Thank you for visiting Aloha Beach Camp's summer camp blog. Aloha Beach Camp is an aquatic-focused day camp program for kids and teens ages 4 to 14 in Los Angeles, California. 2015 Summer Camp activities include surfing lessons, boogie boarding, ocean swimming lessons, tubing, jet skiing and more at Zuma Beach and Paradise Cove in Malibu, and Castaic Lake in Valencia (just outside L.A.) plus other amazing aquatic venues. Join us for summer camp 2015!

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

More and more kids from West Hollywood participate in Aloha Beach Camp's summer program each year. So we wanted to give you a little more info if you live in that part of L.A. and might be considering Aloha for your kids this year.

 

Picture of a hand-drawn map of the beach, Pacific Ocean, and the city of Los Angeles with the city of West Hollywood highlighted in the background.


Aloha Beach Camp is a summer day camp for kids who love the beach. Our program takes place at local Los Angeles beaches and lakes like Zuma and Paradise Cove in Malibu, and Castaic Lake in Santa Clarita. Campers visit these aquatic sites on a rotating basis where our counselors provide expert instruction helping the kids learn to surf, boogie board, jet ski, kayak and more.

Now let's be honest. Even though our program focuses on beach activities, you probably don't think of West Hollywood being too close to the ocean. No worries!

Aloha Beach Camp is one of the few L.A. area beach camps with free transportation so you don't have to drive your child to camp yourself. You can meet the bus at a convenient meeting point instead. In fact our transportation program is exactly why so many southern California kids are able to enjoy our program each summer. With many established bus stops throughout L.A., you will generally won't need to drive more than a few minutes away from your home or office to find a bus stop whether you live in West Hollywood or anywhere else. (We use a the same local bus company as our bus contractor every year.)

Why has Aloha Beach Camp become so popular among West Hollywood kids?


Aloha Beach Camp was founded in 1999.Over the years many West Hollywood boys and girls have attended our program, but not a particularly overwhelming number until a few years ago when many, many kids from that area began siging up for camp in droves.

We haven't taken a formal survey about the reason for this phenomenon; after all, summertime's the perfect time of year for kids to experience the beach and ocean no matter where they live. But we have a hunch it's due to the addition of our nearby Hancock Park meeting point we implemented a few years back.

Picture of Third Street Elementary School where West Hollywood kids can meet the Aloha Beache Camp bus this summer.

Long story short, up until 2012 West Hollywood kids who participated in our program had to meet the bus in Westwood since this was the closest available stop to their homes. But even though a few hardy West Hollywood families didn't mind making the trek all the way to UCLA and back just to send their kids to camp, we wanted to make things easier on them and others living in L.A.'s Mid-Wilshire, Miracle Mile and Mid-City districts

So what we did was, we searched for a number of potential bus stops in West Hollywood and surrounding communities that would be convenient for everyone. We eventually we decided on 3rd Street Elementary School in Hancock Park.

It worked. Today the Hancock Park bus is used by over 100 families each summer including many campers from West Hollywood. The marked increase in camp enrollment we've seen the past few years from West Hollywood boys and girls has directly coincided with the addition of the 3rst Street School stop. Let's face it, making the short drive from West Hollywood to Hancock Park is much better than making the long drive to UCLA!

What do Kids do at Aloha Beach Camp?


Aloha Beach Camp is an aquatic day camp for kids and teens. Campers attending our program enjoy ocean-based activities like surfing lessons and boogie boarding. All the activities are instructional, so even kids who are new to the beach and ocean can safely participate in our program. But the fun doesn't end in the water!

Many sand-based activities take place too. Campers enjoy sports and games, beach pinatas, lanyard making, cookie decorating, relay races, water rocket and so much more. The kids wear sunscreen all day and find protection from the sun under our large tents and canopies which they stay under when not in the water.


Young boy at Aloha Beach Camp giving the "Hang Loose" sign on the beach at  Paradise Cove.


What's Included in the Day Camp Price?


All camp activities, transportation, instruction, and supervison are included in the normal price for camp. But the value doesn't end there. Many kids who attend our program come from families where both parents work making childcare a real issue during the summertime. Sometimes you may need to add a day or camp at the last minute or make a last minute scheduling change. No problem!

Aloha Beach Camp offers flexible camp enrollment where you can sign up for camp day-by-day whenever you want instead of getting locked into rigid preplanned sessions in advance.

Requiring families to conform to preplanned sessions might be good for camps, but it's not necessarily great for families who have busy summer schedules and don't need the added hassle of planning their entire summer around rigid camp sessions!

