Wet & Wild Camp Adventures

Carl Robinette

Fri June 26, 2015 10:53am

Your kids may have nothing but free time this summer, but odds are you probably still have to work. Luckily, summer camps are a fun way for children to continue learning and socializing during the summer break without feeling like they lost their vacation.
Youths who are physically, socially and academically challenged during the summer break are more likely to achieve scholastically and socially, and stay healthier than those who are not being challenged, according to the National Summer Learning Association.
Most young students experience “learning losses” during summer, with lower standardized test scores at the end of summer than the end of the school year. The Learning Association also attributes more than half of the achievement gap between low-income and higher-income students to unequal access to summer learning opportunities.
“Camps do a world of good for kids,” said Mike Dunn, director of SeaWorld’s camp program. “It’s a learning environment that’s different from the classroom, and there is a lot of data that supports the experiential learning that camps can provide.”
The Living Coast Discovery Center, San Diego Zoo and Safari Park and SeaWorld all offer great day camp learning experiences for kids, as well as some residential camp experiences, that will help your kids engage with wildlife and gain an appreciation for the natural world around them.
“[SeaWorld] Camp affords kids the chance to meet other kids from different cultures, and they all bond over this love of marine animals,” said Dunn. “It’s very difficult to see animals in the wild, and places like Safari Park and the zoo and SeaWorld give kids a chance to make a connection with these animals that they might not be able to do anywhere else. They get these interactive experiences and see the animals up close and learn how they are cared for. They take that information and they leave wanting to help protect these animals out in the wild.”
Check out some of the wild experiences below that your kids can have in San Diego this summer, but act fast as these camps fill up quickly.
Living Coast Discover Center
Right in your own back yard, Chula Vista’s Living Coast Discovery Center offers relatively low-cost day camps for kids of all ages during school breaks throughout the year with crafts and hands-on experience with wildlife. It also offers a variety of other daytime activities to engage your children with the native wildlife of the South Bay and gain valuable social interactions. Pricing varies widely depending on the age of the child and the program, and starts as low as $47 a day for preschool to kindergarten and goes up to $140 for teen programs. Discounts apply to members in most cases. For details visit thelivingcoast.org/programs.
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park
The zoo and Safari Park offer a variety of camp options through July and August, from half-day camps for pre-kindergarten up to teen experiences. All camp options include engaging activities including learning about animal care and conservation, bus rides, crafts, games and interacting with all your kids’ favorite animals from rhinos to meerkats. San Diego Zoo day camp is priced at $229 per day for members and $264 for non-zoo members, and includes camps for kindergarteners through 12th grade. Safari Park prices vary depending on age, duration and program. Half-day camp starts at $165 for preschoolers and ranges by age up to $325 for the 9 to 12 age bracket. Discounts apply for members and parental supervision may be required for very young children. See details for the zoo at zoo.sandiegozoo.org/content/summer-camp, and for the Safari Park at sdzsafaripark.org/summer-camp.
SeaWorld
SeaWorld offers many different programs including day camps where young kids learn about marine life, feed animals, sing songs and play games. For the older kids, SeaWorld offers resident camps with paddle boarding and snorkeling adventures in south Mission Bay. SeaWorld also offers career camps that give high-schoolers who are interested in working with marine life real-world experience caring for animals. Prices start at $140 for day camps and range up to about $700 for resident camps and $1050 for career camps. Membership discounts apply. See details at http://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-sandiego/educational-programs.