Camping fun for kids

Things to do all summer long

SUMMER FUN These kids are learning about wildlife before heading out to explore Big Chico Creek as part of the Nature Center’s Camp Chico Creek.

SUMMER FUN These kids are learning about wildlife before heading out to explore Big Chico Creek as part of the Nature Center’s Camp Chico Creek.

Photo By Tom Angel

These days, I’ve got half a dozen pamphlets spread across the kitchen table. On a sheet of paper I’ve made a graph. Down one side are the weeks of the summer. Across the top are the names of various day camps in Chico and the programs they offer. I’m slowly filling in the squares, one for each week.

Like many parents this time of year, I’m trying to solve the most pressing question of the summer: what to do with the kids when school is out?

Once upon a time, of course, Mom would have taken care of them. Today, more often than not, she’s at work just like Dad.

The good news is those double incomes mean that Mom and Dad probably can afford to send the kids to day camp, where instead of watching TV or playing video games they’ll have real fun. Fortunately, Chico has a wide range of excellent public and private day camps for kids, offering everything from “Exploring Polynesia” (sorry, no field trip) to a “Let’s Get Growing” gardening camp. And it’s not too late to sign up for most of them. Here’s a rundown:

Chico Area Recreation and Parks District—CARD offers the largest assortment of day camps. Get a copy of its Summer Recreation Guide or go to for details on the camps. One favorite is Summertime Delight, held at the PV Rec Center next to Bidwell Junior High School, offering games, crafts, swimming, field trips and more, as is Camp Chi-Da-Ca, which explores the natural world from its base at the Hooker Oak Recreation. There are also camps for soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, baseball, softball, bowling, performing arts (the two-week camp will stage the play Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), gardening, ceramics, science, mountain biking, “Summer Art and Movement Fun” and “Aquatic Adventure.” Most sessions last a week; some are half-day, some full-day, some both. Prices vary.

Adventure Day Camp—Run by Chico State Recreational Sports for the past 23 years, ADC focuses on teamwork and cooperative activities for kids 6-15 and de-emphasizes competition. Activities include swimming, kayaking, arts & crafts, sports, cooking, bike riding, climbing wall and field trips. The camp leaders are Chico State students who are lifeguard and CPR certified, and the camp is based at the university’s physical education complex. Cost: $65/wk half-day, $120/wk full-day. To register online:

Summer Cat Programs—A companion program to the Adventure Day Camp described just above, these programs offer half-day (morning) programs exploring a variety of specific interests, as follows: Trading Cards (July 19-29); Field Trip Everyday (July 11-15); Young Einsteins (July 25-Aug. 5); Drawing Academy (June 20-July 1); Cheerleading (June 20-July 1), Wildcats on Stage (July 11-22); and Aquatic Camp (several weeks, full day). To register online:

Scenes from activities at the university’s Adventure Day Camp.

CSU, Chico Outdoor Leadership Programs—Divided into three groups by age (8-10, 11-13, 14-18), the programs offer week-long sessions that take kids rock climbing, swimming, sailing, canoeing and so on. Emphasis on rock climbing and mountaineering for older groups, and oldest group goes on week-long camping and climbing trip. No experience necessary. Call 898-5462 for more.

Chico Rooks Soccer Camp—Led by coaches and players from Chico’s pro soccer team, this camp encourages learning skills and teamwork while having fun. Sessions held M-F, 9 a.m.-noon, at Chico High School for kids 4-15. Cost: $75. Sessions begin June 6, June 20, July 11, July 25 and Aug. 8. For more info or to register, phone 343-7665.

Summer Camp at the Museum of Anthropology—This camp is designed “to introduce children to multicultural social studies topics,” the brochure states. “Using hands-on activities, like drama, music, cooking and art, children will travel the world learning about indigenous peoples and cultures.” Weekly sessions: Investigating Totems (June 13), Exploring Polynesia (June 20), Rainforests of the World (June 27), American Indian Crafts (July 5), Ancient Egypt (July 11), Archeology (July 18). Activities will include creating pastel totem art on a sidewalk, making a Mechoopda pine nut necklace, building oak ball mythological creatures, maskmaking, etc. Classes are half-day ($65/wk) or full-day ($130/wk) and are held in CSU, Chico’s Museum of Anthropology, Langdon Hall, Room 301. Phone: 898-5397.

Camp Chico Creek—This popular environmental day camp for kids 5-11 is sponsored by the Chico Creek Nature Center, so naturally its emphasis is on, well, nature. There are five defined week-long sessions, each presented twice, for a total of 10 week-long camps. The sessions are: Aquatic Adventures (exploring water cycles and waterways); Native Ways (exploring Maidu culture and history); Jammin’ Salmon (the relationship between inland waterways and oceans as seen through the salmon’s life cycle); Habitat Earth (natural resources and conservation); and The Wild Wild World of Bidwell Park (the wildlife of the park). Lots of hands-on outdoorsy stuff centered around the nature center, Big Chico Creek and Bidwell Park. Half-day $60; full-day $110. To register: 891-4671. For more:

Progressive Schoolhouse Summer Arts Program—Now in its 14th year, this children’s art program offers eight different week-long sessions beginning June 20 covering a wide range of focused activities for kids 5-14. From fine art and craft and sculpture to weaving, knotting, fabric design and application, from drawing animals, plants and environments to drawing people and environments, it offers camp courses that are sure to expand your child’s creative skills. Hours are 9 a.m.-2 p.m., the cost is $25/day, and you can sign up for as many or few days as desired. All classes are held at the schoolhouse, 2400 Notre Dame Blvd. To obtain a brochure, call 345-5665.

Chico Christian School Summer Camp—Weekly camp sessions May 31-Aug. 12, ages 6-13, $125/wk. Camp themes vary each week, from sports to science to animals. 2801 Notre Dame Blvd., 343-6051.

In addition to these camps that are designed to care for, entertain and educate kids for extended periods of time throughout the summer, a number of groups offer targeted camps lasting a week or just a couple of days. Here are brief descriptions:

Athletic Horizons Gymnastics Camp—Aug. 8-12, ages 7 and up, $140. All levels welcome. Thursday includes swimming and a sleepover. 220 Meyers St., 893-4967.

Music Camp—June 20-24, ages 7-16. Focus on improving guitar, piano and voice skills highlight by concert at end. Music Express Inn, 1145 El Monte Ave., 345-8376.