PIEDMONT -- Every spring, parents begin investigating and making decisions on how their kids should spend their summer vacations and many turn to established summer camps to add fun and learning into the mix.

While a strict focus on academics is not always the answer, parents know that keeping minds and bodies active is the right formula for success.

Residents of Piedmont and the Oakland hills have an entire cornucopia of possibilities to choose from: camps that focus on the arts, those that promise adventure, others that build skills in particular sports and still more that use the East Bay's natural environment for activities in science and the environment.

Young campers listen to stories at the Parkín It Day Camp at Temescal Regional Recreation Area.
Young campers listen to stories at the Parkín It Day Camp at Temescal Regional Recreation Area.

While it would require an entire pamphlet to cover all the choices, this article has selected 11 possibilities that cover the areas described above, 11 summer camps that work hard to make summer more than just time away from school.

Within the city of Piedmont, the Recreation Department has listings that offer a wide variety of camp experiences. Sports enthusiasts can focus on volleyball, golf and skateboarding, among others; there are puppetry, cartooning, guitar and photography camps in the arts; tech fans have choices from vision tech and engineering camps; and tree frog trek and discovery camps suit others with an active imagination.


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Three camps turn to the theater, music and cooking for their themes. The Bay Area Children's Theatre Summer Camps is designed for performers ages 5 and 6 who love to sing and act and performers ages 7 to 14 who want to build their skills in acting, singing, dancing and theater arts. All campers will work toward a finale of Disney's "Peter Pan."

All skill levels are welcome at Bobcat Music camp where campers ages 7 to 16 turn to world beat, Latin, jazz and rock genres to hone their music skills. Days are spent singing, dancing, playing games, learning to keep rhythms as well as learning to collaborate, listen and form a cohesive band.

Cooking Around the World Cooking Camp offers boys and girls ages 6 to 13 a chance to grow internationally by cooking and eating. Campers learn cooking skills and participate in cultural activities, targeting a different country every day.

On the adventure front, Urban Adventures Camps use field trips to places including the Lawrence Hall of Science, USS Hornet Museum and Alcatraz Island to cover topics on art, biology, history and technology. Campers ages 8 to 15 gain confidence and travel skills using public transportation.

Avid4Adventure camps combine outdoor multisport and adventure skills with building self-confidence. Campers from prekindergarten through seventh grade participate in discovery, explorer and adventure camps with activities that include kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking and more.

Basketball and baseball are sports that shine at two summer camps. At Gardere Summer Basketball Camps, camp director Bryan Gardere, his staff and players work with boys and girls in grades one through eight on learning the fundamentals of basketball and life in a fun and positive atmosphere.

Future Star Baseball offers four different summer camps for boys and girls six through 12. Camps include baseball, hitting, bat-n-ball games and all games, that combine fun with building skills in all aspects of baseball, batting, fun games that use baseball skill subsets and full-fledged baseball games.

Many campers turn to nature and outdoor recreation for summer fun. Park 'n It Day Camp, sponsored by the East Bay Regional Park District, sites one of its camps at Temescal Regional Recreation Area for boys and girls ages 6 to 12. Set in a beautiful park, campers learn about park ecology, play games, make art projects, go fishing, hiking, swimming and enjoy field trips to other parks.

At Sarah's Science Summer Camps, learning is fun. Here campers ages 5 to 15 participate in traditional camp activities including swimming, nature hikes, games, arts and crafts, and a daily science lesson that culminates in a take-home science project every day.

There's even room for technology and Camp EdTech, designed for entering fifth- through eighth-graders, has created two-week camp sessions around the making of short films and animation, 2-D and 3-D video games and digital photography. Collaboration with the Children's Creativity Museum ensures that imagination rules here.

FYI
Piedmont Recreation Department: 510-420-3070, www.ci.piedmont.ca.us.
Bay Area Children's Theatre Summer Camps: Piedmont Center for the Arts, 801 Magnolia Ave, 510-296-4433, http://www.bactheatre.org/classes/piedmontsummercamp. Little performers July 14-18, Aug. 11-15, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., $180. Young performers July 7-18, Aug. 4-15, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., $525.
Bobcat Music Camp: Chabot Elementary School, 6686 Chabot Road,
http://joshimarshall.com/teaching/bobcat-music-camp. Camps offered June 16-July 11, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $300/week.
Cooking Around the World Cooking Camp: 1300 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-593-5285, www.cookingaroundtheworld.com. June 16-Aug. 15, half-day 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., $200/week; full-day 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., $350/week.
Urban Adventure Camps: meets and departs from Rockridge BART station, 5660 College Ave., 510-339-0676, http://www.urbanadventurecamps.com/Urban_Adventure_Camps_-_Home.html.
June 10-Aug. 30, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., $400-$600/week, depending on the camp.
Avid4Adventure: drop-off and pickup at Joaquin Miller Elementary School, 5525 Ascot Drive, 720-398-6204, http://www.avid4.com/ca-summer-camp/. June 14-Aug. 15, 6:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., $435/week.
Gardere Summer Basketball Camp: Piedmont High School, Binks Gym, 510-922-0485, http://phswomensbasketball.com/gardere-summer-camps/. June 16-19, Aug 4-7, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., $150.
Future Star Baseball: 12000 Campus Dr., 510-710-0987, http://www.futurestarbaseball.com/All_Summer_Camps_2014.html.Full/half-day sessions June 23-Aug. 8, $175/$330/week.
Park 'n It Day Camp: Temescal Regional Recreation Area, 6502 Broadway Terrace, 510-544-2566,http://www.ebparks.org/kids/park-n-it. June 16-27, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., $200/week.
Sarah's Science Summer Camps: Roberts Regional Park, 10570 Skyline Blvd., 510-581-3739, http://www.sarahscience.com/pages/summer.html. June 16-Aug. 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $360-$380/week.
Camp EdTech: Montclair Elementary School, 1757 Mountain Blvd., 415-282-6673, http://www.campedtech.org. June 23-Aug. 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., $469/week.