Family events in the SF Bay Area for May 2015 – Kite Day, Cinco de Mayo and Fun Runs

Cheerful Children Playing Kite Outdoors ConceptThis May brings more outdoor events to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.  Here are the event’s we have marked on our calendar.

Menlo Park’s annual Kite Day
Saturday, May 2, 2015 – Noon to 3:00 pm. Bedwell-Bayfront Park.  Bring your own kite or buy a new kite when you get there.  Staff and volunteers will be on hand to help you assemble and fly your kite.

City of Palo Alto May Fête Children’s Parade & Fair,  May 2, 2015.  Parade begins at 10am, University Avenue.  Fair is at Heritage Park from 10am-1pm.

YMCA Summer Camp Fair, Learn about the YMCA’s summer camps while playing camp games, playing in bounce houses and running obstacle courses. Free camp T-shirts.  May 2, 1-3 p.m at the El Camino YMCA in Mountain View.

Cinco De Mayo Festival, May 2, 10am – 6pm in San Francisco.  Valencia Street between 21st and 24th Streets

Children’s Day Festival, May 2, 11am – 4pm Japantown’s Peace Plaza, Buchanan and Post Streets

Healthy Parks, Healthy People, May 2, 2pm – 4pm Presidio of San Francisco, 50 Montgomery at the corner of Lincoln Blvd.

Mother’s Day Concert at Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA)  Saturday, May 9, 2-3pm in Mountain View.  Free!

Sunday Streets, May 10, 11am – 4pm in San Francisco.  Valencia Street between McCoppin and 26th Streets

Mother’s Day Kids Run, May 10, 9:45am – 10am in San Francisco.  East Beach at Crissy Field

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Olympic triple jumper Erica McLain combines sports and academics into a new summer camp

AH blog pathworks 1PATHworks is a unique summer camp that focuses on both sports and education. We spoke with Erica McLain, the founder and camp director, about the PATHworks program and what it was like to participate in the 2008 Olympic Games.

1. Tell me what a typical day of camp is like. Will there be any athletic activities or is it all in the classroom?

The PATHworks day is a fluid mix of academic and athletic activities rotating throughout classrooms and athletic facilities. Our athletic activities focus on key fundamentals, such as balance and agility, and technique training, such as running form and vertical max, that are critical to nearly all sports.

Every morning begins with core strength and mindfulness exercises that will help students learn about their muscle structures and how to consciously control their movements. From there the daily adventure begins as students learn to connect their grade level math and language arts learning objectives to the skills and technical aspects of their favorite sports. Students will get to apply their new sports skills to a competition in the afternoon. The day of learning and fun will end with science, technology and nutrition activities.

On Fridays, students will have opportunities to focus on their sports of choice and we will host special guest speakers from the sports and fitness industries. Our special guests will introduce students to how they can apply academic concepts in cool ways, both on and off the field, and how this will enable them to accomplish amazing things in their own lives.

2. What if my child is not into sports?  Would he/she feel out of place in the PATHworks program?  

Our primary goal is that students learn while having fun! If your child simply hates sports this might not be the camp for them; however, we don’t expect students to be super athletes. Our activities are designed to enable students of a wide range of athletic abilities, from beginner to advanced, to reach their personal best. If your child is new to sports and nervous about fitting in then PATHworks is the perfect place! Our curriculum will help provide an introduction to a variety of different sports and our students are taught to collaborate with and support one another.

  1. What motivated you and the team to start this camp?

My team and I all share personal stories of how involvement in sports has positively impacted our own lives and examples of how we’ve each been able to use various aspects of sports to inspire others. While we certainly believe that the entire course of a student’s academic career is critical to their development, we’ve found through our individual experiences that the middle school years seem to be the most challenging for students, teachers, and parents alike.  During these pivotal years, students are going through important yet difficult physical, emotional, and psychosocial changes. Surprisingly though, less that 15% of youth development programs aim to directly address the unique needs of middle schoolers. Perhaps this is because the middle school ages are among the most difficult to teach as students are going through significant hormonal changes but my team and I are up for the challenge!

