from the basic (like music, arts, sports, movement) to special (like carnival days and Halloween in July). (Prices vary depending on session length and transportation needs, West LA.)

For future park rangers
Camp Shi-Ini is another option for kids from ages 4 to 13 with a great counselor to camper ratio of 6:1. Held at Arroyo Park, the sessions keep kids happily entertained with adventures like horseback riding, scavenger hunts, canoeing and plenty of plain fun and games. (June 24-July 26, $845 to $2,295, depending on number of days per week, Pasadena.)

camp shiini

For pre-school drama queens
Imaginative tykes will dig the Young Peoples Camp at Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Geared toward kids ages 4 to 7, this creative five-week session introduces campers to the theater. Budding thespians will get the chance to learn about Shakespeare, Elizabethan dances and songs and even some acting methods. (July 8-Aug. 9, $435, Topanga Canyon.)

For tree-hugging pre-schoolers
Nature-minded parents will love sending their kids to the Arboretum Summer Nature Camp. Explorers from ages 5 to 10 will dig in the dirt, plant seedlings, test their cooking skills and play plenty of games. There are eight one-week sessions throughout the summer. (Sessions begin June 10 and run through Aug. 9, $150-$335, extended care available for additional fees and 10% sibling discount, Arcadia.)

For thrill-seeking tots
Little ones can slip and slide with the best of them at the Jr. Camp at Camp Keystone located in the Santa Monica Mountains.  Kids ages 3 to 5 in groups of 12 campers to with a minimum of 2 staff members will have the ultimate summer experience with a variety of activities to enhance their developmental skills and coordination.    Door-to-door transportation is also available for an additional fee.  (Tuition rates and camp dates vary so be sure to check the website, Agoura Hills.)


For the budding linguist – Option 1
Does your little one love to talk and picks up languages easily (all kids do!)?  Curious and verbal thinkers will have a blast at this enriching Summer Camp at L’Ecole du Soleil where learning a second language is one of the key focuses.  By the end of summer, you’ll have a French speaking pre-schooler!  How very Eloise of you. (July 1 –Aug. 2, full week starting at $290 and part-time starting at $70, Los Feliz, Pasadena, Orange, West Valley.)

For the budding linguist – Option 2
There is a great language immersion preschool in Los Angeles, Language Garden Preschool, that offers language immersion in French and Spanish for toddlers ages 2– 5 yrs old. Teachers speak in the target language 95-100% of the time.  Campers learn naturally through play, exploration and everyday activities. They learn by listening, seeing, imitating, and practicing.  Weekly themes include the Rockin’ Rainforest, Super Science and Marvelous Messy Art. (Camp sessions are from July 8th – Aug 16th, check website for prices.)

labguage garden

For little rockstars
Your musical rockstars ages 2 and up will get the golden opportunity to immerse themselves into playing instruments, performing, and meeting great new like-minded buddies at the Summer Rock-N-Roll Camp at Burbank Music Academy.  Kids will get exposed to all rockstar elements including: guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, vocal-instruction, on-stage movement & presentation. (Cost & sessions vary so be sure to check the website, Burbank.)

For little jocks
Super energized tots ages 4 and up can get their wiggles out at Prime Time Sports Camp that offers one of the biggest varieties of activities that include dodgeball, handball, basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse and much more.  Special events include fun water days and mini-Olympics as well.  (June 10-Aug. 9 for West LA, Hancock Park, and Silver Lake, June 17-Aug. 16 for Santa Monica and Pasadena. Rates range from $225 to $300 per week depending on location and early enrollment.)

ecole du soleil

For baby beach bums
Toddler beach bums ages 4 and up can jet-ski, boogie board, kayak, and more at the safe and well-known Keiki Camp at Aloha Beach Camp.  The basics of water safety will be taught so that your little ones can feel comfortable in the ocean.  Daily transportation is available so you don’t have to worry about busy pick-ups.  (June 17-Aug. 23, you can pay day-to-day and prices start at $66 a day.  $25 off discount coupon available as well as free days when you sign up for 15 days or more, Paradise Cove, Malibu.)

aloha camp

For the outdoor trekker
The Tom Sawyer Camp is perfect for little ones ages 3-5 where they spend their 8:55 am to 2:00 pm days learning to swim, horseback ride, and other outdoor activities.  A group of 12 kids are led by at least 3 staff members to ensure fun and safety.  (June 17-Aug. 23, prices range from $790 to $2815 depending on the number of days and session, La Canada & Altadena.)

For the pre-schooler who loves being all over the place (that’s all of them!)
Campers ages 4 and up can experience fun beach days, field trips to amusement parks, and fun dress-up days (such as super hero day) at the Summer AdventureCamp at AdventurePlex.  They get a full day of crafts, exercises such as yoga, obstacle courses, hands-on activitites, and outdoor fun all in a day’s play.  (June 17-Aug.27, $200/week, extended care available for $40/week, Manhattan Beach).

What are your summer plans?  Got a favorite pint-sized camp we missed?  Let us know!

–Sommy Rhee

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