We started Monkey Business Camp to nurture the creativity and individuality of each child in a loving and magical environment. We develop programs with balance of structured and spontaneous activities, hire incredible and kind staff, and then go about building an empowered, peaceful community of independent, confident, joyful people.
With these intentions, we have developed a holistic approach to how we run our camps:
Loving the Planet
We are proud to count ourselves among the growing ranks of organizations dedicated to earth stewardship. The most important way we do this is by hosting camp outdoors. Our Tilden program is 100% outdoors, our pre-K, Girls and Boys on the Go and school break camp programs have access to outdoors about 85% of the time. Girls on the Go and Boys on the Go camps travel by public transit, too. Studies have shown that when children have memorable, fun experiences in nature, those memories not only sustain them, but also inspire them to protect the natural world. We do art projects using recycled materials, show examples of alternative energy such bicycle-powered smoothie blenders, and bring in naturalists and herbalists to share their knowledge of plant and animal life and to make useful products like herbal salves. In 2009, our offices were certified Green by the Alameda County Green Business Program.
What would a summer camp be without this! It’s easier to learn something new when it’s fun and if you are in a relaxed and playful mood, so our staff bring this joyful spirit to camp days. Playing a competitive or non-competitive game, with laughter and flexibility, builds empathy and trust with others. During the school year, younger people often have a very full schedules, so at camp, we balance structured and non-structured times of day, where some play is initiated by the staff and youth leaders, and some by the campers themselves, so they get to practice leading from within and from each other, as well as being led. Play is a powerful catalyst for positive socialization. Through play, children learn how to “play nicely” with others—to work together, follow mutually agreed upon rules, and socialize in groups. As adults, we can continue to use play to break down barriers and improve our relationships with others.
We are committed to making a camp experience that is extraordinary for children and families from all sorts of backgrounds. Staff focus on ways to be more inclusive in terms of the language used and the kind of activities provided at camp. We hire staff from diverse economic, racial, cultural and gender backgrounds. Our scholarship, work exchange and flexible payment plans are geared toward supporting many children being able to attend camp. Our dream is to create a camp and a world where all people are respected, treated well, and celebrated for who they are and where all can explore what it means to be them!
We know that conflicts arise at camp and see these as the result of unmet needs. Maybe a camper had a really late night and acts out meanly toward her friends, or a camper is overstimulated and keeps bumping into other kids. Staff gets to know the children during their time at camp, so can be there for them in the best way in the more challenging situations. We know that kindness goes a long way and staff model that towards the kids, so that they can see a way to treat another camper or someone in their life. Sometimes children do need to sit out, and cool out, if they have but we work on finding out the underlying reason for a child’s behavior and work with parents to address. All of our staff receives guidance in conflict resolution philosophy and methods.
Appreciating Different Learning Styles
We believe strongly that every person has a unique mind and spirit and that no one activity or approach will be engaging to every child at camp. Howard Gardner’s work on developing a “multiple intelligences” model of how people learn is foundational to the way we structure our camp programs. We strive to provide experiences that are exciting to all parts of all kinds of kids, and to make sure that all kids know that they are valuable and intelligent people. You will notice this in our field trip and playshop choices for the Boys on the Go and Girls on the Go; for the Tilden Outdoor, PreK and School Break Camps, with the interactive art, science and cooking playshops, very physical group field games, singing, time spent exploring nature, and free play that allows for children to choose from things like building a tower, playing a field game with a group of kids and staff, finger knitting, reading, drawing, playing or watching a game of chess, or rolling around in the grass.
We are incredibly proud to serve nearly 100% organic snacks at our camp! Almost all of the treats, edible projects, and hearty afternoon snacks for extended care campers are organic and as local as possible. Not only that, but we have a very attentive eye to the amount of sugar we have at camp. While we have grown more lax since the days when we allowed no sugar at our camp, we do believe that camp is an excellent place to experience healthy eating, especially if that’s a bit different than normal! We also have a strict policy to make sure all campers sit down for at least fifteen minutes while they eat lunch to have nice, easy digestion and to take a break from their incredibly active days!
Having served 5,000 campers since 1999, we have a stellar safety record. It is one of primary goals that kids are not only safe at camp, but that they (and you!) feel safe about being at camp. Most importantly for safety is our high ratio of staff to campers- 1:7 at our ages 3-4 site; 1:9 at our ages 4.5-10 year old site; 1:9 at our Boys on the Go and Girls on the Go sites. Additionally we have a strong youth leadership program which provides for a bit of extra assistance and support for the kids. Staff are certified in CPR and first aid. In addition we have developed a number of site-specific safety protocols that staff enforce at camp.