So now you can basically create your OWN camp sessions at Aloha Beach Camp, and they can be as long or as short as you want. And you can choose any number of days you want, too. You can book a day here, a day there, and change them around if something comes up. You can even sign up at the last minute assuming we have space. You don't need to conform to preplanned sessions anymore because we don't even HAVE any sessions! How's THAT for easy camp enrollment scheduling? :)

Hopefully our Friendship With You is Just Beginning! Be sure to Attend Our March 22 Open House at Zuma Beach. You Might Just See Someone From West Hollywood You Know! :) 


We've done our best to answer the most frequently asked questions about Aloha Beach Camp here while giving you a general rundown of our program. Please let us know in the comments if you'd like more information. We've got an open house coming up on March 22 in Malibu if you'd like to join us. The Open House is free but we're expecting lot of families so we're asking you to RSVP and get your free tickets now. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Sherman Oaks-Van Nuys Summer Camp Bus Meeting Point

Families in Sherman Oaks must've collaborated and decided to look into Aloha's summer program for their kids because we've spoken to 11 moms and dads in Sherman Oaks alone just in the past 2 weeks. That's more families than from any other single area!

In addition to general questions about our summer program most of the folks we've talk to are interested in the bus pickup and drop-off situation.

Just so everyone's aware, the Sherman Oaks meeting point will be at the Sherman Oaks-Van Nuys Park, same as has been the past several years.

The park is located at 14201 Huston St., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423.

Morning pickup is at 8:25am and you can meet the bus in the afternoon to pick up your kids at 4:25 pm.

If there are any changes to this schedule you can always find them on our transportation page of the camp website.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Aloha Beach Camp Transportation

All Your Summer Camp Transportation Questions Answered In One Place


Transportation is an essential part of the Aloha Beach Camp program. Transporting your kids to and from camp every day in a safe, timely manner is our number one goal. You might surprised to know we get just as many questions about how our bus system works as we do about camp itself.


If your child is registered for Aloha Beach Camp this summer or you're considering our program for camp transportation after reading this post, by all means please feel free to contact us.
Picture of an Aloha Beach Camp summer camp school bus.
your kids, you may have questions about transportation. We've posted the most common bus questions parents ask us here. If you have further questions about

Is transportation included in the day camp price?

Yes. The tuition price to attend Aloha Beach Camp is $105 per day which includes transportation to and from camp. We do not charge extra for transportation.

Do we get a discount for not taking the bus?

We do not offer discounts for bringing your child to camp yourself. Riding the bus is an important part of the camp day. Many kids enjoy riding the bus as much as they like camp itself. Riding the bus provides a great opportunity for campers to meet new friends and get to know their counselors. Moreover, our transportation contractor requires us to pay the same price whether or not the bus is full. Unfortunately, our bus contractor does not give us discounts for campers who don't ride the bus.

Who is your bus contractor?

Tumbleweed Transportation is Aloha Beach Camp's bus contractor. We have worked with Tumbleweed in this capacity for the past 12 years.

What kind of buses do you use?

Transportation is provided in late-model school buses with seat-belts. School buses are the safest mode of transportation for kids, even safer than passenger cars in an automobile accident. 

Who are the bus drivers?

Aloha's bus drivers are California-state certified professional school bus drivers. Each has been drug tested and passed a criminal background checks We typically have the same bus drivers every year -- their names are Dan, Anna, Janny and Kay -- so the kids and counselors know them well. Moreover, since our drivers have been with us forever, they're vastly familiar with our pick-up and drop-off system creating a seamless bus ride for your child from his or her meeting point to the beach and back again.

 How long will my child be on the bus?

In general, you can expect your child's bus ride to last anywhere between 20 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes depending on where you live and your chosen meeting point. (For example, campers on our Hancock Park and Studio City buses will generally have longer rides than, say, other kids using our Malibu bus.) In all cases, our goal is to minimize the time your child spends on the bus while and maximizing their time spent at camp.

How do you decide where the bus stops will be?

We aim to offer as many bus stops as possible throughout L.A. and the Valley so you don't have to drive more than a couple minutes from your home or office to meet the bus, however, the question of where we establish meeting points principally comes down to geographical enrollment patterns. During the past 15 years, several "evergreen" bus stops have emerged such as those in Studio City, Hancock Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino, and Woodland Hills which we do not foresee changing since so many kids attend Aloha Beach Camp from these communities every summer. If a number of kids sign up for camp from a given area but there is no stop designated there, we may decide to offer a new bus stop nearby. If only a few kids enroll from a given area, we are less likely to feature a bus stop in that location. 

Are you adding any new bus stops this year?

We have not identified any news stops for summer camp 2015. However, our camp directors are always on the lookout for possible new summer camp meeting point. Santa Monica, Cheviot Hills, West Hollywood, and surrounding West L.A. communities are strong candidates for a new bus route this year, but we don't anticipate making a firm decision on this until at least the second week of March.

What are the current bus stops and meeting point times?

