The number one rule at Monkey Business it to have fun. The phenomenal folks behind this camp help kids do this through art projects, alternative and traditional games and sports, going on treasure hunts, reading books, appreciating the outdoors, going swimming, and much more. Repeat campers is a reality–and why not? This is one camp that’s bursting with energy-filled activity. Is it any wonder that this summer and school break resource is your Totally Awesome pick for best kids camp in the Bay Area?
We recently chatted with Heather Mitchell, Founding Director of Monkey Business, who shared what makes her camp so awesome, her proudest moment, and more. Read on:
Red Tricycle: Congratulations on being voted “Most Awesome” by your community! What do you think your customers value most about your business?
Heather Mitchell: You know there are a few levels I think that customers value our camp. One is that most of our programs are nature based in a time when kids spend less time in the outdoors. Tilden Park in Berkeley is an amazing setting. Our staff also really enjoys the camp, which means playing games with the kids, singing songs, telling stories, resolving conflicts, caring for the kids in all ways. Many parents enjoy spending some moments before hitting their offices hula-hooping, building a Lego structure or watching their child get a face painting. Parents can feel the connections we are trying to foster—connections between kids, kids and staff, kids and nature, and kids and wonderful activities. Lastly, I think parents know that their children will be well cared for within the playfulness of camp!
RT: What inspired you to start your business?
HM: Honestly? Wanting to provide a magical place for kids to be during their summers, where they would be fantastically cared for, and get to be in Tilden Park the entire time.
RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?
HM: Believe in the beauty of your dreams. Keep taking steps toward your goals. Find mentors. Thank the folks who show up to help you. Be compassionate with yourself.
RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?
HM: Ah, the finding balance question. Often entrepreneurs are perfectionists, speaking from my own experience, so it can be hard to let go, go home and relax, play and just be with your family. Or it can be hard to devote enough time to your business, as parenthood is quite an endeavor. But, the switching back and forth and experiencing each aspect energizes me, so that would be my advice, is to really be in the moment when you are there, as much as you can and know that things are going perfectly.
RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?
HM: When I see one the campers I taught 15 years ago now old enough to be a counselor and leading a group of kids at camp in a really sweet joyful way. Somehow this example of the circle of life really speaks to the part of me that wants to leave behind something eternal. Just yesterday, a former camper shared with me that the only thing she had up on her bedroom wall was a painted cardboard sun she made her first year at camp. That really moved me, to know that somehow that piece of art provided her with some kind of happiness and maybe even solace in hard times.
RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?
HM: We’d love to offer a $25/week discount to any Red Tricycle reader. Please let our offices know when you register for camp and we will process the discount.