We chose sports not only because they’ve personally played relevant roles in our own lives but also because scholarly research proves that sports participation can improve cognitive development, train critical thinking skills, empower students to excel under pressure, and cultivate essential soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, and self-confidence. With nearly 75% of our nation’s middle school students engaged with some level of athletic participation, sports provide a popular vehicle to reinforce academic concepts in ways that are fun and engaging.

4. What was it like to be in the Olympics? 

AH blog pathworks 2Surreal! It was exciting, humbling, terrifying, and amazing all at the same time… it truly was a dream come true! I’ve been in sports my whole life, playing eight different sports… gymnastics still is and always will be my #1 love. I didn’t really get involved with track & field until my freshman year of high school after volleyball and basketball seasons had ended. I actually discovered the triple jump by way of doing a gymnastics move called a “split leap” at the track. The jumps coach saw me doing one and asked if I could demonstrate that move to her jumpers. Who knew that in that moment I had stumbled upon the event that would, years later, earn me a full-ride scholarship to Stanford, a contract with Nike, and a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. This is just one example among many of why I encourage kids to be curious and try new things… you never know where it might lead!

One of my favorite things about being in the Olympics was being surrounded by the top athletes in the world from a wide variety of different sports. On the field, sure they’re your competitors, but off the field it was amazing to experience the camaraderie of the biggest names in sports all just hanging out playing in the arcade, sharing a meal, etc. I even got to play scrabble with Michael Phelps and talk about my hobby of photography with Carmelo Anthony… it was super cool!

See more information about PATHworks or sign up for camp.

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5 Awesome Ideas for a Spring Break Staycation to Save Money & Have Fun!

blog spring jump for joyJump for joy – it’s Spring! 

It’s Spring Break time. Kids have Spring fever and are itching to get out and have fun in the warmer weather, but what if your budget or time are too tight for a full-on vacation? Not to worry. You can still have fun with a well-planned staycation. The key is to approach your stay at home week as you would any other vacation. Organize activities that will get your kids excited, spare your wallet and get them out from behind their digital device or the TV. Here are five great ideas for the week off of school.

#1 Cousins Camp

This is a great idea for parents who, for whatever reason, can’t take the week off work. The idea behind cousins camp is that you consolidate all the cousins – your brother’s and sister’s kids plus yours for some intense family fun. You can either get a grandparent to host the camp or take turns with your siblings by each taking one day off work. Cousins camp can be a day camp activity or, if grandparents are farther away, a sleep-away camp. Grandparents will consider it a treat to spoil your kids for a week, and your children can bask in the attention of adults they may not get to see as often. Load them up with board games, art supplies and whatever else the host family member needs to keep the kids busy.

#2 Geocaching Extravaganza

If you can take some time off during Spring Break but want to save up your money for your splashier summer vacay, Geocaching is a great cost-saving activity. You can do it every day all day or for a few hours here and there between other activities. There are literally blog spring geocachingmillions of geocaches all over the US. Load up a cooler with bottled drinks, take a bag of snacks or a picnic lunch, download the app and go. If you’ve never tried Geocaching, you’ve got to get into this GPS scavenger hunt game. You’ll find hidden caches in the grocery parking lot down the street, off the trails at a nearby park and on mountain tops.

#3 Ticket to Ride

For those that don’t live near public transportation or rarely use it, this is a cheap way to do something different. Head into town, take a ride on the subway or bus and head to a great park you’ve been meaning to check out. Or head to a hip kid-friendly eatery in a part of town where you rarely venture. You avoid traffic, get mobile and let your kids experience something new. If there’s no public transport near you or you use it every day, take a train adventure. Pack a backpack for a day trip and head to a nearby city you’ve never seen. You can hop an Uber or bus for local sightseeing, have a picnic then catch the train back home.