You can find this summer's bus information, including a schedule of pick-up and drop-off times and associated meetings points, on the transportation section of our website.
 
Do the Counselors ride the buses with the kids?

Yes, the counselors are always on the buses with the kids. Most buses have at least two or three counselors on board. The counselors are responsible for managing camper safety and supervision while keeping the kids engaged and having fun

Can parents ride the buses with the kids?

Unfortunately our insurance policy restricts parents from boarding the buses with the kids.

What happens if we miss the morning bus?

When you sign up for camp you will be given a schedule of your meeting point location and pick-up and drop-off times. The buses run on very tight schedules and typically cannot wait more than two or three minutes past the designated time. If you are going to be only a few minutes late, please call our office immediately at (818) 932-4600 to let us know as we may be able to wait a minute or two longer. If you will be more than a few minutes late, you may be able to meet the bus at a future stop on the same route. If you will be excessively late, you will need to drive your child to camp yourself. 

What if I'm late picking up my child at the afternoon stop?

Rest assured we will never leave a child unattended at a bus stop. That said, we urge you to do everything possible to arrive at the stop on time. If you are going to be late, please call us immediately at (818) 932-4600 as you may still have time to meet the bus at a future stop. However, if you will be exceedingly late with no possibility of meeting the bus at a future meeting point, you will need to wait at your child's normal meeting point until the driver can complete his or her route before circling back and returning to you. As you can imagine, this put undue stress on everyone including your child, so please be prompt. 

Do the buses have seat belts?

Yes, all the buses have seat belts.Wearing seat belts at all times, whether or not the bus is in motion, is mandatory safety requirement.

What if someone other than the parent needs to pick up my child at the afternoon bus stop?

To ensure the safety of all campers, we will never release a child to any unauthorized person. If someone other than the parent or legal guardian is to pick up your camper at the afternoon stop, we will need notice beforehand. Please call our office, send us an email, or send a signed note with the authorized person's name and phone number. The authorized person will be required to show a photo ID to our counselors and bus staff and your child must be able to recognize them.

Please don't forget to ask any additional questions we haven't mentioned here.

We've tried to be thorough answering the most frequently asked questions we get about transportation. If we've forgotten anything, please leave a comment or email us and we'll answer it right away. Thank you!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Can I Bring My Cell Phone to Summer Camp? Sure, Why Not?

 Cell Phones at Summer Camp? By All Means, YES!!!

 
Kids are more than welcome to bring their cell phones and other mobile devices to Aloha Beach Camp. Seriously, feel free.

But first, let me explain. 

I want to make sure you understand we're HUGE proponents of the camp experience and all that goes with it: kids spending time outdoors doing worthwhile activities, making new friends, learning new skills -- all of it. By extension, we feel allowing campers to bring their cell phones to camp may actually ENHANCE kids' experiences with us as we help them discover a healthy balance of time spent using their mobile devices while participating in organized camp activities too.

Let's face it, cell phones are real life. Every kid has one, and trying to prevent them from bringing them to camp (at least in a day camp setting) is unrealistic. Kids have grown up with their cell phones and they're very personally attached to them. A child's cell phone has become part of him or her -- a security blanket of sorts -- and given how ubiquitous cell phones are these days, banning them would be forcing kids to "return to a time" they've never even seen before. That doesn't sound like a very nice thing to or place to be.

The fact of the matter is Aloha Beach Camp is simply not in the business of taking things away from kids. We're in the business of helping them have the best time of their lives. And if a bringing their cell phone to camp helps a child feel more comfortable or enjoy camp even more while simultaneously teaching them how to balance the time they spend on their phones with meeting new friends and participating in camp activities, it's a huge win for all concerned. 

Few Other Camps Agree With Us

We recognize our policy of allowing kids to bring cell phones to camps is contrary to how many other camps and camp directors feel. The majority of camp folks I know are against allowing cell phones for various reasons. Two common ones are:

  1. Allowing kids to bring cell phones to camp will interfere with the camp experience by preventing campers from making new friends and/or participating in camp activities because they'll be too tempted to play games on their phones, text friends back home, or otherwise immerse themselves in their phones rather than "unplugging" and interacting socially with other kids at camp; and 
  2. Allowing kids to bring cell phones to camp undermines the trust parents have placed in the camp to care for their kids; the cell phone becomes a "security blanket" for the camper who knows he or she can contact his/her parents if they're homesick, aren't having fun, or for any other reason whenever they see fit.
Regarding the first point, we agree 100% with the notion one of the best things about camp is it provides an opportunity for kids to make new friends, try new things, become independent...all that. But make no mistake: By no means will allowing cell phones at Aloha Beach Camp prevent kids from interacting with other campers or limit their participation in camp activities. That's an unfounded concern because kids can do both.

