With the school year drawing to a close, parents will understandably be contemplating the summer months stretched out before them. With a little research and some thoughtful planning, the summer vacation can be a time of relaxation, rejuvenation and significant growth. With less time required for academic pursuits, there is a real opportunity for kids to explore personal interests and build some additional supporting skills, especially against the rich backdrop of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The tween years can be a vulnerable time for kids. In the new book, The Confidence Code for Girls, authors Claire Shipman and Katty Kay define confidence as “what turns our thoughts into actions.” They conducted a survey of preteens and teenagers and found that, though counterintuitive, the most powerful factor in raising confidence levels was, in fact, taking risks that led to struggle. With this in mind, summer is an ideal time to take stock of opportunities for kids in the Bay Area and make some arrangements that will engage preteens in activities that both excite them and challenge them to take action.

Summer Fun Activities In The Bay Area

Seasonal fun can be both engaging and enlightening. A few well-chosen activities can not only interest and excite kids, but provide insurance against summer brain drain. The key is finding the right activities—those that capitalize on the spirit and freedom that summer represents.

What better place to appreciate the colors of summer than the San Francisco Botanical Garden? Admission is free to SF residents and includes a variety of daily programs, including garden walks, a summer reading club and the chance to play one of 13 Flower Pianos nestled throughout the 55-acre gardens for 10 days in July. Visitors can experience a range of the world’s ecosystems in the geographically organized gardens supported by the microclimate in SF’s Golden Gate Park. These include some species no longer found in their native habitats.

Preteens can grab a team of family or friends and set off on the San Francisco Urban Adventure Quest, a smartphone guided, interactive walking tour. Unravel the city’s history and learn little-known facts, while using clues to complete challenges that reveal the city’s secrets and hidden gems. Choose from two Bay Area treks that take 2-4 hours to complete. Like a scavenger hunt, tweens will gain confidence as they collaborate to earn points and compete with other teams.

Don’t forget all the amazing culturally-rich opportunities there are for learning in the Bay Area as well. From festivals to art museums, summer is the perfect time to take advantage of all that the city and its surrounding areas have to offer.

Growth-Focused Experiential Learning

For an educational summer activity that challenges kids intellectually while also building confidence and independence, parents need look no further than Galileo Summer Quest. With 16 locations throughout the SF area, there are abundant opportunities for preteens to focus on a favorite or newfound activity and learn while doing.

These programs are a chance for kids entering 5th – 8th grades to be challenged to identify and solve problems through the introduction of authentic and meaningful projects that get their creative juices flowing. With activities planned and curated by impassioned changemakers, GSQ majors nurture the developing individual in each camper through joyful play and a growth mindset. Each ambitious challenge empowers kids to create positive change in the world while also supporting them to take the risks necessary to achieve success and gain independence.

Combine Camp Fun and Family Bonding

A great way to supplement the skills your preteen masters at camp is to involve the entire family in the learning process. For example, after mastering Mystery Room: The Great Escape, let kids lead your team in a family fun challenge. Together you can tackle one of the exhilarating escape rooms in the Bay Area, gathering clues and solving puzzles, as kids practice their logic and problem-solving skills.

While focused on designing and building their own responsive Robot Pet, tweens will get an introduction to artificial intelligence. Reinforce their newfound knowledge and skills through the

Curiosity Machine Family AI Challenge (recommended for kids 8-15), a series of online modules through which families can learn about artificial intelligence together. After creating a free account, family members can learn all about artificial intelligence and robotics via online design challenges. Motivated teams can join the AI in the Community global competition in the fall, where they can use what they’ve learned to solve a problem in their community. Finalist families will be invited to a Silicon Valley celebration in the spring of 2019.

Campers challenged to learn cooking and recipe writing skills through the GSQ Chefology major can display their creative expression with family food adventures at home in the kitchen throughout the remainder of the summer. Who knows—kids may even want to help to plan healthy lunches and weeknight dinners once school resumes in the fall.

Summer Activities For Bay Area Preteens

To counteract the developmental dip in confidence that kids can tend to experience during the tween years, parents can plan purposeful and supportive activities. In the San Francisco Bay Area, that includes a range of independent and family events that create learning opportunities and challenge kids to take risks. These efforts help them build confidence and believe themselves to be capable of achieving anything. Through fun and dynamic summer activities, kids gain real-world skills that not only bolster their vulnerable self-confidence but will help them to see themselves as game-changers in their own communities.

Check out all of our Bay Area/San Francisco summer camps to find the location closest to you! Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date with camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, register today.