#4 Oh-so-silly-Olympics

If you’re concerned about your kids being sedentary over Spring Break, this idea can get them out and moving their bodies every day. And if you’re a desk sitter for work, it’ll be blog spring olympicsgood for you too. Design some at home Olympic event ideas, host an opening ceremony by letting everyone parade in their best athletic gear and then get started! Print out ribbons from the web or buy some cheap ones from the local party store. Pair up little kids with bigger ones so everyone wins. Eschew the traditional 100 yard dash in favor of a 10 yard dash wearing mom’s high heels or long jump with an egg under each armpit. Make sure everyone wins awards. And if it rains, add water sports to the schedule!

#5 Hotel at Home

Even if you can’t make it to a hotel for the week, you can set up a cool experience at home. After all, kids love being spoiled and pampered (don’t we all?). Add a pile of throw pillows to your kid’s bed, give them fold down service, add a chocolate to their pillow and leave room service menus hanging from their door. Serve breakfast in bed, run a bath with a mound of bubbles, and try out a silly British accent to make it more fun. Offer afternoon tea or juice in a champagne flute. If you’ve got several kids, assign one kid a day to get the hotel experience and put the others to work as staff – this will give them all a kick. Save the last day for yourself and have them pamper you with a pedicure and treats.

Your kids will appreciate the effort and as long as you create buzz and excitement around your staycation concept, you’ll get enthusiastic buy-in from your kids. And if you’re stuck at work all week, but still want your kids to have an awesome time, consider a day or sleepaway camp for the week devoted to their special interest.

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Is Your Child Interested in Sailing?

It’s that time of year again: parents everywhere are thinking about and booking their children’s summer camps. Often we choose the same camp year after year, but sometimes we think about being more adventurous, and offering our kids a totally different experience that could spark a new passion that lasts a lifetime.

Kid's at a sailing camp

San Francisco Maritime Camp

That’s what got us thinking about the unique and educational San Francisco Maritime sailing camp. As a non-profit partner to the Maritime National Parks, Maritime Sailing Camp gives kids an insider look at our bay’s maritime history and the opportunity to explore the Maritime National Park and San Francisco Bay just like a sailor or scientist would.

Campers also get the chance to test water samples, go rowing in whaleboats, and examine the bay’s mud and the creatures who live in it. They’ll also get to check out the World War II submarine Pampanito and go sailing for a day on the historic scow schooner Alma.

A fabulous option for boys and girls alike, San Francisco Maritime camp starts at $250 (aftercare is extra), and sessions run weekly throughout the month of July.

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Five Affordable Camps in San Francisco

It takes a lot of time to find the right camps and they can be really expensive. As a parent myself, I’ve done a lot of camp research and here are my five favorite affordable local camps in San Francisco.

Mariposa Kids, the Mission District
Offering weekly programs through June and July, Full day 8:30am-6pm,
$275-$350 (STEM) 5 Days, $165 for 3 Days
Mariposa’s Summer Adventure camp is back! Includes weekly themes of Art, Food,  Museums, Wheels and STEM Camp weeks with Engineering for Kids

Jamestown Community Center, Mission District
Offering 3 2-Week long sessions from June 8-July 24th,
Half-day $171 (morning or afternoon) or Full-day $360
Morning choice of sports or enrichment activities. Afternoon “Summer Playhouse” includes engaging arts and crafts, dance, theater, cooking and media activities aimed at building new skills and forging a strong summer community. Youth will also participate in weekly field trips and will work together to plan an end-of-the-summer showcase!

Epic Summer Camp, Richmond Village Beacon, Richmond District

Offering Weekly programs June 8- July 17th, 10am-4pm $100
Campers choose a morning skill squad to explore math, science, history, reading and writing through EPIC activities and adventures. In the afternoon, campers gather with grade-specific leagues to train, prepare, and compete in EPIC competitions ranging from performance art, craft and design to old-school waterbattles.