There's no reason a camper shouldn't be able to pick up his cell phone for a few minutes at lunchtime or after an hour-long surfing session to let Mom know how much fun he's having at camp. Or how about texting Mom a picture of the tasty wave the camper just caught boogie boarding!!! :)

The fact is, if a  given camp's activities are fun enough (we believe ours are), and its counselors skilled enough (we believe ours are) at engaging the kids, then the kids simply won't WANT to miss out on camp activities even if they have their cell phones with them.

Now regarding the second notion -- that camps should ban cell phones to prevent campers from calling or texting their parents if they're unhappy or not having fun at camp, well, that's also an empty concern if you ask us.  

We say Aloha Beach Camp is the most fun a child will ever have at camp and offer a 100% money back-guarantee to prove it. If your child is unhappy for any reason, just say the word and we'll refund all your money, no questions asked. A child expressing his or her displeasure on their cell phone has nothing to do with it  because if they're displeased, they'll tell you anyway... 

But please don't get us wrong. We've been running our camp a long time and certainly realize the first several hours (or even days) of camp can often be periods of adjustment. Homesickness may manifest itself the most during this time.  

And of course, kids respond in different ways. Some handle new environments just fine while others take longer to warm up. In any case, with their phones nearby, it could be pretty easy for a camper to call home to say they aren't having fun at camp. We'll do our best to prevent this from happening, but even if it does, we simply ask that you don't jump to conclusions. Instead, we hope your first response will be to give us a little time to fix any problems. We are confident we can help your camper get through whatever may be bothering them, and that they'll be having a blast at camp in no time flat. Our #1 job is to create "Happy Campers!" 

Hypocrisy?

Here's something to think about: Most camps (whether or not they allow cell phones) rely HEAVILY on technology (including cell phones) to them help run their camps better AND as marketing tools to attract more kids to their camps. I'm sure most camp directors would attest that it would not be easy (or even possible) for them to operate without the benefit of modern communications and technology, mobile devices included.

For instance, Aloha Beach Camp relies (as do many other camps) on text messaging to communicate with our camp counselors and customer families during the summertime (and all year round, for that matter). The use of text messaging allows us to be more efficient from marketing, operational, and customer service  standpoints and in other ways.

Here's and example of how we are currently using text message marketing with cell phones at Aloha Beach Camp (and how we might need to use it in the future):

  • If the camp bus is running late, we text everyone to let them know 
  • If there's a last-minute activity, scheduling, or program location change, we text everyone to let them know 
  • If we're offering a special discount on camp tuition, we'll text you to let you know. 
  • If god-forbid there was an emergency at camp, we'd text everyone to let them know. (Knocking on wood here...)
With reference to marketing, we've invested lots of time and money into optimizing our camp's website so it works properly on customers' mobile phones. Further, we actively share photos and videos of our camp on social media sites such as Instagram which, as you may know, is among the most popular social media site for camp-age kids because it's meant to be used exclusively on mobile devices. In fact we have acquired many new campers because they found out about our camp on Instagram in the first place. And you'd probably be surprised how many other camps use Instagram (and by extension, their cell phones) as marketing tools.

And so we think it'd be pretty hypocritical of us (or any camp) to continue using our cell phones and other mobile devices as tools to attract new campers, then ban such devices when the kids arrive at camp. I mean, let's face it: If a kid FOUND OUT about our program on his cell phone, then we suddenly took his phone away...is that not biting the hand that feeds us?

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: While Aloha Beach Camp may not actively ENCOURAGE campers to bring cell phones and other electronic devices to camp, we won't discourage it. Campers can bring them if they choose. (It's just something else to squeeze in your backpack with your lunch, water bottle, bathing suit, towel, and whatever else you bring to camp each day. And we know you're carrying your phone with you 24/7 anyway, so finding a place to put it shouldn't be a problem!)

While the concept of having kids come to camp to completely "unplug" from their electronic devices may SOUND nice, it's become an unrealistic, outdated objective (or if it isn't already, it will be soon).

As we mentioned, there's no reason a camper can't enjoy a scheduled camp activity for a while, then at its conclusion check his or her phone for a few seconds, then return to his or her group for more camp fun. We believe this is the kind of balance a child needs in his or her life -- they don't need to be 100% forced into their camp experience at the expense of other things that matter to them, and they don't need to be preoccupied with their mobile devices 100% of the time either.

It really is possible to do both, and at Aloha Beach Camp, they can.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Just added a New San Fernando Valley Summer Camps Page to the Aloha Beach Camp Website

We just added a new page to our website we're calling San Fernando Valley Summer Camps. We added this page to our site because so many people all across the Valley have inquired lately about attending Aloha this year. When we started the camp in 1999, our first business office was in Tarzana, so we've always had a special affinity for San Fernando Valley families. Hope you like the webpage!