Maritime Summer Camp, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park
Weekly program in July, 9am-3pm $250
Kids have a chance to experience San Francisco Bay through the eyes of a Sailor and a Scientist. Campers explore all the different activities the Park and the surrounding SF waterfront have to offer. Campers will also get to row and sail the many small craft in the park and learn the basics of marine biology including water quality tests, species identification, clam dredging, & tide pooling.

Camp Edmo near Twin Peaks has an Animal Survival camp session. Your child will learn about animal behavior, what they do to find food, how they communicate, survive disasters and avoid predators while in one of the most forested parts of the city. Parents love this camp. A full week at Camp Edmo costs under $389.

Considering Overnight Camp?

KS-5For an affordable overnight camp near San Francisco in the Santa Cruz Mountains, UCamp is a great option. Try out their Discovery Camp for new campers. If your child enjoys sports, art, outdoor adventures and meeting new friends, they enjoy this five day session at the beginning of August. Book before March 1st and get $100 off of registration bringing your total to $695 for the week.

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On 1970s Message to Parents and feeling fortunate to be a San Francisco Bay Area Parent

Ok, so we could not resist it and simply had to share the image that is going viral today – the 1970s “Message to Parents” by LEGO.legogender1

Here in San Francisco Bay Area, we are particularly fortunate to have so many opportunities to “put the right material” in our kids’ hands and let their imagination fly.


Look no further than The Young Builders Workshop in Palo Alto. Here kids of all ages are able to build their projects from scratch, using blue prints, raw materials and tools that can be found at any home improvement store. “All it takes is a “can-do” attitude, the right tools, a little bit of practice, safety measures and the skills your child will learn at our workshop”, says the owner, Kobi Schindelheim.

Just further north in San Mateo, Art-Smart Studios offer kids an opportunity to explore creative arts, legos and robotics all in one place. Kids have fun and are being challenged to come up with simple, guided, but creative programming ideas.

In San Francisco, Celsius and Beyond, lets kids ages six through 14 experiment with mazes to solve math questions, music to understand physics and cooking to learn chemistry – all to cover the fascinating topics of science and provide an ever-challenging environment for learning and exploration.

Across the Bay in San Rafael, The Computer Clubhouse provides a creative and safe learning environment where young people work with adult mentors to explore their own ideas, develop skills, and build confidence through the use of technology. The Makerspace here gives students an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects.

So, as you give Thanks this week, remember how fortunate we are to raise our kids in the Bay Area.


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Winter Break Camps in the SF Bay Area

Happy Holidays! Are your kids excited about the Winter break yet? Are you ready for schools to be out? These winter camps are open over Christmas Week or New Year’s Week in San Francisco, East Bay, Peninsula and South Bay.

In San Francisco:
Adventure Camps, San Francisco
WinterDayCamp_AF79AB26BF632Celsius & Beyond, San Francisco
Eureka Valley Arts, San Francisco
Ms. Marian Dance Garden,  San Francisco Young Actors Theatre Camp, San Francisco (see special offer for $300 off, before Dec 4)

In the East Bay:
Abantey: The Roleplay Workshop, Oakland Afterguard Sailing Academy, Oakland Brushstrokes Studio, Berkeley
Redwood Ranch Stables, Oakland
Prashanti Art, Fremont
Triple Threat Academy, Piedmont, Oakland, San Ramon
Monkey Business Camp, Berkeley

In the Peninsula:
Art-Smart Studios, San Mateo
Aviation Camp at Hiller Aviation Museum, San Carlos
Core TKD, San Mateo
Tech Know Academy, Belmont
Art School of SF Bay, Palo Alto
Young Builders, Palo Alto
Rainbow Chefs, San Mateo

In South Bay:
Art Bash Studios, San Jose
South Bay Sports Training, San Jose and Saratoga
Spartans Sports Camp, Mountain View
School of Rock, San Jose

Click here to get the latest list of camps and activities to keep your kiddos busy.

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